Caroline McMillan & Ely Portillo
It’s not supposed to happen: A guy, sitting at a table far from the high-heeled single ladies vying for the bride’s bouquet, shouldn’t wind up with a hand full of flowers. But the bouquet I was trying to catch bounced off two girls’ hands and plopped into Ely’s his lap at his table. The women groaned and called for a re-do. Ely just smiled at the good omen: he’d already set in motion plans to propose to me the following day.
We’re both business reporters at The Charlotte Observer, where we had met two and a half years earlier. I never imagined our first casual office “hello,” followed quickly by a Facebook friend request, would lead us where it has.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
After returning from the Charleston wedding late Sunday night, Ely lured me to his apartment with the promise of a quick pasta dinner. But when I walked through the door, dozens of Carolina blue and white balloons lined a path marked by candles. Pictures of the two of us were taped to the balloon strings with hand-written messages on the back of each.
A bottle of champagne was chilling in a bowl of rosebud-filled ice cubes, surrounded by delicacies from Amelie’s French Bakery, all set up by my roommate as we were traveling back.
Ely’s roommate had left music playing from a Frank Sinatra Internet radio station, which almost backfired; “Hit the Road Jack” played when Ely got down on one knee.
But I didn’t even hear the music. Just my voice getting out a teary “yes,” as I thought to myself, this is precisely how it’s supposed to happen.
-As told by Caroline
Caroline and Ely were married September 28, 2013.