Tracie Agustin and Chris Koehne got engaged while inside a luminous new exhibit at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
After dating for about two years, Chris Koehne realized he wanted to marry her.
He met Tracie Agustin while they were in college at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, both working to recruit new students. It started with occasionally getting dinner together and grew into love.
“Over the course of almost a year, I was getting small bits of info, like this is the type of ring she likes, this is what she’s hoping to do in the future and does she see me in it,” Koehne said.
A couple months ago, he went ring shopping and found the perfect one in the first store he visited. But he had less luck figuring out when and where to propose.
He thought about taking a trip to northern Arizona, or maybe a park. He even drove around the state looking for beautiful locations, but nothing felt right, so he started just carrying the ring in his pocket.
Spur of the moment
Agustin, who works as a nurse, said her co-workers recently asked when Koehne would propose.
“I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, eventually.’ I knew eventually. I don’t want to be with anybody else, but I was like, ‘It’s probably not anytime soon.’ I haven’t ever looked at rings myself.”
Last Friday, she told him she had seen friends post photos from a new exhibit at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and that she wanted to visit. In that moment, he decided that was how he would propose.
“It’s probably our favorite museum in Arizona, and just how unique it is,” he said. They canceled plans to get fish and chips and instead raced to get to the museum before it closed.
“It’s really one of those things I just kind of knew … As soon as I stepped in the room, I was like, ‘Yes this is the place. This is perfect.’ “
They were in “Ocean of Light: Submergence,” a dark room filled with strands of lights hanging from the ceiling to the floor that change color with ambient music. Photos from the interactive light installation have dominated social media since it opened in May.
After spending some time in the installation, Koehne asked a stranger to take a photo of them.
“Next thing I know, he was down on one knee and had a ring,” Agustin said. “I feel like the sound kind of drowned out. I don’t remember what I said.”
According to Koehne, she said, “Of course.”
“She kept on asking, ‘Is this real? Is this real?’ She probably asked, ‘Is this real?’ 15 times before she actually put the ring on,” he said with a laugh.
“You can tell that the time and place of the proposal was truly spontaneous because I was wearing my R2-D2 shirt. I never thought I’d propose wearing a Star Wars shirt.”
Celebrating engagement with hot dogs
“It was definitely a big surprise,” Agustin said. “I’m so excited. I can’t wait.
“Prior to him even asking, I was like, ‘Oh man, I’d be super lucky if he chose me to marry him,’ ” she said as she began to cry. “He’s genuinely so nice, so funny, makes me laugh all the time. He’s genuinely such a good guy.”
Koehne said Agustin is his best friend.
“She’s super smart, fun to be around, outgoing,” he said. “She makes me laugh, and for some reason she finds me funny, too.”
After the proposal, they went out to dinner at one of their favorite restaurants: Portillo’s. Koehne is from Chicago, so of course they got hot dogs in celebration.
“We’re thinking about getting their chocolate cake for our wedding, so we had to taste it one more time,” Koehne said.
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