P1Words by Cheats and Aria; Photos by Patience Salgado & Nick Mastro

When you really think about it, there are only a few days in life that you know you will remember forever. For me, Saturday was that one of those magical days.

I woke up carrying a secret that only four people, my immediate family, knew: I was planning to propose to my amazing girlfriend Aria. And I was planning to propose to her in front of a live audience, including a lot of our family and friends during the Richmond Comedy Coalitions’ Richmond Famous show at Gallery 5.

The morning started with my nerves in knots. I woke up slightly anxious about the proposal but in absolute terror about the attendance of the Richmond Famous show. I was honestly worried that no one would show up that night at Gallery 5. I was worrying Aria sick by asking her, “Babe, what happens if no one comes,” I would ask her every 20 minutes.

ARIA:  He was so worried that only 6 people would show up.  I constantly assured him that people would show.  He is insanely modest; he didn’t understand how much of an impact he had made in the community.  I kept telling him that people would come out to support him and RCC.

That morning, I started sharing the secret. I called Aria’s mother and let her know my intentions and, of course, asked for her blessing. Her excitement gave me not only ease but confidence that I was proceeding in the right direction.

ARIA:  Who knew I could be so gullible.  All of a sudden he had an urgent need to go pull the trash can in from the driveway.  It was 8:30 in the morning; most would have thought something was up.  Little did I know, he was in full master plan mode.

The next challenge was waiting. I needed to keep my emotions in check and not tip off Aria that I was a little more “worked up” than normal. I was helped by some very quality Starz on Demand, I played, “Beat Rhymes and Life,” the documentary movie featuring A Tribe Called Quest. Aria watched most of it with me and just being with her on the couch further cemented, for me, that I was 100% doing the right thing.

Then the phone rang. It was David, from the RCC, letting me know that we would not be alone tonight, if fact the presales were on their way to 100 and he anticipated a sold out show. It’s a strange emotion to feel relieved and excited at the same time – I was honestly relieved that the night was going to be populated – if not historic.

ARIA:  While I had no idea he was planning a proposal, during those few hours on the couch watching the Tribe documentary and then Fade to Black I kept thinking of how amazing it felt to be so connected to him.


So when I was telling my mother “the plan”, I could see the utter panic on her face about the “surprise” element of the proposal. It gave her more than “hesitation.” I have always relied on my mother’s advice and Aria’s personality often reminds me of what, I think, my mom was like before she raised me and my siblings. My mother looked at me and immediately said, “Marc, you can’t do that to a women, you have to give her some time to digest what is happening and you don’t want to do that in front of a lot of people.” I thought about it and agreed with her. So I retooled the plan and adjusted to propose in Church Hill right before our planned dinner at Proper Pie.

Fast forward a bit to the car ride to Church Hill, I can’t remember if we even talked. ARIA: He was a bit quiet in the car, but I just assumed he was nervous about the show. I just let him be with his thoughts.   The ring was in my pocket and I convinced her we had to go to take a few photos of the city for the blog. I really didn’t think that anyone would be at my planned proposal spot, a wonderful view of the city near Richmond Hill, but as we were pulling up, I saw a few people at the spot. As we got closer, it turned out to be a small wedding. A good sign indeed but I was not thinking about that – I was thinking, “Yo! Where am I going to propose?” ARIA:  After seeing the wedding at that particular spot, I was thinking cool, maybe we can just go to dinner, I was starving.  Luckily I just continued to go with the flow.  I made a quick audible to the park with the statue and the great view of the Lucky Strike building. I asked her to take a few photos and then I pulled out the ring. I waited for what felt like a year before she was able to answer; she was too busy being shocked and smiling. ARIA: I honestly have not been more surprised in my entire life.  For a split second, I didn’t want to yell out yes, thinking maybe there were just earrings in the box and I’d be embarrassed.  Then I quickly realized of course it was a ring and he was proposing;  I was so shocked.  I didn’t even realize I hadn’t said yes. Once she said, “Yes,” and I can’t really tell you exactly how I felt. It’s not overconfidence when you’re on the same page with the person you love – you just know it’s going to be cool. I knew we were on the same page and asking was bit of a formality to me.

ARIA:  I was ecstatic; I was so excited and nervous at the same time.  I wanted to tell everyone we encountered that I just got engaged!  I loved the man, I loved the ring.  It was amazing!


IMG_9122Once the proposal was done, I had to convince Aria to put her, “poker face,” on because no one knew about the proposal  but our families and a very special friend, who may or may not, be back in town from Washington D.C. in time for the show.

Just because the “actual” proposal was done, it strangely didn’t make me feel relief about proposing on stage. I – once again – had the ring in my pocket and it hadn’t really registered that she’s just said yes. Once Gallery 5 started filling up with our friends, I started to get distracted – speaking with friends and running around – that took my mind a bit off the show. Aria left her phone at my house in the West End so she drove back to get it – I’m sure the car ride helped her collect her emotions. When she came back the show, she was almost calm.


cheats big night rccI got word that the show was sold out around the same time our “special guests” arrived at Gallery 5. I blocked out most emotions immediately before the show and took solace in RCC cast members telling me, “I got your back,” it was awesome.

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cheats big night rcc-81The moment I pulled out the ring, my world was a flash. I am so grateful for the people quick enough to break out their phones and, of course, my good friends with cameras because I got so many great photos of my on 1 knee. I honestly don’t even remember doing it. ARIA:  I think I was just as nervous as he was, I knew it was coming and I had to sit in my seat for about an hour waiting for it to happen.  As he went through the story and then pulled out the ring box, I didn’t have to feign excitement or surprise.  I was still so excited and probably still a little stunned.  Looking back, I am so thankful that I made it up to the stage without falling.  As I stood there as he proposed again, it was still amazing.  I just focused on him.  Plus I got to see my ring again, and this time I got to keep it!

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cheats big night rcc-82The rest of the night was easily one of the best nights of my life with Just Plain Sounds, Glows in the Dark, and Photosynthesizers. I smiled, hugged, dance, loved and just had the best night. ARIA:  It was a great night.  We essentially had our engagement party right there.  It was so amazing to have been able to share the experience with so many of our friends and family.  It was great to get so many well wishes from people I didn’t even know.  Everyone was so happy for us and there was just a lot of love and positivity in the air.  I loved both of my proposals and I couldn’t have planned it better myself.  I am so blessed to have such an amazing and thoughtful fiancé. He aight!

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cheats big night rcc-108All I can say is, “Thank you RVA,” I love this place some much – but, to me, when I think of, “RVA” I think of more than geography, I think of family and home. I love my Cheats Movement Family and it was such a unreal experience to  share this night with you.


My family was in the front row with those “special guest”


Glows in the Dark killed it – I can’t thank them enough.

20130106-IMG_0298-2Photosynthesizers, in my humble opinion, is one of the best live bands ever – not in RVA but ever. So many more photos coming!

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The RCC was amazing Saturday night!  Please check out one of their shows.

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