Chayanne Ortiz and Matthew Bell have been dating for just under two years, yet Ortiz has been thinking for quite some time about the next step in their relationship. But he didn't know how or where he would do it.
A colleague once told him that he would know when the moment was right.
That moment was Saturday, June 26, at Pride In The Park, amid the rain, surrounded by a sea of rainbows, love aplenty, and beats from some of the most renowned DJs anywhere.
The moment was right.
“No one knew (the proposal) was coming … including me,” said Ortiz, 33, a senior account manager at Intouch Solutions who is originally from Puerto Rico and has called Chicago home since 2013.
“Tiesto was playing a remix of 'I Need Your Love' by Calvin Harris when I made up my mind and decided to ask Matt to share the rest of his life with me. As I looked around, I could see love and happiness all around us. To my left I could see rainbows in the screens while we danced under the city skyline which was lit in all the colors of Pride.
“'It's the perfect time to ask him,' I thought to myself.”
Ortiz stopped dancing, grabbed Bell by the waist and said, “Matt, would you marry me?”
Bell looked at Ortiz with an expression of shock and replied, “I think that would be OK.”
They then kissed.
Their Facebook profiles changed – from Dating to Engaged.
“Like my colleague mentioned, I just knew it was time,” Ortiz said. “We were surrounded by love and rainbows, and we were having the time of our lives. We were oozing happiness being at the first outdoor music festival of the season in Chicago following the challenging COVID-19 pandemic. Not even the rain bothered us … everything felt perfect.”
Ortiz told no one beforehand what he was planning, including event organizers or friends.
“I was inspired by the celebration of love that means so much to our community and I wanted Matt to be the very first person to know how I felt,” Ortiz said.
There was no ring, nor did Ortiz drop to a knee, but that was planned. They have, you see, discussed with their families about getting married with family heirlooms: Ortiz' great grandmother's ring and Bell's grandfather's ring.
“I felt so happy and nervous,” before the proposal, Ortiz said. “I thought 'What if this is not the kind of proposal Matt wants?' But it all worked out in the end. It was perfect! It was intimate, and above all, it was ours. It is the highlight of our 2021 Pride celebration.
Bell, 37, the lead designer and studio manager at Christine Janda Design and Events, moved to Chicago in 2019. He matched on Tinder with Ortiz that August and they went on their first date in September – at Compass Bar in Lincoln Park for pizza and beers. “It was the best date of our lives … neither of us wanted the night to end,” Ortiz said. “It was so easy to talk to one another and we immediately felt a connection.”
Bell was shocked by the proposal, particularly since he had been planning to propose for quite some time. In fact, when Ortiz popped the question, Bell “didn't believe it at first,” he said. “I would have never imagined Chayanne would be the one to ask.
“I am quite sure I looked at him with the most shocked expression I have ever had cross my face. It wasn't until I saw his beautiful, infectious smile and felt his arms around me, I knew he meant it,” Bell said.
“I cannot wait to marry my best friend. Chayanne and I have an amazing relationship that has overcome a lot of obstacles. No matter how big or small those obstacles were, or will be in the future, we always work through them in a way that creates a better and stronger relationship. Being able to communicate and grow ensures this is a relationship that will last a lifetime.”
Bell said he is still overwhelmed, but in the best way possible. “The outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and even random people in the streets has been absolutely incredible,” he said. “Having come from a very small, very politically red town in Missouri, coming-out and being myself had always been a struggle. So, to feel the love and support from everyone means the world to me. Moving to Chicago, among like-minded people, has meant everything to me. Finding a place to fit in and be accepted for everything I am has been life changing. Had I not made the move to Chicago, Chayanne and I would not be where we are. For that, I am eternally grateful.”
Bell said the positive energy and upbeat dance music that filled Pride In The Park, despite the weather on Saturday, set the tone for the magical proposal. “It wasn't the traditional down-on-your-knee proposal. Chayanne simply wrapped his arms around me and asked me to marry him. This simple hug and question whispered in my ear kept the moment between him and I, which made it even more special. I will forever remember that incredibly special moment we shared at Pride In The Park.”
They are looking to get married in Chicago in the fall of 2022.
“I'm already so excited for our big day,” Ortiz said. “I can't wait to share our wedding with close friends and family. We are so excited to officially start our family … for Matt to take my last name, for us to go on adventures together, to buy our first home together and to share all the joys of life.
“Our happily-ever-after started this (past) weekend and we've never felt so good about it.”Related: June brings stormy and emotional return to Pride as Chicago reopens