Warner Robins man proposes under the stars — of a planetarium

pramati@macon.comSeptember 22, 2013 

In some ways, the actual marriage proposal by Alan Gilbert was the easiest part of the day.

Gilbert, 23, of Warner Robins, wanted to do something special when asking for Krystal Sanderson’s hand in marriage. So he came upon the idea of popping the question to his girlfriend during the Mark Smith Planetarium show at the Museum of Arts & Sciences.

“The main thing is, Krystal and I spent a lot of time looking at the stars,” he said. “They were always one of those moments where we could talk about anything we wanted to.”

“One of our first dates was under the stars,” Sanderson added.

But maneuvering his girlfriend of four years so that she would be at the planetarium for the final show scheduled for Sunday was trickier. For one thing, Sanderson, 22, is a nursing student at Middle Georgia State College and has had several tests to prepare for, usually over the past few Sundays, and this Sunday was no different.

Sanderson also works with a campus nursing organization, and they wanted her to come in Sunday. When she texted Gilbert that she may not be available to take advantage of “the two free tickets to the museum” that he used as a pretext to take her there, Gilbert frantically texted back that he was adamant that they go to the museum on this particular Sunday.

Only, the charge on his cellphone died while texting back.

“I wasn’t sure it went through,” he said.

Eventually, Gilbert managed to get Sanderson to the museum -- except she wanted to attend the 2 p.m. planetarium show, not the 4 p.m. one that had the proposal attached. Eventually, Gilbert managed to persuade her to tour the museum first and catch the later show.

All that remained was to sit through a 30-minute show about prehistoric sea creatures before his question appeared on the screen, against a background of the Earth and stars while music played.

“The movie, the documentary, was the longest 30 minutes of my life,” said Gilbert, who put mini-glow sticks in the ring box to make sure Sanderson could see it in the dark theater.

When Sanderson finally saw the proposal, it took her a moment to collect herself before she said yes.

“I was so shocked when I saw my name,” she said. “It was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ ’’

Those attending the show applauded after she accepted the ring. Matt Beitz, who runs the planetarium on weekends, said it’s only the second proposal there since the planetarium underwent its renovation.

“It’s always fun to watch couples come in and spend the rest of their lives together,” he said.

The couple met four years ago when they attended Andrew College in Cuthbert. They were introduced by mutual friends who, coincidentally, just got married themselves.

While Sanderson may have been in the dark about the proposal, she said she had been expecting him to pop the question at some point.

Meanwhile, Gilbert said he “told everybody” about it, including strangers. Gilbert, who works at Chick-fil-A, said he brought the matter up with his female co-workers.

“I work with a lot of girls, and I would ask them, ‘Does this seem like a good idea to you?’ ’’ he said.

Evidently, enough of them said it was. “I didn’t even have any thoughts,” she said. “My brain just stopped.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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