In the end, Lauren Northern said no to the dress but yes to her surprise marriage proposal, captured for a national television audience.
Northern's episode of Say Yes to the Dress will air on TLC on Friday.
In October, Northern, 23, flew to New York for what she thought was to be a girls' weekend. A friend, she was told, had won a contest and a chance to tour Kleinfeld Bridal, the famed New York shop featured on the reality show Say Yes to the Dress. Her boyfriend of four years, Brandon Brooks, 27, was heading to St. Louis with the guys ... or so she thought.
There was a gaggle of girls with her as she waited in the Kleinfeld showroom and heard a familiar voice.
Brooks was there.
"I turned around and looked at him and didn't even recognize him," she said. He got down on one knee and presented her with the ring.
The emotion, she said, was "overwhelming."
"I don't even know what I said that day," she said.
Not only had Brooks contacted the store and the show, he had secretly arranged for Northern's mom, cousin and best friend to fly to New York as a surprise. He spent two months concocting the plan.
"I am a good liar," said Brooks, a teacher at Crawford Middle School.
"He uses his treachery for good," said Northern, who teaches at Henry Clay High School.
As soon as she said yes to Brooks, a bridal consultant took Northern's arm and was steering her toward the dressing rooms.
Although Northern tried on several dresses, she didn't buy one in New York. Shipping and alterations put the cost of a Kleinfeld gown out of her $2,000 budget.
Plus, she said, she was so spent from the surprise and the whirlwind that followed, not to mention hours of taping the show, she couldn't make a decision.
"I needed to eat and process everything," she said.
Still, she said, "I absolutely love the show."
(Her fiancé, she said, doesn't care for it so much: "He's a guy, so not really. He started watching because I watch it all the time.")
The couple, who met in Owensboro through mutual friends, will marry in October. She'll wear an ivory gown with a sweetheart neckline that she bought in Cincinnati.
He'll need to start plotting a surprise to top this one. For the record, he's as surprised as anyone that he pulled it all off without Northern finding out.
"I didn't tell anybody for the longest time," he said. "I didn't tell my roommate until two days before" the trip.
Now friends keep telling him he has set an impossibly high standard for them to meet.
"Everybody kept telling me that," Brooks said. "What do you say? 'I'm sorry.'"