Sometimes a woman has to stake her claim, and that's exactly what Dr. Courtenay Chatman did when she proposed to hunky actor Michael Jai White nearly four years ago.
Although Chatman understands why traditionalists might view her actions as unorthodox, she never had any hang-ups about popping the question. "I decided I loved him and he loved me, so why wait?" says Chatman, an OB-GYN who proposed to White after a year of dating. "Of course there was a possibility that he could say 'no,' but I was willing to take that chance."
Because White is "unbelievably romantic," Chatman vowed that her proposal would be equally as innovative and special. That's when she headed to their favorite Los Angeles eatery, The Cheesecake Factory, borrowed a plate from the manager, took it to the mall, found a similar plate and added a red inscription: Will You Marry Me at the top and Michael Jai White? at the bottom. Everything in place, Chatman invited her man to dinner.
"Normally, Michael eats quickly, but of course, this night he was taking his time and it was nerve-wracking to watch flickers of red begin to show on his plate," Chatman recalls with a laugh. "I was telling him how much I cared about him and how much he meant to me until I became so nervous that I jumped up, sat next to him, and brushed his food off the plate. Then I got on bended knee and opened the ring box!"
A stunned White beamed a Kool-Aid smile and responded affirmatively. "I was pleasantly shocked and didn't feel emascualted at all, " admits White. "I immediately said 'yes' because I knew that I was going to spend the rest of my life with her whether we got married or not."
Nearby patrons cheered and clapped for the lovebirds. "It was so magical," says Chatman. "I was crying and then we were laughing and crying together while he held me in his arms. He said I did really well in pulling it off."
To Chatman's surprise, White insisted that they marry immediately. So they eloped two days later at the Four Seasons Hotel in Santa Barbara, California, with each of their best friends serving as best man and maid of honor. Although the two plan to renew their vows soon so that their family and friends can bear witness to their eternal pledge of love, they are content with their blended family of six which includes their four-week-old daughter, Morgan Michelle, and her brothers and sisters.
"The funny thing is, when Courtenay and I started dating she had no idea that I was an actor until a friend of hers told her who I was," White says with a laugh, "but that's okay, because she's my wife now, forever and always."