Shawn Johnson has some impressive bling to her name. She has an Olympic gold and silver medal for her talents in gymnastics and a championship Disco Ball from winning season eight of Dancing With the Stars. This year she added to the silver + gold in her life with a gorgeous round diamond engagement ring her fiancé, NFL player Andrew East gave her when he proposed in July this year.
If you remember, the engagement was actually a GREAT story, but hearing Shawn tell us the story behind the viral pics made it even better. “I was booked to throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field for USA Gymnastics. It was the first time I had thrown out the first pitch in over three years because the last time I did so, I threw it straight into the ground and made ESPN’s ‘Not Top 10’ like four weeks in a row — which is amazing — so I was scarred, ” she told us. “When they asked and I accepted, my fiancé worked with me for months to get ready and he was going to fly out. I threw out the first pitch, he came walking out to the mound. I thought it was for an interview so I told him he shouldn’t be there and he should go back. Horrible. I just remember him grabbing my hand and getting down on one knee and starting to talk and I was just shocked.”
So first comes ring, then comes… a whole lot of planning. When we asked her about her wedding dress shopping progress, Shawn was happy to report that she already had that covered. “I found this incredible designer in Nashville, TN. Her name is Olia Zavozina,” she told us. “We’re custom building a dress and it’s anything and everything I ever wanted.” For many brides, custom might not be an option, but Shawn still has solid tips for you. Her first piece of advice is that you should try on everything. “What I ended up with is nothing like any picture that I brought in. It definitely has little parts and pieces, but what I actually started to like on my body is honestly the one thing I told her I didn’t want,” Shawn revealed with a laugh.
Her second piece of advice is to trust yourself. “I had an entire weekend in New York planned with every major designer here. All of my bridesmaids were coming out, my future mother-in-law and my mom,” she said. “I went very last minute in Nashville to Olia with one bridesmaid and ended up finding [my dress] there. I then cancelled my whole trip [to New York] and flew everybody to Nashville.” While many of us want everyone we love to have an input on THE dress, sometimes, it’s more trouble than it is help (c’mon, haven’t we learned anything from those episodes of Say Yes to the Dress with the big peanut galleries?). “I think it was less stressful having an idea in my head already and not having all of the opinions at once and just having one opinion for the first fitting, ” Shawn said. “It’s a fun thing to share with all your bridesmaids and the girls close to you, but maybe not bring them all out the first time just to [help you] get an idea of what you want.” Can we just say, we cannot WAIT to see the dress, Shawn.
She also shared a sweet tradition she and her fiancé have with each other — get ready to aww — they like to exchange poetry. “He started it,” she said. “It was after the first two weeks after I flew back home, he emailed me this long poem. My first thought was, ‘This is the cheesiest thing, but it’s so sweet.’ It won me over.” When we asked her if they planned on exchanging vows in poem format, Shawn’s response was, “No-o. We’ll probably exchange something before the wedding, but we won’t be saying anything in front of people.”
Recently, Shawn has been working in conjunction with WeddingWire’s #JustSaidYes campaign. “Being able to celebrate everyone’s story is exciting for me because I get to relive it every day,” Shawn said. “It’s exciting for the people too, because [we] get to make it that much more special for them.”
Aww. Congratulations again to the happy couple!
Do you have any adorable engagement stories? Tell us in the comments below!
(Photos via @shawnjohnson + Jason Merritt/Getty)