Former NFL safety, Cedric Thompson, wanted to propose to his college sweetheart Charlotte in the most meaningful way. Knowing that the most important thing in her life was family, he found a moving way to include them in such a significant moment.
He went one by one to each of her closest family members to ask for their blessing on their union. It meant having everyone part of the surprise proposal, which Charlotte really didn’t see coming. Take a look at how this former NFL player got in touch with his sensitive side in this heartwarming engagement story.
The Successful Sportsman
Born in the “City of Light” Los Angeles, Cedric displayed major talent in his college football team, THE Minnesota Golden Gophers. It led to him getting drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, which was just the start of his career.
He went on to be drafted by the New England Patriots in 2016, followed by the Minnesota Vikings and the Cincinnati Bengals. Growing up in Bombay Beach, he once explained that his struggles to break out of the neighborhood and his border with the area was what inspired him to pursue professional football.
The Lifestyle Guru
Charlotte Annabelle Paguyo is the girl who stole Cedric’s heart. She’s passionate about her faith, creating relatable lifestyle content, and her family. Her look-a-like sister Ashley is married and also doubles as her best friend, while her younger brother Keegan is still in school.
She’s also super close to her mom Julie, and close family friend David, who acts as a father figure in Charlotte, Ashley and Keegan’s life. Charlotte’s always been popular and adventurous, having been a university homecoming queen candidate back in college and having spent a lot of time studying in Europe.
Going professional was always important to Cedric, and in college, football had to be a major focus for him. But Charlotte was supportive throughout it all, attending games and cheering him on from the sidelines. She was his number 1 fan and made sure that everyone knew it.
They experienced those rocky university moments together, from crazy fashions to messy nights out. And they’ve got the photos to prove it! There’s countless images of the young couple’s memories as lovebirds who were still trying to make their way in life.
The day had finally come, after five months of planning, for Cedric to do what he considered right by Charlotte and her family. He was going to ask for everyone’s blessing on their union. As a Christian man, it was important for him that everyone should want this path for Charlotte, too.
He started by going to the school that Charlotte’s younger brother Keegan attended. The Clara Barton Open School in Minneapolis wouldn’t ordinarily allow for just anyone to rock up, but Cedric had worked something special out, as we’ll come to see.
Her Brother Wouldn’t Stop Shaking
Cedric pulled Keegan out of class, which came as a total shock to him. Keegan immediately got nervous. In attempts to calm him, Cedric said to him, “you’re not in trouble!” He tried to comfort him, saying “relax bro. Stop shaking!” before picking up some jittery feelings himself.
Cedric repeatedly asked him “what are you freaking out for?” Before revealing that he was feeling nervous himself after seeing the kid’s reaction. He finally got himself together and asked the boy for permission, explaining that they are like brothers and his approval is important. What happened next came as a surprise to Cedric.
Not Holding Back
Cedric saw that Keegan started tearing up, and took him in a bear hug. He knew how much it mean’t to the kid, and said: “I told you I’m gonna be in your life for the rest of my life bro. I promise you. You hear me?” The boy just buried himself in the hug.
Then Cedric saw fit to give him some timely advice. “Alright, you gotta toughen up because you’ve got to go back to class!” He then told him he planned on proposing the next day, and let him in on part of the surprise. “Don’t worry, you’re gonna be there, it’s a big deal.”
Cedric couldn’t leave without thanking Keegan’s teacher Sarah, who made it possible for him to meet Keegan during school hours. Finding himself in the classroom of kids staring at him and the cameraman he hired, he addressed the class. He told everyone why he came down, before swearing everyone to secrecy about the proposal.
“I just asked Keegan if it was ok if I married his sister, but you cannot tell anybody because I’m doing it tomorrow.” He joked with the class not to tell any other classrooms, and that it had to stay a “room 16 secret.” Is it still a secret if everyone knows about it?
The Cat’s Out of the Bag
There was an awkward moment during Cedric’s revelation to the class. He spotted someone among the kids that he recognized, and asked “…Are you Lily?” Naturally, his knowledge of her surprised the class, as he hadn’t met her before. “Nice to meet you” he said confidently.
He joked with the classmates, “Oh I know about Lily!” and the class broke out into giggles. He let on to Keegan’s secret school crush, which took the young student by surprise. Almost immediately, her friend’s started huddling and giggling. But is Cedric actually a good wingman?
Eyes at the Back of Her Head
Next on his hunt for approval was the matriarch of the family, Charlotte’s mom Julie. She’s a school teacher, but not at the same school as Keegan. So Cedric hopped in his car and went to seek her out. As he walked down the hall to see her, she exclaimed, “what are you doing here!”
She welcomed him into her classroom (even though she had no idea what was going on) and introduced him as her daughter’s boyfriend. She asked him bluntly, “what’s the surprise?” Even after five months of planning, Cedric couldn’t sneak up on his mother-in-law.
The Mom’s Approval
“I don’t really know what to say because I’m getting kind of nervous,” Cedric blurted out. He sat Julie down and asked his fateful question through a flood of jumbled words and bad sentence structure. Clearly, Cedric’s nerves had gotten the better of him. But to his credit, he had to ask with the whole class watching.
Despite catching him in the hallway, this was a surprise she did not expect. She put her hand on heart, flustered to be caught off guard. Julie thought that Cedric came down to help teach the class! “Of course you can marry my daughter, I love you.” she told him, before giving him a relieving hug.
As she walked him out of the school, he told her how he arranged to get in through one of the other staff members. “You called her last week?” she exclaimed to which he told her “dude, you don’t understand. I’ve been planning this for a long time…”
Before he left, he swore her to secrecy. He told her her went to Keegan’s school, and like a true mother she knew the first thing to ask. “Did he cry?” she quickly inquired. With a family as close knit as Charlotte, the mother’s instinct runs strong with all her kids.
Please Open Up
Next up, it was time to drive over to the house of a close family friend, David. David had acted like a father figure to Charlotte and her siblings as they were growing, and it only felt right for Cedric to check that he was on board with their engagement.
He called ahead first, just to check it was ok to come a-knocking. The only thing is, he called when he was parked outside David’s home. “I’m actually in the parking lot,” he joked before coming inside. Once there, he nervously shuffled while addressing the colorful character.
David is Smart
Once they sat down, David said he didn’t know what he was here for, but it wasn’t exactly true. “I thought with how smart you are you would have figured it out,” Cedric said. “I’ve figured out it has to be one of two things!” David quickly interjected. “I know you either signed a contract, or you’re getting engaged.”
Cedric nervously laughed at the guesses, before telling him he was on the money. “You’ve been in Charlotte life for a long time, and you basically her father figure,” Cedric explained. But before he could finish talking, David grabbed his hand and pulled him in for an excited hug.
One Hundred Percent
David yelled “What do you mean? What do you mean?” before gesturing for the camera to pan to Cedric. “Look at this man! Of course!” he belted, telling him he 100% had his blessing to propose to Charlotte. David just kept yelling “Absolutely. Absolutely. 100%;” he didn’t even have to pause and think about it.
A nervous Cedric look relieved and was clearly happy to have the weight off of his shoulders. It was three down and one more to go, but he wasn’t going to get away that easily. David had some quick fire questions, somehow, already lined up.
Why, What, and Where?
David was straight to the point: “what made you get to this point?” he asked after a brief celebratory moment. “Me and Charlotte have been dating forever, and it’s something that I’ve known I always wanted to do,” Cedric explained. “I just wanted to wait for the right time.”
He stuttered, “Me and Charlotte are really happy,” before David took him in for another big hug. It didn’t last long, as David was up on his feet and quick to start asking questions about wedding plans. “Where are you guys gonna get married. Here?” he investigated before Cedric started howling with laughter. “I don’t know about that yet!” he bellowed. “I’m just worried about the proposal for now.”
Approval from dad achieved, he was on his way to his last person. He called Charlotte’s sister’s husband Ahmed while driving there, as he was helping to coordinate the moment. “She’s freaking out. She’s calling me and a******, she’s getting suspicious,” a stressful Ahmed informed him.
Cedric laughed at Ashley’s mood and told him he’ll be there soon. Once there, an agitated Ashley barked, “Why are you here?!” It was all in good fun, as they embraced and took a seat together. She really wasn’t expecting this.
Emotions Ran High
Cedric explained why he had come to this point in their lives to propose. He told her that as one of the closest people in Charlotte’s life, he wanted to know if she gave them the green light. Her eyes started tearing up as she replied, “you’re making me cry.”
“I would love it if you officially became a part of our family,” Ashley admitted, adding “You’ve already been a part of our family for so many years.” She explained that she loved how Cedric loved her sister, to which he was quick to interject, “Don’t come over here and make me cry!”
A Master Manipulator
Then came the second surprise. Cedric told her, “It’s all happening tomorrow at five o’clock. Your dance teacher knows everything, she knows that you’re not gonna be there so…” He had arranged for her to have the day free so that she would be there with the family for the whole thing.
Of course, that’s where it’s handy having Ahmed help him out. He gave Cedric the dance teacher’s number to tell her about the plans. All behind Ashley’s back. You’ve got to give it to him; he thought of everything.
You’re Getting Two New Brothers
In came Ahmed running up to them, shouting “We’re gonna be family, what!” and he grabbed him for a cuddle. Marrying Charlotte meant that not only is he making it official with Keegan, but his bond with his sister-in-law’s husband means they’ll be brothers forever.
Ahmed and Ashley were pregnant with their first child at this moment, making it all the more special for the family. While their journey as parents was just beginning, Cedric and Charlotte’s journey into married life would be starting too. That is if she agreed to marry him!
He Booked His Dream Artist
Now that everyone had given their blessing to propose to Charlotte, you’d think he would relax. But the big day was tomorrow and he still had a lot to plan to make it perfect for her. He had arranged for a musician to be present during the proposal to make the moment she sees him impossibly romantic.
He wanted a particular guy, Dustin Hatzenbuhler, that he’d seen online who performed as both a comedian and a singer. But Cedric thought his chances of being able to book him were slim to none. He was totally surprised that Dustin responded to his DM, and actually agreed to be a part of their special moment.
Cedric went to Dustin’s studio in the evening and revealed why he made sure there was time for one final stopover. “I wanted to really see and meet Dustin, not even just to hear the song but I wanted to thank him for what he did,” he explained. Dustin was going to be right there for the special moment.
But the visit brought out more emotions than he had anticipated. “He played some of the songs and I just couldn’t even sit down in my seat, I was so freaked out,” Cedric admitted. “I almost sat there and cried even when he was singing the song. So hopefully when he sings and I see her I will not faint… because I have a feeling I might.”
Let It Out Now
Cedric told Dustin how he planned to have him close by to the couple. He would play the love song as Charlotte was ascending the stair and until she sees Cedric. The conversation turned practical and logistical, but inevitably Dustin started playing the song for him and emotions rose again.
Cedric was trying to gather himself to comment on the music, but all he managed to say was, “I probably can’t go through with this dude. I’m so serious!” He buried his head in his arm at one point, holding back the tears. Hopefully, he’d be able to pull himself together for when it’s the real thing.
The Day Has Come
So how was he going to surprise Charlotte? By calling in his reinforcement. “I just need execution from everybody that I’ve had on my team,” he said on the morning of the proposal day. He had arranged with Charlotte’s friends to have a sleepover with her in one of their houses.
“At 10 o’clock she’s going to be out of the house, and I got her two of her best friends from kindergarten. They [will be having] have a surprise girl’s night out,” he revealed. Of course, there wasn’t really a girl’s night out happening. They just needed to give a reason to Charlotte for her to get all dressed up.
Cedric knew Charlotte would want to be looking her best, especially since there would be cameras rolling. “They’re saying they won a hair and makeover thing at work and that she can take two friends,” Cedric informed. The friend told Charlotte that she wanted her to be one of the people she takes with to the salon.
Cedric knew that there would still be other things she’d want to be done. He cleverly took her days before the proposal day to the nail and eyebrow salon. “I took her last week to get her nails and her eyebrows done.” That way, Charlotte wouldn’t get suspicious about all the beauty treatments.
Cedric’s Turn in the Beauty Chair
Cedric wanted to look good too. Not just for the camera’s, but for Charlotte. After all, he wants to put his best foot forward when asking for her hand in marriage. He had booked an appointment with the barber for the morning of the day to ensure the a fresh and flattering hairdo.
In the morning he talked about how “I’ve got to go get cleaned up because I have my hair looking rough. I’ve have got to get my haircut.” But after a little TLC, time would be of the essence. “After that is when it’s really flying.”
Everything’s Coming Up Roses
Next, Cedric needed to be the delivery man for the flowers he’d ordered. They were going to play a crucial role in the day, so they needed to be just right and handled with care. “I gotta go pick up the flowers from the florist,” he listed as part of his tasks for the day.
Once he got to the house, he needed to get the flowers ready. “All her family members are going to write a note [saying that] I got the blessing to marry her,” he revealed. Each note would be attached to a flower, and the flowers would lead her one by one to where Cedric is waiting for her.
One of the notes written by one of the young children in her family said, “Chachi, through your toughest times and your happiest hours, they have always been with this man. Lots of love and best wishes! He’s a keeper!” If even the kids think you two are meant to be together, how could you refuse?
Another one of the kids drew a heartwarming picture of them with Charlotte and Cedric by a love heart. Clearly, he was already considered one of the family. And luckily for him, he had help from the family in attaching all the notes and ribbons to the flowers.
Charlotte’s Other Sister
They made sure to craft little butterfly cut-outs and attach them to the flowers and notes. It was an important element of the day, particularly for mom Julie and sister Ashley. For their family, butterflies symbolized Charlotte and Ashley’s sister Maddie (center) who was no longer with them.
Unfortunately, Maddie was suffering from an illness in her teenage years that there was no cure for. The whole family and anyone close to them knew that butterflies had taken on their symbol for Maddie. And having butterfly cutouts included was their way of including her.
Family Is Everything
All three of the sisters were very close growing up. They were all similar in age and had been each other’s best friends. When they lost Maddie, left in the photo, it brought the family even closer and helped them realize just how important it was to be with each other. “I’ve had conversations with her mom about Maddie… Although I didn’t get to meet her physically, I know spiritually I’ve met her in that house,” Cedric admitted.
“I see a piece of her in each one of her family members.” Cedric’s decision to include all of her family is what made this proposal special. Not only was he checking that this is what they wanted for her, but he would be having them there with her at such an important moment in her life.
One of a Kind
Maddie (left) had an infectious personality that touched all those around her. Cedric spoke about all the amazing things he had heard about her. “Julie tells me that Maddie was the best person that she’s ever met in the entire world. And when I see pictures of Maddie she’s either smiling or she’s laughing or she’s making some kind of funny face,” he recalled.
“And you can just tell she was just a complete goofball,” he continues. “And she loved everybody – that’s all you’ve ever heard about Maddie, that she’s funny and she loves everybody. That she will give her last shirt off her back to anybody.” As such a positive influence in everyone’s lives, her loss was deeply felt by family and friends.
Words for Maddie
Cedric may not have ever met Maddie, but he still had things he would want to say to her. He disclosed his innermost thoughts: “If I was having a one on one conversation with Maddie, I would just let her know that I will do everything that I can and in my power to make sure that her sister has the happiest life that she could ever have.”
He went on to say what any family member would want to hear. “I’ll make sure that she’s never harmed, I will always keep her safe. At the end of the day, I just want to make sure that I keep your sister happy. That’s what I would say to her.” Cedric’s dedication to Charlotte truly tugs on the heartstrings.
Is the Surprise Ruined?
While all her family was at the house getting ready, her aunt got a surprise phone call from Charlotte. She called to invite her older relatives to her evening plans as they decided not to go clubbing and instead were planning on having drinks and appetizers. Charlotte said she would be going by her house to get changed.
Naturally, Cedric started to get worried that plans were changing. Maybe all his hard work over the past five months will amount to nothing and the surprise would be ruined. But Cedric didn’t leave any clues at their house and just hoped that she would remain in the dark.
The place Cedric chose for this special moment had to have all the facilities he needed to accommodate everyone. It also needed to gorgeous view as a backdrop for when he goes down on one knee. He settled on booking the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis. It’s a Minnesota Historical Society museum.
The museum focusing on how the city grew economically and how it was founded. Such a historic place yet modern and stylish building that was capable of holding a lot of people made the perfect location. That, and the fact that it wasn’t so hard for everyone to get to it. Cedric rented out the whole place for the evening.
With everyone ready and waiting to make their way to the venue, Cedric rounds everyone together to tell them all at what point they come in. “You all are gonna be on the sixth floor and everything’s happening on the fifth. When she walks in she won’t see you all,” he explained.
“She’s following roses up to where I’m in… and won’t know that another surprise is that you come down after.” All the roses that have the messages attached will be individually placed on the staircase, but one special rose will be different from the rest.
I Got Something in My Eye
“This purple rose is going to be the last one [she sees] before she sees me. Once she sees this last one she’ll have all of them, and I’ll be at the end. That’s where I’m going to propose to her.” The family met his detailed plan with gasps, except for the mama Julie and sister Ashley.
Charlotte’s mom and sister were visibly more emotional once they’d heared about Cedric’s plan. Ashley started sniffling, while Julie tried to hold back the tears. When Cedric went to give her a hug she murmured “I love you” once more to him. He really was like a son to her.
Finally, the big moment had arrived. Charlotte entered through the building on her own, but the look of confusion was quickly replaced with a smile. She started collecting the flowers and reading the notes that went along with them. All of them full of good wishes and optimism.
And just as Cedric had planned, Charlotte found the last rose at the top of the staircase, with a final word from Cedric. When she looked up, there he was holding another bouquet of flowers, waiting for her to walk over to him. And just like Cedric planned, Dustin and his keyboard were close by along side them both.
Moment of Truth
The lovers had a wonderful backdrop of the city center behind them, and it was the perfect moment just as the sun was setting. But their eyes were fully transfixed on each other. Perhaps the beautiful venue wasn’t altogether necessary after all!
That’s when Cedric went down on one knee and asked the fateful question. Of course, he got a big fat yes! The newly engaged couple kissed and embraced before Charlotte’s other unexpected surprise turned up. Cedric could hardly wait to celebrate with everyone and didn’t keep it a secret much longer…
Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Suddenly, Charlotte looks up to see Cedric gesturing to someone over her head. She turns around to find her family and friends approaching as a group, all in their Sunday best. One of her young cousins rushes up to her first and gives her a great big hug.
Holding her purple rose, she went to hug absolutely everyone who was there to celebrate her special moment. Naturally, everyone wanted to congratulate the bride and groom. But there was a moment she looked back at Cedric in disbelief at coordinating everyone together.
Give Me a Minute
Needless to say, the shock of it all didn’t quite wear off even when she greeted everyone. She still had that puzzled look on her face as she kissed and embraced, clutching her purple flowers close to her chest. It didn’t help that everyone was pushing their phone in her face trying to capture her reaction!
But most of all she still hadn’t spoken properly to Cedric, and kept looking back to him with that same astonished look. She was still gathering her thoughts as she realized the extent to which Cedric had planned for the most magical proposal moment.
There wasn’t time to sneak away together and gather themselves just yet, the photographer and videographer that were hired to capture the whole thing wanted to get some good shots while there was still light outside. First up was the happy couple.
We can see just how relieved Cedric looks in this photo, where he rests his head on his beloved bride-to-be. And Charlotte is simply beaming, no doubt still riding the high of the moment. One thing is certain – they make an especially gorgeous couple. “No words to explain what went down tonight,” Charlotte told her Instagram followers a few hours afterward.
Everyone Say Cheese
Then it was time for everyone to get in the photo altogether. Since there were a lot of friends and family present, it was a bit of a task. Everyone squeezed together close, with some people jumping on tabletops of standing on their tippy-toes.
But more or less, they tried to quickly file into the tallest people at the back, with Charlotte, Cedric, and the children at the front. With the exception of one child on his father’s shoulders at the back. It required a bit of coordination for the memory of a lifetime.
Just because Cedric had gotten the proposal out of the way, didn’t mean that the hard part was over! They now had their wedding to plan, and had all the tough decisions that that entails to look forward to. What dress would Charlotte wear? What kind of theme would they want for their wedding? What about the flowers?
One thing they did know was that it was going to be a big wedding. Not only because they have a lot of family members, but they have a lot of friends in their life that they wouldn’t want to miss it. So they needed to make sure they had a space that was big enough to accommodate everyone. In the end, they settled for this huge warehouse…
In the Beauty Chair
They only took five months to plan their wedding day. They didn’t want to wait for a long time until they were a married couple, so they didn’t! By July 2016, everything was in place for them to have one of the most special days of their life. But it would have to top the engagement… somehow!
Here Charlotte is on the morning of the wedding day, in her bridal dressing gown with her hair and makeup already done. It says CAPT on her back, which stands for her new initials. Charlotte Annabelle Paguyo Thompson would become her official name after getting married.
The happy couple walked down the aisle surrounded by all their friends and family. Charlotte had some touching words about her husband: “I am so thankful for a man who continues to challenge me to think bigger and to be better, and who not only navigates but celebrates the trials and triumphs in this crazy life.”
She went on: “And boy when he celebrates, he celebrates bigger than anyone I know.” We certainly have seen evidence of that. Take a look at how nicely Cedric cleaned up for his big day. No wonder Charlotte is beaming at him!
An Amsale Dress
Charlotte wasn’t looking too bad herself, of course. She opted for a white, form-fitting silhouette that featured a high neckline and a sheer-panel back. She wanted to wear something simple and timeless, so that it would age gracefully in the years to come.
She also opted for a sleeveless design, enabling her to show a bit of skin somewhere other than the chest or legs. It was an Amsale Aberra creation, the designer of which is credited for being the inventor of the modern wedding dress. Her designs are almost always minimalistic, yet elegant.
He’s Not Through With Surpises
If there’s one thing we know for certain about Cedric, it’s that he loves to give Charlotte surprises. At one point during the wedding, he took to the stage to address their guests. “When me and Charlotte were freshman, it was the first month that we met, I always thought I was a really good basketball player. Clearly, I wasn’t a good basketball player – me and charlotte had a bet… if she won, I had to do a dance.”
He continued: “I lost, obviously, and I said there is no way I am doing that dance. Today I have chosen to man up and just do the dance!” Completely unperceived by Charlotte, Cedric had been taking dance lessons to perform for her on stage, and even went to the effort of learning the routine with all of his best men!
A Surprise Wedding Dance
Cedric and six of his best men took their positions on stage, and began dancing a whole routine to Beyonce’s song, “Love on Top.” Charlotte was ecstatic and danced along from the front of the guests’ area. But when the song finished, they weren’t done. They even threw in a bonus dance to Ghost Town DJ’s sample of “My Boo.”
The latter song was popularized in 2016 when the “running man challenge” took the internet by storm. But what was most impressive was the coordination between all seven of the guys, as they all practiced their routines from different states. “This is something I put on hold for 4+ years and never thought I would do… but things change on the wedding day!” Cedric wrote online.
Making Her Dreams Come True
Their wedding was everything they had hoped for and more. “On February 20th, 2016 Cedric asked me to be his wife. Top five biggest days of my life,” Charlotte would later go on to say. And of course, her wedding day was another major day. A few short months into their relationship, she would have more to say.
Charlotte wrote on Instagram: “One year ago today, this beautiful man asked me to be his wife and to spend my life with him. His proposal was more than anything I could have possibly imagined on my own. Five months later, I married the most romantic and thoughtful man I know.”
Now that the wedding was over, the real fun was about to begin. The newlyweds had chosen Hawaii as their honeymoon location, in order to snorkel, and chase waterfalls, and take in the breath-taking natural beauty of the island. They were there for a total of 12 days.
And when they arrived back in Minnesota, Charlotte took to social media to thank Cedric for making the experience what it was. “Mega shoutout to my malu for making this trip (and my everyday life) more amazing than I could imagine on my own,” she wrote.