Jenna Trende and Andrew Pederson celebrate with friends and family after Andrew held an elaborate surprise proposal for her at Lanesboro’s Old Barn Resort on Oct. 20.
Jenna Trende and Andrew Pederson celebrate with friends and family after Andrew held an elaborate surprise proposal for her at Lanesboro’s Old Barn Resort on Oct. 20.
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There was a barely-discernable undercurrent at Lanesboro's Old Barn Resort on the evening of Oct. 20. The place was packed, but that was not out of the norm for a weekend Saturday night during the season. But there was an unusual number of people there who knew each other; strangers would likely assume it was a large gathering of some group. And they would be right: It was, just not with a very usual reason for the gathering!

The occasion, which eventually everyone found out - even the visitors who did not know those involved - was the marriage proposal and resulting engagement of Andrew Pederson and Jenna Trende, currently of Spring Valley. While some may not have known what was going on outside the restaurant, they soon found out about what is likely the most romantic and well-planned proposal ever.

Because it was so well choreographed by Pederson and such a surprise to Trende, hearing about it in their own words is the best way to tell the story. And, here it is:

Jenna's side of the story

"Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, was like any normal Saturday. Andrew and I had some errands to run, so we went to Rochester that morning. I was scheduled to work at the Old Barn Resort that afternoon, so we had to rush home and I really wasn't very excited about it (going to work), since I would have much rather spent the day shopping.

"Andrew and I had been trying to plan a day to carve pumpkins together, but hadn't found time yet, so I stopped to pick up a couple of them for us on my way to work. I sent him a text message excitedly saying I picked up pumpkins and I thought maybe we could carve them the next day, and he answered back sounding equally excited saying 'Sounds like a plan!' Little did I know that he had already had his fair share of pumpkin carving for the year! After that I stopped by my parents' house and complained a little bit about not really wanting to go to work and my mom said 'Well maybe you'll get done early!' I knew that judging by other Saturdays at the Old Barn, that wasn't going to be very likely, so I didn't get my hopes up.

"Once at work, everything seemed to be going normally, and as I expected, it was a busy night with a lot of the regular customers. (Later, I'd find out that a lot of the people there knew what was going on and were there just to witness it!) Around 7 p.m., in the middle of the busy dinner rush, Shirley (co-owner of the Old Barn) took me by the arm and led me toward the front doors, handed me a card, told me to go outside, and said 'Good luck.' I was so confused, especially because it was so busy, I shouldn't have had time to leave work! The last thing I heard as I walked out the door was someone gasp and say 'Oh that's all for her! How cute!'

"As I walked out the front door, the hand railings leading up the entrance ramp were wrapped in white lights, and Doug (Old Barn's co-owner) met me in the parking lot (as it turns out, Doug had sort of been on 'security duty' to make sure no one disturbed Andrew's plan!). Walking across the parking lot, I noticed a path of white lights along the grassy point leading to the No. 1 tee box (at this point, I just remember hearing the buzz of the generator that was powering the lights!). I was stopped by pumpkin No. 1, carved and lit with the word 'Will' and a card attached. The card told me to walk to the next pumpkin, which was carved, saying 'You' and one more card. Honestly, I didn't even read the last card until everything was said and done, because at the time, I was shaking, crying, and trying to still breathe! That's when Andrew met me and led me toward three more pumpkins 'Marry Me,' 'Yes,' and 'No.' I can't believe he even gave me the option of no! He popped the question and of course I said 'yes!' The whole moment is still just a blur, and I can't pinpoint the exact moment when I realized what was going on!

"After all this, we went back into the Old Barn, where we were met by my parents (Steve and Karen Trende), his parents (Dan and Janelle Pederson), my brother (Tyler Trende), his sister (Amy Pederson), and a couple of friends (Brent and Alyssa Stinson) who were all in on his plan and helped him carry it out. Unfortunately, my younger sister, Sam, was away at college and couldn't make it home that weekend. It couldn't have been more perfect! Shirley had reserved a table for us inside, and provided us a bottle of champagne, and my mom had brought a congratulatory cake for us. Shirley had also arranged for the rest of my shift that evening to be covered so that I didn't have to go back to work after all that!

"The proposal at the Old Barn couldn't have been more perfect, as that's a place that's been a very big and pretty meaningful part of my life, and the friends I've made there have become like a second family to me. I couldn't have imagined it playing out any differently with our family and friends there, plus being able to celebrate with everyone at the Old Barn that night!

"I'm still shocked at the fact that so many people knew about it, and yet it remained a complete secret to me! Very impressive! I can't thank Doug and Shirley enough for helping Andrew plan everything! Not that I ever would have forgotten the Old Barn, but now it will hold an even more extra special place in my heart!

"I had no idea Andrew was so creative and romantic! He's set the bar awfully high for himself and I'm not sure he'll ever be able to come close to anything like this ever again! I'm a very lucky girl all the way around!"

Andrew's side of the story

"I had known that I was going to ask Jenna to marry me since Labor Day weekend. I ended up visiting my family that weekend back in Sauk Rapids and told them I wanted to marry Jenna. They were very happy with my decision and couldn't be happier that Jenna will be a part of the family.

"I just couldn't figure out the perfect time to propose, until we decided we wanted to carve pumpkins as Halloween was coming up. This led to many restless, sleepless nights trying to figure out the 'perfect' plan. My original plan was to carve pumpkins together and ask her to marry me after we carved pumpkins, but as luck would have it, Jenna was scheduled to work on Oct. 20 (the day I had in mind to ask). This was a blessing in disguise.

"A couple weeks before the proposal, I got in contact with Shirley at the Old Barn Resort and arranged for Jenna to get off work early on the night of the 20th. Shirley was super helpful in this whole process and I couldn't have pulled it off without her help. As the proposal got closer, Shirley and I finalized all of the details as to when Jenna would get off work, where the proposal could take place, and what I had in mind to make this experience such a special one for Jenna and myself. With all of the details in place, I reserved a table for 12 under a fake name so Jenna wouldn't be suspicious as to who was coming in that night.

"A week before the proposal, I finally got the courage to ask Jenna's parents (Steve and Karen Trende) for their permission to marry their daughter. It took a lot longer to get the courage to ask than I had anticipated (two hours to be exact). It made me feel extremely relieved when they responded by saying, 'We don't see Jenna spending the rest of her life with anyone else.'

"What made it more special was that Jenna's sister (Samantha) was home from college and she also gave me her blessing to marry her sister. Karen did mention that she was happy I didn't ask them sooner because holding that secret for a week was long enough.

"The day before the proposal, I brought the five pumpkins to our friend's (Brent and Alyssa Stinson) house to carve. It was a fun experience to chat about life, marriage and sports with them. Brent and I were on gutting and carving duty as Alyssa was on lunch duty. Jenna had no idea that's what we were doing the day I told her that I was going to hang out with Brent and have a 'guy's day.' I was able to store the pumpkins at their house so Jenna wouldn't stumble upon them at our house.

"Like Jenna stated, the day of the proposal was just like any other. I wasn't nervous at all during the day. I just wanted it to be 6 p.m. (the time we were going to leave to set everything up at the Old Barn Resort). Once Jenna left for work, I let my family (who had driven down to Rochester earlier that afternoon) and the Stinsons know that they could make their way over to our house.

"As we were sitting around waiting to leave, I received a text from Jenna saying she got three pumpkins for us to carve. I responded acting like I was happy and said I couldn't wait to carve them. Little did she know I had already carved five the day before!

"We all left our home in Spring Valley and picked up Steve and Karen in Preston along the way. Once we all arrived at the Old Barn Resort, we got to work right away. We wrapped white lights along the railings of the Old Barn and strung white lights along the grass leading to the No. 1 tee box. I placed the 'Will' pumpkin at the beginning of the string of lights. The 'You' pumpkin was in the middle. The 'Marry Me,' 'Yes' and 'No' pumpkins were placed on the bench right before the tee box. The set up process didn't take as long as I thought it would, so we sat ourselves in the hostel to wait until 7:30 p.m. (the time Jenna would be walking out the door). This was the time I finally started getting nervous and started pacing around.

"When Jenna came walking down the string of lights, I couldn't have been happier. I saw her wiping tears away, smiling, and shaking. When she got to where I was standing, I took her hand and walked her in front of the bench and told her how much she means to me and how I want to spend the rest of my life with her. I took a knee and asked her to marry me. I couldn't express the amount of joy I had when she said 'Yes!' Then I asked her to blow out the 'No' candle, so all that was lit was 'Marry Me' and 'Yes.'

"I told her I had one more surprise for her and we walked back into the OBR. To her surprise her parents, her brother, my parents, my sister, Brent and Alyssa were waiting to congratulate us. We then proceeded to our table where champagne and cake were waiting for us. It was such a special night for the both of us and it was so much fun celebrating with so many friends and family."

The event as told by Old Barn co-owner

Shirley Endres, co-owner with Doug Brenna of The Old Barn Resort, said she "thought it was adorable the way Andrew wanted to come and meet and discuss options so as not to interrupt business as normal for the barn -really, this is 'our' Jenna getting engaged!" She added that she sure hoped it would interrupt business as normal!

She continued, "My job was to usher Jenna toward the appropriate door exactly at 7:30 and hand her the card that Andrew asked me to give to her (I think she thought she was getting fired!). I told her everything will be all right as I handed her the card. She immediately ripped the envelope open and opened the card to see whom it was from. She finally read it quickly and had this calm crazy (yes, both are possible at the same time) look on her face, like 'is this really happening?'

"So I opened the door for her and showed her the lights down the ramp, and out into her future she went. Once she was out the door, everyone in the Barn got busy - some were decorating their reserved table (under the name of Julie Ett) and others were stepping in for Jenna's bar/waitress duties, and Al (Marzoff) going down to the hostel where the family and friends were stationed to let them know they could go out and meet Jenna and Andrew at the engagement site.

"I also thought it was kind of cute that 'tough guy' Doug (Brenna) (acting like he's Dad at the time giving her away) was at the bottom of the ramp to let her know which way to go (she obviously was a little disoriented with the excitement).

"It was all very exciting and very nice that we could all be as much a part of it as we were! There are just some people that you would do anything for and Jenna is one of them! We're so happy for Jenna and Andrew."

Their lives before each other

Jenna grew up in Preston and graduated from Fillmore Central in 2005. After high school, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse with a degree in Exercise and Sports Science. She is currently working in Continuing Medical Education at Mayo Clinic.

She had worked as a server at the Old Barn throughout her college years and for a couple of years after graduation while she searched for a job. So it was "a very large part of her life for seven years."

She said, "I very much value the friendships I've formed with everyone there, especially my co-workers!"

After she started at Mayo in July 2012, she continued as a weekend part-timer at the Barn. She and Andrew began dating in February 2012.

Andrew grew up in Sauk Rapids, Minn., and is a 2005 graduate of Sauk-Rapids-Rice High School. He graduated from Minnesota State University - Mankato, and currently teaches K-6 physical education and coaches boys' basketball and football at Kingsland School District in Spring Valley.

Wedding plans

Jenna said she has always wanted a fall wedding, and so the couple has set the date for October 19, 2013. That specific date was chosen because it is MEA weekend and school will be out for the four-day weekend. That makes it the ideal date for Andrew because, in addition to no classes for a couple of days, there will be no football game on Friday night.

The ceremony will be at Christ Lutheran Church in Preston, with a reception at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Rochester. Jenna said, "I'm not sure there will be any surprises quite like the engagement was, but I guess I can never be sure. Andrew has been pretty helpful with wedding plans, which shouldn't be surprising given all the planning he put into the engagement!"

That seems a bit of an understatement, given the proposal he engineered.

Either way, their engagement event has to go down in history as one of the most romantic - and inclusive of family and friends - that has ever happened. It certainly is a great way to start a life together.