ASHEVILLE, N.C. — You've got to hand it to Arun Rubenstein — the man knows how to ad lib.
For a few months now he's known he was going to propose to his girlfriend, Elyse Kline. He had even settled on Dec. 9 as the magic day.
"I had something else planned for today — we were supposed to go on a hike with close friends and then have a gathering afterward," said Rubenstein, 31. "We ended up canceling the whole thing."
Winter Storm: Heavy Snow is Over, But a Wintry Mix Continues
That's because a colossal winter storm dumped close to a foot of snow on Asheville, limiting travel. So Rubenstein pivoted.
He and Kline, who have been together for 18 months, live in East Asheville, but they decided to bunk over at Kline's parents’ house in Kenilworth. Sunday morning, they went outside with Kline's daughter, Chloe, 4, and the rest of the family to build a snowman and go sledding.
'Check out this ice'
"I saw Arun messing around with the snowman, and then he said, 'Hey Elyse, check out this ice,'" said Kline, 31. "So I walked over there, and I thought he was going to throw a snowball at me or something, but it was an open ring box in the snow."
While the two had talked marriage, Kline said she was still "stunned."
"He said, 'I have everything I've ever wanted. Will you marry me?'" Kline said. "I started crying and I didn't say anything, so he said, 'Say yes.' And I did."
Kline, who works as a sales account executive, has known Rubenstein since they both attended Asheville High School. Her father, Robert, a physician, has seen Rubenstein as a patient since Rubenstein was 2 years old.
She knows his personality inside and out, but Rubenstein still surprised her.
"I was completely shocked," Elyse Kline said. "I thought maybe he would propose over the holiday season, potentially, because we had been talking marriage. But I was completely blown away it happened today."
But she was not surprised that her now-fiance employed some of his hallmark humor.
"I figured he would really surprise me, and I would not be surprised if a pun was involved," Kline said. "That's definitely on point with his personality."
'It couldn't have been more perfect'
While it all came off as slick as Asheville's secondary roads on Sunday, Rubenstein said his heart was beating out of his chest.
"Oh man, I was nervous," said Rubenstein, a physical therapist. "I was getting ready to do it. I had the ring in my pocket, and right when I was getting ready to do it, a friend of mine walks down the street and comes up to me, and I was like, 'Dude, get out of here!'"
The friend skedaddled, and Rubenstein dropped to one knee.
"I'll never forget it," Kline said. "It was perfect, with my family there, my daughter and and my parents right there. For me, it couldn’t have been more perfect, the way he did it."
Rubenstein even involved Kline's mother, Kathie Kline.
"He asked me to take pictures beforehand, but it took me a minute to realize it was happening when he went down on one knee," Kathie Kline said. "The timing was perfect, Elyse was 100 percent surprised and we're all thrilled beyond words."
The happy couple haven't set a date, but they plan to marry within a year, Rubenstein said.
For now, they're just savoring the epic snowstorm of December 2018 with a memory that'll last a lifetime.
"This is the perfect day," Rubenstein said.