Jennifer Lettman was sitting in a gallery at the Palm Beach County Courthouse on Feb. 7 when she saw a juror who looked like her boyfriend’s father. The Link & Rockenbach lawyer was in attendance to sit in on a DUI trial being litigated by her romantic partner, Assistant State Attorney Brandon Dinetz, which made the coincidence even odder.
Initially, she didn’t think much of it.
“I almost took out my laptop and started to work,” Lettman said. “When the judge came in and asked for the jury, I stood — as you normally do — and I remember seeing someone who resembled Brandon’s dad. I actually remember thinking I wanted to tell him that later.”
But soon Lettman recognized more familiar faces among the jury, including her own father and sister. At first, she kept quiet and remained consummately professional. But as Dinetz’s opening statement turned to the meaning of love and “the indescribable feeling of warmth you get from another person,” the reality of what was happening set in for Lettman.
“That’s when it clicked,” she said. “That’s when the tears starting coming.”
As Lettman would later learn, Dinetz spent nearly two months preparing the moment he would get on one knee and ask for her hand in marriage — in the last place she expected: their usual place of work.
Watch the proposal here:
“The courtroom idea was the idea from the very beginning; I just didn’t know how exactly I’d pull it off,” Dinetz said of his ambitious wedding proposal. It made for a fitting venue, as the couple first connected in 2016 while working at the State Attorney’s Office.
“We met during his first week at the office and I was involved in a training session with the new hires,” Lettman said. Both of them described their interest in one another as near-instantaneous.
“We started dating about two months after we started working together,” Dinetz said. “We moved in with each other about a year into our relationship, got a dog and an apartment together. Once we were coming up on a year and a half, I knew there was no one else I wanted to be with.”
In order to realize his vision of surprising Lettman in a courtroom surrounded by the people closest to them, Dinetz took extra precautions to ensure everything would be above board.
“We made sure we cleared it ethically to make sure there were no issues or conflicts,” Dinetz said. This included finding a day that a courtroom would have no scheduled hearings, as well as ensuring no attorneys present were attending at taxpayer’s expense or while on company time. “I took the day off,” Dinetz said. “Everyone involved was on their lunch break or a volunteer.”
Dinetz even had to involve Lettman’s boss to ensure her schedule was clear for that day.
“There were a lot of moving parts to make sure that everything was done, … that everything worked out,” Dinetz said. He described the proposal itself as “a really happy moment for all of us,” including the couple’s friends and family.
“It sounded like she was almost laughing and then crying when she realized what was going on,” said Dinetz, who couldn’t see Lettman while he was presenting to the “jury.”
“She was amazed that I was able to keep it a secret so long, and she was amazed how many people were involved that didn’t let slip what was going to happen,” he said. “It was the first time she said she’s truly been surprised by something.”
His future bride was impressed.
“He knows me so well. Without us ever talking about any ideal proposal, he knew I’d want my close friends and family [present], but not to be super public,” Lettman said. “Everyone who knows us have told me how great we are together, which I never get sick of hearing, so it’s just wonderful they were part of it.”
In the two weeks since, video of the proposal has been viewed more than 10,000 times on YouTube. But even with all of the excitement and attention, Dinetz and Lettman are content to take things easy for now.
“I think I’m out of surprises for a little while,” Dinetz said. “To be honest, I never expected it to get this much attention.” According to him, the couple have yet to start planning the particulars of the wedding itself. “I think we’re just set. It’s really nice to just use the word ‘fiancée.’ ”
Lettman said it’s “ wonderful” that most things about their relationship have remained “exactly the same” since the big day.
“We have a great relationship, which is why there was no pressure for an engagement or a wedding or anything,” she said. “I’ve told him several times I don’t need the engagement. He’s it for me. Even though we were always committed to each other, there’s a nice sense of permanence that comes with it. I also love screaming across the house, ‘Fiancée!’ “