That’s right… I asked, and she said YES!
I PUT A RING ON IT!
I asked the girl of my dreams to marry me on the top of the Cape Kiwanda lookout in Pacific City, Oregon on Sunday March 1. I’ve never done a bigger more important and rewarding thing in my life.
I’m a recovering over-thinker… an over-thinker and a thinker of the things I’m over-thinking. And then I’m thinking about thinking, over-thinking and the over-thinking that I’m now thinking. Whew! I spent the last year both over-thinking and seeking to understand what marriage is, what it means, and why people get married. Like most of us, I grew up with examples of relationships and marriage that I admired and those that I chose to learn from and avoid in my future.
I honestly have moments when I think of marriage and commitment and I feel like I’m 7 years old with a crush on the cutest girl with long wild red hair, a big bright smile and weird funny voices and jokes that always makes me laugh so hard my knees buckle and I can hardly stand up… and now we’re on the playground at recess and I got a ring from the 25 cent machine and today is the day for proposing. Then all our friends will line up sitting parallel to make an aisle and we’ll have a wedding 3 minutes later by the wall ball court.
How am I 32 years old and why do I get to make these big life decisions?
Thank god, I practiced in school.
I’m pretty sure that’s why I still ask Maggie everyday, “Do you wanna hang out?”
No matter how many times she answers yes, I’ll always ask her. Always.
Maggie and I spent long nights wondering very honestly and transparently about whether or not marriage was for us.
What would it change?
What does it mean to us?
What do we believe about it?
Would it change us for the better?
How would it support us and our love?
Are we doing it for us or because that’s the next step?
Once we felt we could answer these questions confidently and in a way that serves us and our relationship we moved on to what we felt it would be like to get married. I worried that engagement makes people cray-cray planners and marriage makes people stagnant. I didn’t want that for us… Now 2 year and 1 month into our relationship, as we’ve created the lives, the careers and the love we have together, I know it’s up to us. All of it.
I believe in us and I believe that we have choice in everything we do, everywhere we venture and how we choose to show up. Marriage supports us. To me it says:
“Yes, I choose you to love and trust and honor.
I choose the extra moment it takes to care, to love, to show up for you.
We figure this life out together, we’re a team,
we’re in this together and I’m not just saying that,
I mean it with everything in me
I will go to the ends of the earth for you.
I carry your heart in my heart and I will guard and protect it always.”
I spent the last couple of months planning the place, the words, the ring, the secrets and the surprise. Maggie spent the last couple of months wondering when, if and how. We agreed that we both would like the joy and the journey of being the one to propose and the one to accept the proposal. I, however, asked that I be the first to propose. My heart has always been set on being the first to propose to Maggie and I’m so grateful she honored that. It was more magical and amazing that I could haveimagined.
So here’s how it happened:
I planned an Oregon Coast getaway for my parents last weekend… at least that’s what Maggie thought. I’d been saying we needed to treat my parents to a trip to the coast for at least 5 months, so this was the perfect cover up. We had been talking about wedding venues around the coast that might be fun to host our wedding, so I made arrangements to go a day earlier than my parents so that we could scout locations and ideas.
I dropped our dog Sophie off at my parents house Friday night and told Maggie that my parents would bring Sophie with them when they came to meet up with us on Sunday. I told Maggie that my Dad had his house chores and honey-do’s to finish up on Saturday and they would meet up with us Sunday. What Maggie didn’t know was that Friday night while she was having dinner with her Aunt and Cousin, I was at my parents house, filling them in on my master plan.
I shared with them how I was going to propose and my Dad (thankfully) taught me the correct knee to drop down to. I spent the next few minutes practicing in their dining room. I practiced that part a lot, actually… When I couldn’t sleep and my heart raced and butterflies filled my stomach, I got out of bed and practiced in the early morning hours in the bathroom. I rehearsed what I was going to say in the mirror, which seemed to evolve nightly. When Maggie wasn’t home, I snuck into my file cabinet where I hid the ring and checked to make sure it was still there and still looked beautiful, sparkly and deserving of her.
Saturday rolled around and we made our way to the coast to enjoy a beautifully relaxing afternoon. We even climbed the dune past the place where I planned to propose the very next day and watched the sunset — the most gorgeous we had ever seen in all of our trips to the coast, before retreating back to our place to catch up on The Bachelor over pizza and a glass of wine. Maggie picked out a movie to watch called Gone Girl. For those that have seen it, it’s not the most ideal movie to watch the night before proposing. A third of the way through the movie I told her I didn’t like it. She said, “I like it.” She likes those murder mystery types. So there I sat with her legs tangled in mine on the couch, half paying attention to the movie and sneaking a peek at her every few minutes thinking:
“You don’t even know I’m going to ask you for forever tomorrow.”
The movie ended and Maggie fell asleep while I lay in bed wide eyed. My heart raced and my mind spun. I thought of every single “what if” and every possible way to ask her. I practiced getting down on my knee in the downstairs bathroom again that night. I held on to my imaginary ring box and grasped for the right words to express a love that leaves me speechless. This was it. There are special times that life presents the most beautiful opportunity to so fully and wholeheartedly give vulnerably… to give her my heart and declare my forever love. I had to do good by her. I had to get it right.
I returned to bed in attempt to sleep again at 3am and woke up at 8am to a text from Ashley and Aaron, our friends and fellow photographers in the wedding industry. They would be joining us on this secret mission. Maggie loves love. She studies love for a living. She captures other people’s moments and it was time to capture ours. While a flash mob proposal sounds like the best thing ever to me, Maggie prefers a more quiet, intimate and organic setting with just us. So, I did my best to both capture us and to honor her in our moment together.
I renamed Ashley’s contact info in my phone as “Mom” just to be sure I was really living the story I’d told Maggie. Ashley captured our story from the beginning with a series she did on us called Morning Stories, visually depicting how we greet the day and live our mornings together. You sure can learn a lot about people, their time, their love and their presence in the world through their morning routine. Ashley helped us see our love and our life together in a whole new way when we were just starting out. We love and cherish what she captured for us and the story of our lives that her photos share. Aaron frequently posts photos of their kids on Instagram and we adore how they both capture life so organically as it unfolds and the stories they share. I had the best team on my side for this one.
We had about 2 hours to wait until Ashley and Aaron arrived. I didn’t want Maggie to get up and going too fast or we might end up accidentally crossing paths with them, so I played it cool and plopped down on the couch for a bit… Maggie joined me and we both closed our eyes. My heart raced and I hoped she wouldn’t cuddle in too close and feel my nerves. “10 minutes to just relax and breathe and get present,” I thought. Then I would go shower and get ready to go.
While I thought of everything, I didn’t think of this one thing…
We FELL ASLEEP…
For an HOUR!
I woke up, literally jumped off the couch and checked my phone. Our friends had arrived. They were ready for us.
I told Maggie that I really wanted to climb the dune before my parents got to town. She thought they were arriving at noon, so we had a bit of time. I quickly got ready, picked my outfit and when Maggie seemed to be half asleep still, I told her “I’m winning at this getting ready thing.” Without hesitation she replied, “It’s not a race unless I’m winning” and she hurried up.
This girl was tweezing her eyebrows, analyzing why she had dry skin on her forehead, and slowly applying her makeup and dabbling with what to wear. I had to do something! To subtly encourage her to change from her bright green sleep shirt with LOVE written in giant block white font across the front of it, I gently pointed out how much “I love that peach shirt on you!” and she changed. I rarely, if ever, share my opinion about her outfits. I knew it was risky, but it worked.
We headed to the dune.
I texted my “Mom” updates along the way…
“We’ve got eyes on you” “Mom” replied and then the updates stopped.
This was it. 50 yards and we would be at the spot.
We reached the point and I looked around casually for a sign that my co-conspirators were ready. I saw a quick dash through the trees and moved into position just as we were greeted by a sweet dog who almost gave our photographers away.
I took my sunglasses off and faced Maggie.
I pulled her sunglasses from her face and placed them in the camera bag strapped to my back.
I smiled and she smiled back, looking right into my eyes.
I took a deep breath, reached for her hands, and said, “My parents aren’t coming.”
“Why not?” she replied concerned and confused.
I continued, “My parents aren’t coming because this weekend is about us. It’s about our love. It’s about our lives, our adventures and our future together.”
Overcome by the moment, tears began to well up in my eyes. I had barely started. It felt surreal looking into her eyes. The sun pointed directly at her face and lit her bright blue eyes beautifully. I moved a bit so that my head and faux hawked hair provided her some shade. The last 2 years flashed through my mind and at the same time all the world around us was silent. The people passing by, the ocean roaring below and sometimes my own words felt silent in the moment. I felt myself talking and my body moving. I felt my hands in her hands and continued:
“2 years ago this week I drank cheap red wine and slow danced with you in your apartment to “Feel Again” by One Republic. I told you that I was falling in love with you. Today, I can’t imagine my life without you. You make me better. You add so much life, so much goodness, so much happiness and laughter and joy to my world. We’re better together. I’ve never been more sure of anything than to spend my life with you.”
Our eyes locked on each other and as I look back now I have no idea how I managed to say it all the way I pictured, but when you’ve got one shot, you do it right. Happy tears fell from her face as she smiled at me.
The words emerged from my mouth perfectly as I’d planned, “You’ve given me the greatest happiness and love and belief in me in 2 years. I’m so grateful. I will spend my lifetime giving all my love, support and happiness to you in return…”
I paused and took a deep breath, reached in my pocket, pulled the sweetest little navy blue octagon shaped box with a gold stripe and gold latch from my pocket. I opened it to present to her and dropped to my right knee. I asked the biggest question I’ve asked of anyone else in my life:
“It’s time for our next adventure together…
Maggie, will you marry me?”
Maggie sweetly and quietly said, “Yes.” and reached for the ring like a trophy she might hold up in victory as I extended it to her.
“Can I have your left hand?” I asked, smiling.
I pulled the ring from it’s sweet little navy blue box and placed this beautiful 1920’s vintage champagne diamond on her ring finger. It fit! And OMG, it looks absolutely gorgeous on her. “She’s mine!” I thought to myself.
I stood up, kissed her and wrapped her in the biggest hug I could muster. I leaned in and whispered, “I told you, I shoes you. And today I shoes you forever.”
Our “shoesing” of each other started this very same beach 2 years prior. While getting our shoes on in the car to go play at the beach, I shared with her how a friend of mine and her now husband choose each other everyday as their way of committing and reminding themselves and each other of what’s most important. So Maggie said, “I choose you…” then pointed at her shoe as she put it on and said, “I shooooes you.” I laughed so hard at her joke and that’s the way it’s been ever since — we shoes each other. Everyday.
Unknown to me, a small group of people had formed. They stayed quiet while I proposed and the moment I rose from my knee to kiss her, they erupted in excitement. Their cheers, congratulations and clapping surrounded us. “Congratulations, you both are so effing cute!” came from one teenage girl.
I turned away from the lookout to the treed area and asked, “Do you recognize anyone up there?”
Ashley and Aaron and their two spy kids who were tracking our whereabouts on a mission they coined “Silent but Deadly” named appropriately after the car ride to the coast earlier that morning, emerged from the shaded area. The spy kids wore their spy glasses, cool kicks and Daniel Boone hat. Ashley and Aaron greeted us with congratulatory hugs and proud happy smiles. We took a few more photos and they were off, like the secret agents that they are. Thank you, truly.
The proposal wasn’t over.
I still had a letter to read that I had written Maggie along the way explaining all the secrets and sneakiness I was up to for the last month or so. We walked down to a grassy sitting spot overlooking Cape Kiwanda and I turned to her and read this letter as if it was the greatest honor to declare, because it was. She cried as I told her I had asked her Dad to lunch and for his blessing. He said, “I think that would be a good idea” after stating “We know Maggie. She’s the happiest now than she’s ever been.” I shared how hard it is to keep secrets and where I was when I said I was “getting groceries” or “at my Mom’s house.” I shared all the things along the way that I couldn’t tell her at the time, but that I wanted always to remember and share.
We took it in, sat with each other just feeling and being in the moment and loving. I’ve never felt so present and connected as I did then. Life felt the same but different, I was still figuring it out. We hiked around, poked our fingers in the tide pools and made our way to get lunch and a celebratory beer at the Pelican Pub & Brewery. We ran into friends from Portland who were passing through. We shared the news and caught up on life. We were even surprised by the sweetest couple sitting at a window seat nearby who bought our drinks for us and came over to congratulate us and share what a beautiful spot we chose and wish us well on our journey together. We began making phone calls to our parents from the restaurant.
It really couldn’t have been more perfect.
We retreated to the townhouse we stayed at (thank you Ali D., you, too, were my love co-conspirator!) and continued talking about the people who got us here, who have supported us all this way and who have loved us and cheered us on. We made those calls, sent videos to those we couldn’t reach right away and shared our news and our heartfelt heaps of gratitude.
We slept for about 4 hours that night, sitting awake from 2-6am talking about life.
At one point Maggie said, “My finger misses the ring, can I wear it now since we’re up?”
A-freaking-dorable!!! I welcomed the moment, in the middle of the night or not, to sit by the fire and talk about life, to laugh and smile and enjoy it all.
We took off Monday and explored the coastline, plotting Oregon Coast venue ideas. We topped off the trip with coffee and a walk on the beach in Cannon Beach and headed back to my parents to pick up Sophie and eat dinner. My Dad congratulated and hugged us from the driveway and my Mom wanted to hear the story and asked to see Maggie’s ring.
Today we’re Fiancés and we’re enjoying it.
We continue to chat with friends and family. We feel so loved and supported beyond anything we ever knew. Talk about showing up for people you love and for love itself.
To all of you who lost your freaking minds in a fit of awesome girly screams (you know who you are), THANK YOU.
To those of you who shared with us the most genuine and honoring words of affirmation for our choice, our love and our lives together when we told you, THANK YOU.
And to those of you who shared your greatest advise and learnings, we’re so grateful.
We will always remember this and you.
You are a part of our story and our lives.
We love you.