Planning a wedding starts with the engagement…

Engagement1It only makes sense to start the wedding blog with the story of the engagement. I’ve always known I wanted to get married, but I definitely have NOT been planning it since I was a little girl. While I knew Doug would propose eventually, I wasn’t sure when it was going to happen. I knew my mother had offered him a ring my father gave her on their 25th anniversary (they celebrated 40 this year!) so he could set the diamond (it was a solitaire) into something unique for me. What I DIDN’T know was that Doug had been planning the proposal for nearly 8 months and had my mother’s ring hidden in our apartment for months (from when we saw them at the holidays). I didn’t even know that they talked about it, and I definitely did not know that she had already given it to him!

The weeks leading up to our 2 year anniversary made me a bit suspicious. Doug had told me months in advance to take the day off, which wasn’t unusual – I knew we would want to do something together to celebrate. The suspicious part was that Doug wouldn’t tell me what he had planned. I eventually figured out that it ended with dinner in Malibu, but I didn’t know what the rest of the day had in store for us.

I saw my mother the week before while visiting my grandmother. My mom, who isn’t a great actress when it comes to keeping secrets, threw me completely off track. When I told her that “I think Doug might propose on our anniversary,” she told me to “not get my hopes up” and “holding my breath for that won’t let me enjoy the rest of the day and surprise.” She even told me I shouldn’t get a manicure – because then he might think I’m expecting it. Points to mom.

It’s here that I must interject – since this was our 2 year anniversary, I had planned in advance to give him the best gift I could ever imagine – a first edition, first printing copy of his favorite book of all time – George Orwell’s 1984. I presented it to him first thing in the morning and he was speechless – I knew I surprised him and I was feeling good…little did I know that he got my the one present that could top that…

Now, this is where it gets interesting. He continued to keep the location a secret, but prepared me to dress in comfortable clothes/sneakers and bring my dinner clothes with me. At this point, I assumed it was going to include some form of physical activity, but didn’t know what it was until we arrived at the first site – the Rising Sun trail in Malibu.

For those of you not familiar with hiking in Malibu, this is a relatively moderate hike – and on any normal day, it would have been fine. I am not an avid hiker, but I enjoy the occasional trail and adventure for a couple hours. This trail twists and turns up the sides of the mountains, heading to the highest points – and, as it is called the Rising Sun train, it doesn’t have any shade or relief.

the view was gorgeous
the view was gorgeous

Again, on a regular early-May day in Southern California, this would have been a great way to kick off our anniversary. HOWEVER, some of you may remember the 100 degree heat wave that hit in late April/early May 2014. This day was no exception – it was HOT. Here we were, on this adventure Doug had been planning for MONTHS (assuming the weather would be how it always is in May – beautiful) and I was dressed in all black. I struggled up the trail, needing to stop every 100 feet or so – carrying my camera bag and needing to rub ice from the coolers all over my body to keep myself from overheating. Poor Doug – he was carrying his backpack and both coolers!

After cursing him up the mountain, and him promising me “the end is worth it” while silently thinking “she’s going to want to turn around and I’m gonna have to propose in the parking lot,” we made it to the “end” – a secluded spot with trees, rocks, and a waterfall. There was one other couple there, up on the rocks near the waterfall, so we set out our blanket and had some fruit and (for me) Diet Coke. Once the couple left, and we were the only ones there, Doug suggested we go over on the rocks to take pictures. I took a series of photos before Doug suggested we get down and move to the rocks on the other side of the waterfall. I agreed and tried to steady myself and we started to climb down.

As I stood on the rock, and Doug stepped down in front of me, he turned around and said “oh, one more thing” and I saw a black velvet box in his hand. Even though I recognized it as a ring box, my brain did not catch up until it was open and he was trying to balance on one knee on the rocks. “Sooooo…you wanna marry me? I mean, will you marry me?”

this is the exact spot where he got down on one knee!
this is the exact spot where he got down on one knee!

I covered my mouth in the most cliche way and tears welled up in my eyes. I nodded and probably said “yes” a couple dozen times. I screamed, yelled at the top of my lungs, and tried to catch my breath. Doug helped me down and we went over to the other rocks. Once we were there, he put the ring on my finger and we took pictures, although I think I was still in shock.

We made our way back to the blanket and Doug opened the OTHER cooler – the one with champagne and cake (this man knows me well). The best part? We didn’t have any cell reception, so for a couple hours – we were the only people in the world who knew we were engaged – and that was pretty damn awesome. We immediately started talking plans, confirming that we wanted to get married a year from that day – the same date we started dating 2 years prior. May 2nd will be our “everything” day.


Once we made our way down to the car (the hike from the waterfall back was short, in the shade, and on concrete…good to know) and I resisted the urge to tell everyone we passed that we were engaged. I figured strangers on the trail shouldn’t find out before our family and friends…

We changed and heading to dinner. Once we got back out on the road, we had service and started calling everyone. My parents knew it was going to be that day (give my mom an Oscar already!) and so did my best friend from college (who answered her phone with an all-knowing “heeellllloooooooo?”). Everyone celebrated with us and wished us well. It still felt surreal.

We made our way to the Sunset restaurant on the beach. Doug had made reservations (and had indicated that we would be celebrating our engagement), but the restaurant kinda screwed up and forgot to bring us champagne or congratulate us (even thought it was extremely obvious what we were talking about!). At first, it didn’t really matter, as we were just excited…but then another couple sat down one table over – and they had just gotten engaged too. The restaurant was all over them with the congratulations, champagne, and flowers (not sure if he had them sent there or the restaurant provided them, but still). You know what? Even though that kinda sucked, it didn’t ruin how perfect the day was and how excited we were to spend the rest of our lives together. But, hey, if you work in a restaurant and a couple is talking about how they just got engaged and/or staring at the ring, you should probably wish them well.

at the beach in Malibu
at the beach in Malibu

One of the best reactions came from my friend Melissa, who will be our officiant. When I called her, it was 10pm on the East Coast and she said she saw my name on her phone and goes “why would Meredith be calling me at 10pm on her anniversary….OHMYGOD MEREDITH IS CALLING ME AT 10PM ON HER ANNIVERSARY!” We waited until we got home to put it on Facebook and then the rest of the world knew.

The excitement is still there. I’ve had a smile on my face the entire time I wrote this. I couldn’t have asked for a more thoughtful, romantic, and special proposal. He’s a keeper.

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