"Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do that. For what the world needs is more people who have come alive."
-Howard Thurman

Friday, November 20, 2015

Our Proposal Story

"Sometimes, right in the middle of an ordinary life,
love gives us a fairytale."

June 29th: With my boyfriend
Every year my entire family on my mom's side vacations at Litchfield beach. It's a very special tradition for us and a special place for our family. I have gone every year since I was born, and Paul has become part of that tradition the past several years. Every year at the beach is special- it's a sort of charmed place- a little piece of heaven for my family and I where I have always found peace and the joy of being surrounded by family. It is a place that has retained the magic it always had for me growing up, and has become even more sentimental for me as I have gotten older and realized what a treasure it is to share this tradition with a big loving family that I couldn't be more grateful for, and to watch as the next generation of our family grows up spending summers together just like my cousins and I all did. But this year, something extra special happened in this special place.

July 1st: With my fiancé (and a very special sparkler ;)
My fireworks definitely came early this year!
Paul wanted to propose at the beach because of the meaning it held and so that my whole family would be there, so he was planning to propose on the beach that Friday evening and had a photographer hired to capture the moment and everything. Meanwhile, with no idea what he was planning, I was planning a surprise photo shoot on the beach for the two of us for that Wednesday as an anniversary present. Just like him, I thought that capturing photos of us in a place that held such a special meaning would be precious. So essentially, we were planning the same surprise for each other at the same time, except his surprise came with a little extra sparkle ;) When my mom found out about the surprise I was planning, she already knew what Paul was planning, and so she told him about my surprise. With me still thinking the photo shoot was a complete surprise, Paul secretly contacted my photographers and made arrangements with them to hijack my photo shoot without me knowing.

I "surprised" Paul and we went to the studio (where everyone played off very well that they were all meeting for the first time- so sneaky!). Paul left me at Carter Studios to get my hair and makeup done (and put the final touches on his plan!) and met up with Jonathan and Heather Carter and me at Huntington State Park.

Our proposal story began at Atalaya Castle, the historic estate of Anna and Archer Huntington, perched on the edge of the dunes, overlooking the beach. Archer Huntington built Atalaya for his wife, Anna. It was her dream home and an escape for her where she could enjoy the beauty of nature and sit in the courtyard working on the art she so dearly loved to create. Today, the eighty-year-old castle stands as a tribute to their love story and a symbol of enduring romance. As a little girl who lived in princess dress-ups growing up, a real life castle was the perfect setting for our fairytale to begin. Little did I know my own prince charming was about to sweep me off my feet.

We took photos all around the grounds of Atalaya. Paul was noticeably sweating, which is completely unlike him, so of course I kept teasing him. "You are sweating!" "It's hot!" "It's not that hot!' haha. Heather Carter chimed in "aw he's just nervous being in front of the camera." I didn't suspect a thing at the time, but later it became pretty clear what all that sweating was really about :p

As the sun began to hang lower in the sky, we decided to head down to the beach. Jonathan and
Heather Carter told us they would go set up on the beach and pointed out a beautiful little path draped by branches from overhanging trees which created a sort of arch over it. They told us to head down that path to join them on the beach when we were ready. I had a dress I wanted to change into, so I changed, and Paul and I began walking out the beach. As we were walking, Paul began talking. I will never forget the moment I realized he was about to propose. In that moment, it was as if time froze momentarily as the entire world around us shifted into this dreamlike state that didn't feel like reality.

Quite honestly, I sort of blacked out and everything seemed like a surreal blur...but I will never forget the beautiful things Paul said to me. We emerged onto the dunes and Paul dropped down to one knee, pulled out a shell which was holding the most gorgeous ring I had ever seen, and asked me to marry him. I was shaking and crying and unable to process everything. It was an indescribable feeling, a beautiful state of shock and joy- I just couldn't believe this was really happening!

We both aren't sure if I even said yes, but, as the video confirms, I definitely did give him the wrong hand (luckily, one of us knew what was going on and the ring made it on the correct finger). I kept joking afterwards that I had only one job in that scenario and I literally did everything wrong. But it was perfect.

As the sun set, we spent a few moments just the two of us soaking in what had just happened. When we got back to our timeshare, my entire family (30+ aunts, uncles, and cousins) was waiting (and surprised me again!) with champagne and cake and had the whole apartment decorated with photos of us. It was so special.

The most beautiful part was that my sweet granny had just passed away a couple months prior, and her and my Pop (who is shown at the beginning of the video) had started the beach tradition which meant so much to her. Paul had Granny's diamond re-set into my engagement ring, and so although she was missing from the celebration, she was truly at the center of it. It couldn't have been any more perfect.