Callie and Bhavik

Image 1 of Callie and Bhavik

How We Met

Our story begins wayyyy back as Bhavik and I attended the same middle school and high school. We did not run in the same crowds or even speak to each other until our senior year of high school. He asked me to prom by spelling out, “Prom?” on the back of my truck in Hershey’s candy bars (my favorite)! We continued dating throughout college. He attended Georgia Tech and I attended the University of North Georgia. Our entire relationship had been spent visiting each other on the weekends until I got accepted to Georgia State University to complete my Doctorate in Physical Therapy in Atlanta! At this time, Bhavik was working in investment banking in Buckhead.

Image 2 of Callie and Bhavik

Once I moved to Atlanta, we were only a 5-minute drive from each other, and both incredibly happy to leave the hour/hour and a half drives in the past. However, life changes and Bhavik accepted a job in Charleston, SC after only 9 months of finally being in the same city together. Now we were facing weekend dating once again and our hearts were all but broken to see 5 minutes turn into 5 hours. His move to Charleston was a little over a year ago, and we’ve been riding the weekend dating wave again ever since. However, after 8 years in total of crashing onto each other’s shores on Friday just to be swept back out to sea on Sunday, we will soon be looking for a ship of our own where we can sail together from here on.

How They Asked

A couple of days before the weekend, Bhavik called me and told me to pack athletic clothes as well as something nice for dinner on Saturday. He told me about a month or so ago that he had plans for his birthday this year. He knows I love surprises, so he was keeping our destination a secret. I’m not going to lie. We have been dating for over 8 years, and his birthday was the only day in the near future he had something planned for us that I didn’t know about, so I was a tiny bit hopeful that July 14th might hold more than just a birthday celebration. However, I was determined not to make the day about “me” because Bhavik has always been low key about his birthdays in the past, and I was just happy he made plans and actually wanted to celebrate it this year. On the morning of July 14th, we headed out early for our unknown destination. This entire day was such a rollercoaster in my mind.

I was secretly looking for clues or signs that we might be headed toward a picnic in the woods or a special hike somewhere as we headed southwest of Atlanta driving down backroads. The best way I can describe my state of being that day is that I had an underlying hope that I was consciously suppressing over and over again. I had an inkling of where we were going to that morning when he told me to wear athletic clothes because we both had been wanting to go to zip lining for years and we were headed in the direction of historic Banning Mills. Sure enough, we pulled into the Banning Mills zip lining parking lot, and my heart sunk just a little as I realized we were in fact just going zip lining. Luckily, my excitement beat out my momentary disappointment as we soared through trees and over a beautiful river for 5 hours, all leading up to the ultimate zip line they offer, called Flight of the Falcon. (It’s awesome and you should definitely look up a video of that zip line)!

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We were starving once our morning adventure was completed, and stopped to eat lunch at Plates on the Square in Carrollton, Ga on our way back to Atlanta. The weather forecast called for it to rain all day, but it wasn’t until we sat down to eat that, came a downpour. It continued to rain on us all the way back to Atlanta. Bhavik had also told me the night before to pack a bag because we were going to be staying somewhere on Saturday night. I was in the process of moving out of my apartment in Atlanta and we had already shut down cable and internet, so I didn’t think too much of him wanting to stay somewhere nice on his birthday night. As we were driving through the streets of Atlanta, I was fighting off visions of heading toward a private dinner set up in the apartment Bhavik owned in Atlanta where he would say, “This is ours now. I’m moving back to Atlanta. Will you marry me?”. That wasn’t happening as we rolled into the valet line for the W Hotel in downtown Atlanta. Fancy, I thought, but unlike Bhavik to stay somewhere downtown as he’s more of a Midtown or Buckhead kinda guy. Another opportunity arose in my mind that if he was planning something, the hostess checking us in would hand us champagne once we reached the desk or treat us differently somehow. Instead, I was deflated once again as we had a very pleasant, but average check-in experience. We took the elevator up to the room, where Bhavik reminded me we needed to change quickly and head out so we wouldn’t miss out dinner reservations. He opened the door and we walked into a corner suite with floor to ceiling windows and a spectacular view of the city. Not to mention, the room was filled with rose petals everywhere on the floor, on the bed, and in the bathroom as well. There were two bottles of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries on the table too. Now, I know at this point I should have absolutely known something else was going on other than his birthday celebration, BUT he played it off SO well (and let’s not forget the constant conscious suppression going on allllll dayyyy long) that I became convinced the decor was not for a proposal. Bhavik immediately exclaimed, “They decorated for my birthday!” once we walked into the room. I half looked at him like he was crazy. “They did this for…..your birthday?” I questioned.

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He explained to me that when he called to make the reservations, he told the hotel he was staying there for his birthday celebration and that his girlfriend would be celebrating with him as well. He was totally playing up the birthday “card” and I honestly bought it. Nice hotels are a little extra sometimes. Bhavik was also a Starwood Preferred Guest and traveled a lot for work. It all added up to me that they would decorate for his birthday. Inside, the depression began as I was imagining what could have been. Outside, I masked my inner sadness by making a funny Snapchat story out of the situation and sending it to my friends. The story was complete with a “crying” shower Snapchat singing along with the song “Everybody Hurts.” Meanwhile, Bhavik saw my shenanigans and while we joked at my silliness, I was full on prepared to have a you-know-this-would-have-been-so-romantic-if-you-had-proposed-tonight-what-where-you-thinking conversation with him over dinner shortly.

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Once dressed and ready, (Bhavik picked out a dress he had bought me in London last year for me to wear to dinner) we headed out the door and down to our car which I had heard Bhavik call for while I was finishing my hair. In the lobby, we stopped at the desk, and Bhavik turned to me and said we had one more stop to make before dinner. He spoke with the hostess at the desk who introduced him to a security guard standing nearby. Bhavik told me he wanted to head to the rooftop bar for a drink before dinner. We shook hands with the security officer who led us back to a door behind the lobby leading to two hidden elevators. Ok, I thought.

Again, this is a very nice hotel and they’re just being extra by having their guests escorted by a security officer to the rooftop bar. I commended them in my head as it I realized it did make me feel important and special to be escorted nicely somewhere. It wasn’t until about halfway up the elevator ride I realized the security guard had hit the “H” button. I then remembered seeing in the lobby when we checked in that the hotel has a helipad. Whaaaattttt is going on, I thought at this point. Sure enough, the doors opened to reveal nothing but industrial rooftop and stairs leading up to the W helipad! I turned to Bhavik with a bewildered look on my face and tried to just play it cool like this was something normal people do on their birthdays. Bhavik asked the security officer if we could walk around on the helipad before the helicopter arrived. The security guard okayed it and we stepped up to the most breathtaking view of Atlanta I had ever seen.

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Luckily (or divinely as I like to think of it), the rain had stopped when we reached Atlanta and the sky around sunset time was BEAUTIFUL. We stepped back as the helicopter neared and landed. I looked at Bhavik, questioning, as he continued to play up the birthday theme. I told him he must really be feeling the “big” 26? The next 30-40 minutes we spent circling Atlanta, Buckhead, the King and Queen buildings, and everything in between. It was nothing short of spectacular as our ride was smooth and the conversation flowed between us and the pilot.

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We landed back on the W helipad, and Bhavik asked the pilot if we could continue walking around and soak in the view of the city at sunset. The pilot was all for it and instructed us to head back toward the stairs until he was in the air again. I looked over to the stairs and noticed another man next to the security officer, but thought nothing of it because he was dressed just like the security officer and appeared to be fixing something near the staircase. We exited the chopper, stood down by the stairs, and watched the helicopter take off. Bhavik and I walked back onto the helipad, stood together, and continued to take in the view. After a minutes or so, Bhavik turned toward me and pulled a box of Sucrets out of his pocket, asked me if I wanted a Sucret, to which I half laughed and full on looked at him like he was crazy replying, “No?” From then on it was a blur as he got down on one knee, opened the Sucrets box to reveal a custom-made matchbox shrine housing two GORGEOUS rings! (Bhavik had only seen a screenshot on my phone of these rings and since we hadn’t ever talked about me wanting the top one as an engagement ring and the bottom one for my wedding band, he proposed with both of them….lol). Neither he nor I can remember what he said. All I remember is him asking me to “just say yes” before he even asked me to marry him. He, of course, backtracked and popped the question to which I replied “YES!”

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All of the sudden we hear cheering behind us and look over to see about 5 people standing on their balcony who saw the proposal. I then realized the second security officer was actually a photographer documenting the special moment.

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As I got closer to the photographer, I realized it was a good family friend who our family has known for years. It was so special to me that Bhavik thought to have him be the one to take our pictures, and it was even more special that he agreed because he specializes in sports photography and does not typically do engagement or wedding shoots. I was so in shock from the entire day and the moment that all I remember doing is pacing back and forth and saying, “What? I don’t even know what to say right now.” It felt like someone had knocked the breath out of me, honestly. We eventually made our way back down to the lobby where we hopped in my car and drove to Nan Thai Fine Dining where Bhavik had made dinner reservations. This was the restaurant we had always gone to celebrate special occasions in our lives, so it was only fitting we celebrate this monumental day here as well. The dinner was extremely special because it was just the two of us and I got to quiz Bhavik about every little detail leading up to the proposal.

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I didn’t cry until he told me about meeting with my dad for lunch the week before and asking for his blessing. He also told me how he had contacted the artist in Asheville, NC, who makes matchbox shrines, to create a truly one-of-a-kind ring box for me. We had both visited her shop months ago where I fell in love with her work and bought a matchbox for myself.

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We both were so overcome with excitement and emotion that we ordered food but had to ask for it to go because both of our stomachs were in knots from the day. The waitresses were extremely kind and understanding as they celebrated with us and brought us two glasses of champagne. We almost closed the restaurant down talking and laughing. We called our families, who were ecstatic! Bhavik hadn’t told his parents (who happened to be in London at the time) he was even planning to propose, so when we got a call from his mother at 4 AM London time, I was almost positive Bhavik was going to hear it from her.

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She ended up being overjoyed and not mad at all that she didn’t know ahead of time. We stayed up spreading the news until around 3 AM and eventually fell asleep, exhausted. If you’ve made it to the end of this saga, thank you for being a trooper, and thank you for reading the best day of my life.

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Special Thanks

Jay Boatwright
 | Photographer
 | Ring box designer