Ciarra and Oliver

How We Met

Oli and I met in September 2015 through mutual friends from San Francisco who were visiting New York City. Oli had recently moved from SF to NYC to attend Columbia University and I was just starting my first year of law school but had lived in NYC for a year. I was working at a restaurant in SoHo at the time so I had my girlfriends meet me there for a quick hello and a round of drinks. As soon as they walked in the door this tall dude starts they were with (that I didn’t know) came right up to me and said, “you’re the girl from the L train with the leg tattoos!” I was totally taken aback because you couldn’t see my tattoos at the time, I didn’t know this human, and I was busy working Happy Hour. The next day, I met up with the same friends in Williamsburg and the SAME.EXACT.EXCHANGE. happened– “you’re the girl…” I quickly cut him off and said: “yeah, you told me.” In retrospect, I totally rebuffed him but this didn’t keep him from making conversation with me. I enjoyed his intellect and political views, and a few months later I added him on under the ruse of ascertaining how his acclimation to new surroundings was going. He moved in two weeks later… (#imthehearteyeemoji). Fast forward two and a half years with two dogs, two apartments later (if you know how moving goes in NYC, this is the truest testament to a strong relationship– small space living and the hell that is moving during a sweltering July), and those two degrees we moved to NYC to accomplish? We’re engaged!

how they asked

I have an affinity for maps and a relatively extensive collection displayed in salon style formation in our living room. Oli makes me an “NYC adventure map” every year for my birthday and our anniversary. They are truly such a treat and I look forward to their biannual appearance. Usually, the map is comprised of four to five stops throughout the day that he painstakingly curates to my/our exact interests (yeah, he’s a dream). For our engagement, he framed a vintage map of NYC with 6 stops and four letters, which is a new touch to the previous maps, and I was instructed to open prior to each stop. Before delving into the day itself, the letters were so sweet that I cried in public while reading each one– a rare occurrence considering I cry MAYBE twice a year…

Proposal Ideas Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, New York City

As far as the day itself unraveled, my brain twin best friend Nikol (@nikolkristine) walked me through each step which were: First, the perfect manicure and pedicure at Paintbucket Nails (@paintbucketnails). Second, an oyster and absinthe lunch at Maison Premiere (@maisonpremiere). MUCH to my surprise, my best friend and Oli flew my father out from SF to surprise me, plus Oli had his best friend craft a personal cocktail and had the ingredients/recipe shipped to the bartenders to make. Third, hair at my favorite spot to get a blow-out in the City– Sexy Flow Hair Salon in Alphabet City (@sfhairsalon). Fourth, the actual proposal! He and my best friend chose the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, which is hands-down one of my favorite places in NYC.

There is something undeniably romantic about the area of the park– with the iconic Boat House and the Towers of Central Park West in the background. We met at the fountain where both of us were *literally* shaking from excitement. We stood awkwardly looking at one another for what felt like forever until he asked me if he should get down on one knee (he knows I have a hard time with situations where I’m the center of attention). I said “yes” and then “no” but then changed my mind yet again. He got on one knee and said: “I have nothing good to say– everything was in the letters.” And then he just slid the ring on my finger!

Marriage Proposal Ideas in Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, New York City

Neither of us can recall Oli actually asking me to marry him… Instead, I guess we both knew the answer. Still, we are both STILL laughing regarding this entire exchange. He had his good friend Mark (@markgrguric), who *just so happens* to be a professional photographer, capture the moment. My family gave us space during the proposal itself, but were there as soon as it happened to celebrate with some much needed Veuve to mark the occasion! Fifth, a surprise engagement party during sunset on the roof of the Westlight in Williamsburg (@westlightnyc) with family and a few of our closest NYC friends. Sixth, and lastly, we soaked in all the love and fun during a staycation at the Williamsburg Hotel (@wburghotel) but not before we ventured out alone for late-night pizza.

Ciarra's Proposal in Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, New York City

Not to be a total, untraditional buzz-kill but I think it’s important to note that I knew we were going to get engaged on July 29, 2018. Yes, my partner is not the best at keeping secrets from me, but as a person with high-functioning anxiety, knowing ahead of time actually helped be more present throughout the day. Take everything in and enjoy what was unfolding. And even though I knew the day in which he would propose, I didn’t know anything he would throughout the day, the surprises that would unfold, or could have prepared myself for the powerful feeling that moment carries. We’re partners and equals– there was no surprise that I would say “yes”– instead I was able to enjoy the excitement all day with him. Forever #imthehearteyeemoji.

Where to Propose in Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, New York City

Special Thanks

Mark Grguric
 | Photographer
Nikol Juarez
 | Planning