How We Met
Nick and I were set up on a semi-blind date by a close mutual friend in college. I am a year younger and may or may not have had my fake ID rejected by the bouncer the first night we went out together to our local college watering hole. Talk about embarrassing!
Fast forward 7 years..and there’s no need for fake IDs anymore, and Nick and I are still causing trouble and going on adventures any time and place that we can.
how they asked
In Nick’s words: In the seven years that Emilie and I have been together, I have never felt the need to keep anything secret from her. Nor have I ever been able to. Planning a memorable engagement and keeping it a secret would prove to be quite the task. It was late October 2016. Em and I had been living together for 2 years. Earlier that year, we adopted our dog, a high-energy German Shepherd named Brody, challenging us but ultimately bringing us closer than ever before. We already had two cats and Emilie is a regular volunteer at a number of local animal shelters, so we usually have foster kittens as well! I love our little animal family. I had also just been hired to a new company with more freedom and increased responsibility in store. It was an incredibly exciting time for us. We had momentum behind us, both as a couple and as individuals and I knew it was the right time to ask Emilie to marry me. Earlier in 2016 before I knew I would be switching jobs, we had booked a trip to New Zealand, a place we had always wanted to visit and heard only amazing things about. Unfortunately, due to pressure at my old job, we were forced to cancel the trip only a couple weeks before leaving. Shortly thereafter, I interviewed for the new position and got it.
I negotiated a later start date which left us with a perfect opportunity to get the original trip back on the books and make it the experience of a lifetime. I immediately jumped into designing the ring and planning the trip. Between Emilie’s friends and numerous (not-so) subtle hints, I knew exactly what she wanted in a ring. We had both done plenty of research on New Zealand, plotting points on the map that we were dying to visit. Over the course of two weeks, we would fly into Auckland on the north island and make our way south through the entire country. We’re both pretty adventurous and no strangers to roughing it, so we opted to rent a campervan in order cover as much ground as possible. Together we crafted an ambitious itinerary, jam packed with activities and incredible photo ops. It was a very involved planning process, which proved to be a great diversion from my own planning and purchasing of Emilie’s ring. Before leaving, it was extremely important for me to ask for Emilie’s parents’ blessing. I have always had a strong relationship with them and I knew how much it would mean to all of us to have a discussion about my future with Emilie.
I took them out to lunch at a local restaurant that held great significance to us. Months earlier, Emilie’s mom’s best friend and her husband had visited us in LA. The 6 of us enjoyed dinner together at a local restaurant and, when Emilie went to the bathroom, her mom’s best friend reached across the table, grabbed my hand and asked very sweetly, “So… Nick… When are you going to ask Emilie to marry you?” I was caught extremely off guard and my face turned bright red. I quickly rebounded and said, “Well, I think when the time is right, that’s a conversation I want to have with Tim and Fifi (Emilie’s mom and dad).” Everyone laughed and appreciated the sincerity of what I said. When I asked Tim and Fifi to come out to lunch with me at the same restaurant, they thought nothing of it. My break between jobs was rapidly coming to an end, so I framed it as an opportunity to spend some time together before jumping headfirst into the next chapter of my career. We all sat down for lunch and that’s when the anxiety kicked in.
I had never been so nervous around the two of them before. I tried my best to maintain composure while awkwardly fumbling through small talk for about 20 minutes. When our food arrived, I knew it was the right moment and I couldn’t put it off any longer. I took a deep breath and transitioned the conversation: “Well, there’s a reason I brought you guys here.” Fifi, turned her head to the side and said, “Oh, yeah?” I continued, “If you guys recall, the last time we ate here I was asked when I would ask Emilie to marry me, to which I replied that was a conversation I needed to have with you guys. Well, I think the time is right and I’d like to have that conversation right now. Emilie and I have been together for almost seven years. We have a relationship that is stronger and more mature than ever. I love her, our little animal family, and you guys very much. With that being said, I’d like to ask for your blessing in asking Emilie for her hand in marriage.” Tim and Fifi looked like they had the wind knocked out of them. Their eyes widened and their mouths dropped open with gaping smiles.
Fifi stood up and said, “Well, here’s your answer! Get up and give me hug.” I walked around the table to give both of them hugs. There were tears in everyone’s eyes as Fifi said, “Of course you have our blessing. We couldn’t be happier”. Tim thanked me for the gesture saying, “I don’t know if a father could hope for a better way to be asked for his daughter’s hand in marriage.” I was ecstatic, relieved and touched by the experience. Now we all just had keep the secret until we got to New Zealand. As we left the restaurant, my face went white when I saw Emilie’s car in the adjacent parking lot. She had gone to the gym next door and we had missed running into her by minutes. I don’t think I would have been able to talk my way out of that one. I made my way to my car and got out of there ASAP. When the trip to New Zealand finally arrived, I was incredibly tense. Luckily, I felt my chances of Emilie saying yes were pretty solid. But a million scenarios of failure ran through my head: the ring gets stolen or lost while traveling, I get stopped by customs and Emilie sees the ring while they inspect my bag, etc. I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. I formulated an elaborate plan for a special day of dining and sightseeing in Auckland that would ultimately culminate in the proposal at the top of a hill overlooking the city at sunset. However, when we arrived, I quickly realized that my well-thought out plan was not the right one.
We were exhausted from travel and the energy of the city wasn’t quite right. Apparently, at that time of year, Auckland empties and its residents all head to the beaches and countryside for New Years festivities. I decided to wait. As frustrating as it was, I knew that it would be a lot more meaningful to our relationship if I proposed in a setting closer to nature, rather than a city where neither of us have been before or had any particular connection to. The next day, we picked up our camper van and headed to our first stop, a place called Rotorua. This place certainly wasn’t the most beautiful in New Zealand, not by a long shot. There were loads of thermal pools causing many areas to smell like sulfur. There weren’t a lot of great places to eat and some places were overrun with tourists. However, we managed to find our own little slice of heaven just outside of town at a holiday park (the New Zealand version of a campground for campervans) situated right next to Lake Rotorua. By chance, we were upgraded to a beautiful lakefront campsite and our neighbors were two wonderful families from New Zealand who made us feel right at home. It was New Years Eve.
We filled our day mountain biking, hiking, and OGO-ing (google it; trust me, you won’t regret it). We cooked a tasty dinner by the lake out of the back of our campvervan and shared drinks with our neighbors. We watched New Years fireworks and fell sound asleep shortly after. We were awakened by the sun as it gently creeped over the mountains across the lake. The first sunrise of a new year. I woke Emilie and told her I wanted to take some sunrise pictures with my GoPro. She was very reluctant to get up (not a morning person is putting it nicely), but I told her “I promise it will be worth it.” We got up and I brought her to the holiday park’s dock that jutted out onto the lake. I set up my GoPro and hit record. We stood there holding hands in silence for what felt like an eternity. I know a lot of guys like to give a speech at this moment, detailing how amazing their relationship is, how strong their feelings are, and how they want to spend the rest of their lives together. But for me, I couldn’t think of anything meaningful that I hadn’t already told her over the years.
I felt a long winded profession of love wasn’t what the moment called for. So I decided to keep it simple. I told her how happy I was to be there with her. I told her this was such a special way to ring in the new year. I told her there is nobody I would rather be with at that moment. After a long pause, I reached into my pocket and said “I have something for you.” She looked at me with a sideways, skeptical glance that only Em can pull off and said “Oh yeah?”. I pulled out the ring box, her face lit up, and she turned away in disbelief. As she turned back, I opened it, got down on one knee and asked “Will you marry me?”. The expression on her face was like none I’ve seen before. She smiled and began to cry. She knelt down to my level and grabbed me in a huge hug and wouldn’t let go for over a minute. She continued to sob as we stood up, still too overwhelmed to say anything.
I had to ask “So.. will you?” She laughed, grabbed my face and said “Yes. Nick. YES!!” We heard clapping and turned around to see that some fellow campers had witnessed the whole thing. They shouted “congratulations!” and we thanked them for sharing the moment with us. The rest of the trip was a lighthearted, thrilling celebration of our future together. We traveled over 1,100 miles in 2 weeks, stopped in 11 different places, and had the time of our lives (other than a fight we got in over a blueberry muffin…go figure).
This trip and proposal were the beginning of a bright chapter for both of us and I cannot wait to spend it with Em.