Chelsea and Whitney

Image 7 of Chelsea and Whitney

How We Met

Whitney and I were born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and met in 2015 while wakeboarding on a mutual friend’s boat. We hit it off immediately, quickly discovering we had a lot in common–our love of wakeboarding, snowboarding, hiking, biking, traveling, and trying new craft beers, just to name a few.

Image 1 of Chelsea and Whitney

We were friends first, and then started dating in 2016. For our first date, Whitney took me on a 20-mile bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, through San Francisco, and down to see the bison in Golden Gate Park. We’ve been going on adventures together ever since!

Image 2 of Chelsea and Whitney

Image 3 of Chelsea and Whitney

How They Asked

I told Whitney early on that I wanted to be the one to propose. For the past year, Whitney has been dropping increasingly less subtle hints that it was time to get married (“My hand might fly away because there’s nothing on my left ring finger to hold it down” or “wow I bet it’s so nice to be married” or my personal favorite “do you think I’ll be married before or after our unborn children have kids?”). In my defense, I had grand proposal plans, none of which included a pandemic. A few years ago, we traveled to Norway together and had the time of our lives, and I knew I wanted to return to Norway to propose. We had planned to spend 2021 traveling the world, and I was planning to do it on our favorite hike next summer when we returned to Norway. But then COVID hit and we canceled our year of traveling. My next plan was to recreate our first date biking across the Golden Gate Bridge with a surprise engagement party with all our friends afterward, but again, due to COVID, we couldn’t throw a party. My third plan was to go to Hawaii (after taking COVID tests) where I could propose on a beach after watching the sunrise on top of a volcano followed by a 20-mile bike ride down. I even hired a photographer to hide on the beach and capture the moment! 4 days before we were supposed to leave for Hawaii, COVID cases were continuing to rise and we didn’t feel safe going on a plane and canceled our trip. With 48 hours before Thanksgiving, I decided I would scramble and try to pull off an engagement in 2 days near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Image 4 of Chelsea and Whitney

On Thanksgiving morning, we met up with my mom and sister to run the 5k turkey trot, an annual family tradition (yes, we’re the family that does 5k’s on Thanksgiving). I told Whitney that my sister, Olivia, had a last-minute homework assignment where she had to take a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge (Olivia is a film student at NYU). Whitney was not happy about the last-minute change in plans for our holiday, especially because she really wanted to spend the morning making mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner. Luckily, she (grudgingly) agreed to drive 30 minutes to the city after I had to promise I’d make it up to her.

Image 5 of Chelsea and Whitney

We arrived at Baker Beach in San Francisco and started walking on the beach. Whitney started asking Olivia questions on why she’d procrastinated so long on her homework assignment and why a film student had to take pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge on Thanksgiving Day. Olivia was a great sport and improvised all the answers. As we walked towards the end of the beach so Olivia could get her “homework assignment” picture of the Golden Gate Bridge without any people in the background, Whitney asked if the view was “good enough”. Again, Olivia was a great sport and told Whitney she had to keep walking because Olivia wanted a great shot. When we finally got to the end of the beach, Olivia started taking pictures of us. Then she gave me the not-so-subtle code word and said “OK the picture looks good, I’m ready”. I turned to Whitney and told her how the bridge was where we first started our adventure together and that I felt it was a fitting place to start our next grand adventure. I got down on one knee, pulled out a ring I had spent the last few months designing, and asked her if she’d marry me!

Image 6 of Chelsea and Whitney

Whitney was shocked as she was not expecting that at all. Her response was “SHUT UP! Are you serious?” After a minute of disbelief, she started crying happy tears and finally said “yes”, followed immediately by “but I still have to make mashed potatoes and I’m probably going to need a nap after this”. Olivia got some great pictures and Whitney was in a fantastic mood for the rest of the day!

All in all, a very memorable Thanksgiving for both of us. And yes, she was still able to make her mashed potatoes.

Image 8 of Chelsea and Whitney

Special Thanks

Olivia Owyeung
 | Photographer