Ivy and Alex

How We Met

We went to the same high school in San Diego and never met. We have so many mutual friends, but as fate would have it, we had to wait until after college to finally meet. I actually met Alex during the lowest point of my life and knew I loved him early on. Right after college graduation, I moved to Manhattan for my dream PR internship, and was totally content living in a basement shoebox where the bathroom door opened onto my fridge, the shower drain was a black hole cockroaches regularly crawled out of, and there were no windows or cell service, because I had made it to New York City. After my first day, I got a call while standing outside on the muggiest summer day on 85th and Amsterdam, that my mom had stage IV cancer. I spent the next two months in a blur while interning, and finally decided to move back home in August 2014 to be with her for chemo, help my dad around the house, etc. I immediately got a PR agency gig in San Diego, which was wildly unsuccessful, and I decided to quit my 3rd week on the job.

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The day before I quit, one of my best friends asked if I wanted to meet her and some high school friends for dinner at Cucina Enoteca in Del Mar, and this is when I met Alex for the first time. I remember walking in, sitting at the table and announcing “Hi, I’m Ivy! I’m about to quit my job, my mom’s not doing well and I just got dumped, it’s nice to meet you!” Alex claims he liked me from that first night, so good to know he truly accepted me at my worst from the start.

After that, I had the chance to get to know him as a good friend. When my mom’s treatment went from chemo, to surgery, to surgery mishap, to overnights in the ICU, and hospitalization for a month, I have no words to describe the sense of emptiness mixed with recurring, constant panic in my heart, however through all of this, Alex was always there. He helped me get through the darkest period of my life by a) Texting me a lot (anyone who knows him knows how much he hates texting) b) Driving to the hospital on his lunch break to take me out to get food (seriously, what is up with the inedible cafeteria food in all hospitals? This is a larger issue for another day) and getting in trouble for taking 2-hr lunch breaks LOL and c) Always being the person I wanted to call if I was on the brink of a breakdown.

Throughout all of this I thought to myself (while crushing on him like crazy), “Wow, even if I don’t end up with Alex, I want the person I’m with to be just like him.” His kindness, sweetness, goofiness and ability to get along with everyone especially stood out to me.

As a mental break, I would go over to his house to binge watch Game of Thrones. Back to the night in December 2014, I vividly remember the day that sealed the deal for me; my mom had just been discharged from the hospital so I felt like there was cause for celebration and of course, I immediately asked Alex if he wanted to go on a hike with me in the morning. We went to Torrey Pines, hung out at Glider Port, joined his entire family on an impromptu movie trip to see The Hobbit (awkward because no one in the fam knew who I was yet HAHA), and at night, went to Christmas Card Lane with Alex’s best friend, Liam.

Liam holds an incredibly special place in our hearts (and everyone who knew him), as he is Alex’s dearest best friend and would-be best man, however lost the battle to Cystic Fibrosis in December 2015. We miss him every day, and I am so grateful to have spent lots of time with him. Back to the night of holiday season 2014, Liam came with us to Christmas Card Lane, sat in the back of the car and giddily freaked out at all the amazing lights and decorations, while Alex and I sat up front sharing a cup of hot cocoa with Christmas music blaring. Magical and totally twinkly and butterflies-in-my-stomach inducing, I know.

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Right after New Year’s, in January 2015, Alex and I started dating, and the rest is history. I moved back to New York City in August 2015, knowing my mom was on the up and up, and today, is in way better shape than me because she goes to cancer-fitness classes every day. Alex continued to prove he will put us first in this life, because he had no intentions of leaving San Diego when I moved. After a couple months of long distance, I called him one night to say us being apart for “x” amount of time wasn’t working, and I was really struggling. He called me the very next day and said (I will never forget these words): “Ivy, I look at where I want my life to be in 5 years, and I thought to myself ‘do I want to have the same routine, with all the comforts of home and San Diego, or do I want you?’ and I choose you, so I’m moving to New York.”

Since then, it’s been one adventure after another, and I definitely met my match in someone who loves dogs & traveling the world as much as I do, which I will never take lightly. We’ve been to Taiwan, where my entire extended family lives, and he totally charmed my grandparents, and I was fortunate enough to meet Grandma Bush (who’s 100!!) in Vancouver earlier this summer. We’ve gone scuba diving in the Dominican Republic, rode elephants in Thailand, swam with whale sharks in Mexico, had afternoon tea in London, ate our weight’s worth of goulash soup in Prague, danced our way through Spain and much more. I can honestly say I could not be happier with anyone else.

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How They Asked

To preface the proposal: growing up in San Diego, I went to the beach a LOT and am an avid ocean enthusiast (I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was younger, don’t know where that went). My favorite beach in the world is Swami’s in Encinitas, and anytime I’m home visiting from NYC, I am there every single day (in a past life, I like to think I was a mermaid. No joke). Also, over the course of my life, I have been to hundreds of beaches around the world, and every single time, I look for a sand dollar to no avail. I have never found one, not even fragments of one, and it frustrates me because I ask a lot of people, and many say they find them all the time.

Onto August 28th, 2019, the day before Alex’s birthday: our plan was to go to a pre-birthday dinner with our parents. He said he would pick me up a little beforehand so we could hang out, and I, of course, asked to go to Swami’s to watch the sunset. We’re enjoying the view and amazing water I wished I could swim in while I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a sand dollar, and after a couple of minutes, I turned to Alex and said: “Wow, I really am never going to find a sand dollar!”. He says something about continuing to look and after a few more steps, I look down and THERE IS AN ENTIRE SAND DOLLAR, perfectly intact, shining white against the sand. I started freaking out and thought “where there’s one, there must be many!!!” so I picked it up and proceeded to run away from Alex to hunt for more. I ran into the ocean to wash it off and hurry excitedly back to Alex, when he said, “Why don’t you examine it and make sure it’s all good?”

As soon as I flipped it over, everything happened in one amazing blur. He wrote “Will you marry me?” on the back, and I realized he successfully, and sneakily, planted this sand dollar in my favorite place in the world and was now down on one knee! I always imagined I’d cry during the proposal, but I was just so beyond excited I could barely let Alex finish his speech before I screamed YES YES YES! As soon as I said yes, my best friends came running out from behind a giant beach umbrella, and one of them was actually hiding in the bushes to get photos of us. I later found out they enlisted the help of a kind stranger to keeping the sand dollar in place as Alex and I made our way down the beach because they were freaking out it would get washed away by the waves. I heard the entire plan from Alex and my friends’ side, which is something he’s been working on for months, and can’t believe the amount of detail that went into this! Planning was complete with code names, communicating only during work hours, identifying three potential spots on the beach to place the sand dollar earlier on in the day, and more.

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Ivy and Alexander's Engagement in Swami's Beach in beautiful Encinitas, CA

After the beach, I found out the “pre-bday dinner” was actually an engagement dinner with our families, and my little brother flew in for 12 hours to surprise me too! We went to Cucina Enoteca, the restaurant where Alex and I first met 5 years ago. After dinner, Alex surprised me again with a night at Paradise Point Resort, which is where we went on our first getaway years ago and said “I love you” for the first time. My best friend also snuck the into the room before we arrived and decorated it with candles and confetti and champagne.

Alex had lunch with my parents the day he proposed, even though he already let my mom in on the surprise earlier. She did an incredibly good job keeping it a secret. My dad wasn’t expecting the visit, and he is a man of little words, but he did manage to say this to Alex: “Yes, you are a very good man, even though you can’t have shellfish!” And yes, in my dad’s terms, that is a very sincere blessing and yes, we are Taiwanese and seafood is a big deal to us, and he will happily let it slide with Alex.

I am beyond excited to join our families and friends together, and now going to Swami’s will be even better than I ever thought possible. It was the perfect proposal.