Kiersten and Ruairi

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How We Met

During our freshman year at Pepperdine University, Ruairi and I had joined a fraternity and sorority that were notorious for being close. It was during the pledging process, I had begun to notice this hilarious, talented, super cute freshman who was constantly center stage for various philanthropy events. We had many mutual friends and yet somehow we had never met individually. Despite failed attempts of trying to run into him at a party, leaving class early after receiving texts from a friend that he was sitting in the cafeteria (just in case he happened to walk by and introduce himself), I was still determined to get to know him. One day, just two weeks before school was out for summer vacation, I lent a friend my car for the day and she asked how she could repay me. Jokingly I asked her to introduce me to Ruairi, knowing that she knew him personally. That night, he messaged me on Facebook and introduced himself. The simple conversation ended with an invitation to study for finals together in the library that Wednesday.

So we finally met (with a few other friends) and studied/talked/distracted ourselves for hours. That study session lead to two more before Ruairi asked me to dinner Saturday night. We went to dinner and wound up seeing a late movie right because we both did not want the night to be over. Needless to say, we became inseparable and had an incredible summer together. There was just one problem… I was destined to study abroad in Germany come September for the entire school year while Ruairi stayed behind in Malibu. We both knew it was coming and made the decision not to hold each other back while I traveled.

The day came when I was scheduled to leave and Ruairi and my mom dropped me off at the airport. It was an incredibly sad goodbye (and 12 hour plane ride) but I was still extremely excited to be in Europe with new adventures and new friends ahead. However, when I finally arrived and started to get into the swing of things, I still could not get Ruairi off my mind. It did not take long to find out he felt the same way. We kept in touch through Skype calls and emails.

Fast forward to November – my birthday was coming up and I had a tripped planned to Florence, Italy with several girlfriends. We were planning to meet up with a large group of Pepperdine students who lived in Florence and could not be more excited for a wine tasting trip and pizza….LOTS OF PIZZA. We woke up incredibly early to catch our train (which of course became delayed) and made the six hour journey to Florence.

There was so much anticipation and excitement surrounding this trip since we had not seen some of our friends in months, but little did I know there was an even bigger surprise waiting for me at the train station. We arrived in Florence and got off the train and standing there in the middle of the platform with the biggest bouquet of flowers was RUAIRI!

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He flew to Florence to ask me to be his girlfriend in person. It was a quick trip – just a day and a half (thanks to the train being delayed!) but it was one of the most memorable moments of my life.

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how they asked

Every year for our anniversary, we take a little get away to celebrate and commemorate the best weekend of our lives. Our six year anniversary was no different. We planned it far in advance and looked forward to it for months. We planned to go to our “Happy Place” – Santa Barbara – so we could drink wine and relax. You see… I am a wedding coordinator and I had a big year in 2016 jam packed with 24 weddings. I was ready for a slow weekend with my boyfriend and much needed get away. Ruairi had scheduled a wine tasting at Grassini Vineyard – a vineyard that we have held a club membership for years but only visited when we first joined.

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Immediately I became suspicious. There were two elements of this plan that struck me. First, Ruairi does not plan things out that far in advance and this he had planned for weeks. Second, Ruairi scheduled the tasting for 3:45 pm on SUNDAY! I was confused at the very specific time and why he planned it as the last thing we would do on our special weekend. I let it go and chalked it up to him being excited for our anniversary.

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The day comes and we moseyed around Los Olivios for a few hours before it was finally time to head to Grassini. It had been such a leisure morning but the second we got in the car, things felt…. tense? All of a sudden I noticed Ruairi’s hands were so SWEATY but the air conditioning was blasting. He just ignored me when I asked about it. We pulled up to the vineyard gates and Ruairi got out of the car to call the Hospitality Manager, Jared for access. The gates opened and we pulled in and down to the sweet little lake in the middle of the vineyard. It was just as I had remembered it, but even more beautiful. We popped out of the car and Jared pulled his car up right next to us. He seemed a bit frantic and explained it has been a very busy weekend and that unfortunately he needed to still finish up a few emails at the tasting room before we could really dig into the tasting. He brought us the first wine on the flight, a couple of glasses, and told us to meet him up in the tasting room in 10 or 15 minutes.

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We started to walk down the path around the lake, sipped our wine, stopped to take in the scenery, but boy! did we have an awkward conversation. We mostly talked about what to get for dinner and how both of us wished we could play hooky the next day. We made it all the way around the lake and Ruairi stopped and casually asked if I wanted to take a selfie before heading up to the tasting room.

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So we found the perfect spot and stepped into the long grass overlooking the lake to take the photo. Just then, Ruairi grabbed my shoulders and positioned me in just the right spot before taking my hand. We looked at each other and he paused for a second. Then, he said, “I love you so much” and dropped to his knee. He proceeded, “Kiersten Elizabeth Anderson, will you marry me?” and pulled out that little pink, velvet Mrs. Box with a rose gold R on it. He opened the box and revealed the most perfect ring I had ever seen. With SO much excitement I said yes! He jumped up and we hugged and laughed and had all those warm and fuzzy feels.

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Seconds later, the hidden photographer, who happens to be one of my favorites, appeared from the bushes. Check mark on hiring the photographer (one of my two proposal stipulations that Ruairi knew about). After snapping a few close up photos, we parted ways and headed up to the tasting room to finish our tasting in engagement bliss. As we pulled up to the tasting room, I realized I had not called my parents yet to tell them the news! I told Ruairi to hang on for just a second so I could call and Ruairi said with a grin on his face, “You don’t need to call your mom..” as he opened the door to the tasting room.

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The room erupted with cheers – twenty of our closest family and friends were waiting inside – check mark two, a “surprise” party after the proposal! It was an incredible afternoon filled with delicious wine, guitar playing, and great conversation. It could not have been more perfect.

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I think the best part of the day was knowing that Ruairi planned every single detail to be so intimate and perfect with me in mind in every aspect. It was so “us” and more than I could have dreamed of. We cannot wait to go back to Grassini this October to walk down the aisle and become husband and wife!

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Special Thanks

Scott Clark Photo
 | Photographer