How We Met
A puzzle piece a day, mysterious boxes, Tangled and a timer set for 365 days: It took 18 months from when Guy started proposing until I finally said yes! Not because I wasn’t sure, but because I didn’t even know he was asking…
Guy and I met through work in Spring 2015. He was the Captain and I was the First Mate on a Superyacht, and I was instantly charmed by this tall, handsome Englishman. Guy’s feelings were mutual (luckily he found my heavy Swedish accent cute rather than annoying), and after working and living together side by side for a few months a more romantic relationship was inevitable. Whilst traveling the Mediterranean we fell more and more in love, and before we could blink we found ourselves celebrating our first anniversary as a couple. We happened to be in Mallorca at the time and were luckily able to take a weekend off work to get away, just the two of us – somewhat of a rarity for Yacht crew in the summer season. Guy had booked us a remote little agricultural hotel inland, and driving through the stunning Mallorcan countryside was the perfect start to our celebration. Little did I know it was also the start of Guy’s master plan…
how they asked
At our anniversary dinner, Guy handed me two small boxes. The first one was a rather flat, leather box from Aspinal of London, with a number ‘1’ embossed on the top. The other one had a form and size that suggested “RING!”. However, to avoid any excitement (or disappointment), Guy quickly explained that none of the boxes contained an engagement ring, and then asked me to open the box marked nr 1. Inside, on a bed of light, sand suede, was a small, corner puzzle piece together with a note: “Let the puzzle begin…”. Knowing Guy, I knew there was something clever about this little mysterious gift, but I could not for my life think of what. More confusion was added when I opened the second box, which revealed… a stunning ring! Guy said that the ring was a symbol of our commitment to each other when we were apart – a promise ring. At this point we knew I would soon be leaving the job and yacht we’d come to call our home, to start my Masters at University in Sweden. The confusing part was that this beautiful, strangely shaped Georg Jensen, rose gold ring covered with cinnamon diamonds, was according to Guy only a side gift. He was very clear that my main gift was the little, wooden puzzle piece…
The next day, I found another puzzle piece next to me when I woke up, and after that day puzzle pieces kept appearing everywhere: on my pillow, in my pockets, at breakfast, in the bathroom – you name it! One little puzzle piece each day, and my curiosity grew bigger and bigger with each and every one of them. I spent time every evening putting the puzzle together on the floor in our tiny cabin, trying to figure out what the picture would be, but it didn’t take long before I realized that the puzzle would not be complete any time soon.
As the summer flew by, we worked and explored the different destinations when the opportunity was given, and I kept collecting my daily puzzle pieces. Inevitably, the dreaded day of departure arrived, and after one of the most painful and tear-filled goodbyes I’ve ever experienced, I found myself boarding my flight home. Going from spending every waking hour with Guy for the past year and a half, to a distance relationship was absolutely heartbreaking. To cope, we decided to cherish every opportunity we could to see each other, but despite our efforts, we still only managed to meet every two weeks if we were lucky. As Guy wasn’t around to give me my daily puzzle piece, he would give me a bunch of them every time we met instead – one piece for every day we’d been apart.
October came, and so did my 24th birthday, which we decided to celebrate in London. Guy had been even more mysterious than usual all day, making secret phone calls outside and asking me to not go upstairs in the house we were staying in. Finally, in the evening, I was allowed to the second floor where all my gifts were put together in a big pile in the middle of the room surrounded by sparkles, bubbles, and balloons! When opening them I felt both amazed and puzzled… I got another promise ring which clicked in together with the ring I was already wearing, and a box filled with puzzle pieces that very cleverly spelled out ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY!’
The confusing part was that this time Guy didn’t focus on the puzzle pieces, but was more thrilled about another gift: A giant wooden box, almost too heavy for me to lift. It was secured with a big padlock and had a timer on top – set for a bit less than 365 days. After a moment it struck me that the timer was set for my 25th birthday, but I still hadn’t managed to figure out what the puzzle might be, and to guess the contents of the box seemed impossible! After some wonderful days in London, the next mission was to get this ginormous, mystery gift to Stockholm – easier said than done! We managed though, and not very long after my birthday it was sitting outside my bedroom door, ticking away second by second, driving me completely crazy from curiosity!
With only days to go until Christmas, the outline of the puzzle started to give away the picture – which I was pretty sure was a map. I thought the map might symbolize our life of traveling, and my suspicion grew stronger as I received a very special puzzle piece in one of the packages underneath the Christmas tree. The piece was shaped like an airplane and came with a surprise trip to… Marrakesh!!! On top of that, I received ring-puzzle piece nr 3 – my promise ring was now complete! Not long after Christmas, we went for a skiing holiday for Guy’s birthday, where another puzzle piece confirmed my theory: a boat-shaped puzzle piece which I thought must symbolize the fact that we spend so much time together traveling on a boat.
We flew to Marrakesh in March 2017, and Guy asked me to bring my many puzzle pieces with me. I bet you that this jigsaw is one of the most well-traveled in the world. It has been all around the Balearics, the coast of Spain, France, and Italy, Monaco, England, Sweden and Marrakesh! Halfway through our first evening I walked into the bedroom only to see a weirdly shaped puzzle piece on the bed surrounded by normal puzzle pieces. The custom ‘whimsy’ piece was shaped like a tower, more precisely the Rapunzel-tower from the movie Tangled. To understand the meaning of this piece you have to know that I am a huge Disney fan, and one of my absolute favorite movies is Tangled. I made Guy watch it one rainy evening a few months into our relationship, and he thought it was hilarious how much Rapunzel reminded him of me. I pointed out that he wasn’t too dissimilar to Flynn Rider himself! The movie soon became “ours”, and was often our first choice for cozy evenings at home. I had no idea how the tower fitted into the symbolism of the map, but I was so excited about how clever it was that I didn’t give it much thought. Guy had also brought another box to Marrakesh (yes, I know – there are a LOT of boxes and pieces to this story!). This box was a carry case for the puzzle so that I could always take it with me when traveling without having to pull all the pieces apart. Guy had made the box himself and I was so impressed!
After our trip we had a few stressful months apart, seeing each other a bit less than usual – Guy was busy with work and I was overwhelmed from all of the studying my University course demanded. I had been promised my old job back during my summer break from June to August and was counting down the days until I’d get to work with Guy again. We did manage to get a few days together over our second anniversary though, and this time we celebrated it in Monaco as the boat was based there over winter. Guy had, to both my and his own surprise, managed to get a table at Mirazur – at this point ranked as the 4th best restaurant in the world – for our anniversary dinner. We had the most incredible meal and evening, topped off by me receiving another little box! This one was marked nr 4 and contained a suitcase shaped piece – again a symbol for all of our travels together (or so I thought!). I had now figured out that the puzzle was very likely to end along with the countdown on the box outside my bedroom door, but however clever it was with all of the whimsy pieces I could despite endless hours of speculations not imagine what it would all lead to. It didn’t help that Guy kept telling me to keep my expectations low as he “didn’t want me to get disappointed”.
In June the first year of my course finally finished, and I moved back to the boat which at this time was based in Corsica, an island outside France. I can’t describe how excited I was to not have to deal with the pain of being apart from Guy for over two months! We had a short weekend break when I arrived and went away on the boat’s scooter to discover the island. When we came back it was pouring down with rain, and whilst hiding in a little restaurant waiting for the storm to pass Guy gave me a delayed anniversary gift: a necklace shaped like the magical flower in Tangled: Rapunzel’s symbol. He had designed it himself, and it was made out of white and rose gold, with white and cinnamon diamonds to match my promise ring. I didn’t realize that it was connected with the other gifts until much later… Another summer of work and puzzle pieces went by, at home, the timer on top of the box was ticking away, and soon enough I was on a flight back to Stockholm and school again.
My 25th birthday was just around the corner when Guy announced he wouldn’t fly to Stockholm to celebrate with me as he had to work. The timer was only hours from hitting zero, and I was devastated that he wouldn’t be there for the final countdown. I asked if I should just wait and open it another time, but he told me it was imperative I open it when the timer hit zero. We agreed that my mum would film my reaction when opening the box and send it to him as a compromise. On the morning of the 11th of October, it was time, and my mum handed me the key to the padlock. I didn’t know, but apparently, Guy had flown to Stockholm the week before to talk my mum through the process of opening the box (and talk to my dad about his ‘plans’). In the top of the box there were 3 envelopes, all with a red wax stamp which looked exactly like the flower on my necklace (!), and a weirdly shaped, large puzzle piece with a set of numbers on it – map coordinates. The main part of the box contained a locked safe! In the letter marked “1” Guy apologized for not being there for my birthday, and promised that he would make up for it, but, he would not have any contact with me over the next few days. I found this very strange, as Guy and I usually call each other at least a couple of times a day. In the second letter, he asked me to pack a weekend bag and expect a car to come and pick me up at 7 am on Friday morning, and told me to wait for further instructions before opening the final letter. The combination of the safe would apparently not be given to me until later… My thoughts were all over the place, and the following days I was completely unable to think of anything other than the safe and third letter.
After two sleepless nights (I was SO excited) it was Friday, and before the sun had gone up I received the instructions to open the letter, along with the combination needed to open the safe. With no clue what to expect I opened the door only to discover… a smaller safe! A bit of an anti-climax, I have to admit. The letter soon changed that feeling though, it contained a flight ticket and said to bring the small safe on my trip – apparently, I was flying to Podgorica in Montenegro! I managed to squeeze the safe into my luggage and went to the car Guy had ordered for me. At Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, the happiness about getting the locked safe through security soon changed to despair when it turned out that my connecting flight through Belgrade was 45 minutes late, meaning I would only have 10 minutes to catch my flight to Montenegro! A nervous flight, and the fastest running I have ever done through an airport later, I could finally relax. I was on my way to discover the meaning of an 18 months long plan!
I landed in Podgorica in the early afternoon, and outside arrival’s I spotted a driver with a big, purple sign – again with Rapunzel’s symbol of the magical flower on it! Next, to him, there was a man with a camera, who was clearly filming me. I followed the driver to the car, and the cameraman kept the camera steady focused on me without explanation. I have to admit that I did feel like a celebrity, but nevertheless a confused one. As I opened the door to the car the first thing I saw was a green, stuffed chameleon-toy: Pascal! For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, this is Rapunzel’s animal sidekick. Pascal wasn’t there empty-handed; he was guarding letter nr 4. The letter provided me with some explanation of what was going on: I had a one hour’s car ride ahead of me to one of the most exclusive resorts in the Mediterranean: Aman Sveti Stefan. At arrival, I should be prepared for more surprises…
The entire trip felt completely surreal to me, the amazing countryside and coastline views, the camera lens only inches from my face, the letter in my lap and Pascal by my side. The car pulled up at the hotel, and a staff member guided me to my room. Except for the letter, I still hadn’t heard anything from Guy, and I was almost exploding from excitement and nervousness. When would I see him? The thought of a proposal did cross my mind, but the last thing I wanted was to feel any kind of disappointment during this amazing surprise if that wasn’t the case, so I pushed those thoughts away as quickly as they popped up. On the door to my room there was a “Wanted”-poster like the one of Flynn Rider in Tangled but with Guy on it instead. My heart almost stopped just before I opened the door, I just knew Guy would be standing behind it.
It slid open, but instead of Guy, the most beautiful, purple princess dress appeared in front of me. At the bottom of the dress, there was a glowing flower, two boxes, and a letter. I felt completely overwhelmed, sank down to my knees and started crying. Through tears I read the letter, the final one, in which Guy told me that this was it, this was the moment I had been waiting for. I had to get dressed and be ready by 6 pm, just before sunset. I opened the boxes which contained a tiara and a pair of sparkling shoes. Whilst still in shock, the staff member told me that a girl was on her way to help me with my hair and make-up. Two hours later I was twirling in front of the mirror, wearing my Rapunzel dress, shoes, and tiara. My hair was braided and filled with flowers, and I was holding on to Pascal as I nervously followed the staff member across the garden towards the beach.
The sun was just about to set, and the wind had almost died down completely as I approached the water. Down by the beach I was pointed towards a natural cave, and as I came closer I realized the whole cave was filled with heart-shaped lanterns, showing me the way through. I could hear faint music and halfway through the tunnel I realized it was “Wildest Dreams” by Taylor Swift – one of my favorite songs. At the end of the tunnel there was a dock, and there, in front of a wooden boat completely covered in fairy lights and an island which looked identical to the one in Tangled, was Guy, dressed as Flynn Rider. His face showed that he was as close to tears as I was, and I finally allowed myself to realize that this indeed was the moment I deep down had been hoping for. We fell into each other’s arms, and after some tear-filled laughter and kisses, we boarded the boat with Pascal and the little safe. Guy took the rudder and we slowly began to putter towards the island.
As we came closer he pointed at the island, from which one single lantern slowly ascended to the sky. Within minutes the air was filled with lanterns, and after watching them slowly drift away in the wind we secured the boat to a buoy and sat down next to each other with a glass of champagne. After talking for a while Guy reached for a satchel and took out a key. He asked me to use it for the small safe. As I put the key in the lock my hands were shaking. The door swung open and revealed a small box, just like the one I received on our first anniversary, marked with an nr 5. My heart stopped as I opened it, this would be the final puzzle piece. The sun had set, and even though the only light we had was the twinkling of the fairy lights surrounding us, the shape of the piece was unmistakable: it was shaped like an engagement ring. I straight away squeezed out a “YES”, but Guy quickly said “wait, wait! I haven’t proposed yet! You can’t wear that one…”. He told me that there were so many things he wanted to say to me at that moment that he had written all of them down, but, after 18 months of meticulous planning, he had accidentally left the letter in the room. Instead, he started to speak from the heart, and after telling me how much he wanted a future together he whispered “Are you ready”, and went down on one knee. I was already hysterically crying at this point and then, from his satchel, he pulled out the final, most important box, opened it, and asked me to marry him. I couldn’t stop saying yes! We laughed and cried, hugged and kissed, and then Guy looked at me cheekily and told me that there was one, last surprise left. A moment later, from the beach next to us, my favorite song ever – “Wake me up before you Go Go” by Wham – started playing on loudspeakers, and a firework display filled the sky. I wish I had the words to describe my feelings through all of this because standing in that boat with Guy’s arms around me, watching the fireworks light up the sky with the promise of a future together, is absolutely the most incredible moment of my life.
Afterwards we celebrated with dinner on the island, and Guy and I were remising over the past year and a half, about the planning and how clueless I’ve been the whole time. Guy told me that he’d left little hints along the way, but I never put them together. Turns out the whimsy puzzle pieces were not only symbols for our life together – each of them were also a clue to what was about to happen: It all started on my birthday, I then left my tower, took my suitcase, boarded the flight, sailed in the boat to the island where I finally got the ring. It’s still hard for me to comprehend that he had planned the whole proposal in detail from the moment I received that first, little wooden puzzle piece, back on our first anniversary, 521 days earlier…
The island in Disney’s “Tangled”:
The location of the engagement, Sveti Stefan in Montenegro:
The final puzzle piece in it’s final box: