How We Met
I have had my eye on Jeffrey Garder since my first week of college. I actually sat behind him in our freshman Microeconomics discussion course and I thought he was SO handsome. But I realized very quickly I had zero interest in microeconomics, or a business major in general, and withdrew from the course. I was out of that class before Jeff ever even had a chance to turn around and meet his future wife! Fast forward to our second-to-last-week of freshman year, I was studying for finals in the bottom of Adams tower with some of my sorority sisters. Little did I know, two of these friends knew my first-week-of-school crush from playing basketball with him at the Huff (OU’s campus gym). So when Jeff walked into the dorm from doing his own studying and approached our table, I was thrilled. As soon as he left, I tried to cooly get his name and stats from my friends. I mean this was a sign, right? A second chance at a missed connection!
I spent most of dead week studying with my friend in Adams dorm and occasionally we would see Jeff come back from class or studying and he would say hi before going up to his room. After a few days had passed I decided to do the millennial thing and add him on Facebook. He quickly accepted my friend request and we started messaging back and forth about our finals grievances. Finally, Jeff hit me with the big question. “Hey, I’m terrible at keeping up with this Facebook app. Can I just text you?” After pondering his question for 0.3 seconds, I typed out my number. The next thing I knew, he was inviting me to study with him at the library. Now it is important for me to note that I hate studying. But I especially hate studying anywhere too crowded. Like a college library…during finals week. But I said yes because have you seen him?? SWOON. We spent so much time at OU’s library that week, but we did VERY little studying and a LOT of sharing YouTube videos and making each other laugh. I have to admit that was the worst either of us have ever done on our finals, but our days spent “studying” in the basement of the library will always be some of my most precious memories because that is where Jeff and I became best friends.
how they asked
Jeff and I had talked engagement timeline about a year ago and I knew it would be sometime either in the summer or fall but I didn’t have a clue as to when. We had a trip planned with his family to Hawaii for July and I desperately hoped it would be there, but wasn’t convinced it would happen. I had really wanted a photographer to capture the moment and just couldn’t see my man’s-man, go-with-the-flow boyfriend searching for photographers in Hawaii. Plus his sister-in-law, Lauren, told me she knew the ring wasn’t going to be ready by the time we left so to not expect a proposal in Hawaii. And his sister, Sarah, who can’t lie to save her life, sat across from me at brunch one morning and when I mentioned my hope for a Hawaii proposal she said she hadn’t heard anything about him proposing in Hawaii and really didn’t think it would be there since she didn’t know anything. So I left for Hawaii still with a little hope, but understanding I had to be realistic.
When we got to the airport to leave for Hawaii, I noticed Jeff wasn’t being sketchy with his backpack like you would expect someone to be if they weren’t wanting their girlfriend to see an engagement ring box, so that was more proof that it must not be happening during our trip. That evening, once got to our beautiful house right on the water, I sat out on the back patio with Lauren. Looking at the black lava rock coast, I truly was like oh. It’s not happening here; but I was really completely at peace with that for the first time. In Hawaii (or at least on the Big Island) the beaches are mostly all lava rock and not the white sandy beaches you would think of when you picture a beach proposal. I knew there was no way he could propose there, it would just be too hard trying to get out there in heels or wedges and him trying to balance on one knee.
The next day we took a beautiful hike through The Arches with our crew of eight, and then stopped for a picnic. Sarah and Lauren were talking about what they should wear to dinner that night, and I was very confused because this was the first I had heard of dinner plans, but in a family of eight it’s not a huge shock that not everyone got the same memo. Jeff and his parents were planning to stay and go snorkeling while the rest of our gang headed back to the house. I was torn between going back with them, now that I knew we had fun dinner plans, because I of course wanted to look cute and spend time with his sisters, but you’re only in Hawaii so often and I decided to hit the beach and snorkel. Once we were back to the house the girls were showered and in cute little sundresses wanting to go shopping before dinner, so I start getting serious FOMO. I shower and get ready as fast as I possibly can because I had been eyeing the little Hawaiian shops on our way in from the airport and didn’t want them to leave without me.
I was texting my mom and girl friends, Claire and Kaci, for outfit help because I brought some really fun outfits but it was only Monday and I wanted to save them for later in the trip in case we made fun plans to go out somewhere. Plus, I found out we were going to a pizza place and I didn’t want to be overdressed. I opted for a hot pink off the shoulder dress that I thought would be fun and Hawaiian. The girls and I decided we would just wear sandals for shopping and could always come back and change into wedges for dinner if we wanted to. They were hurrying me along so I only had time to curl the few pieces of hair that had dried from my speed shower. We walked through the market area and looked through clothes and swimsuits and little trinkets. I was looking for a wristband for my GoPro that would make it would float in the water, so we popped into a little tech-y shop. The owner had this adorable fluffy dog and we are all three massive dog lovers so it was a welcome surprise. At one point I said, “this is the best part of my entire day!” (Sarah told me later she had to try not to laugh at that comment knowing what the evening would hold.) So the whole time nothing seemed weird or out of the ordinary.
When we got back to the house we tried to get in the front door but it was locked. Not a big deal, we just headed around the back of the house because we knew that screen door would be unlocked. As we turn the corner of the house, I see these gorgeous Hawaiian flowers on the lava rock stairs and I’m like oh my gosh, wait. What’s happening here. But it was still in my head that I wasn’t getting engaged here and especially not today so I’m thinking “I don’t know why these flowers are here, but why are they here?!” Then I see Jeff sitting in a chair by the door and Sarah and Lauren quickly go through into the house. (I found out later that the plan was for them to turn around when I noticed the flowers, but since I didn’t say anything about the flowers they didn’t know what to do, so they just kept blazing through.) I was starting to go through to but Jeff pulls me toward him and says, “stay out here with me for a minute.” He looks so cute and I’m like okay seriously what’s happening!!! He hugs me and takes me down the walk way to the flowers on the rocks and says something like “Raquel I love you so much.
We’ve been together for four years and this has been a long time coming. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Then he got down on one knee and said “will you marry me?” I said, “YES!” We were hugging and I was shaking from shock and giggling like a little girl. He hadn’t put the ring on my finger yet (I found out later, he didn’t realize he was supposed to do that part.) and we were both waiting on the other person to do it in between hugs. I finally took it out of the box with trembling fingers, terrified I was going to drop it in the crevices of lava rock! Thankfully it made it safely onto my left hand. Then a photographer came out of hiding where she had been shooting out engagement and talked with us, took some pictures and informed me that Jeff had set up a mini engagement session with her! (I underestimated Jeff, I know.) We went inside to get less sweaty and the shock finally wore off and I just started bawling in his arms. Once I calmed down, we ran upstairs and I quickly put a few more curls in my hair and touched up my makeup.
Then his family came in and I had six people in the bathroom with me all crying and hugging! We had to be quick to make it to the location Jeff had researched and chosen (who is this man I get to marry?!) before sunset. We made it to the spot called the End of the World and the photographer took a million gorgeous pictures for us. Once she brought us back to the house we tried to FaceTime family and friends and we were able to catch a few of them that were anticipating tonight as THE night. But, because of the time change, had to wait to share our good news with the rest of our people until the next morning. Then we went to Kona Brewery for pizza and to celebrate with his family. It was a day I will never forget and the most special and cherished I have ever felt. I can’t believe I get to marry such an amazing, thoughtful, loving man.