Sabena and Chiraag

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How We Met

Chiraag and I grew up 6 houses apart in Northern California, but didn’t meet until 4th grade when our moms introduced us as ‘carpool buddies.’ We carpooled for a few years, but it wasn’t until middle school that we actually became friends. In high school, we became inseparable; we were part of the same group of friends who did everything together (and still does!!), but we had a friendship all our own. Our thing was late-night hot chocolate at Denny’s and 7 am drives to school in his minivan. I remember feeling like there wasn’t a thing I couldn’t tell Chiraag, and I still do. For college, he was off to Illinois while I went to USC, but we stayed close, catching up over the holidays and planning a group trip to celebrate his 21st birthday. After we graduated, I stayed in LA while he moved to SF. We dated other people but were always in each other’s lives. He’d fly down for every birthday, making sure he never missed a minute of whatever over-the-top celebration I had planned. We always stayed close, constantly texting about our life updates and he was my first call for advice, a good cry, or a ‘what do you think this text means’??.

A lot changed in COVID. Chiraag was living the nomadic life and spent a few months in LA. We started spending more time together, hiking Runyon or cooking dinner. He, along with my sister and her bf, planned a special birthday celebration for me. Then he left for Hawaii for a month. I was so sad when he left but didn’t think much of it.

While he was there, I called him to see if he’d want to take a trip to Tulum. We were both working remotely and wanted a change of scenery, so we rented an Airbnb for 2 weeks… just the two of us. Friends and fam raised their eyebrows when I told them what we had planned, One evening on week 2, we took a walk on the beach and happened upon a 2 one-tequila bar. After a few too many shots, we stumbled into the most beautiful restaurant I’ve ever been to — an all-white candlelight Mediterranean dream called Mezze. Mid a deep conversation about life over hummus and pita told me how he felt about me. How he’d felt for so long. I was stunned, but after getting over that initial shock… I realized I felt the same way.

After we got back to LA, our first official date was a private pasta-making class that Chiraag surprised me with. I was so nervous, but making tagliatelle in an Italian woman’s home kitchen and enjoying our fresh pasta and wine was literally the perfect night. I remember laughing the entire time and feeling so at ease. That night, I went home and listened to ‘everything has changed’ by Taylor Swift on repeat. It was only fitting.

How They Asked

I was heading down to Laguna Beach for a weekend trip to The Ranch with my best friend for our annual girls’ trip. Friday was a spa day and a relaxing evening of girl talk and dessert in bed. On Saturday, my best girlfriends surprised me with brunch at Pelican Hill — but I still had no clue, since Chiraag was texting me pictures from back home in SF. I then took a limo to the proposal spot, Crescent Bay Point Park, where we had gone on a trip to Laguna about 3 months in; I thought I was meeting my girlfriends at the Harry Styles concert.

When he opened the door to the limo, I started bawling. It all hit me. The setup was all white florals and tall candles against a beautiful ocean backdrop — simple, elegant, and very me. It was a perfect SoCal day, 72 degrees and sunny. Chiraag walked me to the center of the setup and got down on one knee. The proposal was a blur, but I do know that Chiraag said he had dreamt of this moment for most of his life, and we were both simultaneously laughing and crying the whole time. After I said yes, we spent an hour just talking and admiring the sunset, taking selfies, and finishing an entire bottle of Moet.

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We then took the limo back to the house in Laguna Hills he’d rented for our families to stay in. They surprised me at the door and I was so happy to see them. He then walked me out to show me the pool in the house, and I turned a corner to see all of our friends screaming ‘CONGRATS!!!’. I immediately broke down and started bawling again.

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I gained my composure and ran upstairs to change into a gold Shona Joy dress and Gucci shoes my mom and sister had brought for me. The evening was a sheer joy — dancing, cocktails, impromptu speeches, cake, and tons of photos!

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I later found out that Chiraag planned the proposal for months with a minute-by-minute spreadsheet that’s now legendary. He coordinated to have both of our immediate families there, along with 40 of our closest friends. I still don’t know how he pulled off a proposal that was so meaningful, and so US. I’m so grateful.

Ring details 3.63 carats round brilliant diamond with a hidden halo and 22 pave diamonds, to symbolize the 22 years we knew each other before we started dating.

We dated for 1 year and 8 months before getting engaged.

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Special Thanks

Stephanie Ip
 | Photographer
Party of Two Group
 | Planning