Sam and Kate

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How We Met

Sam and I met in the fall of 2013 in Shanghai China. I was there for 6 months to study Chinese and he had moved there in early 2013 for work. We were introduced by Sam’s sister, whom I had known for a few years through a mutual friend. When Sam’s sister introduced us on facebook right before I embarked on my trip, she even joked to our mutual friend, “Maybe they’ll get married!”. Sam and I met up and immediately hit it off. I was, however, living in Beijing so we didn’t see each other often. We kept in touch and emailed back and forth about our funny “living in China” stories. It was a super bonding experience to have so much in common in my day to day life as someone I only was beginning to know. After my 6 month stint in China, I returned to the US as planned but still had China and Sam on my mind. I decided to move back to Shanghai in September 2014 and Sam and I immediately started dating. One of the best things about living abroad is the travel opportunities. Sam and I went on a romantic trip to the Maldives and a “Thanksgiving Abroad” trip to Tokyo all within the first few months of dating. Since then, we’ve traveled the world together and explored all sorts of amazing places in Asia and Europe. I think we’ve been to nearly 20 countries together! We both never thought in our wildest dreams that we would meet our soulmate while living so far away from home. Nonetheless, we both feel it was fate that we ended up following our paths to Shanghai and falling in love in this city.

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how they asked

Sam had had the engagement ring for a few months and was planning to completely surprise me upon his return to Shanghai after a 2 week trip in the US. When his flight back to Shanghai was cancelled and his arrival postponed by a day and a half, he reluctantly decided he should wait to propose. When Sam finally got home to Shanghai a day or two later than planned I expected nothing. Travel delays + jet lag + getting back to work = the worst timing ever. So, when he proposed that next day in the early evening, I was totally surprised! Sam woke up on that Wednesday and decided he was going to propose that day. That morning he called a close friend and enlisted him to assist in the proposal. I, in the meantime, was having a crazy day, had locked myself out of our apartment, was late for work, and feeling frazzled as a result. Around 4pm the receptionist from my office came over to my desk and handed me a note.

I asked er who the letter was from–it was not in the standard delivery envelope. She said she didn’t know but that someone told her to give it to me. I took the card and looked at it. On one side it read “Better Together” and on the back said Fuxing Park 6.15pm. I started to shake and tear up. You can’t get a card like this and not know what was happening! Some colleagues asked if I was okay and I exclaimed, “I think I’m getting engaged!”. The “proposal” thing is not a custom in China so some of my colleagues were quite confused as to what was going on. I ran downstairs to a pharmacy to buy a hairbrush and lip gloss, I had nothing with me and had had such a frazzled morning. Around 5.45 I got in a taxi to head to Fuxing Park, an iconic and historic park in our neighborhood in Shanghai. I walked in and found my way to Sam who was standing on the middle lawn with a picnic arranged. He gave me a big hug and we stood there for a few moments.

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Then, he got down on one knee and pulled out the ring. Despite the fact that I had more or less known what was going to happen for a couple of hours, I was sobbing. I think he had to ask me 3 or 4 times before I actually said yes! Sam had our friend hiding in the bushes to get photos of the whole thing. When I saw Jon, I started laughing and crying even more! It was so perfect to have another member of our expat Shanghai family there for the proposal! Sam opened a bottle of Tattinger champagne (my favorite) and we started to Facetime and Skype our friends and family.

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Everyone was so excited- they were all just waking up on the East Coast so it was really fun! After that, we had an intimate dinner at my favorite restaurant in Shanghai followed by drinks on the rooftop overlooking the Shanghai skyline. Sam’s proposal was intimate, low key, and sweet. Everything that I wanted it to be! It was totally representative of how we met and our life together abroad. Now, we’re looking forward to our big wedding on February 10 in Washington DC, my hometown!

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