Sara and Josh

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How We Met

Ironically, how we met ties into the original proposal idea. I met Sara for the first time by phone during a work call for both of our respective employers discussing a potential partnership. Even though there were multiple people on the call, Sara and I, without hesitation, were volleying jokes back and forth and setting the tone of the entire meeting laughing throughout and also getting shit done. I had never experienced that kind of call before.

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Immediately during that call, my head tilted sideways (just like our French Bulldog does). And I honestly was intrigued from the moment I heard Sara’s angelic voice. It had been a few weeks since my first call with Sara and we decided to connect in person for a meet and greet. Because we met through work, I wanted to stay professional. But, in the back of my mind, Sara’s personality was the first of its kind that I had ever heard and I needed to know more. It was September 5, 2017, when I was sitting in the lobby of a Westin hotel in a suburb of Minneapolis with a co-worker at the time.

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I remember the moment vividly: Sara walked from her car to the sidewalk of the hotel into the lobby, and she instantly took my breath away. No joke. She was wearing black heels, jeans, and a white dress shirt (LinkedIn was the only way I knew how to spot her). We picked up where we left off on the first call and after that, I was hooked. What’s funny about our beginning: We kept it professional from the beginning, crushed our respective jobs, and built a partnership that was a major accomplishment for each of us and our companies.

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We learned a lot about our similarities and differences. We grew close over time and built trust. But it wasn’t until March 2019 that we dated. Right before we started dating in March, we took a trip (as friends) to Maui in January 2019. From the day we went to Maui and came home, we never spent a day apart. Our story isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Our story is real life. Raw and in the flesh, unaltered – bumps and blemishes, roller coasters; but our story is authentic. – Josh

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How They Asked

From Sara: I think our proposal is much like our relationship- perfectly imperfect. It’s not without its bumps and blemishes but it is a journey that’s real and authentic. Josh and I started dating in March of 2019. Josh bought me a ring in January 2020. His intention was to propose to me in Maui on 9/5/20. September 5th is significant as it’s the first day we met ( a date that if I’m being totally honest I didn’t remember. Of course, I remember meeting Josh for the first time but couldn’t have told you the date on the calendar during which this meeting took place-one of many examples that make him the incredibly thoughtful human he is). Josh’s 40th birthday was September 14th, 2020. So we discussed doing a big Maui trip to celebrate. Maui’s a special place for us. My first trip to the island was with Josh and it’s one that changed the course of our relationship forever. Not in our wildest dreams could either of us predicted what was about to happen next. A global pandemic…As we watched the world change by the minute the idea of a 40th birthday celebration felt like it was slipping out of our fingertips. For me, this was disappointing news as I wanted to celebrate Josh’s 40th in style but it wasn’t the end of the world. I knew we’d still celebrate and get back to the island when life stabilized again. Josh however was much more distraught. Hindsight of course is 20/20. I’m thinking we’re talking about missing a birthday celebration and he’s realizing his proposal plans are going up in smoke. He spent countless hours researching different options, he even came up with a full-blown plan B that involved an epic trip to the Maldives. But ultimately the world continued to have different plans for us. As September 5th grew closer and travel restrictions were showing no sign of loosening, Josh made a decision. And that decision was that we were more important than any elaborate island proposal. That asking me to spend the rest of my life with him on the day that we met each other meant more than all of the flowers, sand, and sun in the world. On 9/5/2020, Josh proposed to me in MN (home for us) at the location we met each other for the very first time. It was honest, authentic, and real. It was just us. And it was a promise to continue to try to be the best that we can be for each other every single day. Everything a proposal should be.

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Fast forward to 2021:I should preface this next section with a couple of fun facts about my fiancé:1- he doesn’t give up ever2- he hates losing3- when he sets his mind to something, he’ll make it happen. No matter what. So we are now officially engaged. And without hesitation, we both know we want to get married in Maui. A small, intimate gathering with close family and friends. No big production at home with hundreds of people we barely know. Rather a day focused on our commitment to each other surrounded by those who genuinely love and support us. With that, we start setting our plans into motion. Travel restrictions lifted and we were able to book a trip to the island to begin planning our wedding. Our hope was to scout venues, meeting planners, and do an engagement photo session at some point during our visit. Enter Anna :). We researched photographers on the island, asked around for recommendations and her name kept coming up. Prior to our trip we connected with her via phone and immediately felt like she was the right choice for us. Not just because her work is stunning but because of the person she is.2.28.21- three days into our trip and our photo session with Anna. We meet her at the first location and Josh and I fumble our way through trying to follow directions while praying we’re giving her at least a little something she could work with. We finish up at the first spot and head to location #2-Maluaka Beach. With the first round of photos done, I was feeling like we were going to crush the second location- any nerves or feelings of awkwardness subsided and I was excited to take photos on the beach. We arrive, do a quick outfit change and head up the hill to the sand. As we make our way onto the beach, a man approaches me and asks “are you the couple that’s about to get engaged”. To which I roll my eyes and display my ring figure and tell him “no, we’re already engaged”. Josh and I continue to walk down the beach and I’m starting to see what appears to be a large floral arrangement in the sand. I again think absolutely nothing of it. We get right up next to it and I’m now thinking what the heck is wrong with Josh, he’s ruining someone else’s setup. It wasn’t until he grabbed my hands and I heard lyrics of a song being played that’s very special to us that I realized this insanely beautiful setup was indeed for me. That we were in fact the couple about to get engaged (again) in the exact setting Josh had wanted the proposal to happen from the very beginning. We laughed and cried and promised once again to commit our lives to each other. It was magical. Having Anna there to capture it all was simply more than I could have ever imagined. I was overwhelmed in the best possible way by the amount thought and planning and effort that went into pulling something like this off. The song that was being played during the proposal was “Blessed” by Thomas Rhett. I can’t think of a better word to describe how I felt in that moment and how I continue to feel every single day to have found Josh, and to have a real partner in life. “People say I’m lucky, but lucky ain’t the word, oh I’m blessed” ~ Thomas Rhett. And the theme for our lives. -Sara

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From Josh:

Proposal one: It was a year before my 40th birthday, September 2019, when I made the decision to get down on one knee and ask Sara to be my bride. Since we met in September, I thought it would be awesome to propose to Sara in the place where it all started, Maui, Hawaii. September 5th will forever be significant to me as Sara exudes rare qualities that are hard to find in another person: it is the first day the most angelic, intelligent, witty, funny, hard working, sexy, authentic, humble woman with the kindest soul I have ever laid eyes on, walked into my heart; and I was forever enamored. Given it was my 40th birthday in 2020, I thought what a perfect opportunity to plan a trip and use my birthday as a “cover-up” for a true surprise proposal. From the end of 2019 into 2020, I started planning right away: trip details, proposal, ring, what I want to say etc. The real theme for the trip to Maui and the proposal was: It is Sara’s turn to truly be taken care of for once. Meanwhile, no one knew a global pandemic was coming.. When the world shut down in March of 2020, I was in shock as everyone else. What was going to happen? All of the planning I had started was put on hold and at risk like many others in the world. Hawaii shut down and understandably, there was no end in sight, so I had to pivot my thinking. My heart was set on September 2020 and I wanted to give Sara the world. How else would one honor the first day they met their guardian angel? How else would one honor and respect a woman who has always, throughout her life, put her loved ones first before herself. Always. I cannot emphasize the word always. Sara is the most loyal, selfless, independent, humble, patient and loving human being I have ever met. That is not an exaggeration. She is truly my hero for an infinite amount of reasons. My gratitude towards Sara has no bounds. I love everyday with her, good days and bad, she is my life, mi vida, my world. I couldn’t give up on the proposal as Sara has never given up on me. It was her turn and I wanted to give her the world. I scoured the Earth for destinations that would be open in September and that would be as magical and breathtaking as Sara. She only deserves the best. I landed on the Maldives as the next destination to propose. I had every single detail planned, booked and organized. I kept a daily journal of my planning for all of 2020. I took Sara to dinner one night in Minnesota and gave her a card (attached to this email), with details of the trip and that I wanted to honor and cherish her as my birthday present. That’s all I wanted. It was perfect and matched exactly how I felt about her. A week until our trip to the Maldives and weather forecasts were torrential downpours for 2 weeks straight. We made a decision at the last minute to cancel our trip to the Maldives. Traveling 30+ hours on the other side of the world is too risky when there is bad weather. We were both crushed. I felt horrible. I had been planning a proposal for almost a year, without telling a soul, and now this is the second time life threw a curveball. With days remaining until September 5, 2020, and the world still mostly shut down, I decided to forge ahead with my proposal. I actually had a backup idea in my mind given the uncertainty of the world but had not planned anything. I planned a proposal at the Westin hotel in Minnesota where we first met on September 5, 2020. I also asked her family to help with a surprise party at our home after the proposal. I booked a hotel room, decorated the room with 5 dozen roses, candles and had songs that meant something to us playing. The day of the proposal I was a mess. I was excited yet nervous. I planned for Sara to get her nails done and told her I wanted to make the day about her. I also made up that we had a private chef in a private location that would cook for us that evening. I actually tried to get a private chef but it was too short of notice to make that happen. Instead we had family and food waiting for us at home after the proposal. On the way to the Westin, I had the ring hidden in my suit coat. I walked Sara into the Westin, up to the room where it was decorated with music playing and walked her over to a heart shaped set of rose petals. I had worked on what I wanted to say for several months and memorized what I wanted to say as those words meant a lot. I got down on one knee and she said yes! It was a meaningful experience and I explained the backstory and reasons for that day, that location. After the proposal, we sat down in the lobby at the same couch we met 3 years prior and shared a drink. Even though my first proposal wasn’t my first choice at the time (Hawaii, Maldives), in my heart it felt right. As I expressed above, that day was significant to me in ways I can only attempt to describe. I knew someday, I would be able to propose to Sara the way I wanted to when the world resumes. Hindsight, proposal one was best described as imperfect but with significant meaning. Proposal two: After Sara said yes, we began researching venues, ideas, destinations etc. We agreed that an intimate, destination wedding in Maui was perfect. We started planning a trip to Hawaii in the fall of 2020. We booked a trip for February 2021. Our goal for this trip was to pick a venue, do engagement photos and try to nail down some general wedding planning. What Sara didn’t know is that I immediately began planning the second proposal the way I wanted to do the original proposal. Sara had already picked out her wedding band after we got engaged. I wanted to give her a ring for this proposal but she was already wearing her engagement ring from proposal number one. I ended up buying her wedding band early and began planning.

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I reached out to Anna Kim after the 3 of us met by phone to plan our engagement photos. Anna was so excited and super happy to help me plan the proposal. As said before, I wanted to have all the elements planned for the original proposal in Maui: live music, an insane floral display with an absolutely breathtaking backdrop; pure magic and bliss. I wanted to recreate the feeling I had when I first laid eyes on Sara which is breathtaking, breathless and speechless. Maui is a distant second to the beauty and awe of Sara Zeman. I loved the idea of capturing the proposal on camera. Anna helped with all the details of the location, timing and connected me to one of the most artistic, creative and down to earth person in Darren Keala. Darren was and is a gem just like Anna. I worked with Darren remotely and planned a beachside, oceanfront floral proposal. 100% of the credit goes to Darren for creating a true piece of art. All of the stars were aligned. Sara had no idea this was planned and happening. No idea. The day of proposal two, we met Anna for photos. It was game time and redemption for the original brainchild of this grand event honored in Sara’s name. We started off on black rock taking pictures, while Darren was building the majestic floral wall at the beach 5 minutes away. The goal was to walk over to the end of the beach at sunset. We stopped at our car to change clothes for the second shoot of photos and then headed towards the beach. Anna got a head start to make sure everything was all set. Sara and I walked over the hill to the beach. Anna was shooting photos of us, leading us to the end of the beach where the floral wall was set up. A funny blurb: halfway to the floral wall a random gentleman asked us if we were the couple getting engaged and Sara responded “no, he already did that” and showed her ring. We kept walking to the floral circle, Rico was playing our song “Blessed” (which he learned in weeks), I grabbed Sara’s hand and responded to her line seconds earlier “Or am I the one proposing?” I brought her into the circle and got down on one knee, again. lol. It was perfect. Actually, it was perfectly imperfect. Sara was shocked, literally had no idea. Anna captured the engagement, Maui locals were cheering and clapping, Darren was there to witness everything too. Another great piece to this story is that after the proposal Sara and I learned Darren is a wedding planner besides crushing life as a floral expert (I am almost certain Anna told me this at some point, and I may have missed it :). Anna stayed with us after the proposal and gave us some great ideas for our wedding and for Maui in general. Later that week we were able to meet Darren and discuss our wedding. After the second proposal everything fell into place with Maui and planning our wedding. We picked a venue, chef, wedding planner and of course photographer all in the same week. It was awesome. Sara and I believe things happen for a reason. The day we saw our venue for the first time (Olowalu Plantation), we saw a Monk Seal. We also saw a Whale with a full breach in the water. We learned the Monk Seal is super rare to see and truly a blessing. We also hit it off with Anna, Darren and Chef Brian and team. Our experience with Darren that week sealed the deal. The energy we got from Darren was magical, authentic and heartfelt. We had similar feelings with Anna and Chef Brian. And we have Anna to thank for connecting us to Darren and Darren to thank for connecting us to Chef Brian. The pieces all fell together and Sara and I couldn’t be more excited to share our special day with our wedding team and our loved ones in Maui. Finally, all of this splendor and magic ties back to the simple fact that Sara is a rare, incredible individual who stole my heart forever and I am forever grateful and in love.

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Special Thanks

Anna Kim Photography
 | Photographer
Events by Darren Keala
 | Florist & Planner