How we met: Shane and I met while we were both working at a ski resort in Utah. After I graduated from the University of South Carolina, I decided to take some time off before continuing on to grad school. I grew up in Colorado and had always wanted to move back west and spend some time living in the mountains and learning to snowboard. Shane is Australian, and after finishing college at the University of Queensland, he also decided to take some time off to travel before settling down and starting his career. He planned to come to America for a year- working at a ski resort for the winter season and then traveling around the U.S.. While working at Park City Mountain Resort, Shane was a lift operator and I worked in ski school with a handful of other Australians.
In February 2012, Shane and I met through our mutual friends while out one night in downtown Park City. We talked all night and after I went home that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about how handsome, smart, and endearing he was. We continued to talk after that night and started spending more and more time together. On the last day of the ski season, we spent the whole day snowboarding until the sun was going down and the resort closed for the day, and then celebrated the end of the season with all of our friends. It was a perfect day, and we told each other ‘I love you’ that night, even though we had no idea what we were going to do once the season was over. With our winter jobs finished and leases ending, Shane and I went back to colorado so he could meet my family, and then I joined him and some of our friends on a month-long road trip around the U.S….in a GIANT white van…with a HUGE snowmobile decal on the side…that the Australians had bought from an old snowmobiling company. At this point, I had committed to going to graduate school at Vanderbilt, and Shane was on a temporary visa, so we weren’t sure what the future held, but we were committed to figuring it out.
Shortly after I moved to Nashville for school, Shane returned to Australia and we maintained a LONG distance relationship for three months. At the end of the semester, I flew to Australia to meet his family and spend the holidays with Shane. Seeing Shane at the airport and spending that time together in Australia is still one of my favorite memories of our relationship…I completely adored his family and his home; the weather was perfect, his family lives right on the coast, and I absolutely loved seeing kangaroos!! After that trip, Shane got a job offer in Nashville and a work visa so he could come live and work in the United States. We moved into a new apartment together and since then Shane has been promoted in his job, I finished my master’s degree, and we’ve been able to travel back to Australia every year. Sometimes we think about all the little factors that lined up perfectly and led to our meeting and making this work, and it makes me think that this was certainly meant to be.
how they asked: Before planning my proposal to Anna I had already spoken to her parents and thankfully gotten both of their blessings. While I have already been very welcomed in and definitely feel like part of their family, it was important to me to talk to them first about such an important event. Then came the task of finding just the right way to ask the big question. I knew Anna didn’t want a very public proposal, just something special between the two of us, and I wanted to incorporate a few meaningful touches to make it personal.
So, one ordinary Saturday afternoon at around 4:00pm, I left for a bike ride. I am a triathlete so this is a regular thing for us- me leaving to go ride or run for a few hours at a time. This day though was a little different; I rode a total of 10 feet and got in our car which was parked out front of our apartment building. After putting my bike in the back I took out a box I pre-packed from the trunk and left it on our doorstop. I then drove to Arrington vineyards, a local winery in the countryside with rolling hills, amazing views and fantastic wines. Once there I got changed out of my cycling clothes into something more appropriate and took all my supplies I had secretly stashed in the car including a small outdoor table, picnic supplies, flowers, kangaroo stuffed animal and most importantly the ring. After trudging up the hill, gear in hand and getting some strange looks along the way, I found the perfect spot at the very top with spectacular views of the local countryside and set up my ensemble. All the while, Anna had opened her package which contained one of her nice dresses and a note saying that “her car would be there to pick her up at 5:30 for our evening.” I had arranged a luxury car and chauffeur to deliver her safely to the vineyards at just the right moment. To throw off her suspicions, the driver told her she was being taken for date night at the movies (whether or not she believed this is still questionable in my mind).
So, she arrived at the vineyards to find me waiting, trying to act as normal as possible while secretly shaking in my boots. I led her up to the crest of the hill and over to the table which had flowers and the stuffed kangaroo set atop it. By this stage she was more than a little anxious. I proceeded to tell her how much I loved and adored her and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. With the sun setting over the hills in the background, I got down on one knee, took the stuffed kangaroo, reached into his pouch and pulled out the diamond ring.
I asked her to marry me and through tears and laughter she finally said yes and I was the happiest man in the world.
It was then that I waved over Chali who I had met when I first got to the vineyard and who had been pretending to take photos of a different couple off to the side. Unbeknownst to Anna she had actually been capturing our engagement and then did a wonderful job taking some amazing photos afterwards too.
My family is in Australia so having some great photos was important to me and Chali surely delivered. We celebrated with a picnic and champagne from the vineyard and after a lot of planning, secret keeping, organizing and butterflies in stomachs, it was a perfect evening. A story we will never forget and never forgo the opportunity to describe in detail to anybody who will listen.
Photos by Chali Designs