Who’s excited to kick off engagement week?! I sure am! I won’t dilly dally – here we go.
The Story of our Engagement:
To know me is to know that my favorite day of the year is Valentine’s Day. I have always been a sucker for roses, heart shaped candy, and a day dedicated to showing the ones you love how much you appreciate them. I love watching people show up to restaurants, all dressed up, having spent a little extra time that day to look nice for their significant other. Even when I didn’t have a love on Valentine’s Day, I was always so excited to give the gift of love to my friends and family and watch other people do it too.
For the past few years, Valentines has been hit or miss for Brandon and me, and mostly miss. It’s always fallen at a time that was particularly stressful with the business and they never quite turned out how I wanted. So this year, I was determined to make sure he hit it out of the park, in a way us women are all too familiar with: the hint.
I had been sent a link by a shopper at Chanel that he got a new set of backpacks in the store. Naturally, I found one I loved and thought it would make the perfect Valentines gift. Brandon and I were heading down to Palm Springs – we had just boarded our flight and got settled into our seats when I dropped my not so subtle hint that went something like this:
Me: Hey babe – since Valentines is this week, I found a bag that might make a nice gift.
Brandon: Do you need another Chanel bag?
Me: *bursts into tears* It’s not about the bag! It’s about the thought you put into the bag.
Uh oh. This was going nowhere fast.
(And honestly, I cringe even recounting this story because I sound unstable. But – this was during my BCN days, so I’ll give myself a pass and vow to never hint like this again. Back to the story.)
Here we were, days away from my favorite holiday and he seemingly didn’t want to get me the gift I was excited about. He assured me that we would have an amazing valentines in order for me not to spin into a complete meltdown on this Alaska flight. So, I believed him and thought nothing of it.
The day of Valentines, we woke up at our home in Palm Springs and when he went out to grab us coffee, I made a walkway of rose petals, lit candles, and laid out his present: the coolest pair of Tom Ford sunglasses and a sweater he’d been eyeing. He brought me roses with my coffee and let me know my present was waiting in LA. I figured that he passed on the backpack and was getting me this necklace that he liked from our jeweler in LA. We got ready and off we went into LA for his Valentines surprise: a private tour of Jay Leno’s Garage. Brandon loves cars, so he was pumped.
We made it from the garage to the Beverly Hills SLS Hotel just in time for me to take a shower and catch up on a few episodes of The Real Housewives while Brandon had a lunch meeting with Seth, a close friend of ours who we were going out to dinner with later that night. These guys adore each other so him leaving for a few hours to catch up seemed perfectly normal. I also figured he was picking up my necklace from our jeweler since it he’s right down the street.
But at some point while they were gone, it hit me that it was Valentine’s Day and what if Brandon proposed? I quickly confirmed that he was NOT going to propose because he would never propose without my parents being present and, when I checked my mom’s location on Find my Friends, I could clearly see that she was in still at home in Vancouver.
Brandon finally came back to the hotel in a panic because he got caught in LA traffic and was an hour late. I was cool as a cucumber, having almost finished half a bottle of the Veuve he had waiting for me in the room with the most glorious white roses. We were quite late, but our plans were casual: we were meeting our dear friends Seth and Kristen in the lobby bar at the SLS and then going out to dinner at some LA hot spot.
He hurriedly got ready and down to the lobby we went. Instead of sitting in the bar, Brandon pulled me into one of their private rooms where red roses spilled over the table with the most delectable charcuterie plate you’ve ever seen. Now the next 3 days we had back to back photoshoots, so your girl wasn’t planning on having bread and cheese but when it looks that good, you just don’t say no. Seth, Kristen, Brandon and I went to town on the food and champagne in true Valentines fashion. 15 minutes into stuffing our faces, everything changed.
The room got quiet. Seth pulled out his phone and started recording. And Brandon put a black Peter Marco box in front of me. I was convinced it was the necklace. Until Brandon started crying and said, “I love you more than any human being in the world. I know it’s been really hard being with me and I know you’ve gone through a lot with me, but I have to tell you there’s no person I love more than you. You’ve been there for me. You’ve loved me when it’s been tough. You’ve loved me when it’s been easy. But most importantly, you’ve loved me. If the last few years have been amazing as they’ve been, I can’t fathom what the rest of our lives could look like together. So, this is from me to you on Valentines – your most favorite day of the year and baby I did not forget this year so can you please open your Valentines present? I’d like to know if you’d like to be with me for the rest of your life.”
My response was: “Are you serious?”
Coming from a girl who has never been surprised in her entire life, I must say I was floored. You can see it in my reaction. I was shocked for these reasons:
1) It had been months since we talked about getting married with any seriousness and we left that conversation in agreement that we’d wait a few more years because we didn’t see the hurry.
2) My parents weren’t there. The engagement had Brandon’s name written all over it because he always promised that it would be a surprise. He knew if he told my parents, there was no way I wouldn’t know beforehand, and it was important to him that I didn’t know ahead of time.
3) The ring. The ring was STUNNING. But nothing like the rings we’d looked at in the past. It was a large, oval cut center stone with 2 flanking side stones. I’ve always loved rectangular stones with thin, diamond bands so this ring was gorgeous, just not what I had in mind.
When the initial shock wore off the first thing I asked was, “do my parents know?” and my stomach dropped when he said, “Your parents don’t know. We get to tell them.”
Not only did my parents not know: no one knew. Brandon hadn’t told anyone this was happening. Not his kids. Not his parents. Not my friends. No one. And as we were sitting at the table, preparing to go to dinner, it dawned on me that we weren’t going to be able to share this news with anyone for 3 weeks because we had a crazy travel schedule and weren’t going to be home to sit down with his kids and family. I certainly wasn’t going to share this exciting news with my friends while having to caveat it by not letting them tell anyone for 3 weeks until we could tell our families in person. In the moment, this all felt backwards. I didn’t understand why he did it this way. It instantly zapped the joy out of this moment for me as an all too familiar feeling sank in that we couldn’t just be in love and share it.
I’m going to be completely honest: the rest of the night was a blur. I know we called my parents and had a celebratory dinner with Seth and Kristen, but I can’t tell you much else. I was in complete shock and was overwhelmingly sad that this moment looked nothing like the way I dreamed it would because all the people we loved weren’t there to share it with us. The following thoughts swirled in my head incessantly throughout the course of dinner: Do I call my friends and tell them? Do I wait until we’re in person? Why didn’t he call them and tell them beforehand, so they could have helped plan it? I can’t believe we’re engaged. I wish my parents were here. Why did he choose tonight? How long had he been planning this? Why didn’t he choose the ring we both liked? I wish my parents were here. Why didn’t he propose in Portland? Why didn’t he ask how I wanted to be proposed to? I wish my parents were here.
I had a few cocktails over dinner and with these thoughts swirling around, you can image what came out of my mouth as soon as we said goodnight to our friends and got in the elevator…
This was the very first night in the history of our relationship where we went to bed upset with each other. What happened next? I guess you’ll have to read Part 2…
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