My Engagement Story
I asked you guys yesterday if you’d rather read about my engagement story or a piece on microblading, and the majority voted for engagement. (Although for those of you who requested microblading, don’t worry, I’m going to get to that one next.) A quick apology that I haven’t been posting as regularly this week. I’m on the road for the next two weeks and I’m trying to do two to three posts while I’m traveling — more if I have time. Enough throat-clearing. Let’s get to storytime.
My husband S and I quite literally found love in a hopeless place (s/o Rihanna) — Tinder back in 2016. After our first date, it became quite evident that this was something special. On New Year’s Day 2017, he pre-proposed by asking me to go ring shopping.
When it comes to jewelry, I’m something of a nerd (read my guide on how to buy a diamond here), and he knew that. Additionally, we’ve both always believed that getting engaged is a pact between two adults, and therefore he knew early on that I wanted to be involved in the process. I sat down with a jeweler and designed my own engagement ring. After that, I told him I didn’t want to know any further details. The rest was up to him.
For anyone who knows S, you’d know that he’s a painstakingly meticulous planner (he was responsible for picking our wedding procession music, and it took him…six months?). He got to planning. He asked me to keep a weekend in July 2017 open for him. Then, at the beginning of July, this email appeared in my inbox.
From: S <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: July 1, 2017 at 4:27:52 PM PDT
To: Kimberly Wang <email@example.com>
Subject: Mystery trip clothing/packing suggestions
In anticipation of our trip to ???, here are some things that I think we need to have/buy/pack:
- The temperature of where we're going can be a little bit nippy and will range from anywhere from low-60s to mid-40s. Averages are typically in the 50s but temperatures that go into the 70s are not unusual either but it'll be important to layer as the weather can change rapidly.
- We won't be doing any hiking (nowhere near the degree of Virginia) but we will be walking around a bit and exploring.
- The weather can change quick as I mentioned so some of the items below are mainly to ensure your clothes don't get super gross when we're away from the hotel. With that in mind:
Swimsuit, flip flops, towel.
Leggings (warmer, the better)
Comfy sneakers for walking (pref. not white or anything that could get marked up easily)
Moisture wicking or wool socks (thicker and longer than your Puma socks) as well as regular socks
A nice dress or something similar for dinner/night/evening activities
A sweater or fleece
Long sleeved shirts for layering and maybe a t-shirt or two.
Backpack that you can use to stash layers, camera, etc.
Hiking boots (again, not hiking but will be needed)
Importantly, a waterproof jacket
I know what you're thinking -- "Jesus Christ, S, half the items here are hiking gear..we're f-ing hiking." Alas, while I wish that was the case, we're actually not. I know you hate hiking and you just have to trust me on this one. Basically, without giving away too much, it's a tale of two cities here -- one is a little more 'rugged' than the other, while the other is cosmopolitan and just like any city life so we want to dress appropriately for each. We can always bring a change of clothes with us, as needed, too since we'll have a car.
Your Mystery Tour Guide
Upon reading this email though, I immediately had questions. How waterproof does this jacket have to be (answer was very waterproof). And what kinds of places could we ably fly to and back in three days from NYC on a summer weekend would have temperatures in the low-60’s to mid-40’s. S tried to throw me off the scent by dropping a lot of hints about South America, but I suspected Iceland. I thought it was likely Iceland because it was a country we’d both wanted to visit for some time.
Side note: Okay, so I’ll just put this out there really quickly. Yes, I really hate hiking. Last time I went on a hike, I had a panic attack. I think it has something to do with the fact that when I was a kid, my parents used to throw my covers off of me on weekends before any light had cleared its way through the morning atmosphere and drag me up random mountains for family hikes. It was traumatizing — and I mean that in a tongue-in-cheek way. With the amount of hiking gear he put on the packing list, I prayed I wouldn’t get engaged in hiking gear. Spoiler: I got engaged in hiking gear. But in the end, it hardly mattered.
So our weekend trip finally rolls around and we make our way to JFK. My suspicions are confirmed when I see the boarding pass. We were headed to Iceland! And then things started getting mucky. It began with small delays. Increments of thirty minutes, then an hour, then two hours. There was a mechanical error then we were waiting on our flight crew. We were flying Delta to Iceland, and at no point did they tell us to go home or that they would rebook us on a different flight. Rather, they kept everyone there waiting at the airport as they delayed what should have been a mid-day flight into the evening.
Eventually, our crew timed out, and they announced that the flight would be delayed until early the next morning. But the time they told us wasn’t set in stone, and the majority of the passengers were afraid to leave in case anything changed. We ended up sleeping on the floor of JFK airport with threadbare blankets they handed out to us. But I remember there was a mother traveling alone with a baby who had it much worse. She couldn’t put down her child anywhere and couldn’t sleep since she didn’t trust anyone else to keep an eye on her child.
I could tell S was stressed. He was on his computer rebooking things (I imagined the hotel). I was calmer — but mainly because I didn’t know the extent of the plans he was having to reschedule. Eventually, when our flight finally did take off, we’d been delayed over 15 hours. It was only supposed to be a three day trip, and so we pushed back our return flight by a day so that we could be able to have a full three days.
The first two days were pretty great, but standard tourist fare. We went sightseeing, we ate delicious meals, we visited the Blue Lagoon, etc. The landscape of Iceland is otherworldly. It actually felt at times like we had vacated Earth and stepped onto some other planet. It was ethereally beautiful.
I deduced that the proposal was likely going to be on the third day or the trip would have all been for naught. Morning of, S told me we were going on a road trip to see whales. I was stoked. Whales? I love whales. He told me to pack my dress, because we were going to a nice dinner that evening. It was happening.
On our road trip, we stopped by two different waterfalls — Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Each time, we got out of the car, took a million pictures, and I prepared myself for the proposal. Both times, S happily snapped photos and said nothing. (He did get down on one knee at Seljalandsfoss…to tie his shoe though).
We ended up driving three hours out to the famous black beaches of Vik. We made our way up the mountains of Dyrhólaey, and as we went higher, the winds got stronger. We drove to the summit, which was a large cliff plateau. There was a high wind advisory that day, and so while S had considered having me change into my nice outfit, he decided that it would be too dangerous. Hiking boots it was.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone wearing a bright yellow raincoat carrying a camera who was teetering awfully close to the edge of the cliff. The winds were so strong up there, it was difficult to find our footing. I remember thinking that it would be absolutely dreadful if that person flew off the cliff in that moment.
It turned out, that person was one of our two wonderful and incredibly talented photographers from Arctic Weddings Iceland, whom S had hired to capture our engagement. They were also the ones he was emailing at the airport when we were horribly delayed.
Then, S got down on one knee. I thought I had been as prepared as one could be for it, and yet, when the proposal actually happened, my mind went blank. I actually don’t remember a word of what he said (funny thing is neither does he), but it didn’t matter. We were engaged.
For this post, I talked to S about his experience planning the proposal. I asked him how he decided on this memorable trip, and he told me, “Ever since we got together, you encouraged me to go outside of borders, to explore. This was a celebration of that.”
And there you have it. Our engagement story. No whales, though.