Even though I always remark on how quickly time passes, it still shocks me at times. We’re halfway through April which means I’ve been engaged for close to two months. Though the wedding planning has begun, more on that coming later, I want to take a moment to focus on the proposal and the beginning of our engagement. If you’re new around here (thanks for being here), I had been dating my best friend + love of my life, Jeff, since summer of 2012.
If you’re curious about how Jeff and I met and started dating, feel free to check out this post on our love story. But from the time we first made it “Facebook Official”, over 8.5 years have passed. And now I can no longer refer to Jeff as my boyfriend, but my fiancé. And I’m not going to lie, it has a much nicer ring to it. If you haven’t noticed, more wedding puns are on the way, so consider yourself forewarned.
You might be thinking to yourself that 8.5 years seems like a long time to be “dating” before you get engaged, and subsequently, married. What was the hold up? To be honest, nothing. Jeff and I have been committed to each other for that whole time. We just continue to go with the flow and do what’s best for us and our relationship. We trust the timing that works for us. Thus, we haven’t felt pressure to do things according to anyone’s timeline except our own.
Every relationship is different. We couldn’t be happier with the the journey we’ve been on so far, and where we see it going. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely would have said yes to a proposal had it happened sooner. Jeff and I expressed our intent to get married early on in our relationship. Knowing it was something we both wanted, but didn’t have a specific timeline for when that would happen.
There’s been a few instances where I’ve had to answer questions about when Jeff and I would get engaged and get married. Maybe that’s why I felt the need to somewhat defend our timeline and set the stage for our proposal story. But even though I’ve fielded those questions for years, I didn’t find it annoying as much as I found it comforting. It showed me how supportive our friends + family are of our relationship. It also showed me how excited they are for us to take the next step. They just wanted the opportunity to celebrate with us and I love knowing that.
Had Jeff asked me to marry him anytime in the past few years, I definitely would have said yes. I think we both knew that. Which is kind of why we weren’t in a rush, clearly. In recent years, our conversations about marriage and rings and weddings came up more frequently.
And then 2020 happened.
Not much changed for us overall besides WFH, mask wearing, lack of social events, etc. With everything happening in the world, we started appreciating our relationship and the little moments a bit more. We spent a lot more time together than in the past. We also spent a lot more time talking about the future. As we saw the world stand still, we realized all of the ways in which we wanted to move forward. We realized apartment living might not be the best option for us anymore, more to come on that. We also realized that as much as we loved being boyfriend/girlfriend, getting engaged sounded even more exciting.
After spending an inordinate amount of time together in our apartment for the past year, we decided we needed a getaway. We typically would be traveling to see friends & family a lot more during the year. We were definitely feeling a little stir-crazy. So I heard about the Candlewood Cabins in January, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Located just outside of Madison, Candlewood Cabins has a number of cute “cabins” on the property. When I came across them in January, I quickly checked availability. I saw they had an opening for a long weekend in February for the cozy Log Cabin. I literally made the reservation within 15 minutes of first reading the words “candlewood cabins”. Little did I know, more was waiting for me at Candlewood than just the perfect winter weekend getaway.
As I’ve mentioned maybe once or twice, Jeff and I have always trusted the timing of our relationship. We never put too much pressure on when we “should” be doing things. With that said, proposing that weekend wasn’t originally a part of Jeff’s plan. I found out later that he had my engagement ring safely hiding away in his bedside table since fall of 2020. But it wasn’t the reason he immediately agreed to our Candlewood Cabins trip. Even though him proposing that weekend did cross my mind, I didn’t want to focus on that. I just wanted to enjoy a weekend away with Jeff and our pup, unplug, and relax.
The weekend was amazing. The cabin was just right. And the scene was perfect. We spent a lot of time in front of the fireplace, preparing all of our meals together, and we did some snow-shoeing. On Sunday, we thought it would be a great opportunity to take a wintry walk along the trails. We wanted to walk up to the top of the hill where there was a beautiful scenic overlook. As magical as that may sound, it was quite trek to the top of the hill.
Picture me like the little kid from A Christmas Story who can’t put their arms down. Walking in the snow up a large hill while wearing tall snow boots, snow pants, and a puffy parka made for a little more challenging of a time than I anticipated. Jeff faired better since he was holding onto our pup’s leash. With all of her energy and strength, she may have been helping Jeff up the hill a bit. A minor calf cramp caused me to trail behind my companions by about 20 feet. On more than one occasion, I found myself contemplating whether I could continue on. And once we arrived to an area we thought was the top that wasn’t, I did consider heading back down from there.
A minor hangover contributed to that consideration, but thankfully, my desire to reach the top prevailed. And I am forever grateful for that expression of will. Needless to say, it was worth the effort. When we got to the scenic overlook, we took in all the views of the Wisconsin country around us. It was beautiful. All of the photos and panos I took couldn’t quite capture it.
Jeff and I enjoyed the views and let our pup run around in the fresh snow. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t wondering if he would propose before we headed back down the mountain. I got up to take a few more pictures, and Jeff asked me to hold on to Milla’s leash so he could adjust his boot. As Jeff knelt down for a few minutes, I stood there waiting, looking around, and not realizing that our pup had circled around me a few times, essentially tying me up in her leash.
Wondering what was taking him so long, I turned and looked at Jeff to see him down on one knee, with one hand reaching for mine, and his other reaching for something in his jacket. The thought of him dropping the ring in the snow and the search that would ensue crossed my mind, but thankfully he had steady hands. With some tears in his eyes and love in his heart, Jeff told me how thankful he was for me and our life, and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.
And here’s the moment. Wrapped up in our dogs leash, contemplating how I got up the mountain, I realized it was my turn to speak. In some combination, the words “yes”, “absolutely”, and “thank you” escaped my lips. I was stunned. Caught off guard. Surprised. Excited. All sorts of emotions flowed through me, and I was so happy when Jeff got the ring on my finger, stood, and took me in his arms so I no longer needed to rely on my legs to support my body. And to hold me down on earth, because I simultaneously felt like I was floating. We both smiled, laughed, celebrated with our pup, and began our journey back down the mountain, no longer just dating, but engaged.
Since this was a long weekend trip, we weren’t set to depart Candlewood Cabins until Monday morning. With the rest of Sunday left for us to enjoy, we decided to celebrate our big news with just the three of us. We sipped champagne, admired my ring (me), and spent some more time talking about our lives and our love in front of the fire. Monday morning came and it was time to depart. We strategized who we would share the news with first, deciding that we didn’t want to send texts but make some calls later that evening. Our parents, siblings, family, and close friends were the first on the list. We contemplated who would be the most excited, which just made us anticipate making the calls even more.
And then a sweet thing happened. Jeff, whose phone connects to the display in his car, received a sweet text message from my dad on the screen. Little did I know, Jeff had called my dad on Friday morning to ask him a very important question as well. Even though Jeff wasn’t 100% sure the moment to propose would present itself over the weekend, he wanted to be prepared. So he called my dad to ask for his permission to propose to me. It was something he planned to do in person, but regardless, it was something he wanted to do (aww, my heart).
Back to the text message. Knowing there was a possibility of Jeff asking me to marry him that weekend after he gave Jeff his blessing, he had been awaiting the news. My dad had been anticipating us reaching out with the engagement news all weekend. He said his curiosity was getting the best of him and he wanted to make sure he didn’t miss anything. It was such a sweet + fun moment for me to witness. Thankfully, my dad didn’t have to wait too much longer to hear from us & celebrate our engagement.
Photo Cred: Moon & Wolf Co.