my own proposal story >> candidly, elizabeth


As a wedding photographer, I get to hear so many AWESOME proposal stories, it's fantastic! I consider it a huge perk to the job - people, who would otherwise be strangers, becoming friends and trusting me enough to let me in on the deets of such a magical time in their lives. It's a big deal to me! 

Every couple has such a unique story of how they got engaged. Whether it was planned, suspected, or a complete surprise. Some stories involve such incredibly well thought out romantic plans that I sit and choke back tears while they're shared with me. Others involve funny moments, like rings being dropped in water, embarrassing moments on a stage, hidden home video cameras, and excited mama's who end up giving it away. 

It being the month of July - the month that my Wesley proposed to me 5 years ago in San Diego, at sunset, on a sandy, flower-covered bluff by the ocean - I decided it might be fun to share my own proposal story with you guys :) Because while it sounds romantic - sunset on a beach - and it was, it so was.. It also involved some unexpected comical details.

Like, being stung by a jellyfish. 

In the summer of 2011, Wes and I had a lovely little trip to San Diego planned, and we were both pretty excited about it! Wes's sister Kelsey lived there at the time, so we knew we'd be set on finding all the cool spots and seeing all the awesome things!

What I didn't know... Was that those two had a secret plan. A few months prior to our trip, unbeknownst to me, Wes had gone ring shopping. And among our luggage of clothing, swimsuits, camera gear and toiletries... there was a little black box. 

On day 2 of our trip, we began the morning with a short trip to Pacific Beach. It was on this beach that the horrible JELLYFISH part of my story comes into play. Wes and I decided to wade just a little into the waters edge.. so off we went. We had barely even gotten up to our ankles when the tide came rushing in. I saw what looked like a wet plastic bag about 6-8 feet away and pointed it out to Wes, asking "What's that??" - I had never once in my life seen a jellyfish in person before, but something about that "wet bag" didn't look like a "wet bag" you guys!! Wes looked over to where I was pointing and said "Oh it's probably just a bag." Suddenly the tide rushed back in again and I lost sight of that stupid "bag", but then I found it. Or, it found me I should say. Sudden, unexplainable and intense pain started on my left ankle. Immediately I knew what happened. I knew it hadn't been a bag. The tide rushed away from us and I looked down to my ankle expecting to see just an absolutely horrible wound - BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT IT FELT LIKE. Only to see nothing. 

Sidebar. What's one of the worst parts of a jellyfish sting? The pain is SO intense but there's essentially no marks or bites, or scratches on you. Your brain can't handle the confusion. 

I started shouting to Wes "JELLYFISH!! IT WAS A JELLYFISH!!" and began limping as fast as I could back to the shore with Wes right behind me. By the time I made it to the safety of the dry sand, I could barely stand up. The pain was literally blinding. I laugh now as I type this, but holy wow it was awful. 

From there things got worse. The pain only intensifies. WHY this happens is beyond me. It's like a cruel joke. I started breaking out in hives - apparently I'm allergic to jellyfish stings, who knew! Wes bolted to a lifeguard stand - by now people are really starting to stare - then here comes the lifeguard truck driving across the beach. Yep. Embarrassing. At this point in the story, I can make a long story short - Lifeguards said the only thing the ER would do is give me Benadryl for the allergic reaction, so I might as well go get it myself. Nothing much can be done for the pain besides peeing on it, or waiting it out. And good luck to ya. 

We promptly left Pacific Beach and found our way to a CVS. I spent the rest of the afternoon laying on Kelsey's couch, strung out on Benadryl. 

Sidebar. Wes told me later that he spent that morning thinking to himself "Greatttttt I have a ring in my pocket and she's surrounded by a half dozen buff, good-lookin' lifeguards!" 

That evening - while still riding the Benadryl high, it became suddenly VERY important to Wes and Kels that I get dressed up for dinner. Kels was so excited about a random dress I brought and heavily suggested I wear it. I just wanted to nap the day away. But her and Wes were adamant about going to dinner and catching the sunset. So off we went. I was starting to feel better, and by the time we finished dinner, my ankle was only sore, instead of on fire. Wes and Kels suggested we go walk along a gorgeous bluff on a beach in Del Mar - which I didn't exactly feel like doing, but off we went, and now of course, I'm so glad we did :)

That bluff you guys.. Truly, it was beautiful. An amazing view of the ocean, the last streaks of the sunlight fading, big purple flowers everywhere, the sound of the ocean. It was great. There was basically no one around us, we had this little spot just to ourselves. It was cloudy, but the setting sun was still gorgeous. 

I was very busy taking pictures of the birds, the ocean, the sunset, and those purple flowers - completely unaware of the whispering conversation Wes and Kels were having right behind me. Wes snapped this picture of me just moments before - I was in my own world entirely!


Suddenly, Wes said to me "Hey let's go over here for a minute", and reached for my hand. In that very moment,... I knew. There was something in his voice that hinted at nervousness. There was something special about the way he took my hand. I knew what was happening.

Kels had also mysteriously disappeared, and something about her disappearance confirmed even more what was going on. 

I'm pretty certain I started crying almost instantly. I can't for the life of me remember everything Wes said. He stood in front of me for a few seconds and said so many sweet and special things. I kept asking "Where's Kelsey?" through sobs.  Then down to one knee he went. The entire time Wes was proposing, I was crying, and Kels was hiding behind a bush - sobbing, and snapping pictures as her big brother asked me to be his wife :) 

Kels came back out and we all hugged, then we handed her our cameras and she took a few more photos for us while Wes and I just let it sink in :) :) :)

And that's the story you guys! Jellyfish sting in the morning, gorgeous rock on my finger by evening! We spent the rest of our trip doing the plans we had previously set and visiting different areas in and around San Diego. Though, admittedly, I spent a large portion of each day staring at my left hand :)

Aren't proposal stories awesome!? 

triple x, triple o