Eight and a half years (to the day) after our first kiss, Garrett got down on one knee and asked me to marry him on the fabulous patio at Domaine Carneros. The wine country setting and beautiful weather could not have been more perfect, and somewhere in between hugging him tighter than I probably ever have and smearing mascara all over the collar of his freshly laundered shirt (nice, Holly) I said yes.
I’m going to tell you all of minutia: how he asked, how he managed to shock the hell out of me, how we spent our engagement weekend, you know – all the good stuff – but there are just so many things I want to capture that I am not sure where to start. I think we’re going to have to do multiple posts here. I guess maybe the best place to start is at the beginning.
Garrett + I have been together FOREVER (it seems like) and I know the fact that we have not tied the proverbial knot yet has really befuddled a lot of people. I’d say I knew about a year into our relationship that this was it, but we’ve just kind of meandered our way to this point. All I can say is that it has just made sense for us. We knew we’d get married eventually, it was just a matter of figuring out when the time was right for us. I can’t say I’ve been patient every single moment of the process, but in the end I’m so happy things are unfolding as they are.
One of the things about being together for so long is that while I knew we would get engaged one day, I didn’t feel like it would ever be a *surprise* you know? I mean, WE LIVE TOGETHER, I know Garrett’s habits. And the truth is, I am the planner in our relationship. If he were to all of a sudden plan a special weekend or a random “romantic date” that deviated from the normal stuff we do, I’d totally be on to him. But he was determined that he could make it a surprise and in the end, he totally did! Here’s how he did it.
About a week prior to the day, my cousin Jim (who lives out in Sonoma with his wife Gina) sent me a text inviting us out for the weekend. It was impromptu, but he mentioned having a Friday off and that it would be fun to spend the weekend cooking, bike riding to wineries and just hanging out. We’ve done this in the past so it didn’t seem out of left field and so I followed up with Garrett. He hemmed and hawed a bit and said he didn’t think he could get that Friday off of work (sneaky little sucker!) and then finally was like “What the heck, let’s go!” So we made plans to head out the following weekend. I checked with my mom to see if she was available to watch Buster (shocker, she was: SHE WAS IN ON IT TOO!) and so we dropped off our little pooch and got on the road, of course snapping a little pre-engagement family selfie.
Garrett nonchalantly suggested stopping at “that neat looking champagne place we always pass on our way out to wine country.” I thought it sounded like a good idea but then I googled and the champagne tasting was like Stupid Expensive. We were just starting our weekend, so I was like “Meh, let’s just skip it.” HA! Of course Garrett had to get me there since that was where everything was set up, but it took a little convincing. Thank god for Sarah, who I happened to conveniently be texting that morning. She talked me down from being a total miser and said we should split a bottle and get a fancy cheese tray. Garrett is clearly forever in her debt.
If you’ve never seen Domaine Carneros then you might not know why we always want to stop there on our way into wine country. It looks like a castle and it’s nestled up on a little hill right off the Carneros Highway. Just about every time Garrett and I head into Napa or Sonoma we pass it and say “Someday we’ll stop there when we have more time.” I imagine now, we will make the time to stop there, but this was our first time and even though I had no idea what was in store, it felt a little magical.
We were seated on the patio far away from the crowds (ahem, totally planned, and yet it didn’t seem weird to me — clearly, I’m not the most observant person. LOL) and quickly ordered a flight of champagne and a cheese tray. Oh, the cheese tray. I will remember that cheese try for life, you’ll see why in a minute.
We were just having the best time because it was Friday, we were supposed to be at work, the weather was beautiful, and we were about to embark on a much needed weekend of fun and relaxation. Both of us had been really bogged down by work things, and we realized we had been on that Life Hamster Wheel that sometimes feels like it just happens out of nowhere. As we were clinking glasses and enjoying a few small bites we began talking about how moving forward we needed to be better at focusing on all the gifts we’ve got in our life instead of getting bogged down by those little daily things that take up so much brain space but don’t really mean anything in the long run.
As you can imagine, Garrett was sort of priming the pump because he had a much bigger question to ask. I was just off in my own little world though, thinking about how happy I am — in my life, in my relationship, in my job, just in general — and I think I got so excited to make some brilliant point about gratitude that I excitedly kicked the table and knocked over all 3 of our champagne glasses, shattering them everywhere onto our cheese tray.
Folks, YOU JUST CAN’T TAKE ME ANYWHERE.
Garrett immediately stood up and looked absolutely panic-stricken which struck me as kind of funny because, uh…this is not the first time I’ve made an embarrassing mess by knocking things over. Serious bull in a china shop, here. I had spilled champagne on my dress, there was glass everywhere and when I stood up he grabbed me with both hands by the shoulders and said “You just sit here, I’ll go get a napkin.” But his face, oh you guys, his face. Luckily I sat back down and began to kind of sun myself in hopes that the champagne would dry and didn’t think another thing of it. Garrett was so panicked though because he had been just about ready to pop the question, and so my cousin’s wife Gina (who had graciously volunteered to help Garrett out by playing Day-Of Photographer) was standing behind me getting ready to start snapping and he was completely freaked out that I would turn around and see her and then the surprise would be blown!
What can I say, people — I’m a wild card and I keep Garrett on his toes.
In the meantime, as Garrett was inside “finding a napkin” (really he was regrouping with Gina) our server had come back out to our table and had brought with him a bottle of their fancy champagne and two glasses. He clearly hadn’t got the memo that Garrett didn’t ask yet, but he could tell by the shattered glass and champagne everywhere that maybe he had encountered a bit of a hiccup. His face was sort of panicky too — and he just kind of stammered “Oh, I’m going to leave this celebratory bottle here and maybe go find you someone who can clean up.”
And you guys, I still didn’t have A CLUE. In hindsight, both Garrett + I are so grateful that I had my head in the clouds all morning and was just in full on flexible relaxation mode because otherwise there were just so many times I could have caught on. Eventually the mess got cleaned up, and we got back to what we had been talking about before — how grateful we were for each other, for our lives, and the support we have in each other and then all of a sudden all I remember is Garrett getting down on one knee and whipping out a ring.
He has since told me exactly what he said, but you guys I TOTALLY BLACKED OUT. Like I was so completely shocked that I can’t even remember what he said, how he asked, or anything that happened before I realized I was doing the full on Oprah Ugly Cry with happiness. In the middle of all of that he turned me around and said “Hey look, it’s Gina behind the camera” and I was so surprised to see that she had been in on things from the start!
There was lots of hugging and squealing excitement and then Garrett and Gina dropped the bomb that — oh yeah, my cousin Jim wasn’t even in town that weekend. Jim was at a bachelor party in New Orleans and all of his excited texts that morning about “how much he was looking forward to seeing us” and “when were we leaving?” etc was just to help keep me off the trail and to help Garrett keep things a surprise. I was truly shocked that so many people had been in on things, yet I hadn’t even had the slightest inkling things were going to go down the way they did.
After all that celebrating we realized that we had a bit of an audience.
Strangers were applauding and taking our picture and raising their own glasses, and it was just such a surreal little moment. Garrett let me know that he had planned a romantic weekend for us, that we had a cottage to check into, and restaurant reservations waiting on us, and that we had the whole weekend to just relax and enjoy the moment, which is exactly what we did. I’ll tell you about all of that in another post, but in the end I really can’t believe that he pulled it off. It was a shock and a surprise of the best kind, and being the over-documenter that I am, it was so special that he had Gina there to capture the moment. I just think it will be so fun to look back on down the line or when we have kids. It’s been fun even in the past couple of months to just relive that crazy feeling of surprise.
I feel so grateful that Garrett is going to be MY HUSBAND.