Santa Barbara Engagement Shoot Giveaway

Warm wishes from over here at Once Wed this morning. Can you believe that it’s almost December?? To start this week, I’ve got an exciting giveaway from Nancy Neil photography for one lucky engaged couple. Nancy is graciously offering Once Wed readers the chance to win a free engagement session and a one nights stay the Presidio Motel–a boutique motel in Santa Barbara.

If you would like to enter, comment below with a short, sweet version of your engagement story and tell us why we should chose you! After two weeks, ten finalists will be contacted by Nancy via email…Best of luck!

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Please not that the giveaway and the night stay must be redeemed between now and January 31st 2011 with the hotel night booked Sunday-Wednesday (not available Thursday-Saturday nights).


Photography: Nancy Neil

Couple: Alex & Matt, owners of Thoughtbox Photobooth based in Santa Barbara

Location: Presidio Motel

Decor, clay planters, booties, magazines, and Alex’s necklace and slippers: All available at the Supply Room boutique located at the Presidio Motel

  1. Scott and I met when I was locked out of my apartment. He lived upstairs but I didn’t know him. He saw me looking on Youtube how to pick the lock outside of my door, and then he scaled the building to help me get back in… After several synchronous twists and turns, he ended up asking me out on a hand written note.

    One night, while we were getting ready for bed one night (we usually talk about the day and exchange stories before bed), he had an epiphany that there is no reason to wait, so he asked me to marry him that night. It was a surprise for the both of us. Especialy since that was only 2 months after we started dating.

    We’ve been having fun planning a very small Big Sur wedding on a limited budget so this will be an amazing gift! I hope you pick us!

  2. I loved how Andrew asked me to marry him. Especially since he was able to surprise despite the fact that I knew all about his ring buying process. He and his friends got up early Saturday morning in October to pick out a pumpkin and carve “will you marry me”. That night we were cooking dinner and we heard a knock at the door. He had someone (he still won’t tell me who) drop off the pumpkin at the front door with an empty ring box inside. When I turned around he was down on one knee with the ring asking me to spend my life with him.

  3. I moved away from where my fiance’s family now lives after 4th grade, and somehow 12 years later the Lord reconnected us. After a year and 3 months of dating, he proposed to me in the sanctuary of the church we both attend (he now works at). It was decorated beautiful and looked so whimsical! took my breath away. We preserved the words ‘I love you’ until this special day! After him sharing verses in the Bible about what Christ says about how we’re called to love, he proposed! not only did he conclude with the proposal but he washed my feet- symbolizing an act of humility and thus showing what kind of leader he promises to be for me forever!

    We’d love to be chosen because the Lord has blessed this relationship from the get-go- and we’d love to be blessed with a free engagement shoot! It would give us an opportunity to have fun and relax before our big day! Also, my fiance loves travelling. And has never been to Santa Barbara! :)

  4. My then-boyfriend planned a whole day of surprises for my birthday (which was the following Monday) and we went out to drinks and then he had me come home to a dining room full of candles. Dave is Swiss and we eat a lot of homemade fondue; we had a fondue dinner and then wine and dessert. Dave’s cousin in Switzerland made this lamp that you put a candle in and he told me that the cousin’s daughter made this cut out with German words but that Dave didn’t know what it meant (which I should have realized since he is fluent is Swiss German). He had me type the phrase into Google translator and it said “marry me”! I was really confused and turned to him and he was holding the ring! The best part is that he set his iMovie to record the whole thing – so we have it on video!

    We are a fun couple who loves being outdoors and we LOVE to fly down to Santa Barbara for a shoot from this amazing photographer!

  5. How fun! My boyfriend of two and a half years were just engaged this weekend in Santa Barbara! He grew up there and we return every Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with his family. The day after the big feast, he insisted that we go out to dinner. Still full of turkey, I was skeptical. We went to the Fish House down on Cabrillo and Anacapa for a delicious meal (I suspected nothing). When we finished up, he asked if I wanted to go to check out the stars from the beach. I still didn’t think anything of it. We drove to Butterfly Beach in Montecito and sto0d on the beach looking up at the millions of stars. The next thing I knew, he said he loved me and wanted to grow old with me. He dropped to one knee and asked the big question to which I responded, YES!!! He slipped an amazing antique diamond ring from the 1920s on my very lucky finger.
    We spent the rest of the weekend in Santa Barbara celebrating with family and friends and we have been on cloud nine ever since!
    I’m looking forward to spending every Thanksgiving together!

  6. PS- I forgot one detail! You should chose us because I have been looking for a job for a few months and haven’t had much luck and I’m a full-time graduate student. It’s going to be a very DIY budget wedding so we can use any help we can get! :-)

  7. Hi!
    I had to enter this giveaway because of two major reasons. First thing is that our first road trip together was to Santa Barbara! Secondly I am a fan of Nancy Neil’s work and would love to book our wedding shoot with her. We are currently in the process of selecting a photographer and would love to work with Nancy because our ideal engagement shoot would be in Santa Barbara, where our relationship first started!

    My fiance proposed on Christmas day in Seattle last year. We promised to not get any presents for Christmas since we already spent money to visit his family for Christmas in Seattle. I woke up on Christmas morning and he was already making breakfast for me.
    He told me that he knew we weren’t supposed to buy any Christmas presents, so he MADE me something instead. It was a scrapbook with all of the highlights of our relationship (at that point we were together for over 5.5 years). This included our road trip to Santa Barbara, our first trip overseas together, our first date, etc. He told me how he wanted to have memories to add to our scrapbook and then got down on his knees to propose!

    Why else should you pick us? We both live in Los Angeles so it’s an easy drive to Santa Barbara! Thanks for reading! :)

  8. This past summer Austin and I had been dating just over three years, we had been looking at rings and found the “one” but knew we would wait to get engaged until the fall. This summer Austin and I lived apart while I worked and took classes, he kept driving to see me and was secretly buying the ring.

    One weekend I went home to see him and my family and he planned a picnic. Picnics are my favorite and because we have been on picnics before I wasn’t expecting anything! We had a quick dinner and then he said he wanted to grab the bag with dessert out of the car. He did and then we went walking to find a new spot for dessert. We came across this beautiful secluded part of the park with big trees. I saw a New York sign on the bench and thought it was weird and said, “maybe this is a states park now.” haha Then we kept walking and I saw carved out sky lines and the entry doors to serendipity. I have been dying to go to New York since I was young but I have not been able to go yet. He wanted to propose to me in New York but he knew I would have been upset with how much that would cost! So Austin wanted to take me there without actually taking me there. :) There was a picnic blanket with flowers and we sat down to have frozen hot chocolate just like the kind from Serendipity.

    Believe it or not I was still not expecting anything because Austin kept telling me we would not get engaged until the fall. We had the dessert and decided to go back to the New York sign and take a picture. We set up the timer, I sat on the bench, and then Austin came over and knelt down and asked me a very important question right as the camera took a picture. It was absolutely perfect for me.

    We will have a very simple, DIY, on-a-tight-budget wedding on June 5th. We have been lovebirds for a long time and would love the opportunity to have a free engagement shoot :)

  9. I wasn’t expecting Sean to propose on my birthday. I came home from work (exhausted) that Friday to find notes on the bedroom and kitchen doors warning me not to enter. Behind the kitchen door: a birthday cake. In the bedroom, he led me to the window where and showed me the tomato and herb garden he planted for me on the ledge. (We live in a small apartment in San Francisco and that’s about all the room we have for a garden.) When I turned around to thank him, he was down on one knee. And that was that. I couldn’t have asked for more.

  10. After 5 years and two cities, Alex asked me to marry him. There were candles, cupcakes, a sunset, flowers and champagne. After being surprised with “the proposal,” I was then even more surprised when family and friends came over immediately after to celebrate. He picked the ring himself (after a modest suggestion from me of something dainty) and I couldn’t be more thrilled. We will be having our wedding back home in San Bernadino (one of the two cities) though we now live in San Diego (the other city). We aren’t very rich but we are very very happy.

  11. My fiancé and I just got engaged 4 days ago after over 7 years of being together :)

    Seth and I had our first date on Halloween of 2003. We’d been introduced the week before and had immediate chemistry but were in college programs in different cities (Berkeley and Santa Cruz). We talked on the phone all night that entire week, counting down the hours until the next weekend when we could see each other again. Friday just happened to be Halloween night. Two hours and one speeding ticket later (my first, for 60mph in a 55 zone. Santa Cruz is lame.) I was in Berkeley, decked out in a shimmering fairy costume, pink wings and all. But 10 minutes of talking later we both knew we would never make it to the Halloween party we’d planned to attend together. I changed into jeans and a tee, we ordered pizza and spent the rest of the night talking, cuddling and watching basketball. Every single friday of the next 2 years we alternated driving back and forth to Berkeley and Santa Cruz, savoring every sweet second of those short weekend trips together, completely head over heels. Spring of 2005 we found out that my transfer application to Berkeley had been accepted and that summer I moved up to join him, finally in the same city.

    The engagement:
    Seven years later and still together I am now a PhD student in Anthropology in the Bay Area and he is finishing up his last year of medical school. This fall while out shopping we stopped into a local artisan’s store and soon found ourselves admiring the wedding bands. We both immediately fell in love with the organic, archaic aesthetic to her work…each unique and hand-hammered. It reminded me of what a wedding ring might have looked like 5,000 years ago when people still made jewelry with their own two hands. Unknown to me, Seth began working with the artist that month to design a unique, eco-friendly, anthropological engagement ring for me. I came home after work Wednesday last week to a candle-lit apartment and Seth immediately surprised me with the ring and a proposal. Our bohemian-rustic wedding is scheduled for this May and we were planning to forgo engagement photos because our budget is tight (still being students). I couldn’t believe my luck as I looked through Nancy Neil’s work and realized she is exactly the kind of photographer we would have wanted– the eclectic, relaxed, natural feel to her work fits us and our wedding to a T. :)

  12. Nick and I have been together for about 6 1/2 years. We had talked about engagement, and even went ring shopping. We saw and fell in love with a ring from the 1920’s, but ultimately felt like there were other things we should do with the money for a vintage diamond!

    Nick hid (poorly) that he went back to the store, so I asked him what had happened, and he said that the ring was sold. I tried to seem upbeat, but I was very sad!

    Fast forward to the following Friday, and I had just gotten home from a long day of work. We are passionate about food and wine, so Nick had picked up a beautiful bottle of Pinot Noir and some cheeses. I’m sitting in my pj’s writing emails, he brings the cheese plate and a glass of wine, and he is on his knee! He proposed with THE ring he had said was sold, and had it in the middle of a round of goat cheese!

    Why should you choose us? We’re a California couple to the core and SB would be a perfect spot for our engagement session. Not to mention Nancy’s work’s ‘feel’ definitely jives with us. We’re fun, we’re outgoing, and there would definitely be free wine for Nancy at the shoot :)

  13. The meeting:
    D and I were neighbors inn Portland, Oregon in 2006. We met at Trivia night at Buelaland and instantly hit it off. We had both just moved to Portland after long stints in Central America, which was how we started talking. Some question was asked about a Latin America and we both blurted out the answer. We instantly hit it off and became very good (and platonic) friends. After months of cultivating our friendship we started dating. We then became serious and decided to move to Colorado because I had been offered a job there. We lived in Colorado for three
    years and then moved to Seattle about two years ago.

    The proposal:
    He proposed to me last New Years while we were snowboarding in Canada. He got down on one knee in the snow with a costume ring and asked me on New Years. We immediately cracked a bottle of the bubbly and played chess all night long.

    The wedding:
    We are getting married after being together for six years and we are more in love now than ever before.
    We would LOVE to come down to Santa Barbara and do the photo shoot with you! We are getting married in Northern California. I work with an environmental non-profit and D is an editor for a bicycling magazine, so needless to say we are in DIY mode for the wedding.

    Thanks and I hope you pick us.

  14. Mine is a somewhat unorthadox engagement story, as we’re already married. As my now-husband proposed to me, he was moving off, just commissioned into the Navy. We spent a weekend together, but the duration of the engagement, we were seperated. He came back to our hometown just the day before the wedding.

    Since that time, he’s been serving in the Navy, and we’ve had very little time physically in each other’s presence. We’ve continued our marriage, thankful for email and long-distance phone calls, but just 6 months ago, he was stationed at the Naval School in Monterey, California to be trained to be an Naval Engineer. This time with him being home has been wonderful. I’m planning, now for our upcoming anniversary, to give him an “engagement photo shoot,” something we never had, since out time has been so short.

    I can’t think of a better gift to give him than a Nancy Neil photo shoot. Thank you for introducing me to her work via this blog!

  15. Robert and I met in April of 2009, after he complained to his best friend that he was tired of dating and couldn’t meet a nice girl. I went to high school with his best friend but didn’t even keep in touch. She thought that we were perfect for each other, and she turned out to be right. I though it was a little weird when she got in touch with me after all these years. Later I found out that it was a setup, but also being tired of not being able to meet a nice guys, I agreed to go for lunch with him.

    Our first date was in a tea house in down town San Francisco, we talked for hours and right away I knew that we could at least be friends. Later I found out that after that first date, when he dropped me off at home, he called his best friend and told her that he met the girl he was going to marry. Our first few month of relationship were turbulent, one minute we hated each other and the next we were in love again. We took a cruise together and literally fought every minute of the day. I told myself that when I got off that boat I would never see him again. And so I tried but he stopped me and told me that if I left that time he would not chase me anymore. A feeling inside told me to stay and I am glad I did as it was the last big fight that we had. We realized just how much we loved each other on that trip and after learning each other faults we also learned to accept and love them.

    He proposed on May 28, 2010 a day after his birthday. We were driving to meet his friends to celebrate his birthday when he took a very long detour gown California coast and surprised me with a picnic by the water. There on a beautiful sunny day, sipping on a pino grigio and having live oysters, he asked me to be his wife. And I, of course said YES. We planning our wedding for summer of next year and couldn’t be happier in love.

    The reason I would love to win a free photo shoot and a night stay in Santa Barbara is that since that horrible cruise we took a year and a half ago we hadn’t had a chance to get away together. We are busy planning our wedding and saving every penny that we have to pay for it. It would be a wonderful, needed and romantic trip for us and we would love for Nancy Neil photography to capture our love.

  16. Our engagement story is simple, sweet and completely “Us”!… and I wouldn’t have had it any other way! ;) My “then boyfriend” and I had started off our relationship long distance, but realized soon after that we just had to be together. So, he ended up leaving everything behind and moving to California (from Massachusetts)- just to be with Lil’ old me. When we were long distance (for a year) we spent a whole lot of time going back and forth for visits. When he would come visit me, we would always go to this little diner that became “Our Place”. Ok, now flash forward to a couple months ago… It was my birthday. He said he was going to take me somewhere nice for my birthday dinner and that I should dress “nice”. I was thinking to myself, “Oh my gosh! This sounds fancy!!! What if he proposes? I can’t believe it! I’m so excited! I better actually do my hair tonight!” Well, it turned out that the “nice” place he was talking about was the little diner. “Our Place”. Mac ‘n Cheese and vinyl booths. I wasn’t too disappointed, because I knew that it was inevitable that one day- him and I would be married and making beautiful babies together… But I must admit, it definately wasn’t what I was expecting. After dinner he had me come sit by him on his side of the booth. He asked, “What are you thinkin’ right now? I said, “I really want to get married.” His reply was, “When do you wanna get married?” I shrugged and said, “I donno. Just when we can.” And then without missing a beat, he pulled out a vintage ring box and put it in front of me on the table. He smiled and said, “How ’bout really soon?” The rest is a haze of tears, smiling, smooching and calling our parents. I’m hoping you will choose us because I think Nancy’s beautiful photography is alot like our relationship. Colorful, old school (I love that she prefers using film!) and sweet. Simple, but complex! Ok, now I’m crossing all my fingers and toes that we get picked!!! ;D

  17. I don’t have a sweet engagement story because we decided to get married together one day in February and there wasn’t really a proposal; it was more like that right time came and we’d like to start a family so it makes sense to tie the knot at this point. We’ve been together for almost 10 years and just became(him)/will become in the spring(me) phds so we’re turning from all the schooling to schooling others and maybe raising miniature goats on a farm in Ohio(where he’ll be a professor), though we live in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains right now(where I’m a grad student).

    Anyhow, I grew up in Ojai and went to UCSB for undergrad & our wedding is in Ojai next summer, so a Santa Barbara engagement shoot would be perfect for us! We met for the very first time in 2001 in Santa Barbara (I whispered in his ear, “I like you” and that was it) but have been away on the east coast/Colorado for some time, so returning ‘home’ to the sea & the chaparral is like a dream. I am a photographer & finding the right person to take our photos is really important to me, but alas as a graduate student/postdoc we’re limited on funds, though not on passion & creativity. Plus, we’ll be home for the holidays!!

  18. Sean and I have been dating for almost nine years! We conincidentally grew up in the exact same neighborhood and I would walk my first dog, Pepsi, past his house almost every day as a child. We were also in the same photo class in high school but we ran in different circles – I was an honor society nerd, he a star baseball player. We were set up by my best friend during our sophmore year in college. We’ve been together ever since. While we openly talked about getting married for the past several years, Sean wanted to be traditional and wait until he finished school and got a job before proposing. He finially received his teaching credential this year and is now employed as a special education teacher at a high school in north Orange County. He teaches children with autism and down syndrome and also coaches a traveling baseball team. On the morning of October 31 (two months into his new job and a rare weekend day off from baseball) Sean suggested we take a hike at Crystal Cove State Park. At the top of the El Morro Ridge trail, we began to take some pictures because it was just so beautiful out. When I turned around to get some water, Sean said to me: “You might want to get one more picture.” When I turned around, he was down on one knee holding my ring. I honestly barely remember what he said – I was surprised and so happy. We are planning a wedding in late January 2012 – right around our 10 year anniversary. We will be paying for our wedding ourselves and would greatly appreciate not only free , but amazing, pictures. Not to mention a getaway in Santa Barbara! Pick us!!

  19. when eric and i first started dating, we both seemed to notice the time 11:11. it just so happened that i played hookie from work on 11/11 and i figured we’d be running boring errands like going to costco since that place is a zoo on the weekends… instead he said “let’s go to catalina island!” i was excited since i’ve never been there in the 10 years i’ve been living in los angeles. we get there and i suggested we walk up to the botanical gardens. while up there he proposed! when i asked what would he had done if i didn’t play hookie he said he would have taken me to a nice restaurant that evening for dinner. we’ve got a really tight budget and we’re planning for a november wedding next year. we would probably elope to reduce the cost of a proper wedding but my mom would kill us! we would really be grateful and would love to win an engagement photo-shoot!! :)

  20. My proposal story is better than any fairy tale you’ve ever heard! Hunter and I started dating when we were in high school. Once we graduated, he enlisted in the Air Force and I went to college in North Carolina. For 2 months he was in basic training in Texas and we had to communicate by writing letters—I only got to have two phone calls with him the entire time. He spent the next three months in Mississippi in Tech School training for his job. He then got assigned to a base in Maryland, 5.5 hours away from me in North Carolina (quite close when you consider the whole nation!) We spent the next year driving back and forth between the two states. The next Spring I studied abroad for a semester in Prague, Czech Republic while Hunter stayed behind in Maryland. I had been there for a month and a half when I took a week-long spring break vacation in Italy with three of my friends. One night in our hostel in Naples at 4 AM, we hear a knock on the door to our room. One of my friends opens the door and I hear Hunter say “Hello, I’m Christine’s boyfriend.” Upon hearing his voice I immediately jump out of bed completely flabbergasted that he is here in Italy and jump into his arms. He had planned all along to fly to Italy to surprise me. I didn’t even know he had a passport! Through the next week we went to Naples, Capri Island, and Venice (we had gone to Rome before he arrived). We had the most wonderful trip, culminating with Hunter kneeling on one knee under a secluded lamp post by the Grand Canal and asking me to marry him. It was more than I could have ever dreamed of.

    Since Hunter proposed in Italy and the last night we were there, we didn’t have an engagement shoot. I would love to travel to Santa Barbara to have an engagement shoot! I think it suits us because we have sentimental connections all over the world! We love to travel and see different places. But me being a college student graduating in May, and Hunter still early in his career, and us both planning the wedding, we don’t have the money to pay for an engagement shoot ourselves. This photographer looks absolutely amazing, I love her style. I hope you pick us, this would be a fantastic holiday surprise!

  21. Colin and I have been dating for three years and on our three year anniversary he asked me to marry him. He lives out in echo park and I live two hours away so I came up for the weekend to visit. I knew we were going to be doing something special but i wasnt quite sure what. We decided to go on a picnic (really he made me believe I had decided this). So we drove to whole foods to go shopping for some food, which is a favorite things to do. Were both foodies and love to try new stuff. Then we drove over to griffith park to the location of the old zoo. Its a park that used to be a zoo so there are bear caves and stuff. Its really pretty but kind of eerie too. Anyways, we were sitting there talking about life and the last three years. He asked me to stand up to take a picture but I told him I would do it later. Then a bee came and he is deathly allergic to bees. We were both standing and he looked all flustered. I turned around to see if the bee was gone and when I turned back around he was on his knee. I was so surprised and when he asked me we both teared up. Little did i know he had a friend of ours taking pictures during the whole thing and his cue to come up and start taking them was when i stood up. So the bee threw things off a little and Colin just had to go for it. But I loved it. We hung out the rest of the day at the park riding bikes and exploring. Then later that night he had a surprise party where all my friends and family were there. It was the best!
    We are getting married in July and both paying for a lot of the wedding stuff. I think you should pick us because we would both appreciate the gift so much! And we both agreed that we love your pictures. They are fun and light and not poppy. Their beautiful, and hes an art major so he knows, and he thinks they are great. Oh and of course we would love a weekend away espcially since we live so far away and dont get much of a chance to spend together! :)

  22. wow! what a coincidence. i just contacted nancy neil to possibly shoot our wedding next year as i’m a huge fan of her work! and i was so bummed that her rates are beyond what we’ve budgeted for photography… it would be such a DREAM to be able to have an engagement shoot with her, not to mention spending a fun night in santa barbara!

    andrew and i have been together for 8 years. we never talked about getting married – i guess we both just knew from the start that we would be together for the rest of our lives so didn’t think to rush into marriage.

    so the proposal was a complete shock, to say the least! he proposed under a street light, in front of the house we’ve been living in for 7 years with our two dogs running around chasing our neighbors. it was a night that was preceded by our regular walk to our favorite local restaurant to have our normal meal. nothing about the entire evening was out of the ordinary, until the moment i found him on his knee with a ring in his hand.

    and the ring is one that has been in his family for over a hundred years – one that’s been passed down from his great-grandmother to his mother and now given to me.

    i, of course, said yes! there were tears involved and a “defensive basketball shuffle”!!apparently, when i saw him on his knee, i ran down the block away from him out of complete shock and awe!! (what andrew now likes to refer to as the infamous defensive basketball shuffle that my highschool basketball coach would’ve been proud of!) he had to grab my arm and pull me back to where he was to properly finish his question – “will you marry me?”

    it was a surreal occurence on the most normal of nights – no lights, no cameras, no frills. just andrew and i, our dogs and the home we’ve built together. it was better than anything in my wildest of dreams and i feel lucky to call him my husband soon enough!

    i’ve read some of the prior submissions and i realize i’m up against some pretty stiff competition as the stories i’ve read are so amazing and just remind me of the night i just described. nancy neil, i don’t envy you for having to choose! thank you for the opportunity to share our story!

  23. My fiance and I are big baseball fans. We are both from California but for the past five years lived in Washington, DC. We only got to see our favorite teams when they were playing on the East Coast and it is always a special treat. I knew it would be a special night when my boyfriend whisked me away to Baltimore to see my favorite team, the Oakland A’s, but I didn’t realize how special it’d be! He proposed near the end of the game when the A’s were winning. He told me later he wouldn’t have proposed if the A’s were losing!

    Winning this photo session would mean so much to us. We just moved to Santa Barbara so I could begin a graduate program at UCSB. It has been a very hectic time, but we’ve managed to fall in love with Santa Barbara and would love to have our engagement photos shot in our new home!

  24. Lauren and I met in person for the first time at 6am on the Monday before Obama’s inauguration. We were introduced from a distance by one of my best friends from high school, who went to college with Lauren. And after stalking each other on the internets for a few months (blog reading => blog commenting => emailing => texting => phone calling => video chatting), we decided that I would pick her up at her dad’s house in Baltimore on my way to inauguration from southeastern PA.

    My friends and I rented a minivan on Sunday, left long before dawn on Monday, rolled into Lauren’s dad’s house while it was still dark, picked up Lauren and her dad, headed for freezing cold DC, breathed in the loving madness of that moment in that city for close to 48 hours, and, then, late on Tuesday afternoon, while our entourages (her dad, my sister, cousins and friends from both sides) napped, Lauren and I went on a walk, knowing that something serious was brewing and needing to discuss our shocking new reality.

    After a frozen and exhausting walk and talk, Lauren and I settled into the parked minivan for our first ever serious make out session. No clothes were removed, but one of the back pocket buttons on Lauren’s pants never made it out of the van.

    For the next 18 months, Lauren and I joked about her missing button, giggling whenever we’d challenge each other to find the perfect replacement.

    Last June, Lauren left town for a couple of weeks, so I took the opportunity to thread a needle with dental floss and sew a ring that once belonged to my great grandmother onto our favorite back pocket.

    The night Lauren got home, I gave her the neatly folded pants and told her I’d fixed them.

  25. Jonathan and I had been dating for three years when we took a trip to Napa over a three-day weekend in February, when, unbeknownst to me, we would be engaged.

    Despite my self-proclaimed title as the regrettably un-surprisable (I’m an English teacher and am allowed to make up words) observer, Jonathan managed to surprise me–twice.

    Though seemingly irrelevant, this piece of information will be important: We are fans of The Bachelor and Bachelorette series in a sort of this-is-ridiculous-why-are-we-watching-this-but it’s so-addicting sort of way. We like to make fun of it, but we’re pretty hooked; let’s face it. On with the show…

    Surprise #1: Sitting and reading The Chronicle while sipping black coffee Saturday morning, I did not expect the doorbell to ring. Given that I couldn’t find Jonathan anywhere, I had to answer the door myself, which necessitated that I reluctantly put on pants (don’t these people know it’s Saturday?). When I answered the door, I did not find a person, but instead a box with a framed picture of me atop, a card, and a red rose. Upon opening the card, I learned that it was signed “Chris Harrison,” the host of The Bachelor, and it read just like the cards the contestants get: “Should you choose to forgo your individual suites, you may use this key,” ya da ya da ya da–red rose and all.

    I was floored. Where are we going? When? Oh, today? Right now? And how!

    And off we went to Napa, about an hour away. There, we spent Saturday and Sunday eating and drinking our way through the Napa Valley (Jonathan sells wine, and we’re big foodies, so we were in Heaven).

    Surprise #2: On Monday, after grabbing some lunch to-go at Dean and Deluca and driving to a favorite spot – a lovingly old olive oil shop in St. Helena – we spread out our conquests and dove in. Jonathan had asked me to bring the rose while I was taking out the food from the car. Given his usual endearing corniness, I thought this was completely normal.
    After semi-sarcastically asking me if I would “accept this rose,” he asked if there wasn’t one more thing I wouldn’t mind accepting. At that, he pulled out from his pocket the most stunningly beautiful ring I’ve ever seen. That I had no idea, that he had been so right on in his ring choice, and that I – an English major – was speechless will forever be indelible in my mind. We cried (I said yes) and the deed was done.

    Soon after, I was informed our weekend was not yet over. We then whisked away to Berkeley for dinner with his family (thank goodness I said yes!) at Chez Panisse–a foodie mecca, where we toasted our engagement with sparkling rose to complement the pink ring and my pink cheeks, blushing with excitement and warmth.

    Surprise #3: I can return the surprise favor by winning us a beautiful photo session and getaway?

    Thank you for reading!

  26. Josh and I have been together since meeting in an environmental studies class at UCSB (almost 8 years ago!). We’ve lived in Hawaii, Goleta, Davis, and now Los Angeles. This past August we were both in San Francisco and Davis visiting family and friends. We’ve always loved returning to his hometown, Davis, because he grew up in a beautiful community with vineyards, community gardens, orchards, and big grassy fields. Growing up in Hawaii I had never seen peaches, nectarines, plum, and cherry trees before and had always loved visiting his family and eating off the trees. One early morning we went for a walk around the community gardens, all of sudden he starts talking about our relationship, all our travels and adventures, and how much I mean to him. Then he goes on one knee and presents a box and asks me “will you be my forever girl.” I was so surprised, even though we’ve been together for 8 years and have talked about our future. The ring was beautiful and perfect and I kept looking at it, without realizing I had not answered his question. I said “YES!” and now we’re planning our wedding in the same community, on a beautiful green for August 2011. We would love to return to Santa Barbara where we first met and have a photo adventure. Thank you so much!

  27. This summer Hans & I went to Seattle for the weekend to (as he said) “get out of town & visit friends.” We both love Seattle & it’s where we met, plus we were really missing some of our friends from there. He planned the weekend so that I would get some girl time with some girls who are dear to me then Sunday after going to church we went to the Teacup, had a pot of my favorite tea and went to a Thai place I had been wanting to take him to since before we were dating. After our food came Hans asked how many times I had eaten in that restaurant… I had eaten their about 5 times so Hans suggested we get our food to go and eat somewhere else. The weather was nice so I agreed. We drove around seemingly aimlessly until we came to beautiful Magnolia Park. We walked down past a birthday party and there in the middle of the park was a table set up beautifully for us. I headed over to use the bathroom real quick and saw our photographer & friend Matthew hanging out reading a book. Hans had me give him the camera, then he gave it to Matt(but I was not supposed to see that part). I thought it was cute. We went and sat down to eat. I was pretty confident that he was going to propose but we just sat and ate like we would any other time as if we usually sat in the middle of parks at amazingly decorated tables in Beauty-and-the-Beast-looking chairs. At some point in the conversation Hans went into a talk about our hopes, dreams and future. I could see Matt taking pictures from behind a tree but it made the memory that much more fun. Hans came around the table got on one knee and grabbed my hand asking me if I would marry him, :] I said, “Well what do you think I’m going to say :].” He said, “Well, I was hoping yes.” I laughed and said yes of course and then we hugged and kissed and random people from the park cheered for us. HE PROPOSED!!!! I love Hans so much. Getting Married May 21 :]

  28. Kenny and I have been together since our senior year of high school. He and I both knew from the MOMENT we first met that we would someday be together. He asked me to be his girlfriend 8 years ago, and from that day we’ve never looked back!
    Kenny proposed to me in my apartment, at my 25th birthday party, in front of our best friends who knew all along what was going to happen at the end of the night. I was opening my presents, and noticed he had definitely spoiled me this year with gift after gift (he later told me he didn’t want me to expect anything).
    When I was finished opening my presents, he told me he had one last gift for me and dropped to his knee. It was the most shocking, emotional, surreal and amazing moment of my entire life and I couldn’t get a word out for a looong while!!! It kinda felt like a dream, as would winning an engagement shoot, seeing as how we can’t really afford one with all the other wedding issues that need to be taken care of.
    It would be amazing to win this because I grew up near SB and have many fond memories with him there.
    Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity you are providing for one of us lucky couples!! :)

  29. After my first week at a new job, I walked out of my office to see my fiance, Luke, standing in the parking lot. I was completely surprised that he had driven to Orange County to see me especially since we were supposed to be meeting at his place in San Diego. I figured that Luke was going to take me to a congratulatory dinner after my first week of work. But instead he whisked me away to a hotel where he proposed! I was ecstatic. It was such a special surprise. We got engaged a little over a year after meeting at a wedding where Luke was a wedding crasher!

  30. Ten years ago, at the age of 15, my parents decided to move to a small town in southern Idaho. I wasn’t with them but they couldn’t find the town and were about to go right past it until they stopped at a little cafe called the “country inn”. They met their waiter, Ben,(my fiance) and he told them that they needed to turn back around and gave them the directions to Garden Valley. It was meant to be and I didn’t realize it until many years later!

    Five years later we were reunited after college and we could not stop talking! We both had changed and grown so much in those five years. We have been together ever since (almost 3 years)!

    Ben and I have fallen in love with rock climbing! On May 30th we climbed our first 5 pitch-300ft climb, and my Ben proposed at the top! I will never forget his face watching me grab the last hold and reaching the top. He was so proud of me, as was I! I took a look at the view, (which was amazing) and there Ben was hanging from anchors 300ft up with his knees touching the rock! He pulled out the most perfect ring and asked me to be his wife!! The happiness from the proposal and our excitement from finishing the climb was unreal. After rappelling 300 feet down and reaching the ground, it really sunk in!

    We started out our relationship long distance and we are currently long distance again due to Ben’s job. It would be great to go down to beautiful Santa Barbara to spend the weekend together and to do a photo shoot! woo!

    Thank you!

  31. After nine years together Jasper and I finally went on our first vacation together that was just the two of us (no family). We had an incredible drive up the California coast, and one of our first stops was at Hearst Castle. I was so excited to see the castle again as I hadn’t been there since I was 12 (I am now in interior designer, and that first trip to the castle made a deep impression on me). Jasper knew what a special place it was for me and seemed as excited as I was to visit. Though it was a thick, foggy day at the coast, as we rode in the bus up the hill to the castle the clouds began to clear to a beautiful, sunny day. Later, on our tour, Jasper finally captured my attention (I was enthralled taking photos of every doorknob and ceiling design in sight) in the Celestial Tower, dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him! It took me a few moments to have the clarity to realize what he had asked, and then to answer, “Yes, yes, yes!” We then made our way to join our tour group who had been waiting for us, as the Cathy the tour guide told them what Jasper was up to, and when we came down the stairs they erupted with cheers and congratulations (after first making sure I said yes!). A lady on the tour then proceeded to tell us that she had been engaged at the A&W in Coalinga, but that her husband had done much better since than, and we all laughed together in the happiness of Love.

  32. We are two struggling artists. We fell in love amongst the changing Oregon fall leaves when neither of us was looking for it. I’ve never heard anything more spectacular, “I have a special box in my pocket, and Rickey, I was just wondering if I can be your husband…” it was beyond anything art could come close to interpreting. He asked my parents that morning over coffee, and asked me that evening in front of all of our friends and family and about 500 strangers. That night made me realize what sharing your love with the world can do, nothing cures anything like love does. My father has battled cancer for 14 years, after the proposal he decided to give chemo a fourth shot, he didn’t want to miss his daughters wedding he’s still sick but still here…it’s almost as if Reed knew our love could keep him around a bit longer. After the concert, Reed’s band left the stage. Just Reed, his acoustic, one of the many songs he’s written for me, and then the question backed by his strumming fingers. His mothers diamond (reset and finished that morning) and my parents 30th wedding anniversary, pretty spectacular. (bonus feature: he got a friend there to video everything, let us know if you want a peek:)

    We planned to get married that following spring, but without either of our parents able to help and our sites set on moving to LA to pursue our dreams, we decided it best to wait until after the move. Now we are here in LA, still engaged, still crazy about each other, living off PB&J’s, rice, tickle tortures and love. I work 60 hours a week to support us and our very simple lifestyle, so that he can focus on his music. We can’t afford a wedding, but we are doing it this spring anyways, with the three things we need, each other, our families, and a sandy beach:) This spring we are planning a trip to Crescent City, CA for a family get together as gift to my father. My Dad loves the coast and hasn’t been in 20 years. Before he was diagnosed he was a logger so we thought the Redwoods would be a nice touch:) The secret plan is to surprise our family during the trip on the beach with a ceremony. All I want is for my father to be there when I marry the man I love …BUT now we are thinking…wouldn’t it be oh so sweet to have some fabulous photos to give to our parents as keepsakes! One can only imagine how happy they would be, I would be, he would be, we all would be. I mean we are already beaming, but this is just oh so sweet.

  33. It’s simple: He’s him, and I’m me, and we were meant to be. I am so excited to begin the rest of our life together. He’s an amazing, talented, hilarious man with a big heart and a big smile. I’m a lucky gal, but he says he’s a lucky guy :). What a sweet deal.
    We’d love to be selected for this giveaway. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity!

  34. My fiancé and I have been together for 9 years and engaged for over a year now!! We’re Santa Barbara locals, living in paradise for over 10 years now. I moved here from Northern California to attend UCSB and he relocated from Texas to attend SBCC. We met at our previous job over 9 years ago and have been together ever since. He’s a fire fighter and I’m an unemployed Sales Manager going back to work in January.

    In September 2009, he had a “surprise” getaway planned for the two of us. I kept pressing for hints (although I love surprises) and asked him if we could bring our puppy, Teddy on the trip with us. Unfortunately the place he first planned to take us was not dog friendly so he had to change the plans, so we could bring our dog. He only told me what to pack and we went on a road trip while I kept guessing along the way. We first stopped in Santa Ynez for wine-tasting and bought a couple bottles of wine, then hit the road to Pismo Beach where he surprised me with an ocean view room at “The Cliffs” hotel. We always talked about staying in Pismo, while we passed the lovely town on our way up north, to visit my friends and family. After settling in our room, we went for a walk along the beach before sunset, with Teddy of course. We walked along the beach and went up some stairs that lead to a bench over-looking the seaside cliffs and ocean. After I sat down he started telling me how I mean the world to him and rambling about how long we been together (and how he didn’t want to sound cheesy) and got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I opened the vintage box and smiled after I saw the beautiful ring and said “Yes, I knew it” (my sister and friend told me that he was probably going to propose on our surprise getaway)!!! I asked him how he knew my size (I didn’t even know my own ring size). He actually sized my finger while I was sleeping and had the ring custom made from a jeweler in Texas. He was hiding the ring in his closet for months, waiting to take me on a weekend getaway. He even surprised me with a facial and massage at the hotel spa after brunch. The weekend was amazing! I was on cloud nine.

    It didn’t even occur to me that we didn’t have engagement photos until others asked to see them. All of the pictures from Pismo were of us and Teddy. Not one single picture of just the two of us!! I realized that we need engagement photos to capture the moment. We’re paying for our wedding ourselves and are on a tight budget, (hence the long engagement) so anything helps. I would love to surprise my fiancé with engagement photos from Nancy. Her work is amazing and reflects us. I hope we get picked!

  35. Manny and I became engaged on a vacation to Costa Rica. Under a partly hazy, partly starry sky, in the shadows of a volcano, Manny dropped to one knee, slipped a ring on my right finger, and asked me to keep him company for the rest of his life. Much to his relief, I said “yes” after moving the ring from my right hand to my left.

    We currently work and live on opposite coasts (I’m in DC, he is in LA/Ventura County), so we are spending our engagement apart. It would be an amazing opportunity (re: excuse) for me to fly back to west and spend some quality time together in Santa Barbara.

  36. Our engagement story is totally us…Zachary and I met while attending a small high school in North Carolina, I was fifteen and he was seventeen. Over the years while dating we went to college in different states and he traveled the US and Canada while I got a pastry art degree. Now in our mid to late twenties we retreated to a small bed and breakfast this past october to celebrate ten years together. After checking into our room, we left for dinner and I never suspected anything. We had a lovely meal and headed back to the inn. Zach seemed very nervous and quiet, which is totally not in his nature, but I just thought maybe he didn’t feel well. We got ready for bed and I was reading when I looked over and he was on his knee. He asked me to marry him and I was overcome with joy. I said yes yes yes and we spent the rest of the weekend basking in our joy before returning home and telling our families. And of course their playful response was “its about time”…

  37. every time one of my friends has gotten engaged, the second thing out of my mouth, after “oh my goodness, i am so happy for you all” is usually “how did he do it?”…so here’s how HE did it…

    it was a typical Tuesday and he’d told me he was leaving work, so I was getting dinner ready so we could eat when he got home. I had everything set, but he wasn’t home yet. I waited a bit longer and then gave him a call. He didn’t answer, but then called me back and told me he’d had to stop to talk to get gas, but was on his way. We had our dinner and then settled in to our normal evening routine, watching a couple episodes of FRIENDS reruns, cuddling on the couch. the first episode is always older (from my college years) and the second episode is newer (i believe from the final season). i tell you the next detail with 20/20 hindsight: the second episode was about when pheobe and mike were dating and pheobe found out that mike wasn’t interested in getting married, and she was struggling with this as non-conventional as she was, she wanted to get married, have the picket fence and 2.5 kids. She was talking to Ross, 3 time divorcee, to try to get some “reassuring” words about why marriage is overrated. However, Ross can only wax on about how wonderful marriage and committment is. Shortly after that, Jeremy went upstairs. I asked him where he was going, and he just said, he’d be right back. None the wiser, I just blissfully watched the rerun. What a great show. Little did I know that my life was about to change. forever.

    It was very simple. He just told me how much he loved me and took the box out of his pocket, which was wrapped in silver paper with a bow, and I opened the most gorgeous sparkly ring. I think I hyperventilated a little. I just kept saying his (pet) name over and over in a shaky voice. I teared up. luckiest gal in the land, sitting on the couch in sweats, ring on her finger, best guy beside her. what could be better. needless to say, we didn’t see the end of that episode of FRIENDS. but I’m sure we can catch the rerun again sometime :)

    Apparently, he had gone at lunch to pick out the ring with his step-dad and they called him as it was ready by the end of the workday, so he stopped on the way home to pick it up (hence the late arrival, although he claims he really DID stop to get gas). He had planned to do something a little fancier for the proposal, but just could not wait to ask me, so he just did that evening, which I think is probably THE.MOST.ROMANTIC.THING.I.HAVE.EVER.HEARD. He lasted an hour :)

    so that’s our “story” and i’m stickin to it (and him!!!)

  38. My fiance documented the whole engagement experience and surprised me with this little production:

    Watch Letter E!

  39. Soggy fortune cookies. My fiancé proposed with soggy fortune cookies.

    Christopher, and I were having a barbecue at our house with some friends to celebrate our birthdays. After we had all finished our burgers and brew, Chris said he and his friend were going to go to the store for dessert.

    They came back with a large bag filled with wet, nasty cookies that I wanted absolutely nothing to do with. Chris handed me a cookie and said that it was soggy because it was fresh from a bakery down the street.

    Little did I know, Chris’ idea was for me to find inside the fortune cookie an engagement ring he designed with diamonds from his great grandmother’s wedding ring.

    Unfortunately, the plan normally takes a few days to prepare. The cookie must first be wet so that it can be unfolded and the ring can be placed inside. Then the cookie must have time to dry and harden. Chris didn’t have that kind of time because he decided spontaneously that he had to propose that night. So rather than microwaving the cookie to harden it, they decided they just had to get the entire bag of cookies wet. That way I wouldn’t expect anything, they later told me.

    “Don’t you know? Fresh fortune cookies are actually pretty soft,” he said.

    Still, I refused.

    “Well, at least read your fortune,” he pleaded.

    So I glanced at it briefly. It said something about love and the meaning of family that I wish I remember. I quickly discarded the cookie on the table, and then out fell the sweetest little ring and Chris to his knees.

    It was quirky and didn’t exactly go according to his plan, but it was oh so sweet and absolutely perfect.

  40. Jeff and I met on an airplane in April. I was in Utah to visit my sister. On my way home to Austin, Jeff sat across the aisle from me. I thought he was the most handsome man I had ever seen. We exchanged many awkward glances throughout the flight. The woman next to him wanted to talk, so I got to overhear why he was coming to Texas (to check out a PhD program at the University of Texas). His other option was beautiful Santa Barbra! As I listened I remember thinking, he would never pick Austin, and our chances of seeing each other again were very slim. At the end of the flight we spoke for a few minutes (I couldn’t leave without saying something!), but we never exchanged information or even names. We went our separate ways, and for months I told my friends stories of “plane boy.” Little did I know he was in Utah, telling his friends about “plane girl.” In August, I was at a social function, in a crowded room, and as I was leaving, someone tapped me on the shoulder, and said I know you.Flustered, I didn’t recognize him at first , but he reminded me of our flight together. I’m sure I must have turned 3 different shades of red, here I was speaking to the man of my dreams with an audience. We exchanged information that night, our first date was the following Saturday, and we have seen each other nearly every day since then. We decided to go visit Jeff’s family for thanksgiving. It was a fantastic vacation, I love his family, and the friends I met. We took a trip to Salt Lake City on Saturday, to see a Choral concert his grandparents had given us tickets to. It was lights, french horns, and snow, love notes, and mittens! Such a beautiful, cold night! On the way home, I was warm and sleepy, he suggested we take a detour. (He spent the earlier part of the night taking me on a tour of his youth). The next thing I knew, we were pulling up to the Salt Lake City Airport (where we first met). We parked in the parking garage looking over the entire airport. As we watched planes taking off and landing, he got down on one knee, and told me how much he loved me, and how he wanted to be with me forever. It was a wonderfully romantic weekend, and to top it all off, our flight home to Austin was the same flight number as when we met in April!

    I would LOVE to win this contest! We are on a tight budget for the wedding, and this photographer is amazing, far better than any photographer we could afford! A trip to Santa Barbra would be the crowning detail, to our love story. I would love to visit the wonderful city that in practicality he should have chosen; it would remind me how lucky I am that fate brought us together.

  41. Benjy and I first met when we 19, and I went to Ireland with a few girlfriends for three weeks. We dated when I spent my junior year and promised we would make it through my senior year apart… we did not. Five years, and what seems like a lifetime later we reconnected in London and after three months decided to do what we had always known we were meant to do! Benjy finally fulfilled his promise to move to California. On my Grandparents 69th wedding anniversary (February 14, 2010) Benjy asked me to marry him in a blooming almond orchard. It was simple, and perfect, just like we are for each other.

  42. We live in the desert. While visiting friends in Boston, my live-in boyfriend of a few years proposed on the Boston waterfront. He simply set the ring on my chest. Afterwards, we went to the North End and ate Italian food. We celebrated a friend’s 40th birthday later that night and sat around the table drinking wine and laughing until the morning. In those 5 days, we managed to a) spend super fun quality time with my best girlfriends, their husbands and their children, played our record release show, got engaged, surprise bachelorette partied at a Wanda Jackson show (it was her and her husband’s anniversary!), and finished it off with a southern brunch with friends and their children. Happy heart overload.

  43. Charlie proposed to me on our favorite running trail in Joshua Tree on Easter of 2010. Joshua Tree is one of our favorite spots to camp, and we make about five trips a year to the park. When we got to our turn-around point on the running trail, he asked me to come over by him, and that is when the big moment happened! Charlie pulled out a big fake plastic ring (big as an antique door knob and evens lights up) which he bought at party city and asked if I wanna get married. I started laughing, and I did not think he was being serious because of the ring. But no he was not kidding. I said yes, and off we ran into the sunrise.

    We are on a tight budget for the wedding, because we are paying for the wedding ourselves. Charlie just finished his PhD last month, and was laid off from this part time consulting job at the same time. Needless to say that has put a real wrench in the wedding budget. Many things were taken off the list including an engagement photo shoot. We would be thrilled if we won! Many thanks for letting me share our story!

  44. because i was a beauty school drop out towards the end of hair school, i had the fundamentals down but was not licensed. so my friend jen asked me to do hair and make up on set of her college exit exam for film school. i had to be on set at 3:45 am, and as much as i was looking forward to being the hair and make-up gal, i was not looking forward to the wake up time.

    when i got on set, jen’s boyfriend, a friend of mine introduced me to his friend brad. immediately we were drawn to each other, all day long we just chatted and exchanged small talk. at one point in the day, he even asked me how old i was to which i replied “32, i need to get married and have babies!” best come on line ever, huh?

    the day ended as quick as it began, i really thought nothing when i left about brad or anything else. i thought he was a nice guy, but that was all…but the next few days i found myself not being able to stop thinking about him. so i “created” a reason to emailed him, after asking our mutual friend ryan for his email address. i emailed him some gossip from the set and that began an exchange in words more than once a day, every day for the next six weeks until we met again.

    and from that day on, what started out as a wonderful friendship turned to love and on october 27, just a month ago, on the beaches of north carolina, he got on bended knee and asked me to be his forever.

  45. Josh and I met a couple of years ago while working for the Tampa Bay CVB. We were not particularly looking for love at work, but that’s just how it happened! We’ve both since moved on to different jobs, but we’re still going strong and now we’re planning to start our new life together as husband and wife.

    Josh and I had talked about getting married and even looked at a couple of rings together, but we decided that we wanted to wait until early 2012 to make the next step, so that we could save more money for the wedding. I wasn’t expecting for him to propose until at least early 2011, so it caught me completely off guard when he did this past September. Josh is from Mason, Ohio, just outside of Cincinnati. We planned a sort of spur-of-the-moment trip up to Ohio in September, to see an Ohio State and Bengals game. It was a weekend full of football and hanging out with Josh’s old friends, not the type of weekend I would have expected to get engaged!

    Josh and I were eating brunch at a restaurant across the river in Newport, Kentucky the morning of the Bengals game. When Josh asked me to take a picture by the river, it didn’t strike me as odd at all, since we had done this very thing on past trips to Ohio, with the beautiful Cincinnati skyline in the background. His friend (and now groomsman!) offered to take the picture. The first picture was taken, and Rick said it was blurry and to try again. This time, Josh told me look behind me and pointed out how close we were to the Bengals stadium, once I turned back around to get ready to pose once again, Josh was on his knee holding up a beautiful diamond ring. I almost passed out, I was in complete shock!!! I immediately turned and ran in the opposite direction, clutching my mouth in my hands and shedding tears of joy, leaving Josh on his knee. Everyone thought that meant I was saying no! I honestly just didn’t know how to react, and I was totally shocked. Once I regained my sanity, I ran back to Josh and hugged him as hard as I could, I said yes (of course!) and he placed the ring on my finger and we hugged for so long, I lost track of time.

    It was such a beautiful moment, and thanks to Rick, we have every piece of that amazing story captured in photos for the rest of our lives (even the one of me running away!) I could not be more excited to start a new adventure with the most amazing man I have ever met.

  46. Kevin and I are completely in love with Christmas. Whenever something has gone wrong or one of us has a bad day, we listen to Christmas music or watch our favorite Christmas movies (A Charlie Brown Christmas!) and we immediately feel better. So, it only made sense to me that our proposal story have a Christmas theme.

    Kevin told me that he wanted to have a picnic at Gleason Park, the same park where we started dating 3 years ago. He told me it was a surprise picnic and that he would call me when I could come and meet him there.

    Kevin call me and said I could meet him there. When I arrived, I found Kevin sitting under a gazebo with a picnic blanket and a mini Christmas tree, all while playing some Christmas music in the background.

    After eating and talking for a bit, he told me to put on my favorite Christmas song. While I was doing that, he told me that he had a Christmas present for me. He pulled out a box with a purple bow on it (My favorite color) and said “Merry Christmas.” I thought he got me earrings. He opened the box and showed me the ring. He told me he wanted to spend every Christmas for the rest of his life with me. Then, he asked me to marry him!

    There were a lot of tears and I never fully responded so Kevin asked “So.. that means yes, right?”


  47. Matt & I went out of town for my birthday to Cabo San Lucas at a gorgeous place – Capella Pedregal – which I’d found a deal for online. It was a much needed trip that happened right after the sudden passing of my best friend’s mom in CT where we had been for the week prior to our vacation.

    On my birthday, we took a boat trip with several other couples, enjoyed the sunset and headed back to the hotel for dinner. Dinner was planned at El Farallon – an amazing cliffside restaurant at the resort that seats about 12 tables. Guests get to meet the chef as he walks you through each of the fresh caught fish of the day. After an incredible meal, Matt said we should go finish our wine at a table further away from everyone. I thought he was going to surprise me with a cake or something!

    We went over to a small table, talked, and then he gave me my birthday card. The card was amazing & later he told me he had messed up on what he wrote on the 1st card and had to drive around town to other stores to find the right one again! The end of the birthday card read: All I want is to grow old with you, to watch our life unfold, our dreams one by one. All I want is to love you forever. And Matt wrote: Everyday we spend together just reminds me what a special person you are. I love you with all my heart and hope you have a wonderful birthday. You are my sunshine. Love, Matt…P.S. –Can you do me a favor? Look up!

    It was hard for me to read because there was no lighting other than the candle on the table, so I literally had the card in front of my face as I read it. I had tears in my eyes when I looked up, and there he was, crying too, asking me to marry him.

  48. Alton and I met through a mutual friend on the hill of the community college we attended. At the time I did not have the slightest interest in him but we kept hanging out because we shared some similar interests. One night he asked me to go see a band called, The Blood Brothers with him and his brother. Upon picking me up he asked if I could drive his car as he was an international student and he just got his license. Frugal as I am I refused to have him pay for the venue parking (which probably cost a couple bucks). I went around the residential neighborhood to look for parking and suddenly a car t-boned me on my side as I was trying to make a left at a yield. I woke up at Cedar-Sinai Hospital with a pelvic fracture. He no longer had a new car. I felt horrible he only had the car for three months. Poor guy had to bus it to school… I crashed his car yet he was persistent to have me as his girlfriend. After several rejections later I finally said, yes. Unbeknownst to me 6 years later it was the best decision I ever made in my life.

    We will be engaged one year on December 8th (which is also my birthday). The proposal did not come as a surprise! We were heading home after a long day of holiday shopping and a short stop at the casino (where Alton got tipsy) thus might explain his behavior. On the ride home he shocked me by telling my friend and me that he plan on proposing in Dubai and began to describe the ring. By now all I want him to do is shut up! He already ruined the surprise of my life… A proposal should me a surprise! I asked him, “Why are you telling me this?” He replied, “You are my best friend.” He decided to pop the question a couple of weeks after on my birthday. He came to my house with a card and a dozen roses. I didn’t care that it was my birthday. Instead I was too caught up in the sentiment of what he wrote in the card. He asked me to go in my room and he went on both knees (instead of one, praying to the lord I would say, “YES” haha). We celebrated our engagement and my birthday with great friends over Korean bbq and soju. I gotten over the fact that he told me about the proposal. He said what is more important to you, how I proposed or our lives together? I choose the latter!

    Thank you for letting us share our story!

  49. My fiance, Danny, and I met through an on-line equestrian dating site. It was my first time doing such a thing and I thought to myself, well, if it doesn’t work out at least I’ll get to go on a new trail ride with my horse! As it turned out, we hit it off right away and have been riding together ever since! We plan on getting married in the summer and we want to include our horses in the wedding in some way, since they brought us together. In fact, they’ve become true companions, too. His favorite horse and mine are always grooming each other! We’d like to have a small barbeque wedding in our backyard, next to the horse corrals. Our church has both an outdoor worhip area, “cowboy church”, where we can ride our horses up and hitch them near the service. We’ve invited our horsey friends to bring their own horses and accompany us for the procession back to our house for the recption. Should be fun!

  50. Being Brooklyn-based and carless, Aaron and I leaped at the chance to car-sit his best friend’s freshly vandalized Honda Civic for the weekend. By the time it had been reclaimed from the police earlier that week, it was a wreck. The ignition was literally dangling by cords from the steering column! Nevertheless, it was a means to transport and as it was early October, we figured we could make it to a rural destination on four battered wheels- in one piece. Determined to check out the the quaintest far reaches of Long Island, I spent most of our voyage holding the passenger side window steady because it had been pried loose and rattled loudly in the glacial wind as we made our way East past strip malls and pine forests. When we at last emerged from our ‘carriage of death,’ windswept and sore from laughing so much, Aaron grabbed my hand and lead me to the beach where I saw the pale crescent moon in a mauve dusk sky. Still breathless and giddy from trying to get us there by sunset, Aaron got on his knee in the sand and asked me point blank to marry him. It was hands down the happiest moment of my life. Now, we’re planning a May wedding in a firehall in rural Nova Scotia where we’ll greet relatives and ‘chosen family’ from all over! We think you should choose us for a free Nancy Neil engagement photo session and one night’s stay at the Presidio in Santa Barbara because these are exactly the sort of festive indulgences that we skipped on account of economical limitations… but still dream of! That said, since there are so many other engaged couples in the same boat, so we wish everyone luck and congratulations!

  51. Hello! My fiance Ben and I have been dating for close to 4 years before the big engagement day.. which totally took me by SURPRISE! So this is how it went down.. My fiance has been telling me that he wanted to take me to his friend’s movie premiere for a long time. So that Sunday morning, I didn’t think of anything different except that we were going to a small movie premiere at the local Laemmle theater. When we went inside the theater, the film was already playing. The room was also quite dark. I thought to myself “Geez this is a sad premiere, there is only 25 people here”. My fiance motioned to some seats in the back and we sat down. He mentioned the film was a black and white old film that his friend re-cut in to a new story. I started watching the film half heartedly since I wasn’t all too thrilled to be dragged there on a Sunday morning when I wish I could have stayed home with my two dogs! At one point, I was even tempted to pull out my phone to browse the internet but decided I didn’t want to be rude! My neck was also hurting that day so I was stretching my neck in the seat and not quite looking at the screen the whole time. Around twenty minutes into the film when I was still stretching my neck, at the corner of my eyes, I thought I saw these letters on the screen morphed into something that looked like my name. But because it happened so quick I wasn’t too sure so I brushed it off and thought I saw the wrong thing on screen. I also heard some dog barking in the background of the film but still didn’t think of anything weird and thought that the re-cut part that my fiance’s friend did must
    been happening. Then I saw this fluffy dog image across the screen and I thought to myself “hey that looks like my dog Brownie!”. I was a bit weirded out but still didn’t connect the dots at that point. Then a second dog popped out onscreen and started running towards the screen and I thought to myself again “that looks like my other dog Abu!”. As the dog got close I realized it was indeed my dog Abu and he was wearing a card around his neck with the message – Will you marry me? That was when I realized what was happening. I was so clueless! The light was turned on and Ben walked to the center of the back room and got down on his knees to ask me to marry him. Of course I said yes!! After I said yes, I took a look at the people in front of us and realized he had all our close friends and family there to be part of the proposal. I was incredibly clueless and thought he hired extras to fill the theater. I still laugh when I think about how clueless I was that day! After I realized it was my family and friends, I was so happy and speechless at the same time as I was in total shock. Everyone kept looking at me too and everyone was all waiting for me to say something.. so the only thing that came to my mind that I said was “em, thanks guys for coming?”. After hugging and talking to everyone, we went across the street to a private room that my fiance booked at this restaurant that we both like for a “very immediate” engagement party. Honestly, the whole thing was a total suprise and total blur because how shocked I was. I almost felt like I was in twilight zone, but in a good way! It was definitely the sweetest most well thought out suprise and a happy blur with the love of my life and all the family and friends that I adore. After our engagement luncheon, my fiance and I went home and were greeted by the two main furry and adorable movie stars of the proposal film.. or should I say black and white re-cut movie? :)

    I think we should win this contest because of the immense thoughts, effort, and creativity that my fiance put into the proposal. He worked on the re-cut portion for months himself and it was definitely not an easy task to get our furry kids to cooperate during the many shoots he secretly had behind my back when I was not around!

  52. With so many great stories, whoever chooses has a really tough choice to make!

    But here’s my story:

    After I finished my Producing gig on Bridezillas, I had time to myself, and decided to take a week and a half to go home to Massachusetts from Los Angeles. Seth was sad I was leaving for so long, but understood that I had just worked 6-day work-weeks for 4 months and needed home home to unwind a bit.

    When I flew back, Seth picked me up at the airport to take me home. He offered to go to dinner with my sister (which is a little uncharacteristic of him), so I jumped at the chance! We swung by the apartment my sister and I shared to find she wasn’t home. “Oh well,” Seth said “did I tell you I made a video with Will and Jeff while you were gone?” Our friends, Will and Jeff, have a little comedy band together and often make youtube videos, so this wasn’t out of the ordinary. What Seth said next was, a little. “I’ve got the DVD right here, let’s watch it now.” “Uh…ok.” I said and slipped the DVD in the player. I sat next to Seth as a blank screen popped up. “Oh no! It’s not on the right channel!” Seth said, a little panicked, though I didn’t understand why, it was just a little video our friends made, no big deal.
    I restarted the video and tuned the TV to the proper channel. When I sat down I saw this:

    Which, again, not out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until Seth ran past his parent’s office with them waving from the balcony did I realize that our friends may not have been the driving force in making this video.

    Seth started visiting all the places we had started our relationship, the office we met at, the coffee order he spilled, my old apartment, my new apartment, his apartment, everything started falling into place.

    I thought something was going on, but I didn’t want to jinx anything, so I just waited.

    When the video ended, Seth turned to me on the couch, pulled out my gorgeous ring and asked me to marry him.


    I said yes.

    He had spent weekends with my friends working on this video, while I was stuck in a dreary office watching other people yell and scream about their weddings on Bridezillas. For me, it couldn’t have been better. :)

    Good luck to everyone who’s entered!

  53. My fiance Richard proposed to me at the 100 year old barn, in which his band built a studio and practices in. It is a magical place, right next to a vineyard, and where my darling as he says, dreamt of someone like me for sometime. It was all too perfect and thoughtful. We met at one of his gigs in Santa Barbara. He wiped away all the skepticism I ever had in one moment, we both saw our future in each other and at the end of the night, we walked down State Street to the beach, I was wearing my boots, and was not even aware that my feet were hurting, and the next day I had the worst blisters. They were my love blisters. After a year of dating, Richard asked me to head up to the barn, to help him “pick up some musical gear”, as I was getting out of the car to go inside the barn, he had already raced inside and was down on one knee, with my ring sitting on top of a piece of carolina black and white gingham fabric, my favorite pattern and he asked me to marry him. It was perfectly us in every way! Simple, sweet and thoughtful! Santa Barbara holds a lot of special meaning to us. My parents met on the street in Santa Barbara, just a couple blocks from where Richard and I met, they were married in Santa Barbara and it is wear we have spent a lot of special moments in our relationship. We would be so honored to win! Richard and Stacey!!

  54. Nick and I have known each other for 12 years, but only dated for a couple after I turned 18. We were reunited l July2009 through his mothers suggestion (love her)…needless to say, we had known the engagement was going to happen since we picked the ring out together, but he ended up surprising me with the proposal.
    We only have one car, and a joint account so needless to say it’s hard to pull off a surprise. But he did! Riding his bike around town to the bank and elsewhere to work out a spectacular surprise to make the final payment on the ring. Then for the weekend it was Grandma and Grandpa’s 61st wedding anniversary to go home and celebrate. In the morning he snuck out to go to his parents house (Nick and his Mom went to pick up the ring, back to where we just came from). Then later that day at my grandparents celebration he took me outside and said we had to talk. As my mind started racing “Oh jeez, my heart dropped, my mind started racing as to what kind of trouble he got into and how bad it was, and this really isn’t the right time because my whole family is here, why does he have to do this right now, maybe it wasn’t too bad… ”
    As we are sitting there he reaches around and gets down on one knee and I was completely confused. I was expecting the worst, and was still focused on the worst… Was this really happening, and how…is this a joke? Because I would know if he paid off the ring!!
    My sisters were taking pictures all along, while the family stood behind them from the house watching. I was completely shocked because nothing gets past me!! “That’s my ring!! How did you get it?!?! ” . . . duh. . .But then I eventually said yes. This man did so much out of his way just to make the proposal special only because I already knew about the ring.

    Deffinately give him props because I watch everything that goes on like a hawk…and for this to get pulled off, amazing.
    We have set our date a year from that proposal 9/10/11 (Made it easy on him so he better not forget it…shhhh.)

  55. Well my fiancee Rickey just proposed to me this past sunday november 28th. It was at our church before service was over. Rickey and I graduated together in 2001. I don”t really remember much about him to be honest but he on the other hand remembered everything about me. He found me on myspace after years of looking for me. My picture popped up on the people you may know page. I invited him to church and from there it was history. He ,outside of Christ, is the best thing that happened to me. I think that we should be chosen because its something that we can’t afford and it would be a great blessing to have these pictures to commemorate our heaven sent love.

  56. I feel like the luckiest girl. Everyone has such wonderful engagement stories. Mine is sweet and simple- just like I am! We were on vacation in San Francisco when he popped the question. We were there for 4 days, he had many opportunities to ask but never did! On day 5, we decided to have a picnic in one of the parks. We brought our blanket, drinks, food and books. Thirty minutes later, he is down on one knee saying all the sweet words… when all I could catch was “will you marry me?” I was stunned and of course thrilled!

    We would be very grateful if we won this wonderful opportunity! Best of luck to all the brides and grooms to be!

  57. Robert and I met over a sewing machine. I was returning it to an out-of-town friend, his then housemate, and just as I was about to walk out of his house he asked me on a date. The date was wonderful, so we went on some more.

    About a year later we went out in San Francisco for my birthday. We got dressed up and wandered around the Castro until our feet got tired. We found a teeny little hole in the wall restaurant and ate, and then we walked around some more. We climbed the hills back to our car and drove home in the dark. The moon was very, very full and it was nice to watch its light on the water on our way back down the coast. The next morning we woke up very slowly, getting out of bed and then jumping back in. We finally ended up giving in to temptation and just laying in bed chatting and whispering sweet nothings. Robert had his arms around me, holding me from behind, and said quietly into my ear, “I just can’t stand holding you one more moment without you being my fiance”. He put the ring box on my shoulder and asked me to marry him. I cried, said yes, he put the ring on my finger and now we are engaged. And I am ecstatic.

    Why should you pick us? Because when a stranger saw us walking downtown he yelled “he’s probably going to read a book and tell her about it”. People can know us just from looking at us, and trust me, you’ll like knowing us.

  58. David and I met my freshman year of college when I joined the taekwondo club at the University of Notre Dame. He graduated in May 2010 and moved to Dallas, TX for a job, so we’ve been long distance all year, since I’m still in school in Indiana. I had plans to visit him in Texas in mid-October, and he decided the only way to catch me totally off guard would be to come to Indiana the night before I was supposed to travel to Texas. He had my girlfriends set up a ruse to get me to walk over to Notre Dame’s grotto, and surprised me there- the first thing I said was, “. . . Aren’t you in the wrong state?” He was on one knee and gave me 6 different cards- they were the cards he had started giving me over a year earlier, and each card went with a charm on my charm bracelet that he had gradually purchased for different holidays. Each card had an abbreviation or acronym that related to the charm and all together they spelled “WILL YOUU MARRY ME?” (The youu isn’t a typo- we’re both math majors, and in math if and only if is abbreviated iff, so you and only you=youu). He proposed right by the Notre Dame Basilica and grotto, and I couldn’t have imagined anything more perfect! His friends hid behind some trees and videotaped the whole thing, so we’ll have the memories forever to share!

  59. Gus thought he had his proposal planned perfectly. I was going to dinner with friends and he was going to “dinner with his friends.” In reality Gus got a room at the Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles and decorated the room with rose petals, candles and poster size picture collages he made. Each collage was framed and signified a different milestone in our relationship. So I hear later, by 8:00 pm Gus had the room completely decorated and he was waiting for me to finish dinner with my friends.

    I was supposed to meet up with Gus and his “for drinks.” When I finally finished my dinner at around 11:30pm, I called Gus. Trying to get to the Biltmore, I got completely lost and turned around. I almost gave up and didn’t meet up Gus “for drinks” with his friends. I turned onto several streets which were dead ends and at one point I even turned onto a one way street…I was going the wrong direction and a huge van was coming right at me! At this point, I was really going to turn around and go home.

    I finally got there. He could not contain his excitement and was smiling the entire time! I said Yes!

    Now the hard part begins!

    You should choose us because we love Santa Barbara and we would be SO lucky to be able to take our engagement pictures in a beautiful place we love!

    Good luck to everyone!

  60. Andy and I met 2 years ago at a neighborhood party for our apartment complex in Atlanta. He put a fake spider in my roommate’s bed to scare her. The next day I returned the spider to him and we quickly became inseparable until August 2010 when I left the US to intern and volunteer for four months in Kenya. We weren’t really sure how things would work out with the long-distance, so we decided to take a break and let fate have it’s way.
    Each day apart made it clearer to each of us how much we meant to one another. Within 2 months we decided we never wanted to be apart again, and decided to get married! Absence really does make the heart grow fonder :)
    Andy wants to wait until I am back in the US to “officially” ask me to marry him, but plans are well underway for our small December 27th wedding. In less than two weeks we’ll finally be reunited!
    Because we are planning the wedding long-distance and working with a very small budget, we won’t have the chance to get pictures of just the two of us. This photo-shoot and chance to see California (our dream destination) together would mean so much to us!

  61. Andy and I met at a neighborhood party for our apartment complex in Atlanta in September of 2008. He put a fake spider in my roommate’s bed to scare her and I was taken with his boyish sense of humor and his handsome smile. The next day I returned the spider and we quickly became inseparable. However, in August 2010 I left the US to intern and volunteer in Kenya.
    We weren’t sure how things would work out long-distance so we decided to take a break and let fate have it’s way. With each day apart it became clearer and clearer to us just how much we truly meant to one another. Within two months we decided we never wanted to be apart again and made the decision to be married!
    Andy wants to wait until I return home (less than two weeks!) before he “officially” asks the question, but plans are already well underway for our small December 27th wedding. Proposals are just so much better when done in person :)
    Because we are planning the wedding while separated by thousands of miles and a very small budget, we won’t have the chance to get pictures of just the two of us. This photo-shoot and trip to our “dream state” would mean so much to us!

  62. Hello there! I just wanted to share our story. Craig and I are currently deployed to Iraq ( we will be home in less than 5 months!). We met while we were trianing to be Combat Medics in the Army. I was from a small town in Wisconsin and he was from an even smaller town in Oregon. To make a long story short, we met in Texas then both moved back to our home towns, tried the long distance relationship and it didn’t really work. I got a call one morning and it was Craig saying that he had packed up everything he owned into his car and would arrive in WI in a little over a day. 3 years later were in Iraq. While on our two weeks of Rest and Relaxation we headed to Italy! That is where he asked me to marry him!! We have one crazy story, and if there was ever a couple that has been through it all and still ended up on top it is us! Oh and to have pictures of us in something other than our uniform would be.. simply amazing! Thanks for taking the time to read about us!

  63. Message in a bottle: In June, Kit and I sailed to Catalina Island. I work at a sailing club, and it was our very first time taking one of our club boats out together. From the second we got outside of Newport Harbor, I was dead set on spotting a whale or a pod of dolphin. 4 hours into the cruise, I went below deck to put on Bob Marley and grab a couple of Tecates, (our fave beer) and while I was down there felt the boat turn around. I figured he had spotted the illustrious whale or the elusive dolphin pod… “What’s Up?” I said. He said he saw something, and pointed to something floating in the ocean about 20 feet away, “I think it’s a bottle” he said….When we got closer, you could clearly see a little scroll inside. I got so excited, thinking we had truly found a random message in a bottle… and I shouted out “let’s get it!!” was DETERMINED to get it. It took me FOREVER to fish it out, and when I finally grabbed it in my hands, I hesitated because I saw that the scroll inside has burnt edges, and was tied with a pink ribbon. I kept saying that I felt bad reading it, because I actually thought it was someones secret love letter or something, definitely not meant for my eyes, but, Kit told me to go ahead, and when I got the note out and I began to read it, my brain took a few moments to realize what I was reading. “Jennifer, I love you. Will you marry me Love Kit?” I started crying, and asked if we were engaged. That’s when he got down on one knee and said the kindest, sweetest words I have ever heard in my life, and slipped the ring on. We wed next August 2011 in Tahoe, and I would love to do a shoot with Nancy! Her style is right up our alley, and Santa Barbara is a special place for both of us. Thanks!!

  64. Aubray and I met five years ago while bartending at a restaurant together. I was in another relationship at the start and we became close friends. I thought he was so great I tried to set him up with my best friend, which thankfully never really worked out! After breaking up with my boyfriend for different reasons me and Aubray began to hang out more and after our first date to a U2 concert we became inseparable. For my 24th birthday Aubray surprised me with a trip to Napa, and a year later we were in La Jolla for a wedding. We made the decision last July to pack up, drive across country and move to California because we love it so much (we currently live in Boston). We were just out there in November scoping out neighborhoods in Santa Monica when he proposed to me! I was in such shock! He wanted to get engaged there because we are going to be starting our new lives out there together. After I said Yes we returned to the hotel which was completely decorated in rose petal and champagne waiting for us. I believe we should win this Engagement Photo Shoot because we are moving to California this January to start our lives together and it would be so great to have amazing photos of our engagement and to celebrate this wonderful time in our lives!

  65. Jay and I decided to take a trip to Sanibel Island, Florida to celebrate our 5-year anniversary, which falls on February 7th. Jay had been visiting the island with his family since he was a kid, and on our first trip there together, was a bit surprised that I loved the island, too, since I’m usually not a beach-vacation type. Since our first visit, we’ve been back many times and developed a list of things that we always do on the island. For our anniversary trip, we took a few extra days off work to make sure we could squeeze everything in. One of our must-do things on the island is to picnic on the beach with wine and a lavish cheese, sausage, and olive spread. This time around, we planned the picnic for Valentine’s Day, and Jay surprised me with a bottle of wine that had a ring and a note tied to it, followed by a proposal. Of course I said yes, and we celebrated in style, since he had snuck actual glasses along in his luggage. Since I wanted to pick my own ring, the ‘proposal ring’ was a pretty silver one, and we spent the rest of our trip ring shopping. We found the perfect ring and, a year later, the perfect wedding location, and we’re getting maried in Sonoma, CA on June 3, 2011. I’m a native Californian, and the Napa/Sonoma area has become another favorite vacation spot for us, so it seemed like a natural choice. We’ll be in California several times this year planning the wedding and my family is in Orange County, so we would love to do a photo shoot in Santa Barbara, which was the site of our friends’ awesome wedding two years ago.

  66. Steve and I are more mature *cough* (older) than your typical couple. We’d been talking about marriage for a while so the proposal shouldn’t have been a surprise but it was anyway. I had a piece of costume jewelry sitting on my bedroom dresser. Even though I love shiny bargains, I hardly ever put it on. One day, Steve picked it up and asked why I never wore it. I said well first, it’s too big, but more importantly it looks like an engagement ring. I bought it because I thought it was pretty. He said try it on. I said it’s too big…..actually, I sighed, and then said it’s too big. He said c’mon, for me, try it on. I did. We watched as it swam around my knuckle. I said see? Too. Big. He dug around in his pocket for a minute and pulled out what looked like an exact duplicate then said why don’t we see if this one fits? Flatlined. He’d taken a cameraphone picture of the copy and uploaded it to the site of a custom jewelry designer to have it replicated. Every once in a while, he surprises me, that guy.

  67. When I quit my job to take a teaching fellowship and go back to grad school, Alex supported me, leaving his dream state and finding a new job. Then, when I said I wanted to fulfill my undergraduate dream of studying abroad this time around, he actually encouraged it — sending me off to Peru last summer on a medical research trip, even if meant being apart.

    While I played it off, the trip was, in many ways, terrifying to me – new language, new customs, hard work and no friends. Alex emailed me every day (really. EVERY day.) – sometimes more than once – and somehow managed to sneak encouraging notes into my luggage before I left, so that I found them randomly throughout the trip.

    Then, for the last 10 days of my time there, Alex got to come visit and I got to share a country I had come to love with him. At the end of our trip, after trekking with a group through the Andes and jungle for four days (27 miles one of the days!), Alex proposed at the top of Machu Pichhu Montana, a mountain overlooking the ancient ruins. It was perhaps the stinkiest, sweatiest engagement ever (no showers on our trek), but it was ours.

    In reflection, the story sums up one of the biggest reasons I love him; being with him makes me a better person – more adventurous, stronger, smarter, kinder and tougher.

    I’d especially love this giveaway because, as former journalists, we both have a love and respect for beautiful photography. But, unfortunately, not the budget.

    Good luck deciding; there are lots of beautiful stories here! And thanks for reading ours.

  68. As Cameron bumbled his way into the ceramics classroom at Lodi High School, a little girl sat in the corner thinking to herself that this little boy with humongous blue backpack, resembles something very similar to a turtle. Much to the 13-year old girl’s disappointment, the bumbling, scrawny turtle explained to his teacher that he would not be able to attend class today, due to a water polo tournament. Once the turtle was able to attend class, he began to realize that there was a girl that sat in the corner, poking at her clay, disgusted at the thought of soiling her clothes or make-up, reasoning with herself that if she did indeed get her hands dirty, she might have to pull her hair out of her face, and run the risk of muddying her hair.

    This is how we met. Throughout that year, we both found that we had a strange attraction to each other, though neither of us were willing to admit it, nor would we have let on of even the slightest hint to anyone else. Toyha, Tawney’s older sister was in that class as well, and claims that she knew from the start that we like each other. Good call Toyha. Here and there we would see each other in passing, or occasionally in class. Tawney would sit continue to poke at her clay, while I worked furiously, trying to wrestle my clay into something deserving of an A, never worked by the way. Throughout that year, I flirted with Tawney and she rolled her eyes. Not much has changed.
    During graduation that May, I gave Tawney her rose, and felt this very tight grip around my chest when she told me congratulations. We exchanged looks that seemed to say that we no longer cared that the other new of our feelings. Tawney and I talked for the rest of that summer and decided to begin the inevitable on August 14, 2006.
    Now, Decemeber 1st, we will have been engaged two months tomorrow. The day of our engagement was set amidst the oak trees of a local Lodi, CA winery. I had come home from school that weekend and aked Tawney what she would like to do on Saturday. She got very excited saying “A picnic!”. We found a country winery that we had never tried and drove up on a warm sunny 90 degree morning of October 2nd. I was so nervous the heat did not help! We drove up the dirt road, unloaded our picnic, and instead of sitting on the tailgate went to a grassy lawn and sat atop huge boulders. The trees wee strung with lights, the building was all stone, and it was only the two of us. I began to tell Tawney of hhow God was preparing me for marriage and got to excited I forgot what to say and turned to Tawney asking her to spend the rest of her life with me :) She was sooo excited she forgot to put on the ring and just hugged me! As I peeled her off and showed her the ring she saw a composition of her mom’s diamonds’ my mom’s diamonds’ and her grandmother’s diamonds in an elegant yet vintage and understated ring. . . She {LOVED} it!
    We are both still students in SF and would love the memory of spending time in Santa Barbara taking pictures!!
    It has been over four years now that we have been together, and over 8 years that we have known each other, and I speak for both of us in saying that we would never change one minute of our time together and that we are indeed marrying our best friend. I love you Tawney.

  69. Our love story was very simple and sweet. We were introduced by a friend – he’s a teacher and I was a teacher. How she knew that we would be perfect for each other is anyone’s guess, because we are. We’ve been together for 3 years and quietly last valentine’s day, he got down on his knee and asked me to share my life with his. It was perfect. The love that we share is pure and sweet and I can not ask for a better man to be my husband and father to our children.

  70. I should have known how my proposal story would be based on my third date with Arthur. We did a group date for our third date with my best friend and his friend at a restaurant in Santa Monica. During which, Arthur and I started debating about diamond and engagement ring. He is against diamond ring and thinks that it is a scam that De Beers promote and that diamonds is not even rare, it’s a monopolized industry. On the other hand, I’m a complete girly girl who loves anything sparkly and want diamond ring and think it’s the gesture that counts.

    To my proposal story that I really don’t like sharing :P. I was at his house browsing at because he kept on saying that he couldn’t find any cushion cut. Then he just gave me a box!!!! The diamond ring is in the box. This exquisite cushion cut diamond ring.. No kneeling down, no question. I had to ask “Are you going to ask me to marry you? ” To which he said “No, you got the box already, why don’t you ask me to marry you”

    And that’s it….. I need to recreate my proposal story …

    You guys should pick us because Nancy Neil’s photography is so real, un-staged and nothing cheesy. I can’t imagine Arthur doing cheesy stuff and would love to have engagement pictures that really capture us/how we are with each other. And then maybe I can get him to kneel down then..

  71. Matt and I knew very early into our relationship that this was our forever. Just after our 1 yr anniversary, on a random Thursday evening, he proposed. It was 6 PM and we had both just come in the door from work – he was right behind me up the stairs. He said he wanted to show me something on the computer in our office, which was not uncommon. First, though, I had to put on my pajamas and put my hair in a messy (and not in a good way) ponytail on my head.

    He sat me down at the desk and told me he’d made something for me. It was an ‘icanhascheezburger’ of the favorite puppy in our lives dressed as a bumblebee – a pic that I saw and remarked on during our first date. I didn’t have time to read what was written there before he swung me around and was on his knee (It said ‘Ladypants [my nickname], will you please marry Matt’) I don’t even remember what he said or what I said except Yes! Of course!
    Then I had to go put my clothes back on so he could take me to our favorite intimate restaurant for dinner and drinks.

    It was perfect. Simple, thoughtful, and made a seemingly random Thursday one of the happiest of my life. I smile so hard when I think about him during the day and just how sweet he is to me.

    He revealed later that a red cardinal swooped down in his path when he went to select the ring and again when he went to pick it up. Red cardinals are symbols of passion, vitality, and happiness!

  72. Chris and I met over the computer. It sounds so cliche and totally not me by doing an online dating site, but I honestly wasn’t looking for a significant other I was just wanting to see what I was compatible with since I had a five day free trial. I had always been very cynical about online dating but as soon as I saw Chris’ photo, I knew that it was love at first site. He was my very first “match” and instantly I knew that there was something different about him. Many of the matches had prompted the communication process but I was not interested in online dating. When Chris’ prompted communication though I knew that I must go along with the process. Immediately I felt a connection and every hour I was checking to see if he had responded or moved onto the next set of questions. As the 5th and final day of my free trial came I realized that I could not allow our communication to end. I willingly gave him my email and said explained that I am not on the site to actually date anyone but was just curious as to what I am compatible with. As I sent the final message through the eHarmony, I prayed that he would respond to my personal email address. Later that night, I received an email that started a lifelong friendship.

    After a week of emailing it turned to chatting which led to chatting which then led to a trip to Reno to meet this man who had already won my heart. Sitting in a Starbucks in a town I don’t know I called one of my best friends to calm me down. But as soon as I saw Chris face to face all anxiety was gone. When I saw his sweet face, genuine smile and gentle eyes I knew that he would be the man I would marry. That night after a dinner of laughter and a ton of smiling we both realized that this was something we could not ignore.

    Three weeks later on Easter Sunday, Chris arrived in Oregon to not only meet my family for the first time but also to ask my father for my hand in marriage. I can only imagine how nervous Chris was meeting my dad for the first time and also asking him one of the biggest questions a man can ask a father. My father gave his blessing because he too could see how happy Chris has made me.

    Later that day, we had stopped at a beautiful location where the Rogue River is rushing through huge boulders. I was bundled up in a warm blanket as snow was falling all around us and Chris got on his knee and opened up a little box that revealed the ring that his grandfather had given his grandmother in World War II. The ring had such a special meaning for Chris and I feel so blessed to be able to wear the beautiful ring on my left hand for the rest of our lives.

    I think that we should be a winner in this contest because I have never traveled to Santa Barbara and being in dreary Southern Oregon I would love to be able to do a photo shoot in sunny California in January! It would be such a blessing to be able to showcase our pictures at our wedding June 18th, 2011! :)

    Thank you Once Wed for such a great site!

  73. Brad and I met in Orlando, Fl over three years ago and fell in love incredibly fast. We both swore to each other for that we didn’t care about getting married, we just wanted to be together and be happy. And truly, we both believed that. After being together for about a year and a half, Brad got offered a great job up in Upstate New York so we packed up our dog and a Penske truck and made the 20 hour trip up north. It goes without saying it was a huge change for both of us (even though Brad had grown up there and still knew a lot of people), and the whole experience of starting completely over really made us closer than ever. It wasn’t long before we both started changing our tunes about marriage, realizing that just maybe we were the marrying kind.

    We were back at my parents house in Maryland for a wedding on December 17 last year. The wedding was amazing and it had even started snowing just as everyone was leaving. Later that night as the snow was still falling, we were laying in bed talking about life and how we wanted to spend it together. Brad got up and opened his guitar case and I was really thinking “What did I just inspire him to play a song?” but he pulled out a tiny box and got down on his knee. I have never, ever seen him nervous, but Brad was shaking so badly. It turned out he had brought the ring home to show my mom and sister, and was really planning on proposing on Christmas but it was so perfect he couldn’t wait. We woke up my family the next morning with the news, and then it turned out we got to stay in town and celebrate for a few more days because Maryland had been hit with 3 feet of snow overnight (which they really have no idea what to do with there). My parent’s street didn’t get plowed out for 4 more days. It was perfect:)

    Anyway, three weeks later, we got offered a great opportunity to move to Santa Monica, CA. Once again, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse, and we packed up the dog, sold most of our belongings, and started completely over. With most of our savings spent on shipping, flying a dog (not cheap!), and refurnishing our tiny new apartment, wedding plans were put completely on hold. We have made big strides in getting back to normal financially, but we are still on (and will be for a while)a serious budget. An engagement session isn’t something that really fits into our bank accounts right now, but those are pictures of this very exciting time in our lives that we would treasure forever. We decided that California is definitely the place for us and are getting married here next April. An engagement shoot in Santa Barbara (beautiful!) would be great proof to send back east to show all of our family and friends how happy and in love we are with each other and with our new home. Thank you for your consideration!!!

  74. Four and a half years ago, there were 100 miles in between us. Fernando and I had met through a mutual friend (who should have introduced us years ago). We were from the same Ventura county town, and he was leaving for college. We date long distance for 2 and a half years, it wasn’t for the feint of heart, but we did it. I moved to be with him for his final semester, I started school and we fell into a wonderful routine. Working together for the greater good. I landed a job that has awesome travel benefits so we decided to take a trip to San Francisco since it was close enough to be affordable but a complete different experience from the Southern California we were used to. The first day we flew in and met up with a friend to watch the Cal game…in the rain. After wandering down the campus in our ponchos we ended up in a pub where we spent the rest of the evening drinking and cathcing up with our favorite double date couple. Needless to say, we spend most of the next day in bed…which wasn’t such a bad thing. It was pouring outside our little boutique hotel and not a great day for sightseeing. Our final day in the city we planned to cram all the sights into a couple hours… All day while I took in the amazing views, food and experiences I noticed he was quiet and shakey. He kept asking when we would make it to the Golden Gate Bridge, I never knew seeing it was such a big deal to him! Three busses later we finally made it to the windy bridge and while I was snapping pictures from underneath the bridge I stopped to change my film turned around to Fernando staring at me. I said Hi, he said Hi and “I’m about to do something”…The rest is all history=) August 18, 2010 is our date, plenty of time to fundraise for an amazing wedding that celebrates the love we share and the families who supported us through it all. Thanks!!!!

  75. I am newly engaged – on Thanksgiving. My family all lives in Nevada and I live in Texas. We went out their for the Holiday. My parents have a Razor (which is a off-road version of a golf cart). It is the only time I get to hang out in the desert. We went out for a ride. I was just driving all over the place and spinning out and fishtailing all over the place. Very girly! When we were on our way back my bf asked if he could drive. I hopped out and we were at the rear of the Razor when he stopped. He was like “I have something I need to ask you” at that moment he pulled out the ring that he had been carrying around for 3 days. I was shocked and didn’t know what to say. I stood there like a deer in the headlights. I think it was the smell of exhaust that finally brought me to my senses :) I said yes and we drove back to my grandma’s house were my family was standing outside. (they knew what was happening). It was so nice to be able to tell my family in person, whom I only see a couple of times each year and am very close too.

    I hope you choose us because I love to take pictures. I have looked high and low for a photographer in Dallas and have yet to find one I truly love within our budget. It would be worth the plane tickets and getting to go to Santa Barbara (a city we have never been to). To be able to explore and take wonderful pictures would be a great start to our life together.

  76. Johnny and I first met at summer camp when I was fourteen. We hit it off, and started the foundation for a great relationship that week. We remained in contact with each other, and saw each other at various events several times a year for the next few years. He became my best friend, and was always the one I called when I needed someone to talk to. He listened to all life’s drama from junior high through high school and remained a loyal supporter. We even agreed if neither of us were married at 27, we would tie the knot :) After I graduated high school, I began to take a more serious interest with him. I told him I wouldn’t date him because I was headed off to college, but within a few weeks I knew that no one I would meet at college would be as perfect for me as Johnny. We retained a long distance relationship for a year until he followed me to the same university we attend now. We had been talking about getting married for years, and so I knew the time was getting close. Although neither of us are 27, we knew there was no need to wait that long. I was glad to be a part of the ring purchasing process, although skeptical my precious little procrastinating anti-planner would be able to surprise me! On Wednesday, September 22nd we returned back to my apartment from a church service. All the way back I pestered and teased him about the proposal and wondered if he would ever get it together. When I opened the door, there were candles and flower petals all over the room. There was a video camera set up on the counter, and he knelt down and asked me to marry him! I could hear clicking the entire time, and once I said yes and turned around, there was a photographer hiding behind the counter to capture photos of our actual moment together! I was in shock, and then the real surprise came! Suddenly, the back bedroom doors opened up, and 40 of our closest friends piled out of the room yelling “Surprise! Congratulations!” It was an incredible experience to have so many loved ones there to share the moment with! Johnny had invited them all, and also set up tables and chairs outside to give me an ice cream engagement party! That night I not only got a proposal, a beautiful ring, and an engagement party, but the perfect guy for me as well! :)

  77. Jamie and I met at a baseball game in my hometown of San Diego. My friend and I had noticed him and his group of friends at the game since they were loud, rowdy, but most of all… they looked like they were having a blast! It was their first day back in the United States since they had just returned from a long deployment in Iraq. I was only at the game because my boss gave me her tickets since she wasn’t able to attend the game. I suppose it was fate that brought us together. They ended up inviting us to sit with them and then celebrate our team’s victory by enjoying a night out on the town.
    Jamie and I had our first real date the next weekend and we’ve been together ever since.

    A few months ago, after 2 years of dating, Jamie told me to pack a bag and get ready to spend the weekend downtown where we first met and had our first date. We spent the whole day walking around, taking in the sights, and pretending to be tourists. That night, he took me to my favorite restaurant, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza where we wined and dined. I knew he was going to propose because I could see the little square box in his pocket! I waited the whole dinner anxiously, trying to guess what moment would be the one where he popped the question, but it didn’t come. After we walked out of the restaurant, he flagged down a cab and asked him to take us down to the bay. It was there, under a beautiful starry night sky, with the smell of the ocean in the air that he got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. Of course the answer was yes, and here I am now trying to plan everything for the day I get to marry the man of my dreams.

    We are paying for the majority of the wedding ourselves and it would be amazing for us to win this! Not only will it mean us being able to put more money towards a possible honeymoon (not sure if we can afford one yet), but the beautiful photography will help capture our love and share it with the world.

  78. Us…
    I was nineteen and a student at an all-women’s college when I got fed up with the minimalist dating scene and took to Çraigslist personals (gutsy, I realize). Jason’s personals post, first and foremost, made me laugh—the subject line was “Check your pants,” and the post implored those of the “male persuasion” to visit “Men Seeking Men” instead, while encouraging ladies to read on. His ad also revealed that he was a fellow English major with shared tastes in albums and authors, attending a college 500 miles away from mine, but just a short drive from my family’s home. We emailed feverishly and hand-wrote/illustrated letters and talked on the phone in the wee small hours till I returned home for summer break and we met when on the front step of his parents’ house. Nearly seven years later, we are quiet together, loud together, laughing together, and more often than not, just plain together. We are best friends who also happen to be exceptionally in love. Another bonus: we happen to love each other’s families as our own.

    The proposal…
    Jason and I are a full-disclosure couple, almost to a fault, and therefore terrible at keeping secrets from one another. “Surprises” are nonexistent in our world. Our talk of getting married started two weeks after we met, and was always very transparent, with Jason maintaining that we should wait to get engaged till we had lived together for a year. A few months before our “living together” anniversary, Jason expressed a desire to take me out for a fancy dinner to celebrate the completion of my Masters program. We got gussied up and splurged at a beautiful Deco-styled downtown restaurant. Though my friends were convinced that Jason’s dinner plans were the stage for the big proposal, I was skeptical. We hadn’t been living together for a year, and my required-for-graduation, stress-inducing Masters thesis was due the next day—of course it wouldn’t happen tonight! And sure enough, no question popped at dinner.

    We drove home, and, having had a few drinks at dinner, I bee-lined to the bathroom once we got to our apartment. As I stepped out, buttoning my jeans as I went, I saw our dining room alit with candles and our table topped with a circle of yellow-frosted cupcakes, with one purple-frosted cupcake at the top to replicate my amethyst engagement ring, which was in a Limoge box held by Jason, on one knee. Before I said “Yes!” I believe my first words were, “Wait, let me button my pants!” Hilariously, unpretentiously, perfectly, us.

    Though the twenty-four hours that followed were mostly sleepless and more than a little stressful, I finished my thesis with celebration time to spare! And I could not have been happier, nor more surprised.

    The best part…
    Our engagement was truly a family affair. While we were at dinner, my mom sneaked in with Jason’s keys to set up the dining room display. Jason’s mom and sister helped him bake the cupcakes (the boy is no baker by nature!). Both families took part in selecting and safekeeping the ring. And, not surprisingly, my dad readily obliged when Jason asked for his approval.

  79. All Darron wanted to do was surprise me, but our time frame due to my pending move away for work seriously put the kibbosh on any surprise factor. So what did he do?

    One random night, he left a note on his apartment door that he’d run to the store and would be right back. I let myself in to wait inside, but when I flipped the light switch, nothing happened. I groped my way over to the kitchen light, but still nothing happened – the power was out. I figured, “Well I guess I’ll wait outside on the steps,” and went and sat on the steps in front of his door. Then I thought maybe something was odd, since I’d just called him on my way over, so why did he go to the store right when I was arriving–? So I went back inside and tried the lights again. They still didn’t work, so I went back outside, sat at the top of the stairs, and decided to play a turn on my iPhone game. Two seconds into that, I thought better of it again, and went in to check out the apartment again. This time, I went into the bedroom. On the bed was a little shrine of a picture of us, some flowers, a lantern with a candle in it, and a little ring box sitting in front of it all. Aghast, I ran out, not wanting to have ruined my own surprise without him there with me! I sat down on the steps again, called him, got no answer, called him again, paced back and forth at the top of the stairs, then went back inside and called out, “Hello?” No one answered, so I went back outside again. Then I thought, “Wait a minute! He KNOWS I’m a firefighter and he’d NEVER go to the store with a lit candle on the bed!” So I headed back to the bedroom again, and went closer to the ring box this time, drawn by the sparkle coming from within. As I stood there, totally lost about what to do, not wanting to celebrate this moment without him, but not being able to reach him or wait patiently for him, having seen what I’d seen – suddenly, out of the darkness directly behind me, from the bowels of the closet, rang out my name: “PAM.” Imagine a quintessential movie scene of God’s voice booming from the clouds to an unsuspecting soul, and that’s kind of how he said my name, in a low, freakish kind of way. I screamed (despite being a tough chick), and he jumped out of the closet to hug me. I burst out laughing and he said, “Let’s do it over, we’ll do it right this time,” and got down on his knee.

    We laughed and laughed as he described his side of it – that all he wanted to do was surprise me, that he thought I’d run right over to the ring in glee and pick it up, and then he’d pop out of the closet – surprise! – and pop the question, that I ruined it by not even getting close to the ring, but instead running in and out of the house four times. He said his knees were killing him after kneeling in the dark for so long, so after the fourth time he finally had to get it over with. It was hilarious, he got to surprise me, and it was just pure us! It would be so wonderful to be able to have that essence captured on film by a great photographer who would otherwise be out of our reach.

  80. Leo and I met in Highschool, just after he emigrated here from Brazil. With long wavy Brazilian locks, a large birth mark on his forehead, and a clumsy yet adorable accent, I was shy around him yet wouldn’t let him kiss me when he tried in the greenroom of the school auditorium.
    Fast forward 10 years, MySpace and Facebook are all the rage… My MySpace account got phished, causing Leo to receive a bogus private message from me. Confused but delighted to receive a message from an old school crush, he replied with only a single Question Mark. We replied back and forth, until one day he invited me to see him DJ at a local nightclub. The moment I showed up at 12:30am, we both realized we were the ONLY ones crazy enough to be with one another. We fit like puzzle pieces, and have been together every minute of every day since. (Note: his accent had gone away, and he had a sexy short haircut, but he was exactly the same charming dork I secretly loved in HS).

    On 10/10/2010, on a long sweaty hike up to the Hollywood sign, Leo hid a diamond ring among Subway sandwiches we had packed, and once we reached the top of the hike, among on the birds and the posterior view of the Hollywood sign itself, he proposed to he on one knee! I kept asking what the heck he was doing on the ground, figuring he’d get dirty and grouchy, but once he asked me I was SHOCKED! A while later, after realizing I hadn’t replied, I yelled “Hell, yes!” three times for all of Los Angeles to hear. We are so in love, and it feels great.

  81. Last December my fiance planned a trip to NYC with his son and I to see his cousin perform in an off-broadway show. Being a former resident of NYC during my college years, the three of us visted all the places an out of towner would want to visit. On the night of New Years Eve, Rob (my fiance), his son, me, his cousin Rory and best friend Jenny all sat down to dinner to ring in the New Year. After 2010 came after the stroke of midnight we all scurried in the cold to Joe’s Pub which is where Rory and Jenny were having a Post New Years Eve party to support their organization, Broadway Impact-which fights for marriage equality. The event consisted of selling raffle tickets to win tickets to various Broadway shows. Naturally in the spirit of fun Rory gave Rob, his son Tyler and I a ticket to the raffle. In between the giveaway the founders of the organization Rory, Jenny, and Tony nominated Gavin Creel (who was on the same swim team as my fiance years ago) would bring out performers to sing including the cast of Hair. Each time they announced a ticket number I would meticulously follow each number announced like you would the weekly lottery numbers. I always enter contests and never win…the odds are always against me;-) The last drawing of the night was titled, ‘The Mystery Prize’ which Rory and Gavin announced that the winner had to come up on stage to collect it. They start reading the numbers….and my ticket matched. I was beaming with excitement like I had been picked for the price is right, minus the nerdy t-shirt and fanny pack. I raced to the stage through the crowds as my fiance was behind me and I didn’t even notice. Just as I was getting on stage I was raising my hand, yelling, “It’s me, it’s me!” (I didn’t want anyone else claiming my win on account of me not being heard). They handed me a small elegantly wrapped box (not the size of a ring box) and suddenly Rob is in front of me down on one knee. He said, “You are the sweetest person in the world, and everything about you makes me want to be a better man, I wanted to do this here in New York City, the greateast city in the world, because it just broke my heart when you told me all those stories of how lonely you were when you went to college here, and if I have anything to say about it, I don’t want you to ever be lonely again, will you marry me.” I opened the box and there was my ring sparkling right into my eye.
    In front of 200 people I didn’t know, I whole heartedly said…..NO.

    Just kidding! I said yes!!!! Then I cried……..backstage, and was congratulated by Lea Michelle from Glee, “Holy crap, your Lea Michelle” (I said that in my head).
    The whole night was the biggest surprise of my life, the best part is Rob planned the whole thing, picked out my ring and put his heart and soul into our enagement which meant more to me than anything.

  82. I would like to nominate my dear friend Shauna & her fiance Chad for this opportunity. We all live in the Seattle area now, but she grew up in Santa Barbara and will get married in Santa Barbara next fall.

    Shauna was very anxious for Chad to propose (for several long months…) so we were all thrilled (and a little relieved) when it finally happened. Shauna has two beloved cats and Chad had attached the ring to the collar of one of her cats who wandered up to greet a very shocked (and I quote “What is THAT? WHAT IS THAT!??!?!”) and excited Shauna.

    They have only been engaged a couple weeks and are deliriously happy. As a nearly broke bridesmaid and wedding-planning enthusiast, I would be so grateful to be able to gift them this opportunity.

    Thank you for this chance!!


    Matt and I have always said that our story and our relationship is really a quirky one–filled with mistakes that end up being personalized details to a great tale to share with others. This story is no exception

    It starts with my birthday this last May. I was feeling utterly forgotten. People missed writing to me, no calls came, even Matthew seemed preoccupied. My own mother (who shares the same birthday with me) even seemed distant. I’ve never been one to look forward to my birthday but because of the seemingly undeniable forgetfulness of my friends and family, I was truly hurt.

    When it dawned on me… How perfectly silly of me to think otherwise! Those sneaky tricksters, over compensating by not uttering a word! There must be a surprise. I love surprises–even though I have an uncontrollable affinity to decipher them. And as the days came closer hints where unavoidable: my aunty’s slip of the tongue, an accidental glance at a private Facebook event, even a mistaken encounter with my surprise party goers (adorned with garlands and presents). As I walked into the darken room led by my friend, an early horn blew the final surprise and my fiancé’s hard work.

    He was pretty sad that despite my friends and family’s strong efforts to evade spoiling my birthday surprise, the unraveling wasn’t quite what he expected. I, on the other hand, enjoyed everything and while doing so had lost track of Matt, pawning it off to thinking that he was upset that his attempt to surprise me had yet again been defeated.

    But then–at that very thought the lights turned dark and my Matthew burst through the doors and began singing to me. Accompanied by our friend’s acoustic styling of “I Wanna Go Old With You” and his swoon-worthy off-pitch notes, he looked into my eyes and slowly made his way towards me. Now, I do have an affinity towards solving mysteries–even perhaps pride myself in doing so–but my adornment of Matt and his honesty before all of our friends and family blindsided me. I had no idea why he was singing the song besides being a birthday gift, nor why he chose to kneel before me, or even what was contained in that tiny red box. It was only until he revealed a custom designed ring that reflected his unique charm and the uttering of those priceless words, “Will you marry me?” did I understand. Matthew had encased THIS surprise inside of a surprise to make sure that he would finally be able to pull off a surprise. And what’s best above of all, is that I’m still surprised of the love he shares with me everyday.

  84. I like to tell people we met on the internet. Technically we did, but he says otherwise.
    We met through an organization that brought us to Thailand to assist a rescued victim from the red light district in Bangkok, helping her w/the business that she now has making jewelry & bags.
    After those few months spent in the country, he went back to Mississippi and I went home to New York not satisfied that we had to leave her & I had to leave him. Things felt unfinished all around. Then la la la, he came up north to be with me & I had something to be passionate about.

    After two years spent with the most loving man I have ever met, he flew us to Portland, OR for my 10.10.10 birthday this year. We drove down to the coast at Canon Beach. Incredible views. Fantastic! I was all caught up in taking pictures of the sunset… and the beach… and of us… and the floor, because I knew it was coming. I couldn’t tell him that I knew for months (I was actually very surprised that he could be so clever). So after the sun finally went down, me on-edge, he pulled me aside in the corner of the look-out & told me to close my eyes (Classic right?). When I opened them he was on the knee and I had a wooden box in my hand with a beautiful wooden ring inside of it. (Commence the sobbing & waterworks.) He said that he didn’t know where we would live & told me that this place could be a possible home for us, and of course Thailand not far from our minds.


    I want to have as much fun as possible. We are having our wedding on New Years.
    I am getting so many tips about DIY weddings, so I’m trying to make the wedding as low budget as we can w/o making it drab.
    Free engagement pictures seems to be a great thing, & not having to worry about that part of the wedding process would be fantastic!

  85. Tom the Englishman met Wendy the Californian in Japan, where they had both decided to find adventure as assistant English language teachers. He lived in the big city next to Wendy’s small town. For two and a half years they took photobooth pics, sang karaoke and imbibed vast amounts of sake together as friends. One day Wendy woke up to the fact that Tom was actually a very nice bloke and that she could not think of anyone else she would rather enjoy the world with. She eventually convinced Tom that they should date after a romantic walk by lantern light under the cherry blossom trees.

    Four years later, after many further journeys together, Wendy, now the Art Therapist, had followed Tom, now the diplomat, through Asia to Europe. They were living in London and still singing and drinking together. On the anniversary of that first walk under the cherry blossoms as a couple, Tom took Wendy for a brisk country walk in Henley, along the river Thames. The sun was out, the ducks were flirting and Tom, in muddy wellies, knelt and very simply asked Wendy if she would like to marry him. Having enjoyed so much of the world with Tom, Wendy reflected that, in fact, Tom was now a big part of her own and she said yes.

    In the future they will continue to sing and drink all over the world. Next stop, Kazakhstan.

  86. This is how it happened: we grew up, we met, we flirted, we fought, we fell in love.
    It rained in November, and he took me out to dinner, a beautiful old house on the beach in Cayucos with the sort of things that dining columns (and I) go crazy for: homegrown food, fireplace, wine pairings. When the rain stopped, we walked down the pier over the water. It was cold and clean and dark and completely empty, except for the two of us.
    Since becoming engaged, I’ve been thinking it’s a strange thing, engagement stories: do you shout them from the rooftops for the world to hear, or do you wrap them up in something soft, slip them in a secret pocket, and hold them close, a private keepsake for you and your beloved to share?
    That’s why our story ends here, just before our lives changed in the best way possible. I hope you don’t think I’m trying to be clever or unfair; this is simply the story that represents us best as a couple. The important part is that I said yes, and I meant it. My favorite part of our engagement was that it was completely the two of us, alone together, in a moment plucked from all the moments and given to us, of all people, to relive and remember and rejoice in.

  87. Brant told me to put on a dress, because it was time to go out to dinner. Normally not a big deal, but this was four weeks after I’d been hit by a car on my bike. I was fresh out of a painkiller haze, embarassed about some fresh scars on my face and metal holding my teeth in place, and wearing the same jeans I’d worn daily since upgrading from pajamas a few days post-crash.

    I hesitantly put on a dress (and stockings, even!), and we cabbed to our favorite restaurant. After a glass of champagne and some oysters, I forgot about how funny I looked, or that he had ordered me the softest things on the menu (on account of the teeth). I forgot about being hurt and stressed about catching up at work, and I remembered how good life was to us.

    After dinner, we took a walk by the Jefferson memorial (we live in DC). We talked about how no matter how bad things are, we get better together, and about how crazy it is to be so happy even when one of us has recently broken her face. He pulled out the ring, I cried, and we went home.

    It’s been a rough year. We were on opposite coasts for three months, and both my parents have been very sick at different points. We’re also both finishing school in a down job market. As I said, it all just makes us happier together and more thankful for each other, and we’re lucky to have wonderful family and friends to celebrate together.

    A vacation photoshoot certainly wouldn’t hurt, though.

  88. I met my now fiance on I had just finished nursing school and wasn’t meeting the right type of guy in other more conventional ways. A few of my classmates in nursing school had had success on the site, so I decided “can’t knock it if i haven’t tried it…” In December 2008, after a few exchanged messages, I met Brandon and there was definitely an instant connection. After our first date, I called my best friend and told her half-jokingly, “if this was an arranged marriage, I would be completely fine with that.” He’s in the military and at the end of January 2009, he got orders to deploy to Iraq. He said, “I know it hasn’t been that long, and I’ll understand if you don’t want to wait for me…” but with such a strong connection, I couldn’t just let him go without at least trying to see where things would go. From June 2009 – May 2010 while he was deployed, we developed an even stronger bond through e-mails, phone calls, and skype sessions. When he returned, we spent the summer together enjoying one anothers company. In August earlier this year, he suggested a “date night” at the same place where we had our first date. We did a lot of the same things that we did on our first date, including a “cinderella” style horse and carriage ride around the outdoor mall. At the end of the evening, we walked back to our car and re-inacted the awkwardness at the end of our first date. I was telling him that I really enjoyed the evening and I wanted him to send me a text message when he got home to let me know he made it home safe (he drove over 2 hours from Ft. Irwin, California to meet me for our first date). He tried to kiss me at the end of our first date, and it caught me off guard so I gave him a quick peck and hurried back to my car. This time in August, he said “we have to make it better than the first date.” He got down on one knee and pulled a plastic purple (my favorite color) ring out of his pocket and asked me to marry him. I wasn’t sure if he was joking or not so I was kind of laughing. But once he told me he was serious, I said YES and was laughing AND crying at the same time. He said he didn’t have a real ring with him because he wanted me to pick out something I really liked.

    I would love to be considered for this free engagement shoot. I’ve always wanted to have one and always enjoy looking at engagement shoots online. My fiance is extremely frugal and doesn’t understand why I want to pay someone to take pictures of us. His brother-in-law has a D-SLR camera and he suggests that we just have him take our engagement shoots… The timing of the offer is great because he’ll be on winter recess from grad school. Help! Please!

  89. We were 14 years old, Ryan asked me to the High School Christmas Dance. I of course was not the slightest bit interested but my best friend convinced me to say yes so we could all go together (she was dating his best friend at the time). We danced the entire night, didn’t leave each other’s side and here we are 8 years later and have never separated or even exercised the thought.

    We had always joked that if we got to the 10 year mark and weren’t engaged that I would have to propose but it wasn’t necessary because as we were vacationing in Palm Springs with our Pup he suggested we take a photo in the photobooth. I being the ham that I am didn’t even look over to notice the ring he was holding in his hand until the last camera flash. I must have sat in the booth for 10+ minutes saying, is this real? Seriously? But, once it sunk in and we walked out, there was our photobooth strip that for the rest of our lives will always have that second in time captured in a photo. To be able to look back and remember that moment and those feeling all over again is the greatest thing I could ask for!

    And of course to have Nancy Neil capture us pre-marriage would just be a dream come true!

    The top left photo is where I finally realized what was going on, the other images are our “let me run back to the room and fix my make-up and go back” shoot.

  90. My fiance Rodney just proposed a few weeks ago. My best friend (since we were 9 years old!), who lives across the country and who I rarely get to see, flew in for a visit with her boyfriend. Prior to her visit, Rodney, who is a singer-songwriter, let me know that he had some studio time to record while she was scheduled to be in town. He was going to cancel, he said, but she convinced him that it would be fun for all of us to go watch him record (she was in on it the whole time!!) The four of us spent a beautiful Saturday in Sonoma wine-tasting, and drove back to watch him record. Once at the studio, he got set up, and invited me into the sound booth with him to “take a few pictures.” I was completely clueless until he started singing a song I had never heard before…”I want us, to grow like a tree, plant our roots into this ground, and branch our own family” Shaking, I put down the camera and listened to him sing the most loving proposal song through his tears. When he finished, he reached into his guitar bag, pulled out a ring box, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes! Moments later, both of our families sprung out of hidden isolation booths where they had been watching and listening to the proposal with headphones. The families went back to our house, cooked a huge celebratory meal, and partied into the night! It was the best beginning to our new family I could imagine, being surrounded by the people we loved most. And we have a recording of the whole thing!

  91. Jason and I are parents of four children between the two of us. We got engaged in Sept. of this year. We have both been married before and they ended badly so we both said we were never doing it again. One evening I was at home watching my oldest son play video games waiting for Jason to come home from work. I was laying on the bed and he came in and got down on one knee beside the bed. I had no idea at this point because it wasnt that out of the ordinary for him to come straight to me when he got home. Then he brought his hand from behind his back and opened the box. He said you have made me into the man I needed to be. If it wasnt for you I would probably not be alive right now. I am so thankful you and the kids are in my life will you marry me? Of course I said yes. He then told me he was going to have our youngest son ask me but he was in bed already (: We have finally found our other halves in each other. We are planning a small wedding because with four kids we dont have a lot of money. This would be a great blessing for us.

  92. Ben and I had both been at Kansas State University for three years. We had some mutual friends, but we never met. I began noticing him, and just knew I had to meet this boy. Finally one night I was his waitress. I was cleaning off a table next to his and decided to (childishly) throw a coaster at him. I quickly turned around. When he confronted me later I just denied it with a smile. About a week later I saw him out with some of my friends. I walked up to him and said, “Oh so you are the boy who was throwing coasters!” We hung out the rest of the evening. From then we continued to hang out together. He was a great person and I loved getting to know him.

    After we had been dating about six months my parent went through a nasty divorce. At that point I had given up on love and became very cynical. He helped me get through some of the roughest times in my life. not only as my boyfriend but as my best friend he made me believe that true love is real.

    On Thanksgiving day my dad and his parents came to Ben’s parents’ house for dinner. Everyone got along great and it was so nice to be able to share that holiday with all of our family. After dinner everyone went downstairs to watch the football game. Ben’s nephew Caleb came over to me and said he had written a story about Ben and I in class. So he sat down beside me and began to read it. “There once was a boy named Ben and he was a knight. He liked to do knight things. He met a girl named Hannah and she was a princess. They spent a lot of time together and began to fall in love. A year and a half later their love had grown greater, but Hannah became sad. She wanted to marry Ben.” Then caleb shook the book and said, “Where’d the last page go?”

    At that moment Ben came out in a FULL suit of armor and said, ” I have the last page!” At that point I knew what was happening and could not believe it. He came over and read the last page. “So Ben gathered their families and got down on one knee.” He took off his helmet and saw that I was crying and said, “Don’t cry yet baby. I haven’t even said anything!” So he got on one knee and said, “I know I always said I’d never purpose on a holiday, but I am so thankful for you Thanksgiving seemed like the best day.” From there it was all tears and kisses.

    He has been my knight and shining armor throughout so many things in my life. It only seemed fitting that he purpose this way. I just graduated college and I am working full-time waitressing while interning for a stylist. He still has another semester in school. I don’t know how we will pay for anything yet because our families have not mentioned anything. We are both very hard working and have put our selves through school. This photo shoot would be a dream come true, because throughout everything the pictures and memories are what will last, not the bouquets or dresses.

  93. My fiance, Dean, and I met on Valentine’s Day in Vegas. He was touring with a band, so we didn’t start dating until a few months later.

    On our second date, we went to this speakeasy style bar where there was karaoke. We decided to see if we could guess the next song that was sung. I guessed ” I Love Rock n Roll” and he guessed something by Madonna. If we got it right, we would got to Vegas and get married. Haha! Right then, the first few bars of “I Love Rock n Roll” came over the speakers! Needless to say, we were in shock! We didn’t know what to do!

    Although we didn’t get married that night, we did get engaged this year on a tour of my home-state, North Carolina, just outside the Grove Park Inn, as snow flurried down under a star-filled sky. I treasure both of these “engagements” as they are part of our story and reveal how we knew, so soon after meeting, and now, almost 6 years later!

  94. Michale and I are high school sweethearts and started dating nearly 7 years ago. I was across the country at a trade show for work and had the worst week ever. We were on the phone every chance I got between business dinners and working the show, but the time difference between us threw us off. I spent a whole day flying back home with multiple flights and long layovers, and found on the last leg of the flight there was a man seated behind me that was a nervous wreck. He was going to propose to his girlfriend when the plane landed! However, he was enlisting the help of other passengers with cameras and a boombox and other various jobs. Cute, but a public proposal is definitely not my style. That, and he was pacing up and down the plane and making me nervous! The plane hadn’t taken off yet, so I was texting Michale about this guy and laughing about him, and told him to make sure he got to the airport in time to come in to baggage claim to see this proposal.

    We just laughed about it all day and made jokes about it. I kept pushing him over so he’d “fall to one knee”, and I’d say “I do!!” (We are a really fun-loving couple and joke around a LOT!)

    Anyways, the next day we had a cute date-day together with a romantic lunch on the waterfront in a little town on the coast. It started raining on us, so we ran back to the car and spent the rest of the afternoon watching tv on the couch together. I got up to play with our cat, and Michale joined in. We were just being ourselves (read: goofballs!) and I kicked him in the shin to “fall to one knee” to pop the question, joking of course.

    Well, he fell to one knee and pulled a ring box out of his pocket. He’d been carrying it all weekend and was waiting for the perfect opportunity!


    Michale and I just graduated from college this year and money has been really tight. I was fortunate to find a full-time job after college, but he has not been so lucky in his specialized field. We can’t afford much for our wedding day, needless to say spending money on engagement pictures is virtually out of the question. That, and with the holidays coming up we’re pretty much broke. We’ve never had pictures taken together aside from what I can take of ourselves and what friends take at gatherings, but it’s not much.

    I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with my best friend, and regardless of how much we can afford on your wedding day, it won’t matter because we’re starting our new lives together! It’s just a wedding, after all! :)

  95. When I was 17 my parents moved us kids to Utah, soon after I met a guy named Beaux who I was totally smitten with but my good friend at the time felt the same about him…I never said anything about my feelings for him. 8 months passed and we stopped hanging out…Beaux went on a mission for my church the following year and then the next year I moved to NYC. A year later I got married and then 5 years later I got divorced. Then in the beginning of my Senior of college at Parsons School of Design I found Beaux on facebook [I had heard over the years that he wasn’t married and had always thought about him] well we picked up right where we left off and it was as if not time had passed… we corresponded for 3 months [he was still in Utah] and then starting dating when I flew out to Utah for Christmas. I was applying to Grad schools and hoping to start as soon as graduating. However, Beaux convinced me to take a year break, move out to Utah and see where things go between us. I knew I couldn’t move out there just for him, so I thought of a couple good reasons as to why I should move Salt Lake City. The main one being I would get to be roommates with my younger sister and hopefully get to know her better [my parents divorced soon after moving to Utah and my younger sister went with my dad and me with my mom] So I packed up my stuff and moved it into Manhattan Mini Storage, thinking that I would FOR SURE be back to NY in a year! But then a month before I was supposed to move out to SLC I was in Utah for my mom’s surprise birthday party and all of a sudden, major red flags with Beaux popped up all over the place. I knew that I had to end the relationship. So after 4 months of dating, I broke up with him…and still moved out to SLC. I knew hardly anyone and had to start a new life from scratch. People say that it is hard to live and make it in NYC…I felt that way about SLC… I thought for sure that I would find a great job right away since I graduated from a prestigious design school…but that was anything but. My first year in Salt Lake City [as an adult] was the hardest [financially] year of my entire life, but it was also the funnest year of my life so far! A couple months after moving to Utah I noticed a guy at church, but in another ward that instantly got my attention..I started crushing on him right away, but never mentioned him really to anyone because I only saw him about every 5-6 weeks… then months past and last January I started dating a guy and things were going really well and were having a lot of fun, but after 3 weeks he said he didn’t feel right about us dating and was torn because he liked me more and more every time we hung out, thought I was really beautiful inside and out etc….so it was really confusing that he felt so strongly at the same time about breaking up, but honestly I trusted him. 4 months later I found out the name of the guy I had been crushing on for over 10 months. Jesse Barrus! My good friend was friends with him and I asked her to set him up with me. We met at a show and it was fun, but I wasn’t blown away by him other than his looks. So that was a bummer for me…I was hoping he would have been a lot funnier. Then a couple days later he asked me out on a date, and that was a lot of fun. But it was the second date that I was smitten! We made pizza at my place and talked all night. When I hugged him goodbye and closed the door behind him I said out loud “I am going to marry that guy whether he likes it or not! ” :-[) I have never been competitive with guys but Jesse was the first one where I thought “this one is mine!” We started dating in June and then got engaged in November. We are getting married Feb 5th. It is soon and to a lot of people it would look like we are rushing things…but really I would have married Jesse on our 3rd date. I think being married and dating a good amount of guys after my divorce has helped me with seeing the red flags and not dragging out relationships. I have never been with someone so kind and caring as Jesse. He makes me laugh so hard but even better, he lets me be me! I thank God every day that I have found someone who adds so much Joy to my life every single day! Last year Jesse’s mom passed away unexpectedly from a brain hemorrhage. At that time he was really struggling with the loss of his mom and hoping that he could one day find someone who loves him for him. He told me on a road trip coming back from Southern Utah that he prayed all the time that he could find a quirky girl who excepts him for him. He has told me many times that I am an answer to his prayers. :) I know now that I was supposed to move to Utah to meet Jesse, and it took me having to date Beaux to put that idea in my head… I think often how ironic it is that I am living here. I had planned on spending the rest of my life in NYC. But there is that saying from John Lennon… “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans” <- This was so true for me. I am so glad that I took the risk in moving to Utah even though most of my friends back in NY thought I was totally crazy. Lastly, I feel like Jesse is my reward for sticking it out here, having faith that things would get better, and for trusting God and letting him be the pilot in my life. I apologize if I have offended anyone by bringing religion into my response but I really do thank God every day for bringing Jesse into my life. :)

  96. I grew up in Santa Barbara and Kyle grew up in Ojai and did not cross paths until a common friend brought us together four years ago. We became best friends and then started dating months later.

    We both love the So. Cal coast but with the lack of jobs for me, we made the hard decision to leave Santa Barbara and move up to Seattle in January 2010.

    I knew Kyle had been wanting to propose to me since our one year anniversary. On a hot morning this summer, Kyle and I went out for an early breakfast and ended up at our favorite Seattle lookout. He proposed with the Seattle skyline in the background.

    We already know we are having our wedding in Santa Barbara but not for two years. Because of recent changes, we will not be home to celebrate our engagement with our family for Christmas. A chance to go back home and have an engagement shoot where I grew up would make this holiday season so much more special to me.

  97. I first met Leandra at band camp before our freshman year of high school. I’ve always been the type of romantic person who believes in true love. I never really dated anyone that I didn’t feel a true connection with, someone I could see myself spending a lifetime with. I immediately felt this connection with her. We dated all throughout high school, but then I left for college in Santa Barbara. We soon discovered how difficult maintaining a long-distance relationship can be. Eventually, we parted ways, but always maintained a strong friendship. We spent time together reliving old times and creating new memories every time I came home. I missed her very dearly.

    During my second year of college at the University of California, Santa Barbara, we both realized how strong our connection was. Over the next few months, our visits became more frequent. She would often drive the three and a half hours from home so that we could spend time together. As we walked on the beach in Santa Barbara together, I realized that she felt the same way that I did. We would never be able to live without each other.

    On March 25, 2010 I asked my best friend, high school sweetheart, and the love of my life, to marry me. We walked along the bluffs in San Diego and gazed out at the dolphins in the far-off water. I pulled out the ring, got down on one knee, and she said yes. I put the ring on her finger and we embraced before hiking down to the beach to tell our families. Once we found our feet digging into the warm sand, we began to skip. Soon we were running full speed with smiles painted on our faces, hand in hand. Next thing I knew, I was lying on the ground with a sharp pain in my foot. Carelessly running with my eyes fixed on the distance, I had stepped on a bee. Leandra dropped to her knees and held me in her arms. That’s when the engagement really hit me. In that moment, I realized that I was staring into the eyes of the woman who would be help me through every bee-sting I might encounter for the rest of my life, and nothing in the world could have made me happier.

    This photo-shoot would be a dream-come-true for us. Santa Barbara will always hold a special place in our hearts. It is the place where we rekindled our connection, and reaffirmed our love. The beautiful scenery of the area has hosted some of our relationship’s lowest moments, but more importantly, it has been the home for some of our fondest memories.

  98. Our engagement was simple and sweet. It was just the two of us in a beautiful old hotel room looking over San Francisco. There weren’t any candles or roses. No family or friends. Just us and a beautiful little diamond ring he picked out himself. It was fancy at all but it was so perfect. It just goes to show that a wedding is not about the caterer or the venue or the guests. It’s about two people celebrating their love. I think a photographer helps capture that beautiful time for the couple.

  99. Good luck to everyone! These engagement stories are beautiful to read. :)

    Daniel and I had been dating two and a half years and were celebrating with a trip up to Cambria, CA. I knew about this gorgeous spot in central California because it had been my mother’s favorite place to visit. I have so many memories of walking along the shore with my mother, father, and brother as we collected the moon stones that gave the beach it’s name. My mother passed away when I was 13. Since then, I had never been back. Daniel knew how special it was for me to relive those memories so this is what we did September 26, 2010.

    We arrived in town and checked in our quaint hotel. Daniel acted so flippant all day as to what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go (turns out this was his way of making me think the day was an unimportant one). We walked into the small main street in town and strolled, went wine tasting, and antique shopping. We found vintage jars and planned on collecting moon stones at the beach later. We walked down to the beach and found beautiful moon stones, we talked and laughed and exchanged love letters. Then we found a little place to sit and read our notes. It was then that he surprised me. He sweetly got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of his life with him. He pulled out my mother’s ring. The one my father had proposed to her with. Seeing the ring and my beautiful boyfriend made me burst into the happiest of tears. I grabbed his face and nodded my head yes. We cried, and laughed, and kissed all day. It truly was the happiest memories of my life to date.

    Turns out a week or so before this trip he asked my dad for permission to marry me. My dad then decided he wanted Daniel to have my mother’s ring. Seeing it after 10 years brought back so many beautiful memories of her. I’m so thankful for such a sweet and sentimental man who knows how important it was for me to have my mother there for that moment in time.

    I love this man so dearly and cannot wait for our wedding date – September 10, 2011.

    Good luck to everyone!

  100. (continued)……I forgot to add why you should choose us!

    1). We live about 2 hours South of Santa Barbara. We rarely see each other with our busy and opposite schedules (I’m a student and he works too much). A weekend away would be perfect!

    2.) Similar to many other couples, our budget is really tight. I’m planning a ton of diy stuff for our big day and amazing engagement pictures would be AMAZING. Seriously. :)

    3.) My fiance, Daniel, has an eye for photography and when I showed him Nancy Neil’s photos he loved them! Her style fits ours so perfectly! Plus, we still haven’t picked anyone to photograph our big day! We’d love to talk to her about wedding prices. <3

    Again, good luck to everyone!!

  101. Andy and I live in Santa Barbara and have been dating for over 4 years. He’s my best friend and surfing partner. We started a tradition this year of having “fantasy days” – one person gets to design their fantasy day, hand it in writing to the other person, who then has to make it happen :) and we alternate months so we each get a turn. I couldn’t think of what I wanted to do for my fantasy day when it was my turn in April. We had great wild flowers last spring, so I decided that I just wanted to go on a drive, look at wildflowers, and have a picnic.

    Andy packed up a picnic basket that was his grandmother’s. I was a little bit shocked because he had the car packed and ready to go a full day in advance of our fantasy day. It couldn’t have been better. We took our lab, Honey Bear, and drove the truck up to Figueroa Mountain, where we pulled out to a nice grassy spot and set up our beach chairs. After I had a few bites of cheese and salami, Andy got down on one knee, and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him :) I was totally surprised and overjoyed (and Honey Bear was asleep in the truck while all of this was happening)! It was the best day ever.

    We are a regular Santa Barbara couple – we love surfing and Mexican food, and we love Santa Barbara. This engagement session would mean the world to us, and I would love to meet Nancy Neil. I think she would totally get us and be able to capture who we really are in pictures that we will treasure forever.

    Thanks so much for having this giveaway! What an incredible prize! Happy holidays!


  102. Somewhere between used books, slam poetry, traveling, and microbrews Jeff and I fell into the life-giving abyss of love. After 4 years we began talking about marriage. We realized that marriage is about partnership, community and love. And we decided that it was precisely what we wanted—but an engagement story was needed, of course! I happened upon oncewed’s photo-shoot give-away with Nancy Neil. I knew whatever wedding we would have would be simple and budget-based, given our plans to volunteer in Bolivia/Colombia during the upcoming year. I also knew that the natural and inspired photography of Nancy Neil was a perfect reflection of who we were as a couple. AND I knew that I desperately wanted to turn gender-norms on their heads, and propose to Jeff. So I submitted a story of love, joy and dreamings and somehow we were chosen for the photo-shoot! I told Jeff to pack up and plan for a weekend. I bought some climbing rope (rock climbers at heart) and when we landed asked him to tie the knot. The happiness, excitement and joy poured out around us during this incredible weekend—and all that raw emotion was caught on camera—one of the most beautiful weekends remembered forever.

    Choose us and the beautiful story above will become a reality. I would love nothing more than an incredible weekend of surprise, deep love, and memories.
    “nothing false and possible is love//(who’s imagined, therefore is limitless)” ee cummings

  103. Paul and I dated for two years when he experienced a traumatic accident which amputated his left leg above the knee. It was a devastating and strangely hopeful time. As much as our lives changed, we grew in our commitment to each other. It was undeniable. For years we saw our relationship as essentially a marriage: two people committed to loving each other through all things, building a life together by navigating new territory and finding comfort, inspiration and humor in the process.

    We moved to California from Boston seven years ago. Paul started a PhD in history at UC Santa Barbara. We got an incredible opportunity to start fresh, allowing our lives more balance and health. Then Paul was fitted for a new prosthetic. One day, sitting on our couch and listening to Etta James, Paul asked me to dance. While we embraced and moved together to “At Last,” he asked me to marry him. It was important to him to be able to propose when he was confident he could dance at our wedding.

    We’re getting married in March of 2011 in Santa Barbara. It will be joyous and we will dance. I contacted Nancy to be our wedding photographer, but she’s booked on our date. Having her take our engagement photos would be a truly remarkable gift.

  104. My fiancé Dane and I met at a high school football game one autumn night. For 7 months he pursued me like crazy and for 7 months I pushed him away. Finally, I came to my senses and realized he was my best friend, and what girl doesn’t want to marry her best friend? We started dating. A year and a half later he told me we were going to Springfield, MO to spend Thanksgiving with his family. Little did I know, he was taking me to a thrift store there owned by the very talented Elsie Flannigan, whose blog I have read faithfully every single day for the past 2 ½ years. We did some thrift store shopping at Elsie’s store, and then decided to enjoy some cupcakes. When I went to the sweet counter I turned around to see a table set up with cupcakes that had “DW” and “CW” written on them. I didn’t put it together that if we got married this would become my new initials, my only thought was, “oooo cupcakes!” Then Dane pulled out an art journal that he made which had pages he had created about our time dating together. It included happy times like the pie we made on Christmas Eve and our relationship growing pains like the first big fight when we realized the dating honeymoon was over. The last page had a place that said insert picture here. Dane explained that we would take a picture today to put there, and fill the remainder of the journal with our life together. After the journal, he gave an owl puppet that he also made (owls are my favorite!) Then, right there in the middle of the thrift store, he got down on one knee and purposed. It was the most beautiful moment! To make it even more exciting, Elsie shared the story on her blog and took a few pictures of us together!

  105. My fiance and I went to high school together but weren’t friends…actually he was mean to me at a football game and I never forgot it. Twenty years later I saw him at Joe’s and went up to him and told him what he did. Of course he had no recollection of the incident but he wanted to make it up to me and take me out. I finally gave in to his persistence. After dating for a few months we decided to take a trip to Idaho where he had spent many summers as a child. We were on the deck of his aunt’s house overlooking Hayden Lake and he got down on one knee popped the question. I said YES!!! He had brought two bottles of champagne on the trip with us. He later told me that if I said yes we would drink one, no and he would drink two. Now we are getting married in February and will live happily ever after. We don’t have a huge budget for the wedding and have to forgo the engagement pictures but I would love to add them to the wedding album if we had them!

  106. Chris and I were college friends in Florida for over a year. When I found out he was moving to California when he graduated I was devasted. We started a romance a month before he left and then I followed him out here 3 months later. We had been dating for a little over year when we took a weekend trip to Paso. He works in produce and said we had to check out some grape fields, but thought we could make a fun weekend out of it. We stayed at a cute B&B and had fun. Sunday morning we were supposed to meet some guys he worked with in the grape fields at 7am. I had no idea why we would have to get there so early – but he insisted. When we got there he surprised me with a hot air balloon ride. I’ve always wanted to go on one, but never had the chance and he told me he would never do it because he is scared of heights. When we were in the air he got down on one knee and proposed to me. I said “Are you kidding me?!” followed by yes. Once we landed he told me the center stone of my ring was his grandmothers and his mom gave it to him to give to me a few months earlier before she passed away.

    We are paying for our wedding ourselves, so we don’t have extra money for engagement pictures. I would love the opportunity to have them to share with our friends and family.

  107. we met in college but didn’t become friends until we met back up years later in san francisco. this weekend he took me to our favorite spot in golden gate park (stow lake). we walked around enjoying the beautiful day, then at the most picturesque spot that we’ve always loved, he stopped and proposed. we’re trying not to spend too much on the wedding, and i don’t think we’d factor in engagement photos since there’s so much else to think about, but since both of our families live far away i know they’d appreciate them, and i’d love to have some professional pictures to capture this amazing moment. thanks!

  108. Walt Disney once said, “I only hope that we don’t lose sight of one thing – that it was all started by a mouse.” In a way, the same could be said about our relationship. We were both working for the Walt Disney Company when sparks flew and we fell in love. Brian is an engineer and I’m a graphic designer for Disney. We started dating about 1 year and a half ago. On our first date Brian took me to a mom-and-pop Italian restaurant in Downtown LA. He proposed less than a year later in the same place through a creme brulee dessert with “Will you Marry Me?” written in chocolate. The restaurant burst into applause and our sweet Sicilian waitress began to cry, saying “I’m Italian!! I love romance and a good proposal!” We are now planning a small and intimate wedding in Santa Barbara on March 26 at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Mural Room. Engagement pictures in Santa Barbara would be so perfect, since this spring we will be getting married there! Our wedding date is the same day as my grandparents’ wedding who recently passed away and the same location as my parents’ wedding 35 years ago. We love Santa Barbara and all the history it has with both of our families. A photo shoot there would be such a gift!!

  109. I hope it’s not too late to submit our story. Jay and I met through a mutual friend but we also worked together. We wanted to keep our relationship private, so we did not tell anyone for the first 6 months. According to some co-workers, it was very obvious we were together and in love, I think our goofy grins and eyes lighting up at the very mention of the other’s name gave us away. I didn’t think it was obvious, but as my mom said “you look at him and I see the way that I looked at your dad when we first started dating (30 years ago!) and I know he’s the one for you”.

    The propsal: 48 hours before he proposed, Jay told me to pack a bag, we were going out of town but I wouldn’t know where until the next day. I freaked out because I had work to worry about, having planned this out for months, Jay had already requested my time off and even had someone on board to cover my meetings. Somehow he managed to not reveal the location until our connecting flight in Utah (the ticketbooth didn’t even spoil it!!)- we were headed to Napa. The next day we shopped (with his nerves Jay didn’t pack any shirts!!!), lounged by the pool and enjoyed a suprise spa day; Jay told me to get dressed up because we had dinner reservations. As I hurried out the door wearing heels (I work in construction so I very rarely wear heels at all!), Jay asked me to go on a walk. I thought he was nuts, but judging by the look on his face I knew it was a walk worth taking. He walked me over to a picnic table under a giant tree and asked me so sweetly to be his wife. I said yes.

    Please choose us so we can have the most amazing photos capturing our love that everyone recognized, even before we did. Thanks!!

  110. So I like to throw crazy parties and my fiancee….well she’s a bit more reserved. I knew that when I proposed I wanted to have a great party in some way, but I also knew that if I’d proposed to her in front of a lot of people that she would have killed me. So I decided to do both in some way. I started by contacting all of the people that I thought would be in our wedding parties and told them that I wanted to do a surprise champagne toast on a roof top after I’d proposed. Some of them flew in other drove. Keeping them from posting about coming to NYC or anything was a challenge in of itself. Back to the proposal itself. I waited too long to make reservations at our favorite restaurant, as a result I could only get a 6 PM reservation; however, the champagne wasn’t supposed to happen until 9 pm, which meant that we needed to have a European style dinner….very slow. I started off my getting a bottle of champagne and just kinda said, lets see how crazy we can make this dinner (which really equals how many bottles of wine was I going to have to buy to get through 3 hrs). Halfway through the dinner I get a frantic call from my buddy who was setting up the rooftop, reminding me that I hadn’t sent the guest list yet. As a result of this I had to text the list under the table w/one had to him. 3 1/2 bottles of wine & champagne we made it to about 8:30. The place where I’d set up the surprise has two rooftops, one facing brooklyn and downtown and the other uptown. We went to the south facing rooftop and while we were talking and she asked about which bridge did I think that was I got on one knee and well you know….she cried, yelled, cried again. I then had to get her to the other side, which I managed to do by saying that it got better phone service so she could call her mom etc. etc. We walked outside and boom 30 people surprise. Drank champagne for an hour, danced under the skyline of NYC and partied w/close friends and our newly created engagement. The rest as they say, is history.

  111. I always feel really challenged by telling this story any time a friend asks, and sharing it on here is no exception but I promised my fiancé Markus I would submit it anyway.

    It was an unexpected sunset proposal in a park we both wanted to see for a long time, and I innocently planned the afternoon picnic for us and without me knowing he secretly got me the beautiful ring with the gold edelweiss on it that I loved so much, and at sunset he got on one knee in front of the botannical building and asked me to marry him. The thing is, although my proposal story doesn’t sound very different than many others, it naturally was so special to me and him.

    Have you ever seen something in nature – maybe a garden, maybe a sunset- so beautiful that you knew if you tried to take a picture of it, the picture would never show just how beautiful it was in person? Like, that it could never capture that moment the right way, the way it really looked or really felt? That is how I feel about recounting that afternoon in the park with Markus. That is how I have felt about every date I’ve had with him in the last 7 years. He’s magic, and he thinks I’m magic and he loves me back every day.

    Thanks for the challenge Nancy and OnceWed, it’s a unique offer that we would love to be a part of. We live 4 hours south of Santa Barbara, in “Little Santa Barbara” (San Clemente) and could use an excuse to visit one of our very favorite beach cities again :)

  112. OH I love this blog. Great engagement photos, looks like one happy couple. I feel like Santa Barbara would be the ideal place to spend an engagement or get married in. I have attended several different weddings in the area and each were unique and themed around the couple and Santa Barbara fit perfectly around it. Beach weddings, mountains, wine vineyards, all are great settings. Like the last wedding I was at-right on the beach on a beautiful sunny day. I stayed at the South Coast Inn ( Above and beyond elegant-great for any occasion.

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Once Wed was launched in March 2008 to meet a need in the marketplace for an online listing service for second-hand wedding dresses. Within a short time, the company had developed into an online wedding publication and resource to provide newly-engaged brides with inspiration and tools to plan their dream wedding. 

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