It was December 4, 2010, and Shane and I were 13 months into our world travels, which took us to Maui, Hawaii, for the month of December. We had been to Maui the previous year with our dear friends Eric and Deanna Deutsch, and after our first visit staying in Wailea, we fell in love with the island.
Even though we’ve seen amazing destinations around the world, Maui is still one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen.
The subject of marriage started soon after we set out on our 18-month journey, which we started in November 2009. We were even looking at rings and discussing plans for our future together. I didn’t know when it was going to happen, but I trusted that an engagement would be in the cards for us at some point while we were on the road.
We spent the Thanksgiving holidays with my parents in Grand Bay, Ala., which is when Shane asked my parents for my hand in marriage. Unbeknownst to me, he had the ring in his pocket and shared with my immediate family his plans for a proposal. They are master secret keepers.
There had been several times during the previous 13 months that I thought might be “it.” Any mention of a “special” date or that we needed to “talk” and I was putting on my pearls and my Sunday best.
But I was patient. I knew he was the one very soon after we met. It’s the truth. And he would tell you the same. He was 18 and I was 19 when we met while Shane was visiting the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on a golf tournament. After spending five straight days together in between golf and school, leaving him was one of the most painful feelings I’ve ever had. We were smart enough to know a long-distance relationship wouldn’t work while we were in college, but we still fought for each other for five years, traveling across the country to see each other when we could. But it wasn’t until Labor Day weekend in September 2008 that we officially began dating. Shane flew me to Colorado for my birthday for his family vacation, a trip that solidified our future together.
It was our first weekend in Maui, and Shane told me he had a special date planned for us, which raised suspicion that this could be it…again. So I took my time getting ready, curling my hair, manicuring my nails, perfecting my makeup and carefully planning my outfit (an off-the-shoulder white tee with khaki shorts, gold gladiator sandals and Ray Ban Wayfarers, the perfect, timeless engagement look, I thought).
After we arrived at our favorite sports bar, Mulligan’s, to watch college football, Shane told me it was just the first stop of the day, thankfully! At that time, Shane’s never really choose beer as his beverage of choice, so after ordering a few tall glasses of Stella before 11 a.m., I knew something was up. And his quiet disposition wasn’t convincing either.
We left the Irish pub and started driving. To where I didn’t know. We had talked about going on a helicopter ride since visiting last year, so I was so thrilled when we pulled into the heliport next to the airport. When we walked into the hangar, there was a bouquet of fresh, Hawaiian flowers waiting for me. Then I knew. This is it.
Alone we waited in the holding room of the hangar for our helicopter to arrive, snacking on pretzel M&Ms and trail mix. Shane was worried I was going to get motion-sickness in the helicopter (which I’m prone to), so he sneakily went through my medicine bag earlier that morning and snuck some of my Dramamine in his pocket. I was wondering why he was asking me all about my meds earlier in the day!
When the helicopter arrived, he told me he rented the other two spots on the flight so we would be alone. The day kept getting more romantic I thought. We took off on an hour-long tour of the island, flying over the sugar cane fields, beaches, rocky cliffs and lush forests of the island. About 20-minutes into the flight as we followed the shoreline to the north shore of the island, we passed through two rainbows. Ironically, the song playing on the radio minutes after was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, two details of that day I’ll never forget.
Shortly after, we landed on a secluded beach on the north shore. It was overcast, which created a gray hue to the sea that only added to the dramatic landscape. Shane and I hopped out and walked toward the water. The beach consisted of large, black stones, with large pieces of driftwood scattered about the small cove. As we reached the ocean, hand-in-hand, Shane got down on one knee and pulled out the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen. He then asked me to be his wife, which I extatically replied yes.
After taking a second to take the moment in, we walked back toward the helicopter where there was a picnic of fresh pineapple and champagne for us. Shane had purchased the bottle of champagne the day before and dropped it off at the heliport without my knowledge. He told me he was going golfing, one lie I was glad he told.
The champagne was a 2000 Henri Goutroube, which was recommended by a local somilier at a wine shop. (While we were in France, we actually got to tour the Henri Gourtoube champagne house in the champagne region!)
The sun had come out during the picnic, and our pilot so graciously started snapping photos of us. Between God blessing me with one of the best hair days I’ve ever had despite the hurricane-force winds, and Shane, who wore a blue checked button down and khaki shorts with flip-flops, with a beautiful, genuine smile, we both looked like rock stars. The photos could not have turned out better.
After drinking the champagne on the secluded beach, we finished the tour of the island, this time ring on hand. We flew over waterfalls, the famous Road to Hana, and even the Haleakala Crater.
Once we landed at the base, we immediately called friends and family to tell them the news of the engagement. Of course everyone already knew, but it was so exciting sharing our joy with them.
Shane made us reservations at Mama’s Fish House, by far the best meal on the island. This fine dining restaurant serves up some of the best mahi mahi and other local white fish on the island. From drinks to desserts, this is one of our favorite restaurants in the world.
We arrived at our table to find a bottle of one of our favorite white wines, a 2009 Cakebread Sauvignon Blanc, and a congratulations card, both from our friends Eric and De. I was also given a lei of fresh flowers that smelled like heaven.
To say the day was magical is an understatement. It was by far the best day of my life. I waited a long, long time for Shane to ask me to marry him. And I’m so incredibly lucky that he did.