Becoming Mrs. RO: From planner to bride
As a wedding planner, I have the privilege of hearing countless engagement stories. I thought it was time to share my own little story of how I came to be Mrs. RO. It all starts with a cranky girlfriend (me), a pumped boyfriend (Ray), a ring in a backpack and Paul Wall.
It was May of 2013. Ray and I had been together for almost five years. We had talked about marriage and we knew we were each other’s forever, and so I didn’t really feel pressure to make it official. Ironically, I had never pre-planned my wedding in my head. One time, years ago, I allowed myself to dream. I tore pictures of a few pretty dresses, my favorite rings and some cool accessories from wedding magazines and pasted them into my inspiration book. Eventually the book got filed away in the back of my closet and erased from my memory forever.
We had a really good, really happy life. I had an emerging event planning business that was gaining momentum and that was keeping me really busy. Ray was busy working ridiculous hours at his hotel. So I thought nothing of it when he planned us a spur of the moment weekend getaway to Palm Springs with a little stop in Joshua Tree. PS is one of our favorite places and Joshua Tree was also the destination of our first weekend getaway together. We deserved a little desert R&R. I was impressed that he just made the decision (he can be a little indecisive at times) and made those plans for us.
That morning, I had a work meeting before we headed out of town. When I returned home, Ray had already packed up the entire car and I found him BLASTING Paul Wall and dancing in the living room. Clearly, he was pumped about this trip!
We loaded ourselves and our boxer pup Hazel into our trusty Element and headed out to our favorite desert oasis. Halfway through backing out of the driveway, Ray stopped to check something in the back of the car. He thought he had forgotten his phone charger. With all accounted for, we headed out with our sites set on the Ace Hotel and Swim Club.
During the two hour drive from LA to PS, I could feel the heat increasingly warming the windows. I was dreaming of the big, beautiful pool I would jump into immediately after dropping our bags in our room and suiting up. “You know, if Ray were a planning man, he would have taken this opportunity to PROPOSE to me” I thought while gazing out of the passenger window. “I mean, this is like our favorite place. We’re going to Joshua Tree, the location of our first overnight getaway.… Hmmph, missed opportunity, dude.” I was momentarily secretly salty, but got over it knowing that we would have a lovely time together and I was just happy to have a mini break from the madness.
Upon arriving at the Ace (to 90-something degree heat) and walking past the glistening pool to our room, do you know what my future husband said to me? “You know, I really want to go to Joshua Tree. Right now.”
“Um, I’m sorry, WHAT?!” I said, “remember that pool we just walked past? I’m gonna be in it in about 2 minutes. Now suit up.”
“No, I just really want to go to Joshua Tree. Let’s go now before it gets too hot and then we can come back and hang in the pool for the rest of the day,” he reasoned.
A silent storm was brewing inside of me. After 2 hours in the car, he wanted us to get right back in and drive another hour to Joshua Tree? It made absolutely no sense to me. But I didn’t want to fight and he seemed really into the idea, so I agreed and we left.
At this point, my secret saltiness had turned visible. I was NOT in a bathing suit nor in the pool, but rather about to take a hike in blazing heat in the desert. Perfect. We entered the park and I softened a bit as I was reminded of our first trip together years before and how beautiful that experience was and how pretty it still looked. The first time around, we had hiked around the rock formations and took pictures among the pretty Joshua trees.
And that’s where the search began. Ray was trying to locate the exact trail we had taken on our first visit. We drove this way and that way and stopped and got out and got back in again and drove some more and got out again…. We started along one hiking trail and 10-15 minutes in, I heard, “No, this isn’t it. Let’s go back the other way.”
“These rocks all look the same! What difference does it make?!” I whined. I was officially over it. I was being a blatant brat at this point and I didn’t care. My vacation was being RUINED over some rocks!
“OK, wait, I’ve got it” he said as he found an area that looked familiar.
“Thank Gawwd!” I muttered.
We climbed up the rocks to a high point with a nice overlook. I was trying to focus on the beauty of the scenery rather than my imagined reflection in the Ace Hotel pool. Hazie and I snuggled as Ray set up his camera tripod to take some landscape shots. We had gotten her special dog booties so her feet wouldn’t be burned on the hot ground. She was still walking funny in them and I got a big kick out of it. While we goofed, Ray was mumbling some things about our first trip out here together. “We’ve been together for a long time now…”
“Yes, we have, babe.” I said
“You know, you make me very happy.”
“Me too. You know I love you”!
“I couldn’t imagine life without you…”
Wait, what is happening, I thought? I looked to my right and there he was, sitting next to me with an open ring box and, well, I.LOST.IT.
Then he said a bunch of other things and I think I blacked out while awake because I don’t remember much of it. But he asked and I said yes and we cried and kissed and took pictures and hugged Hazie and it was perfect. It had turned into the perfect day, my favorite day of all time, just like that.
He did it. He really did it! Clearly, I hadn’t given him enough credit, because he was so secretive and gave me no indication at all that it was happening. I was impressed!
Ray then proceeded to tell me that he had spent all morning blasting Paul Wall to “get hyped” for the day. Side note: I’m not ultra thrilled that Paul Wall is forever tied with our engagement story, but what can you do? And he had the ring in his backpack and checked and rechecked the backpack about 50 times that morning, as we were backing out of the driveway, at the hotel, etc. It’s funny how all of the pieces of the puzzle started to fit together and it all made sense. And of course he was setting up this trip as the proposal location! How dense could I be? I felt like a complete jerk for being so cranky all day. THIS was definitely better than the pool!
We took pictures and a video and sat there holding each other and holding our Hazie and enjoying that precious moment. I’ll never forget it. There was no cell service in the park, so we had about an hour to ourselves and we were the only ones to know what had just happened. Eventually, we got back to civilization and called our family and friends and spent the next couple of days parked at the pool, relaxing and enjoying our engagement.
Upon arriving back home, another surprise awaited….Ray had invited all of our friends and family to our house for a surprise engagement party!! It was too much! Who was this guy? I just didn’t think he had it in him to pull off such a plan. He out-planned this planner!
Upon seeing my engagement ring, my bestie Heather said, “You know, that ring looks just like the one you put in your inspiration book all those years ago.”
What? Couldn’t be. I didn’t even remember that the book existed. Well, I dug it up and sure enough, it was the exact same ring! This guy really knows me!
So there you have it. It was dusty and hot, I was cranky and wearing dumb clothes and Paul Wall had a much greater role than he ever should have, but it’s our story and to me it’s the best. My love for my guy has grown even stronger since that day he asked me to be his wife. And the process of going through an engagement and planning a wedding has made me a more empathetic planner.
I’d love to hear your engagement stories! If you’re newly engaged, be sure to reach out and tell us more about it!
Engagement party photos: Birds of a Feather Photography