On Leap Day, February 29, 2020 Joel proposed on the Makapu Lighthouse Hiking Trail in Hawaii! It was absolutely magical and perfect in every way! Of course, he thought it out and planned it specifically so that it would be beyond special, as he kept teasing me that he was going to knock my socks off. Well, he did!
We took a trip to visit my sister and her family, where they lived at the time, in Hawaii. My brother-in-law Chase was to be commissioned as an officer in the Navy so my parents surprised us with plane tickets for Christmas. I had visited Hawaii previously but Joel was unable to go so this was very exciting for us to go to such a beautiful place together, given that I was so eager to share everything we had seen and done with my beloved.
Leading up to the trip, poor Joel was subject to my cliche nagging as I couldn't stand the wait and kept asking when he would finally propose. Since I knew very early in our relationship that he's the one, it felt like an excruciatingly long time to wait. Eventually, he started having fun teasing me about it and trying to throw me off. For a while, the only hint that he would share is that he was waiting on something to happen but didn't know when or if it would. Little did I know that his original plan depended on it snowing in Texas.
Well, we weren't in luck for snow that year so I got very impatient as the vague hint remained while time kept passing. Eventually, Joel was forced to tell me that his plan A was out and plan B was in. Of course, when we received the Hawaii trip as a gift for Christmas, it was all too perfect in Joel's mind and he started planning anew. Since we have the worst time keeping secrets from each other, and Joel wanted to know for sure if my health would allow me to go with his new plan, it got out that he was planning to propose in Hawaii.
That said, I knew that Joel planned to propose sometime while we were there, but I had no idea when or where, only that it would be after Chase's ceremony and before we came back home. Joel asked me if I could make it on a hike given that I was having some more difficult health days so I started wondering if that is how he intended to propose. Not sure if he was trying to mislead me again or not, I determined to find a cute outfit for every possible occasion, including formal, casual, and hiking. Then, my mom took me to get a manicure to boot!
Fast forward to Hawaii: The trip was amazing and we had tons of fun visiting with family and seeing the island. We ate at 604, partied with friends, and visited the Dole Plantation, all before the big event. When the time finally came, the commissioning was wonderful and we were so proud to see Chase accomplish so much with all of us there to help celebrate! I cried of course and the entire Hawaiian ceremony was magical with the leis and the formality of it all. It was honestly incredible!
The next day, we all got dressed up again to visit the memorial and take pictures of the boys in their whites. Afterwards, everyone was plain exhausted so we ended up opting for a beach day as several of us were determined to see at least one beach before leaving Hawaii. Joel was acting a little anxious on the way to the beach so I fretted over the fact that he might propose at the beach while I was feeling self-conscious in my bikini. But we had a blast jumping the waves and by the time we left I was so immersed in time with Joel that I started to relax.
After the beach, we went back to the lodge to change for our hike up to the famous Makapu Lighthouse. Effectively confusing me, my sister insisted that we would go to a fancy dinner afterward so I did my hair for the hike just in case, but was fully expecting Joel to propose at dinner while we were all dressed up. It was a gorgeous hike with views like you wouldn't believe! Joel patiently held my hand all the way up and my parents even carried my water and purse so that I could keep going as my body started to protest the exercise.
It was slow going but I was absolutely determined to make it to the top! Little did I know that everyone was worried I wouldn't get there and were scouting ahead of us for a pretty setting in the middle in case I couldn't make it all the way. Tired but proud, we got there and the lighthouse was as pretty as they say! Surrounded by cactus and the sea, Joel stood behind me as we took in the sight. I thought we were just enjoying the unique view together, but my interest peaked as Joel got more and more serious while talking in my ear so that only I could hear.
He was so very sweet and genuine as he told me that he loved me more than anything and he couldn't wait to live our lives together because his life is so much better with me in it! I melted and went into shock as I realized that this was it, the moment I had waited so long for. It was perfect and magical and beautiful and I could hardly believe it was finally here! I was almost sacred to turn around as I realized he had stepped back (being a shy person terrified of attention), but when I faced him he was on one knee asking me to marry him, holding the ring box he had painted for me (thanks Mama Debbie for being sneaky ;) in Jasper), with so many of our family and friends waiting behind him!
His face and his smile are the only thing that I remember clearly, months later as the memory strikes me all over again. I was so emotional that I could only shake my head vigorously as he placed his mother's family ring on my finger and I jumped into his arms! I couldn't seem to let go of him at first, as it hit me that this wonderful and perfect man had chosen me to marry. The moment was so big that I could barely process what was happening when everyone started congratulating us and giving us hugs.
It turns out that the entire moment was caught on camera and video by some wonderful new friends and Joel and my mom had arranged a professional engagement photo shoot to take place right afterwards. Thank you Stacey McKee and Carson James for your wonderful photography!! Boy, do those pictures capture our complete and utter happiness! It's crazy to see the love between us from an outside perspective. We just look so in love and we can finally see what our family and friends insisted was so obvious between us from the beginning!
That night, our family treated everyone to celebratory champagne and dinner and the next morning we basked in the feeling of being newly engaged while we looked on to see my youngest nephew turn nine and my brother-in-law a newly commissioned officer. I cannot even describe the high of such a whirlwind of huge moments all compacted into less than a week. Thinking back, it feels like it was forever ago instead of only a few months.
Thank you to everyone who helped make it happen and Chase, thank you again for allowing us to borrow a moment during such a special time in your career. Joel, you are positively amazing and I am so honored and excited to marry you!!! Here is to our lifelong epic love story! I love you Baby!
Floating on top of the world,
The future Mrs. Watson ;)