Sam and Mark's Super Happy Wedding Funtime

The One-Year Engagement

Posted on: September 24, 2012

I’m not really the wordsmith in the relationship, so Sam has taken up a lot of the blogging on this site. However, the one year anniversary of our engagement being today, it seemed like a good time to actually break my streak of not posting. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s been a year since we’ve been engaged, but that’s a good thing.

Reflecting upon the events of that weekend a year ago, I’m surprised at just how much of it I can still recall. I’d planned what I hoped would be the perfect weekend getaway to Monterey where I would ask her to marry me in front of the kelp forest at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. She’d already stated that it was one of her favorite places in the world, so it seemed like the logical choice. Also, just look:

It’s pretty much right at the intersection of beauty, science and tranquility.

Of course, planning the perfect weekend and actually executing it are two very different things. The very first significant event of the weekend occurred when we stopped to get coffee before leaving town:

As we were getting out of the car to grab a quick coffee before getting on the road, Sam dropped her phone and it very conveniently landed screen first on the hard concrete. The phone itself was technically still functional, but only barely. When we got on the road, all I could think about was how to fix this problem so Sam wouldn’t be all stressed out for the weekend. But in a way, this was a blessing in disguise. It pretty much established the fact that no amount of planning is going to make for the perfect weekend. We tried to get it fixed at an Apple store in Monterey, but with no luck. At this point, I’m sure, Samantha was quite curious as to why I was making such a fuss over the phone. I knew that one of the first things she would want to do after I had asked would be to tell friends and family, so staring at a broken shell of a phone might be more than a little distracting. But she carried on like it wasn’t a big deal, saying things like, “See I can still use it fine and I only get the occasional piece of glass in my finger.”

The hotel we stayed in had some lovely views of Monterey Bay, so we were able to see some otters, seals and (if I wasn’t mistaken) whales outside of our window.


Samantha would wake up at 7am to watch the otters feeding in the bay. I could hear her trying to keep her oooohs and aaahs to a bare minimum while I was barely conscious, but it still made me smile to hear it.

The aquarium part of the trip was, at least for me, the most stressful. Try having an engagement ring in your camera back for a whole day while switching lenses constantly. It seemed like the most logical place to put it, but every time I reached in I was worried it would come flying out by sheer force of will. Thankfully none of that happened.

What did happen was that they decided the weekend we visited would be the ideal time to clean the tank in the kelp forest! The last thing I wanted was a bunch of divers with weird suction cups staring at us while I asked the question. So throughout the day we’d swing by the kelp forest and there they were staring back at us. Additionally, for some reason, the bees and hornets that day were all quite busy trying to fly into my face. Maybe they’re attracted to rings, or something. Regardless, every time we stepped outside a bee or hornet would just start hovering around me. Strange. They certainly weren’t helping with the stress level! We decided to call it a day later that afternoon and stopped by the small beach near the hotel just to check out some of the waves. While we were there one wave came in particularly hard and soaked Samantha’s pants, so back to the hotel we went. At this point, I was trying to think of ways to get us back to the aquarium before closing. We had some gifts to pick up, so that seemed to be as good an excuse as any.

Back to the aquarium, we hit the gift shop quickly and I noticed that the divers had completed their cleaning for the day and the kelp forest exhibit was pretty empty. Seemed like an ideal time. Not too many people to stare, so the proposal would be relatively quiet and understated, something that we both wanted, I’m sure.

“Hey, let’s check out the kelp forest again now that the divers are gone.”

We sat down on the back bench away from the few people that were still there and I reached into my camera bag. I’ve heard that when you ask, you should already know the answer and I was 99.99% certain Samantha would say “yes”, but that didn’t make it any less nerve-racking. My heart was beating like crazy, I had the butterflies in my stomach. All the cliches were covered.

“So, I actually had another reason for coming here this weekend…. ”

I didn’t drop to a knee or anything. Didn’t want to draw the attention of the few people that were there, plus it seemed a little cheesy to do so.

“Samantha…will you marry me?”

Thankfully, she said yes. She’d picked out the ring on a random stop to a jewelry store (honest!) about 6 months prior and had all but given up hope of seeing that particular ring again, so she was ecstatic to see it. I had to stop her ever so briefly from putting the ring on her finger herself.

“Um, I think I’m supposed to put the ring on your finger.”

“Oh. OK!”

So I took the ring out of the case and placed it gently on her ring finger.

A lovely dinner at a French restaurant rounded out the evening and we made the calls to our respective families and contacted our friends. Samantha’s phone was still shattered, but it didn’t seem to be as big a deal. It had still been a pretty perfect day.

One year ago. Doesn’t seem that long ago, though, and I’d do it all over again. Fortunately, Samantha has a better case for her phone this time.


5 Responses to "The One-Year Engagement"

Aw, bud, you are super wonderful. I think it was by far my favorite engagement ever. But, even if we’d been at home on the couch I’d love it because I love you. Though… the otters certainly help 😛

This made me a little misty. Well done, Mark. The proposal and snagging Sam 🙂

Otters = love

You made our day here at the aquarium! Wishing you a long and happy life together!!

Thanks, Ken! Glad we could return the favor- The Aquarium has made our day so many times over 🙂


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