Despite knowing we had found the One within minutes of meeting each other, at the time of us becoming a couple, we couldn't actually have gotten married/civil partnered, as civil partnerships did not become legal in the UK until 2005, when we had been together a year. Around this time we took our first holiday abroad together, a city break to Amsterdam. We had been for an gorgeous meal, and were walking back along the canals together. It was such a perfect trip - they say going on holiday with someone is one of the ways you find out how well suited you are, and it was definitely a positive experience for us. After the trip we both confided in each other that on that walk back to our hotel, was when we thought 'I want to marry this girl'.
Although we knew this, we both agreed at 19 and 20 we were too young to be engaged. We didn't want to be 'pre engaged' (we'd never heard of this before reading blogs, but it's definitely not something that appealed to us) or to plan a way-off-in-the-future wedding, as we didn't want to take anything from our actual engagement.
We also wanted to be in the right place in our lives to be engaged, as L was a student, and we were living apart. We later moved to Leeds together for the last two years of L's degree, then moved back in with our parents to save for a house deposit.
Five and a half years later, e had been living in our newly bought house for a year, and had been a couple for six and a half years. I (L) was on the airplane with Mum going on a long weekend break to my parents second home in Malta, and suddenly it hit me...I wanted to marry this love of my life. By now we had bought our first house, both had successful and fairly happy jobs, and we had settled into life together. So it was the right time to ask her to marry me, and for us to show the world and each other that this was us, forever, happy and committed.
So I set about planning a secret engagement. Or so I though! Try planning a weekend away, staying in a hotel, where you'd be going for a meal, but where unsure quite what the weather would be or what you'd be doing for the rest of the time, and keeping it a secret from Mrs Organisation (i.e. S!). So I told her we were going away to Brighton, in March, and that she'd need a new dress. Cue much excitement from her that a) we were going on one of our beloved adventures together, to one of our favourite places in the world and b) she could go shopping for a new dress!
And in the meantime I began planning. We both love Brighton so much, it is just somewhere we felt represented us a couple - a bit bohemian, a bit luxurious, a bit quirky, views of the sea/sunsets, gay and vegetarian friendly, and filled with lots of fabulous shops and restaurants. Destination decided, next I started planning our hotel....well....this was easy, we had stayed at Pelirocco on our last trip, which whilst fun, wasn't right for a propsoal. We'd both always dreamed of staying at Drakes one day, a beautiful boutique hotel on the seafront, so I booked a sea facing room.
Next, a place to go for a very lovely meal before I popped the question. We love food so a meal had to feature! Again, easy enough, Food for Friends, a gorgeous vegetarian restaurant which is, in our opinion, the best in Brighton (maybe the country!) and we have lovely memories of.
I put much consideration into choosing a ring but decided as you only get one engagement ring, and it's therefore got to be right, I'd leave it up to her to choose it. Wise move as it happens, because I'd never have chosen what she did, although I have to say it's the most beautiful and 'her' ring I've ever seen, and unique as we had our rings made in our home town of Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter.
I didn't plan anything else, as I knew the weekend would just happen organically, we could just do as we pleased, enjoy being together, and being in love.
So on the morning of the 18th March we left our tiny puppy in the hands of her Grandparents and set off to Brighton with the Beatles album playing and a stop off at Starbucks. We left to the most horrendous torrential rain, but luckily the closer it got to Brighton the clearer it got. We spent Friday chilling out together in our rather amazing hotel room, which had a gorgeous view of the sea, and a bathtub under the windows, went for a walk along the beachfront, and then chilled out a bit more before heading out for the evening.
We had lots of food, lots of wine, and in general, an amazing night.
Saturday was a glorious sunny day, and the best day we have ever had together so far! We we spent all day wandering around the quirky shops of The Lanes, eating cake from Angel Food Bakery on the beach and watching the sun start to set, holding hands on the Pier, and just generally enjoying each other's company. It was such a wonderful, perfect day, and everything seemed to just show us how right this was.
And then it was time to head back to our beautiful hotel and get ready for a very special night!
When we arrived at Food For Friends that evening, we were seated in the pretty window seat as I had told them beforehand it was the night of our engagement. The food we ate and cocktails we drank were out of this world, and my lady looked more dazzlingly beautiful than ever. It was just perfect.
While we were out I'd arranged for the hotel to prepare the room for our arrival. I'd given them a box containing rose petals (our favourite flower, purple for her, pink for me) to scatter over the bed and around the bath, lots of candles (S loves them), a pink bubble bar from Lush (one of our favorite shops as students, S worked there when I met her) as they filled the bath at the right temperature for our arrival, and our favourite pink Moet champagne to put on ice.
So, on our return to Drakes after a wonderful night, the scene that met us was out of this world, it was so romantic and beautiful, even I was impressed with what they'd done! It was so magical, with the room lit by the candles and the moonlight (which was by chance a 'supermoon' - the brightest one in 20 years).And with no-one else around, and what seemed like just me and her in the entire world, I told her she was my soulmate and absolute love of my life, my best friend and much more, and would she please be my wife. I also included a quote from one of her favourite Tim Burton films. Imagine the relief when she said yes! Sarah then proposed to me too, through lots of tears - its hard to be eloquent when you've just experienced the most emotional moment of your life!
My favourite part of the whole weekend was waking up on Sunday morning (stupidly early, I was probably excited!) and looking at my sleeping beauty and thinking just how lucky I was to be engaged to her. Closely followed by ringing our parents and hear the sheer pride in my Dad's voice as I told him his only daughter is getting married! I'm proud too, of me and her, and what we are. We were then bought a gorgeous champagne breakfast in bed.
and then the fun began, we now had a wedding to plan!! Our engagement was the best day of our lives, but we don't mind if our wedding day tops it!
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