By Sarah Vincelette
On a freezing December night in 2012, my friend asked me to please, please, please come with her to a party. I was already home, probably in my pajamas, and incredibly reluctant to oblige. “Fine,” I said. “But you owe me.”
Forty-five minutes later we were waiting for our ride in a gas station parking lot in East Greenwich. He was late. “He” was an unknown friend of a friend who offered to drive us, so I should be grateful at least. When he finally arrived, we scurried into the backseat and out of the blustering winds as fast as we could. I began to buckle my seatbelt as the guy in the front seat turned around to face us.
“Hey!” he said.
“Hi,” I said back.
Lee will attest he knew from the first “Hi.” I, on the other hand, couldn’t have guessed in that moment the importance this stranger would hold in my life. In that moment I was simply going to a party, but really, that decision was the catalyst for everything that came next.
A few months had passed when my friend brought me along to Lee’s 21st birthday party. “You’re his birthday gift!” she’d said. I rolled my eyes. He wouldn’t even remember me! But sure enough, to my utter shock, he had remembered, and before I left, he asked me on a date. His opening line: “I like your flowers,” gesturing towards my floral top. Suddenly, it was my favorite shirt.
Our first date was at Brickley’s, where my waffle cone broke and leaked ice cream all over my hand, arm, and dress; where the A/C was broken in his car on a 90 degree day; where I was so nervous I was shaking — but it was also the day where I couldn’t believe how at home I felt with him, and how effortlessly our conversation flowed. I thought I could listen to him tell stories forever.
We’ve been together almost six years since that day. Our relationship has never wavered, even through a few periods of long distance; most notably, when Lee was transferred to the Philippines for six months for work. To ease the difficulty of the time spent apart, we planned to meet each other in New Zealand five months into his stint. After a quintessential Rom-Com reunion at the airport, we embarked on the trip of a lifetime. One night, we visited the Onsen hot pools in Queenstown, where I opened the door to our private room to find Lee on one knee surrounded by rose petals and white wooden letters that spelled out “Marry Me.” Unfortunately, my first words were, “Shut up!” but after I regained my composure, I promptly said, “YES.”
Not ones to follow the crowd, we thoroughly enjoyed our engagement for a year and a half before even thinking of setting a date. It was only in the last few months that we decided to begin the planning process, and I’m thrilled to be sharing the details with you.