So as I posted back in February, Sayde and I are engaged! I figured it would be fun to tell you all about how it happened. So here we go….the story behind it all, from “his” perspective, followed by “hers” right after!
I proposed! – by Matt
I had known for a while that Sayde was the girl I wanted to spend my life with. And I say the general “a while” because there was no specific “aha!” moment…it just became apparent to me over time how awesome she is and how compatible we are. I had no plan, no timeline in mind for asking her….just a general idea that that was something that I wanted!
Back in October last year we decided we really wanted to see Ben Howard while he was on tour. He’s Sayde’s big-time fave, and I’m a big fan as well. He was playing here in Vancouver but after seeing what the venue was (Thunderbird stadium), we were less than enthusiastic. It’s just not the right place for an artist like that! So we looked at the other tour dates, thinking maybe we’d just go see him in Seattle. He was also playing Portland, though! And being that I’d spent no time in Portland before, and Sayde really loves the city, it was decided….to Portland we shall go to see Ben Howard! We’d also never been to Cannon Beach, so it was also decided that the day after the concert we would drive out to Cannon Beach and spend some time there as well.
After making all these plans, it suddenly dawned on me…..there is just not going to be a better time than this to ask Sayde to be my wife. Portland weekend….Ben Howard concert….then heading to Cannon Beach the next day? Pretty much perfect for this girl. And so I began the elusive ring hunt.
I went to stores, I looked online, I basically checked out every option under the moon, and at the end of the day I could not find the perfect ring for Sayde. It just had to be custom made. I’d decided not to go with a traditional diamond centre stone. Sayde absolutely loves the colour teal, so I was determined to find a gemstone that could be had in a deep teal. Eventually I found that in a London Blue Topaz, and a custom ring maker helped me pull together the design with a rose gold band with small diamonds wrapping around the sides of it. The ring ended up looking prettttty awesome. Here’s the computer-generated graphic of how it looked after designing it:
As the days ticked down to the weekend of our departure, I had a moment of sudden panic where I decided that the BOX the ring came in just was not sufficiently awesome for such an auspicious occasion. It was a moderately plain black cardboard construction box, and while it had a nice pattern on it….it just wasn’t good enough! And of course I decided this on the Thursday late morning, and I needed to have the RIGHT box in hand by about 6 o’clock when Sayde got home from work the next day. Talk about LAST MINUTE!
I decided I was going to head down to Granville Island and try to find something handmade by a local artist. I wandered around for a couple hours, found NOTHING! Thoroughly disappointed, I started walking back to my car and as I walked I passed this little custom woodworking shop called The Granville Island Woodshop, where the artist specialized in these beautiful carved wood birds. I noticed in the window that some of the birds were sold with nice wooden storage boxes, so I figured I’d pop in and ask if he had anything suitable.
But, he was totally on board with rush-ordering a custom made box for me, and had it done and ready by 5pm the next day! What a guy. And look how great it turned out:
Finally I was satisfied with my box, had the ring, and we were all set to head to Portland!
The drive down there seemed to take no time at all. We did a detour over to Multnommah Falls as well, which was pretty awesome.
After that we continued on to Portland and checked in at the lovely and very unique Hotel Rose!
We spent the next 2 days adventuring around Portland, having donuts, seeing all the cool unique things that Portland has to offer! What a cool city it is!
When the night of the Ben Howard concert finally arrived, we were pretty excited. He was performing at the Roseland Theatre:
iPhone photos of course do NO justice to how awesome the concert was. If you ever have the opportunity to see him live, don’t pass it up!
So after all that fun in Portland, we headed off the next morning to go explore Cannon Beach. Neither of us had been there before but we both love beautiful landscapes, and Cannon beach was not a disappointment in this regard! Sayde wanted to do some long exposure landscape photos, so we set off to find a nice spot for her to shoot from.
Little did she know, the only thing on my mind was finding the perfect spot to get down on one knee! I knew that I wanted to photograph the proposal…typically when Sayde and I go somewhere nice, we used the tripod to get a nice photo of ourselves, so I told her I wanted to get a nice photo of us on the beach….no problemo! No suspicions aroused.
So the tough thing for me was finding a spot that was both beautiful but also not packed full of people! Easier said than done..At one point I had what I thought was the perfect shot all framed up and ready to go, but people kept wandering in and out of the frame, and even if they weren’t going to be in the photo, they were nearby and it really wasn’t going to be a private moment with them around, which is what I wanted! This was very confusing of course for Sayde, cause she didn’t get why I wanted it to be so private…. “Just take the photo, everyone is out of the way!” …well, being out of the way wasn’t good enough! I wanted a private moment..
I got so frustrated with people being there that I nearly gave up the idea of getting it on photo! Instead, I just decided we needed to relocate the location altogether. With that, we up and moved further away from the big rock, and up to the sandier part of the beach. Here, I was finally able to frame up the shot I was after, discreetly slip the giant ring box into my back pocket….which was no easy feat!…check out that bump…
We then did some posing while the camera clicked away….my heart raced so fast, and I think Sayde could tell.
After a moment, I pulled back from her, and moved down onto one knee….
Everything else after that is kind of a blur! I honestly have no idea what I said. Sayde cried, I know that much.
But it was a success! She said yes (I think), and now we’re engaged. Amazing.
That was an experience I’ll never forget, and never want to forget.
He proposed! – by Sayde
In hindsight, I should have seen it all coming. Looking back, there were incidences throughout the weekend that could have raised suspicions, but didn’t because everything we did over the weekend were things that were so typical of our relationship. Being quite introverted, we spend a lot of time as just-the-two-of-us, so a weekend away together to see a much-loved band, in a city we’ve always talked about going to, and visiting sceneries we’ve fallen in love with and talked about photographing, is just what we do. We’re sentimental people by nature (of course we are, we photograph one of the most significant events in a person’s life), and we regularly do things that have sentimental value to us. So, we decided to head to Portland, packed our bags and went – Matt decided he wanted his own suitcase for this weekend away (Behaviour #1 That Should Have Raised Suspicion).
The whole weekend was really amazing, from the drive to Portland and wandering the city, to our restaurant explorations and the motor-bike show, as you can see from the pictures!
The day of the concert, I remember feeling nervous and excited. Ben Howard’s music tops my list for favourites, so to experience them playing live is really special. I’m very much a sensory person – visually, emotionally. I don’t say much, but I feel a lot (which is why I love expressing myself through photography so much, and why you’ll have to excuse me for writing a blog post as excruciatingly long as this one). Matt clearly knew this concert was a big deal for me. They were also the first band that Matt and I saw together before we really started dating. This was going to be the last show of their North American tour. And of course, they blew us away.
The day after the concert we embarked on our journey from Portland to Cannon Beach. The two hour drive is scenic to say the least. Matt drove, letting me take it all in. The single lane highway through the hilly Oregon cedar forests is scarred every dozen kilometres by stark patches of clear-cutting, and speckled with small farms along the way. As you reach the coast, the monolithic rock formations that mark Cannon Beach make you feel like you’ve stepped in another realm. They jut up and out of the water like the dorsal fins of giant golem sea creatures. They are domineering and colossal, while the town perched on the water’s edge is quaint and pastel. An odd, but inviting contrast.
I had seen this famous beach in photos before, and imagined arriving to greet it with the fog and faded lighting that gives the islands an ethereal appeal. I had always pictured being there in isolation, taking moody and dramatic long exposure shots. It was not to be that type of day. It was a balmy 18 degrees Celsius (yes, really, in February) and a national holiday for the US. There were thousands of people enjoying the beach, and not a cloud in sight, let alone fog! It was incredible to see. We made our way down the beach towards one of the smaller island formations which had less of a crowd, to take some photos with less people, and to fill a jar for Matt’s souvenir sand collection.
We were 500 metres from the car when Matt realized he had forgotten his empty jar in the vehicle and wanted to go back for it. I suggested that we could get it later as we passed back by the car on our way back to the other side of the beach. He said, no and that he wanted it with him right now (Behaviour #2 That Should Have Raised Suspicion), so ran back to retrieve it.
With the weather the way it was, and at the time of day we visited, I quickly determined it would not be the kind of day for doing long exposure shots at the beach. Instead, I whipped my shoes off, rolled up my pant legs, and decided it was just going to be a day to enjoy.
As the tide rolled out, the water level crept lower down the rock formations, exposing millions of mussels, thousands of barnacles, hundreds of anemones, and dozens of starfish in every imaginable colour.
Matt’s efforts to find a suitable spot to take our photo together seemed to frustrate him, but he played it cool and casual. He’d line up a shot but then hoards of people would flood in to explore the area. Even when people weren’t in the frame of the photo, he said he felt weird with them around while we took a photo of ourselves with a tripod (Behaviour #3 That Should Have Raised Suspicion). Eventually we moved to an isolated spot away from the water, but still with one of the rock formations visible in the background.
The tripod was set, the timer was ready, and we were finally going to have a shot of us at Cannon Beach. Matt ran into the photo with me and we smiled for the camera as it clicked a few times. Matt grabbed me by the waist, kissed me, and said I love you. It was at the exact moment I realized the camera hadn’t stopped clicking, that one of Matt’s hands started to shake, and his other hand reached behind his back.
Suddenly, instead of looking up into Matt’s light blue eyes, I was staring down into the rich blue gem he was holding up in the wooden box he had just opened.
I became very aware of how I was aware of nothing else. I know Matt was speaking, but I remember little of it. I no longer heard the sound of the camera shutter clicking, or the waves crashing. I couldn’t feel the wind on my skin, or the goosebumps that rippled across me. The people on the beach, and the seagulls in the sky ceased to exist. All I could see was Matt, and all I could hear was the voice in my head shouting, “Holy crap, oh my god, is this real? Is this real, oh my god, holy crap!”
I don’t know how long I stood there stunned and saying nothing, with my hands clasped over my mouth. It was long enough for Matt to have to ask, “Are you saying yes to me?” Yes, yes of course I was. After slipping the ring on my finger, we revelled in the moment, smiles ridiculously large. Matt filled up his little jar with the sand we had been standing on when he proposed, and I stood there dazed, looking at this ring that he had clearly picked just for me, with its rich, but transparent blue-green gem, the colour of the sky just after sunset and right before dark, and tiny diamonds lining the rose gold setting and band, like stars sparkling away.
The drive home to Vancouver was long, but felt like floating. Matt told me all about how he had the ring custom made, since he knew I wasn’t stuffy over the tradition of diamonds, how much teal always grabs my attention, and how he wanted something extra special. He told me about his experience with the last-minute box maker, and all his sneaky plans from start to finish.
The cherry on the cake was when he told me about his tricks from just earlier that morning. While I packed my bags in the Portland hotel that morning, Matt told me he was going to get us coffee for our drive to the beach. Upon returning with coffee, he slinked out into the hallway to “use the good wifi” (Behaviour #4 and #5 That Should Have Raised Suspicion). He was actually calling and speaking with my dad to ask for his permission. I was so happy when I learned that my dad knew all about the events that were transpiring, and how special it must have been for him to be in on the secret. When I called home to surprise my Mom with the news, my Dad answered the phone with an audible grin that filled my heart up with light. They were as over-the-moon as me, and it was very detectable that my family loves Matt as much as I do.
I’m still flabbergasted about how he managed to pull it all off without raising suspicion, and maintaining his calm cool demeanour the whole trip. Holy, what a weekend. And what a life we’ll make together.