I'm a wedding and portrait photographer living in Vancouver, BC with my husband Randy.  I photographed my first wedding when I was only 17 years old - and I've photographed over 200 weddings since! I am an avid bookworm, lover of green tea, pretty nail polish & my Labradoodle Harley. Thanks for visiting!

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Surprise Coffee Shop Proposal

November 25, 2013

personal

Randy and I met over two years ago – through a mutual friend over dinner in Courtenay. Six months later, he moved to Langley and we attended the same church. It was another six months after that, Randy’s incredible character and qualities finally caught my eye.  I needed to get to know this guy. We soon became real friends (not just acquaintances!) over the winter months. I flip-flopped between “liking” him and deciding “no, I don’t, we’re just friends” right up until April, when Randy told me “I like you.” The next month,  we started our relationship and after a rocky start (I almost have our full story written – you might see it soon!) we fell in love. In October, we began to talk seriously about getting married: looking at rings online and talked vague dates for the wedding. (I already have 13 weddings booked for 2014. Try planning a wedding around that!) We even talked guest lists and possible venues – it was fun and crazy to think about – but I knew it was all hypothetical without a ring. ;)

Not much of a hopeless romantic, I rarely considered what my proposal would look like. I didn’t care to have a certain “picture” in my mind or set up certain expectations “he” (whoever he would be!) would have to fulfill someday. I wanted to be happy, I wanted to be surprised, I wanted it to mean something. I am happy, I was surprised and it meant a lot. Win-win-win. Leading up to our engagement day were a wealth of interactions between Randy, myself and a few of my close friends. All the conversations and texts and glances all seem so different in hind-sight, now that I know errrryone was lying to me about errrything! All the time!

We discussed specific ring styles in the middle of October. I wanted yellow gold – no question. Antique and unique elements were a bonus. Circle or oval diamond. (His words when he saw the hypothetical-ring pictures: “Woah, yeah, I’m really glad I didn’t try and guess what you wanted.”) After a couple of short conversations, I assumed the ring talk would be over. However, Randy is one of the most genuine, kind-hearted, sweet men you could ever meet. He’s a terrible liar. And he loves to share what he’s thinking/feeling all the time. I picked up on little things like “Saw your brother at Quiznos the other day.” “Oh, did you talk to him?” “No, I didn’t go in. I was just in the parking lot.” “In the parking lot…” “Yeah!… Looking at… things!” (There’s a diamond store directly across from Quizno’s in Langley.) Oh Randy, I’d think. You coulda skipped the tidbit about seeing Brandon’s car. Now I know you were looking.

One day, he said he had to “go into town.” Later that night at dinner, I asked “Who did you have coffee with today?” “No one.” “Oh, didn’t you say you were going to meet someone?” “Oh. Yeah. Not business related…” (Randyyy! Now I know you were at another store!) When Randy and I talked rough wedding details one day (something simple like bridal party members maybe) Randy said, “I still haven’t even talked to your dad. I need to do that. Oh man.” I told him it was okay. He didn’t need to worry that he hadn’t yetWe were allowed to talk rough details, silly. ;) Dad knew we were planning. Sooo, on November 1st, when Mom and I were away in Seattle, I heard Dad’s voice through the telephone pressed up to mom’s ear. “Randy wants to meet for coffee tomorrow.” “Oh, good, yep,” Mom answered, moving onto something else. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop! I was two feet away and could hear Dad’s voice clearly.

When we drove home from Seattle the next day, Randy made no effort to hide his coffee with Dad. He was encouraged by their time and loved talking business, life and family with him. “He said some really nice things about you, Jamie. Said it was hard to not get a bit emotional in a ‘conversation like this.'” “Oh. Hm, nice, yeah.” I nodded and changed the topic. I like surprises. I was never the little girl who wanted to know what my Christmas present was. It ruins it! I determined early on if Randy was going to surprise me, I would never pry. But why was he making all this SO DARN OBVIOUS!? The next day, I left for Arizona with my parents for a week’s vacation.

Throughout my relationship with Randy, Kristen has always been the first friend I would text or call about something. She was receiving a whole lot of Randy updates, including “WHY IS HE TELLING ME SO MUCH INFORMATION?! I’m being a good girlfriend. I’m not keeping tabs on him, I’m making it SO EASY for him to buy a ring without me knowing. Instead I’m getting the stinkin’ play by play! And why does he keep asking me about diamond shapes and my ring size? It’s been three weeks since we talked… shouldn’t he have found one by now?!” Kristen laughed and agreed, “He’s just so genuine! Caleb was the same! Terrible liars! He wants to tell you everything! I can’t believe he told you he met your dad. Oh it’s cute, Randy and Caleb have been texting a lot lately. Bonding over ring shopping experiences.”

I was confused why Randy kept mentioning different ring stores. I told Kristen, if Randy doesn’t have a ring yet (which, by all his questions, he can’t have one!) by the time he orders one and then proposes (because that takes time to prepare!) I won’t be engaged until Christmas. I want a short engagement but not that short (we are hoping to get married in the Spring) – at this point every month helps! Kristen answered, “I can vouch for him. He doesn’t have a ring yet. He’s finding it a lot harder to find what you want. Caleb has been telling him, ‘Dude, you can’t just walk in a buy a ring! Kristen’s took mooooonths to find!’ He didn’t expect it to take that long. It’ll probably be another 4-6 weeks from now.”

Later in the week, as I was flying home from Arizona, a quick “flash” of a thought played through my head. Maybe Kristen is lying, saying 4-6 weeks would be a brilliant way to throw me off! He could be proposing today. He’s picking me up from Bellingham airport. There could be something there. There could be something in town in Bellingham. Would she lie to me? I don’t know. I walked off the plane and Randy was waiting in the terminal, shoulder leaning up against the wall. He seemed normal. We had a normal day. All was well. ;) My parents were flying home from Arizona the next Saturday. On the drive home, Randy mentioned us meeting my parents in Bellingham the next Saturday, on their drive home from the Seattle airport. (My parents often order things online. For us to pick up something at the Blaine post office and meet them so they wouldn’t’ have to pay customs/duty on the package because they had been out of the country would have been normal. Unless, Randy was proposing and this was an excuse to get me to Bellingham. With my parents there. I was suspicious but once again said “Okay, yep, sure. Whatever works.” And asked no further questions.)

On Monday (Remembrance Day) Randy and I spent the afternoon in Abbotsford, browsing through home stores (Winners and Home Sense!) and walking around Mill Lake together. On the way home, we stopped by one of Randy’s friend’s and when he asked what we had done that day, we told him, “Just hung out in Abbotsford.” He smiled at Randy and said “Oh yeah? Got some good ring stores out there?” We laughed but no comments were made. In the car, Randy brought it up (I wouldn’t have!) and said, “I knew he was going to mention rings.” “Oh, hm. Yeah.” A few seconds of silence and then Randy says, “Maybe we should have looked in Abbotsford. They might have your crazy style that no other stores in the Lower Mainland have.” I laughed, squeezed his hand and looked out the window.

The next day, I text Kristen. “KRISTEN. He still doesn’t have a ring. I don’t get it. Why is it that hard to find? It can’t be that hard. Should I go look at stores in Langley and maybe tell him which ones have styles I like? I know of a smaller, local company. Would he mind?” Kristen answered, “I think that’s a great idea! Are you kidding me? Randy loves anything you do. He wouldn’t mind.” “Great,” I texted. “Just pulled into one right now.” After talking to the jewellery store employee, she promised a custom quote emailed to me the next day in the style I liked. I told Randy about the trip (AND a great ring website: BrilliantEarth) and he said, “Great. Thanks babe.” (Note: Randy has been working 70 hour weeks for the last 6 months. He is not incapable of finding a ring. ;) I honestly felt bad about all of the stress and financial pressure starting a company entails. I wanted to help his life and not make it harder. I was even starting to feel maybe it wasn’t the right time. Maybe we should wait.)

Later that week on November 12th, Randy and I were texting before bed. I asked how work was going (he often works late nights on the computer, emailing, marketing, compiling quotes) and he said, “Oh, fine. I’m getting distracted by looking at that ring site you emailed over. It’s neat.” “Yepp, it is. However, so it that store and they can make it custom… I don’t care where, just get one soooooon.” Ten minutes later, I turn out my light and I’m laying in bed thinking, “Stinkin’ Randy. Why don’t you just take the websites I gave you and buy one! Don’t give me the updates! You’re so endearing and cute but I don’t want to know!” I picked up my phone to text him again, “Randy, maybe from now on, don’t tell me anymore about the ring. I really want to be surprised when you… ask.” He texted back and seemed embarrassed, “Alright. I just want to get what you want, babe. That’s all.” “I know, you’re sweet.” “I’ll keep quiet and keep looking.” When I told Kristen about the conversation she echoed my sentiments (He’s so sweet! He’s trying!) and sent me a screencap of Caleb and Randy’s phones. Caleb said, “How’s the ring search going, man? Praying and thinking about you. Hope you find one soon!” And Randy answered, “Thanks man. She just sent me a store and a website address today. Appreciate it.” Randy was still looking…!

Monday, November 18th was our six month anniversary. I was FaceTime-ing with Kristen earlier that day and she asked a few more questions about rings and Randy. “Has he said anything else or let anything else slip?” No, I told her. He had done pretty well in the last week. ;) However, I knew he had bought a ring. Randy mentioned he was dreaming and researching honeymoon locations and logic would say, mentally he’s moved on from ring search to honeymoon search. He must have recently ordered a ring. Minimum time has to be at least two weeks. More likely four weeks. In the evening, Randy and I spent our six-month anniversary (so lame saying that, we don’t celebrate months, it’s just a fact, it was our six month!) on the couch. As mentioned, Randy’s work life has been insane lately  – and with dark winter evenings, we’ve either been working side by side on the couch or relaxing with a TV show. He said, “I feel lame for not planning anything to celebrate!” I told him, “Oh well. We don’t celebrate months. I don’t care.” He still promised, “I want to look up a cool restaurant to go to on Saturday though for some sort of celebration.”

Over the course of our six months together, Randy and I have ate at some very neat places. We’ve had an “eventful” dating life in the sense of always doing fun things, driving to new places, trail walking, driving an hour to West Vancouver or down to Bellingham for coffee. Randy making dinner reservations somewhere “fancy” was very common. 99% of me thought nothing of it. (The ring can’t be here!) But 1% of me thought, maybe it was a super rush order? Maybe he has one? Nah. Randy talked about a few restaurant ideas the week before and ended up with Keenan’s at the Pier in Fairhaven. He said it gets great reviews online and I said, great. Let’s go.

Saturday morning, November 23rd, Randy said he needed to work for half of the day. (Once again, not uncommon.) Randy’s crew had recently finished up a job in White Rock at a townhouse complex and he needed to review the finished product with the manager. When I woke up Saturday morning, I texted Randy good morning at 7am. He took over an hour to respond but at 8am replied, “Morning babe, apparently a little sleepy today. May be closer to 1pm now. How are you doing?” We texted back and forth that morning and a few times I noticed the “delivered” sign on iMessage wasn’t appearing. Once it took 15 minutes to “deliver” and I thought, “Hmm. That’s strange. Randy’s basement usually has great wifi and service.” Randy asked if I had ever been to Whatcom Falls before? I said, yep, lots of times. It’s nice. “Oh, okay, cool. I was looking at photos online, might be cool to walk around. Also bring cards.” I said, “Great. I am excited for today.” He said, “Yes, me too. Will be nice to have a date night.” As I waited for Randy to finish up work, I decided to re-do my nail polish. You know, just in case he does have a ring, even though it’s impossible, I know he doesn’t have one… never can be too prepared.

Randy arrived at 1 o’ clock with a mantle for our living room. (He picked it up earlier that day on his way home from White Rock – he’s been renovating our family room for the last month.) We hugged hello and Randy said, “I’m excited to give you your gift!” Gifts! Gifts for dating anniversaries? Since when? Oh well, Randy is a giver. (And also – he can’t be proposing today, who would drop a hint about a gift. Not smart.) Randy went into the house to deliver the mantle to my mom and took at least five minutes to come back out. I turned the car on to heat it up and waited patiently. He jumped into the driver’s seat, “Your mom wanted to talk about the slate again. Sorry, let’s get going.” A few minutes down the road and Randy was starving. He hadn’t eaten anything that morning but coffee (threw his muffin out at Starbucks, he said, too dry) been too busy working! (Another common problem.) He wanted something fast and easy and when we drove by a Wendy’s, spicy chicken burger it was. On our way to the border, Randy said, “I really wasn’t thinking this morning. I whipped down to the States already to fill up my truck with gas.” (Americans reading this and confused: your gas is minimum 30% cheaper than ours.) “Good thing we ended up taking your car. That would have been a waste of my time.”

When we crossed the border, Randy put his hand on his stomach, “I’m really not doing well.” I teased, “Oh, let’s see. You don’t eat all day except for coffee. You’re starving and then you fill your stomach with spicy and fried fast food!” I felt bad for the guy, though, working all morning, rushing to finish up and get ready for our date. Now he’s burpy and gassy and bloated. ;) Burps and all, we pressed on and drove to Whatcom Falls. I also wasn’t feeling the best but we walked slow through the park trails. (I’ve had extremely low blood pressure, fatigue, headaches and other imbalances off and on–mainly on–for the last year. It’s very frustrating. But onto happier things…) On the walk, I thought quickly, “Wouldn’t it be crazy if we walked around a corner and boom. Proposal. Wow, that kinda thing is gonna happen next month! But not today – he doesn’t have a ring yet.”

Our only plans for the day was Whatcom Falls and dinner at six. Anything in between the two events was up in the air. I mentioned Target to Randy – might be fun to look at house things! (Randy is moving into a new place this week.) He mentioned Lowe’s, too, “didn’t your parents say they have good deals on area rugs there?” In Target, I held Randy’s hand and dreamed about house things. “Oooh, look, Randy, see these are the towels I love! Or these, or these. Oh, those too. I looove that colour. Or with this one because I know you like variety.” “Babe.” “Yeah?” “Sounds like our whole house is gonna be towels.” I laughed and hit his shoulder and kept walking. (“Why you always gotta be so violent?”) After Target, we still had plenty of time before dinner, so Lowe’s it was. We flipped through the hanging area rugs, admired granite samples and compared our tastes in kitchen cabinet colours. I was feeling much, much worse: light-headed, aching head, sore body, every step took effort. I was so, so fatigued. Randy suggested we go back to the car. The last time Randy was in Bellingham (picking me up from the airport two weeks before!) he drove around a gorgeous oceanfront Fairhaven neighbourhood.  Even though it was dark, Randy drove me around and we admired the huge houses, my eyes fluttering between opened and closed. I was frustrated at how exhausted I was. I have been sick for so long – but Randy, as always, was supportive and said, “It’s okay, babe. It’s a chill night. Maybe you’ll feel better with some food.”

At six o’ clock, we walked into Keenan’s at the Pier for dinner. Watson reservation for two. “Celebrating anything special tonight?” the hostess asked as she placed our menus on the table. “No, not really. Just for fun.” I replied. I whispered to Randy after she left, “Umm, yes, six months and one week? Monthly dating anniversaries are lame. Not gonna say that.” He agreed. Next, a girl came over to take our drink order and asked the same question, “Celebrating anything tonight?” We eyed each other and Randy answered this time, “Nope. Just having dinner.” A minute later our server came over to introduce herself, asking “Celebrating anything tonight?” We laughed. “Nope, just because.” After she left, I turned to Randy, “What the HECK! Why do we look like we are celebrating something!? Do people our age not eat at nice places? You have taken me to at least eight similar-priced restaurants in the last six months. For no reason.” He agreed looking around at the tables full of middle-aged people, “Yep. They’re asking because we bring the median age of this place down to 40.”

Dinner at Keenan’s was amazing and with food, my energy improved a little bit. But my head still hurt and my body was exhausted. I asked Randy if we could go home right after dinner? Be home by 9 o’ clock and just rest there? “Sure,” he said. “Let’s maybe grab a Woods Coffee before we go?” Okay, good idea. When we finished our food and waited for the bill, we started a card game. (We bring cards lots of places.) A couple minutes in, Randy said, “Can I have your keys? I’m going to go get your gift from the car. But first I have to use the bathroom.” He patted his stomach. I waited at the table, staring out the window into a dark sky, wondering what Randy could possibly be giving me for our anniversary. And why the heck does he have to give it to me here? We’ve already paid our bill. Give it to me in the car! At coffee! What are you bringing in that you couldn’t carry in when we walked in? Did he forget it?

Five minutes passed and I almost considered walking out to the car to find Randy. But I waited, eyes nervously glued to the door until he walked back in. He looked flushed/nervous/off and I asked if everything was okay. “Yeah, sorry. Sorry I was so out of it. This is for you.” He placed a card on the table. I opened it up and read the front “The Best is Yet to Come!” Inside were beautiful words about our last six months of “journey” together. A little piece of paper fell out that said “Lady Antebellum with Kip Moore Tickets.” Great! I said “Thanks Randy! You didn’t have to. I didn’t get you anything though…” He stared, “You didn’t get me anything? What?” I squeezed his hand, knowing he was teasing, “No! I didn’t! Let’s get going, they keep eyeing our table they definitely want us out of here.”

We walked into the lobby and Randy looked up the spiral staircase to what we thought was the spa. “It’s cool in here. Want to go look around?” I obliged and we walked up two flights of stairs to find only a hallway full of hotel doors. “Hmm. Not what I thought.” We walked back down the stairs and halfway to my car when Randy stopped and held his stomach again. “Are you okay?” I asked, “Do you need to go to the bathroom again?” He laughed, “I think I might.” I grabbed my keys from him as he went back into the restaurant/hotel lobby to the bathroom. When I pulled my car up to the front door, he came out a few minutes later and opened the passenger side door. “You want to get a coffee?” I asked. “Yeah, I think that’d be nice. At the Woods by the water.” Randy answered. It was only a two minute drive between Keenan’s and Woods Coffee (a regularly visited spot for us!) and we pulled into a parking spot close to the door. I turned off the car and Randy didn’t get out. We sat holding hands and he seemed distracted. I was worried it was work – it had been (in my opinion, from the outside in) a really stressful few weeks. I asked, “Are you okay?” And he assured me, “I’m fine. Just a lot of things on my mind.” It was a couple of minutes before we opened our car doors and started walking.

Inside Woods Coffee, a few customers were in line ahead of us and a few were scattered on couches on the main level. We stood in line and gave our order: cedar vanilla latte (“Randy, don’t you think decaf? After how your stomach has been?” “Yeah. Good call”) and a cedar chamomile tea. Randy handed his credit card to the barista (“Oh wait, I have a points card!” I dug in my wallet and pulled it out) and she handed both cards back to us. Many places in Canada, credit card transactions under $25 you don’t have to sign. I knew that at Woods Coffee, regardless of dollar amount, you always had to sign. Randy never signed anything! I thought it was weird and was going to ask if it was a different kind of card but decided against it. (Sometimes asking questions about things that don’t matter is too much energy. Did I really need to know?) I zipped open my purse and pulled out a piece of paper (Adrenal Stress Hormone Saliva Test – no joke.) and sat down at a table, “Randy, check this out. This is my information for that naturopath test tomorrow.” He walked over and grabbed my hand. “Hey, come with me,” and he took one step towards the board room doors.

The minute he grabbed my hand I knew what was happening. I was so surprised. He opened the door and I heard one of our favourite country songs playing. I saw quotes and notes printed on large poster board all over the room. There was red rose petals scattered on the ground and probably a hundred candles. In the middle of the room was a huge picture frame with a hundred photos of us and “R & J” written across the front and two dozen red roses beside. I couldn’t stop smiling and saying, “Oh my goodness!” I saw videographers and a photographer and I knew it was Erin and Maclean and my friend Candace. We stood there for five seconds until Randy got down on one knee holding a ring. I don’t remember if he said anything, he was shaking so badly and I think I said, “What are you asking?” He managed to put together a shaky sentence, “Will you marry me?” And I said yes! I put the ring on my finger and we kissed and hugged and stood there and I took everything all in again.

I didn’t know what to do next. I took note of the playlist in the background: Joe Nichols’ “Just Let Me Fall In Love With You,” Little Big Town’s “A Little More You” and “Bring It On Home” and Kip Moore’s “Hey Pretty Girl.” I stood beside Randy looking around at all of the candles, the warm light, the rose petals, the bouquet of red roses, the photographer/videographers, the quotes. I started to unravel the events of the day, “I can’t believe you lied this well! I didn’t think you could! I can’t believe this! I actually can’t believe this. I don’t know what to say.” We stood off to the side and I read each quote again and again. We hugged and I saw a few people outside of the boardroom doors watching but assumed they were nosey customers. Until they came into the room and it was my brother and his girlfriend. I teared up a little when Jen gave me a hug (because she was almost crying – tears bring tears!) and Brandon couldn’t wait to look at my ring.

   

We stood there staring and hugging and laughing for a few more minutes. Brandon asked me, “Sooo. Jamie. What does this make Randy?” I looked at him. “What do you mean?” I mean, “What does this make Randy?” “Umm… Randy Delaine?” Everyone burst out laughing and I put my hand over my mouth. (It’s a joke in our friend circle. Of course, I don’t use the nickname but anyone who picks up a camera is called  “so-and-so Delaine.” Brandon’s friends sometimes tease him and call him Brandon Delaine. It was a hilarious moment, but I told Erin and Maclean I don’t want it in the proposal video… because unless you know the context it makes me sound like a very, very arrogant woman.) “I don’t know what you mean!” Brandon stared at me. “OHHH! MY FIANCE!” “Yessssss,” he threw his hands up in the air.

The “lies” of the last month or so started unraveling as Randy told me about the made-up text screencap between Caleb and Randy (Kristen’s idea – they planned what they would type and she sent it to me.) Randy also told me when I sent him websites/stores on November 12th, the ring was delivered that same day – he had ordered it mid-October. Randy was, in fact, sick half of the day, in part to the spicy-chicken-burger but also in part to the crazzzzy nerves involved in pulling off a surprise proposal. However – he wasn’t sick at ALL after dinner but just in the bathroom of Keenan’s texting the videographers and taping on a microphone for the audio. He also wasn’t working in White Rock that morning, he was in Bellingham at 6am delivering the decor and setting up the room. The concert tickets “are also part of your Christmas gift, sorry – needed to throw you off!” Candace and Kristen and Caleb had all been a part of this for weeks. Brandon and Jen were down earlier in the day to help set-up and be there to surprise me as well. Everybody knew but meeeeee.

Erin, Maclean, Candace, Brandon and Jen left and let us have some time alone. I was trying to focus on living in the moment but it was surreal. How do you live in this moment? It’s the first time I’ve had this moment! Randy and I hugged and I started crying for the first time that day as we whispered together. I couldn’t believe this happened. I couldn’t believe he pulled this off. I could have stayed in that beautiful room forever. It was a perfect, perfect night. When I finally got back to my (now very lukewarm) chamomile tea, the barista had written “Congrats <3” on the cup. We packed up all of the decor and headed home to celebrate and tell the story to my parents.

I couldn’t be happier. The last six months have been an incredible story and I know our story will only continue. Thank you to everyone for your likes and comments and congratulations since Sunday when we announced our engagement online. Very blessed.

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