On November 25th 2017 we got engaged. A lot has happened since then. Take a look!
Philip and I met on August 30th 2008 at an Irish pub in downtown Fort Lauderdale. I was starting my clinical rotations as he was passing through to visit his mom before his big move to NYC. We locked eyes across the room as he entered, an action that my roommate quickly picked up on and dragged me over to meet the blonde-haired cutie. After talking nervously about ourselves for about an hour or so about robotics, the fact that we both studied architecture and played the violin, it was time to tuck my roommate in for the night. We said our goodbyes and parted ways. A few moments later, as I was preoccupied with taking care of my inebriated friend, he came running up behind us on the street and said that even though he was moving to NYC in a few days that he wanted to keep in touch. At that he asked for my phone number for which I happily obliged.
From there I drove my roommate home, tucked her in bed and was downstairs feeding my dog and cats when the doorbell rang. I went to answer it and to my surprise it was him. You see, during the drive home my phone rang so I threw it in the back seat for my roommates beau to answer assuming it was my bff from my hometown. She always called late on weekend nights as she finished her bartending shift. He was inviting her over to hang out and I just laughed at him stating that she lived in Cleveland and paying no mind to the drunken chatter from the back seat. Little did I know it was Philip on the other end of that conversation until I answered the door. I nervously invited him in and he was an instant cat magnet rolling around on the floor with them getting himself covered in cat hair and licked ferociously by my chihuahua Dewey. We spent hours talking the night away until the sun came up. Before he left he asked me on an official date later that afternoon. Uncertain what would come of the date since he was moving away in just a few days, I had nothing to lose, so I agreed.
Later that day, the 6' green-eyed Canadian showed up at my door in the tiniest of cars, his moms convertible Smartcar. I could do nothing but laugh when I walked out to greet him. I always wondered what kind of person bought such a funny little car, and now I had my answer. We headed for a restaurant on the beach for a quick bite. All through our lunch, both so shy, we barely spoke. I was too nervous to find words for a conversation and later I found out that he thought that I hated him. When we checked out he asked me if I wanted to go to the beach. Although we had just had a hurricane pass through a few days prior, the weather was perfect. Some would say it was the calm between the storms. I said yes, but being that we were a good 30 minute drive to pick up swimsuits he took me to a local shop and bought us both bathing suits. We changed and hit the sand.
While splashing around in the ocean was a good icebreaker to get the conversation going, it was a bit more than we bargained for. After floating around and talking for a good while, the life guards began to whistle at us to come closer to the shore. As we did, we quickly realized that we weren't moving an inch. The waves grew bigger and we swam harder trying to reach solid ground. Realizing that we were caught in the middle of a rip tide, we began to swim on a diagonal for what seemed like forever. I vaguely remember looking Philip square in the eye with so many emotions running through me as if to say goodbye as a huge wave crashed over my head. To state it simply, I was overcome with exhaustion and gave up. "This is how it it ends for me," I thought, as my body was tossed around in the tumbling waves and I drifted away from consciousness. The next thing I remember was feeling someone grab me at the hips and lift me to the surface of the water. It took me a few moments to make sense of what was happening as I coughed up what seemed like an entire ocean of water. There was Philip, hustling across the ocean floor as he held my head just barely above the water. The look of fear on his face softened as he realized that I was going to be okay. The lifeguards arrived by our sides and further escorted us to shore making sure that we were both okay. Still wrapped in his arms, we passed out on the beach curled up together as if we had known each other our whole lives. We didn't need words or meaningless conversation, there was an undeniable connection between us. From that moment on, we were inseparable.
A week later, I helped Philip pack his belongings as he headed to New York City for his first real job as an adult. From that moment on our relationship developed further over late night phone calls and aol instant messenger. Lilbiteme and signalfraud racked up some hefty airmiles that first few months, until while enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with his family in Florida, he asked me a big question. A few weeks later, I too was packing my bags for the big city.
Moving in together very early in our relationship felt as natural as getting dressed in the morning. We learned a lot about each other that first few months. For example, I learned that Philip waited until he had no clean socks (or underwear) left, before he would do laundry; a habit that pretty much still exists to today. If we had a dishwasher back then, I bet it would be full, because it is a task that I refuse to do.
Over the years we've learned of each others strengths and each others weaknesses and in general how to be someone's other half. We definitely have our moments when we want to strangle each other, but the things that matter most in a relationship stand at the forefront of our existence as a couple. For all intents and purposes we were already married, which is why when on the morning of November 25, 2017 when Philip asked me another big question, I was so shocked that I laid down a few F-bombs. Check out the totally embarrassing video that captures it all below.
Another thing that we have learned about each other over the years is our travel preferences. Our first vacation together was on a cruise to the Bahamas. While we enjoyed every minute of it, we found ourselves renting scooters and traveling as far from the other tourists as we could to explore. Or second vacation was to visit London and Paris and while we had a great time drinking French wine and eating Macarons, we returned still feeling in need of a "real" vacation. It wasn't until I planned our trip to Costa Rica, that we learned that what we craved was adventure. We shared our love for animals and nature and it was in Costa Rica that Philip learned of my quirky obsession with insects and I of his willingness to eat just about anything. In the years following, we made it a habit of exploring new places where adventure seeking was the underlying theme of the trip. We've driven and camped along US Highway 1, hiked stretches of the Pacific Crest Trail, been stalked by a bear in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, camped along the crest of Crater Lake with 20 Feet of snow beneath us as a mattress, Looped the Ring Road in Iceland, Hopped around the islands of Hawaii just to name a few.
When we began thinking about our wedding and doing research on venue locations, the idea of a traditional setting was far from our adventure-seeking minds. We quickly crossed many Zika native destinations off of the list and decided to stay local to the US. We toyed with the idea of a Winter wedding atop of a ski mountain somewhere in Colorado verses an oceanside ceremony along the California coast, both places we ventured to often. I quickly grew so tired of all of the logistical research and headache that goes into planning a wedding, that the idea of eloping somewhere in nature with my partner in crime felt the most natural way of tying the knot. I ran it by Philip and it was as if I had said something magical. In that moment the decision was made to elope!
When California forest fires cancelled our original plans to wed atop of Glacier Peak in Yosemite Valley National Park, we did what we always do and rolled with it. Just three weeks before our wedding day and 10 year anniversary of the day that we met, we planned the ultimate elopement in New Zealand. Of course we enlisted the help of wedding planner and photographer extraordinaire, Warren, from Mountain Weddings to pull it all together last minute. He was absolutely incredible and a pleasure to work with. We also decided to work with Pete and James of Shotover Wedding Films to shoot our wedding for all of our friends and family to see. I came across their work a few months earlier when wedding planning. Their work was my inspiration to elope. We knew we made the right choice on our celebrant when, Charlotte, of Your Big Day met us at our hotel just days before our wedding, bugger-smeared toddler in hand. Our only regret is that we didn't invite little Dre to be our ring bearer. I had my hair done by the wonderful Claire of Beautiful Bridal Hair who with little direction gave me exactly what I wanted. I decided to do my own makeup after having disasters with makeup artists in the past making me fit for a circus. My bohemian style flowers were designed by the folks over at The Flower Room. Last but not least there's my dress a Galia Lahav masterpiece.
It all began on August 30th 2018 at the Rees Hotel in Queenstown. My mother-in-law, Renee, helped us both get ready separately and calmed our nerves before the new adventure that awaited. We were then escorted in separate vehicles to our Heliworks helicopters to fly to the ceremony site, Coromandel Peak. After a beautiful ceremony overlooking Lake Wanaka we jumped around Fiordland National Park taking in Earnslaw Burn, Lake Lochnagar, Madagascar Beach and finished at Mt. Crichton for an epic sunset and fun in the snow. This was and still is our most epic adventure yet. Take a look at the photos following this as we invite you along to experience our intimate fun-filled day.
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