Let me begin by saying, this is a three-part story. This is a truly personal story, so we have chosen to keep some big parts of it private between just the two of us. That being said, we’ve been really excited to share this story with all of you –our family and friends spread all over the world.
First, you’ll hear the story from my point of view. Then, you get the behind-the-scenes look from Anish (yep, he’s writing it!). And finally, we’ll post the photos of the proposal courtesy of the hidden photographer. Shall we begin?
I woke up Tuesday morning, August 19, 2014, with a smile on my face. It was going to be a good day. We’d scheduled a spa day and couple’s massages, and then Anish had a fancy dinner planned that night. We were celebrating an important one of the few anniversaries that we celebrate. All good reasons to be happy, happy, happy + we were in Maui. Life felt pretty sweet.
After another all-you-can-eat breakfast, we headed out to spend the morning at the pool. I settled into a lounge chair, soaked up the sun, and may or may not have ordered a mango smoothie and fried green beans as a snack for myself. Anish was in and out of the pool and sneaking sips of my smoothie. We were livin’ the life.
Around noon, we packed up and headed to start the couple’s spa session that Anish had organized for us.
We checked in, settled into our fluffy robes and slippers, and met back in the massage room for 90 minutes of bliss. The massages were done before we knew it and we found ourselves wishing we’d scheduled the 120 minute ones. Massages always fly by, don’t they? Or do I always just fall asleep?
At that point, we decided to part ways in the spa for a couple hours. Anish said he wanted to spend time in the sauna and peppermint steam room, and sent me off on the nail appointment he had scheduled for me. (SNEAKY, huh? I had no idea…) I hadn’t done my nails for the trip, so I thought it was a great idea to have good-looking nails for the rest of our week in Hawaii. We gave each other a quick kiss and parted ways, deciding we’d meet back in the room by 3:30pm to get ready for dinner.
I spent the next few hours getting my nails done and then relaxing in the women’s lounge in the steam room before reluctantly heading back to the room feeling refreshed and thoroughly pampered. Anish was back in the room when I got back and I was STARVING. He suggested I pop into the shower to get ready for dinner and in the meantime he would run out and get us a snack. Sounded good to me!
Anish came back with snacks after a while, and as we chowed down, I started asking about the evening. “Where are we going? What should I wear?” He said it was a surprise and I should wear something nice, but comfortable. I kept thinking to myself, “Will he propose?” …thinking that I should pick something special if so, but “No,” I thought to myself. “That’s not happening today! Just pick a nice dress, Taylor.” I did ask him several times about my outfit, and he said not to worry too much, but I should still look nice. Sure, that’s helpful.
I “knew” he wasn’t going to propose that night, since he’d reserved a weekend, blocked it off on our calendars (including his work one) and told me to take time off work in December for an extra special occasion (this was said with a lot of winks). My Type A self who loves planning ahead was thinking, “Okay! A December engagement. Perfect!” Knowing that, Hawaii was exclusively my birthday trip and this dinner was an anniversary thing. Nothing more. 😉
After telling me not to bring anything but my phone and myself, we headed down to get the car around 4pm, and when we got to the valet, it was already waiting in front with the keys in the ignition (it usually took five to ten minutes). I looked at him, puzzled – a clear question on my face. Anish just smiled and remarked, “Don’t ask, just get in.” So suave, that man. We got in and headed off down the road.
Anish was driving and as we headed south along the ocean, he asked, “We’re heading about an hour away to our dinner destination. Any idea where we’re going?” After thinking a minute, I said happily, “Wailea!” “Yep,” he said with a smile. Wailea’s another gorgeous town known for its beaches, similar to Ka’anapali. I’d heard a lot about it and wanted to visit, so I was excited. I could already imagine the fancy hotel we might be having dinner at.
We drove and drove, chatting and enjoying the Hawaiian afternoon from the convertible. At one point, I randomly turned to Anish and joked, “You aren’t proposing today… are you?” He laughed and then turned serious.
“Wait, actually Tay, I just realized we aren’t going to see your Dad in person? You know… before our December trip? Do you think I should do it over FaceTime?”
I side-eyed him, thinking “Wait you haven’t asked my Dad yet??? What the heck!”
What I said out loud was, “Of course you need to do it in person! I thought that was what we both wanted.” I was definitely convinced that there was no proposal happening that day after that point. Plus I was a little miffed that he hadn’t asked Dad. It was definitely just dinner. I was also thinking, “After five years, you’d think this guy would’ve done it already…”
After an hour, we were in Wailea and passing by all the gorgeous resorts one-by-one until we were in a regular neighborhood – no restaurants or fancy hotels in sight. I was wondering what the heck we were doing, especially when Anish eventually pulled off on the side of the road by some woods. I could barely see the beach through the thick trees to the right. He turned off the car and turned to me with a grin. “Here we are!”
I was a little wary at this point, especially after we walked away from the car, leaving it on the side of the road. I kept asking questions and Anish kept telling me to relax, take in the moment and not sweat the details. We locked the car as we walked away, but then Anish had to run back to get the GoPro (or so I thought – more on that later). Anish kept encouraging me to go with the flow, which we all know is very hard for me.
When he came back, he lead us to a narrow path and after trekking a small distance through the trees past “No trespassing signs” we emerged from the brush onto a gorgeous and secluded beach.
Here I was in a long dress and heels expecting a nice dinner but instead I was hiking barefoot through trees, heels in hand. Just. Go. With. It.
Nestled between lava rocks on either end and coconut trees behind, the beach cove was nearly empty and absolutely breathtaking. We took off our shoes and walked down to the water.
It was a gorgeous place, but I still kept wondering about dinner (see: Task Master Taylor). Anish, being the most patient man ever, kept encouraging me to relax and not worry about it. “We’ll get dinner. Don’t worry.” My dry response was, “But where are we going to eat??”
After 10-20 minutes, I had slowly started to unwind from the uncertainty. We had gotten our feet wet in the surf and were taking in the spectacular view as the sun got closer to setting over the majestic Pacific ocean.
We had been on one end of the cove up to that point, and Anish pointed to the left side of the beach and suggested we walk down and explore the rest of it. I nodded, and we walked together hand-in-hand down the beach. I remember making a comment about a photographer who was taking headshots of a teenage girl near us. Headshots on a Tuesday? That seems kinda weird to me, but hey, it’s Hawaii.
We’d made it most of the way down the beach when we came across a small ledge in the sand and I saw it.
Laid out on the beach was a white linen blanket covered in rose petals with a picnic basket, bottles of wine in an ice bucket, and two glasses. It was beautiful and I couldn’t believe it, but my honest-to-God thought was, “Wow, what a nice anniversary dinner!” My second was, “How the heck did all of this get here?” Still totally clueless about what was to come.
I sat down on the blanket while Anish pulled out the new mini speakers he bought before we left (Oh!) to put some music on, and then set up the GoPro (Ohhhh!) behind the blanket to take some sunset shots of us in front of the ocean. The sun was just starting to set. He sat down next to me and we leaned in to each other. It was so nice, and I felt content. This was it. We’d driven to a secluded beach for a beautiful picnic dinner. What a guy.
We talked and laughed and then Anish suggested we open the bottle of wine. That’s when things started getting funny.
After searching through his bags, Anish realized that he’d forgotten the wine bottle opener. His search got a little more frantic by the minute and I remember thinking, “Why is he getting so frustrated about this?”
You see, Anish is the most patient guy. I mean it… He NEVER gets frustrated and impatient. But not then. He was antsy and kept muttering to himself, “I thought I had it!” It got really weird when he started using his car keys to push the cork into the wine bottle. Yep, he was desperate. I was laughing and told him it was fine and not to worry.
The sun was getting very low on the horizon at that point, and finally, he seemed to let it go and sat back down next to me and said, “Okay, let’s just watch the sun set.” I leaned into him, the sun on my face, and smiled. We were in Hawaii. We’d been together nearly five years after meeting ten years ago at a Model U.N. leadership conference in high school – two kids from different parts of the world, born seven thousand miles apart, who ended up together years later by some trick of fate. We were lucky, to say the least.
After five minutes (or fifteen, who was counting?) of comfortable silence with gentle Hawaiian music playing over the crashing of the waves, Anish abruptly stood up. Looking down, he stood tothe left side of where I was sitting, having left me to fall over on the blanket and wondering what the heck was going on. He’d been acting so strange about the wine that I definitely felt like something was up at this point. When he stood up, my heart started pounding.
After a quiet minute during which I thought my heart might jump right out of my chest, he said in his most romantic voice…
“Do you want to get some food?”
My immediate thought was, “The picnic basket is only two feet away and he needed to stand to say that?”
I laughed nervously and had a DEFINITE feeling at this point that something was about to happen. I responded slowly, “Do you want me to stand up?”
“Yes,” he said with a smile.
I stood up. The sun was almost on the horizon and the sun in its golden hour was shining on us. He leaned over and grabbed a little blue box out of his Go-Pro bag. He stepped closer to me, took my hand, and bent down on one knee.
He sat there for a second, and I said (ever the romantic), “Wait! Are you proposing right now???”
He smiled and then started talking. His eyes welled up with tears, and he told me that he loved me. After five years together and everything we’ve faced — the hardships and joys. That he wanted to be with me forever and start a family together. He said so many lovely and heartfelt things. His most sincere speech. My heart felt like it was about to burst.
I was grinning with tears in my eyes, holding both of his hands. Speechless.
He paused after his speech, took a deep breath, and then he asked me.
“Taylor Emily Merck, will you marry me?”
I grinned, tears running down my cheeks, and replied, “Of course!!!”
And he swept me into his arms.