Coming off the emotional high of our editor (and my real-life bestie) Claire’s Mexican destination wedding – the calendar quickly turned over to 2019 and the reality of my own wedding started to set in. Who else is with me? Up until now, my partner and I had been enjoying a relaxed long engagement with flashing my ring, sharing our engagement story, and joking about how I’m his Feyoncé Knowles.

But it’s time for the countdown to begin! We are less than six months away from our Pacific Northwest coastal wedding celebration. So, before I get into the details of how planning is going (here’s a hint: there’s plenty of wildflowers!) and sharing more of my own inspiration on how to DIY your own party, let me share our Hawaiian vacation-turned-romantic-proposal where we made it official.

How We Met

I joined Drew’s band in Seattle, Washington, in 2012. Thanks to the internet and a post he had made on a forum for artists, I quickly found his band and auditioned in a less-than-glamorous abandoned building off the highway. I guess they liked me enough to let me join, because pretty soon after that day I was driving into the city every week to practice and go out with the guys.

We’d go to a small club and dance to funk bands on Fridays, catch shows together, and frequently stay up a bit too late. I was finishing my undergrad at the time, so you can imagine how much of a distraction it was toward my studies, but the new friends and excitement wasn’t something I could turn down. It’s all a little hazy now, but Drew and I magnetically made sense right from the beginning.

The Proposal

We’ve been together ever since the end of that summer. One of our favorite ways to truly unwind is vacationing together, and thanks to some amazing recommendations from Claire, we planned ourselves a trip to the big island in Hawaii. I eagerly found some incredible Airbnbs that provided us with as much nature as possible, were close to quiet beaches, snorkeling, and some highly recommended restaurants, and we set off for a week of adventures.

In hindsight, I should’ve guessed Drew was planning more than just a fun vacation with me, but as they say, ignorance is absolute bliss. At the time, I was really just looking forward to wearing a bikini and sampling bowls upon bowls of poke.

Drew and I had a hand-detailed map of the island made by a close friend who had lived there. It included all types of sights for us to see, eats, and fun hidden roads we needed to explore. One of the biggest plans on the map was to visit the lava flow on the southeastern edge of the island. Here, the mountain of Kīlauea is active, emitting steam and lava flow into the ocean, and constantly changing the shape of the island. We wanted to stay as close as we could to the lava flow to see the action of the Goddess Pele ourselves, and so I booked a few night’s stay in the small town of Kalapana nearby.

A few days into our trip we had arrived in Kalapana. Our lovely Airbnb host provided us with everything we’d need to enjoy the area, which she showed us after checking in. We had bicycles, headlamps, and maps – all to help us ride out to the lava watching area. She was quite enthusiastic that we needed to make the journey, specifically noting that we needed to pay a visit to her friend who lived out near the volcanic activity. We solidified our plans that the following day we would catch the lava at sunset.

The following afternoon was spend chatting with a local lava expert. He had been chasing the lava for years and had samples, photos, video footage, and even local newspaper stories from when the last lava flow had actually burned down his home. It was like we got a personalized Lava 101 class!

As the evening set in, we took our backpacks and bicycles and began our ride to the viewing area. It was an exhilarating ride – laughing as we went – excited to watch the action ourselves. We arrived right before sunset, and the small crowd of tourists began to slowly dwindle.

In the dark, the glow of the lava became much more visible. My heart was so full as I was caught emotionally between the beauty of the island and the incredible day we had had together. At some point right before my memory completely blacks out, I looked over at Drew sitting next to me on the lava rocks and said something like, “I’m going to remember this day forever.”

Really, could I have given him a more perfect cue? In the moments to follow, I remember Drew pulling out the ring, my complete shock, and a kiss where our headlamps clinked together. With so many moments in our relationship being fluid and easy, that entire day was no different. I tried on the ring, a simple black opal (exactly like the photos I had sent him a few months prior) and quickly had him tuck it away into his backpack so it wouldn’t disappear in the darkness on our ride back to town. I have never felt such weightlessness like I did that night as we rode back in total darkness, illuminated only by our headlamps and the vast stars above.

The Announcement

For most of our stay on the island, I had limited cell phone reception, but I remember out near the lava I magically had moments of clarity where I was able to text my besties back home about what had just happened. I waited until the next morning to make phone calls and texts to all my friends and family and turns out Drew had told nearly everyone we knew that he was planning to propose. So, all he had to text was, “She said yes!”

The rest of our trip was sublime in every way, with afternoons at hidden beaches, snorkeling in the warmest tide pools, and giggling over surprise geckos (they are everywhere!) I’m already hoping to go back as soon as we get married because the big island of Hawaii is truly one of the most captivating and beautiful places on this earth.

Stay tuned in the months to come to read about my wildflower wedding inspiration, how dress shopping was (hint: I went to two of the shops on this list!) and how I’m making our beachy wedding a fabulously funky DIY affair.

Check out more Airbnb inspo to plan your wedding or honeymoon or even just a gorgeous vacation!

Are you newly engaged? Check out some of our wedding planning advice to help you get started or even some amazing inspiration about planning a destination wedding like our editor Claire did!