Pop the bubbles, it’s engagement season! Who else is getting married in 2018? (Raising my hand) Any big holiday proposals? Congratulations to all who are celebrating their engagement!

I had such a good time following along with previous editor Claire’s Real Bride Diaries (you have to see her gorgeous Irish Barn Wedding!) Now that she’s off on her new life adventures, I can’t believe that as new Managing Editor I now get to share my own proposal and bridal musings as well!

Truth is, I’d barely been on board with BM for one month before Jack (my blonde haired, blue eyed, Texas hunk) and I got engaged – which means my years of professional wedding obsessing can finally be put to good use.

Claire Eliza’s Engagement Ring

I plan to share plenty of advice from my years in the industry as a wedding photographer, and answers I find to my own pressing bridal questions – like how do I take care of this beautiful rock on my finger?! We’ll also have plenty of real talk and commiseration about the stresses that planning can bring (and how to make it a positive!)

But before we get to all of that, let’s do a little Jack and Claire proposal storytelling, shall we?

Jack & Claire Eliza in Houston, Texas

How We Met

Our story starts with a few other weddings, deep in the heart of Texas. Six years ago I photographed a wedding in Comfort, Texas (great name right?!) and met a group of Texas girls living in New York who I am certain will be my ladies for life. These perfect strangers saved me when the wedding went haywire, when no one had water, when I found myself stuck in a trunk of a Subaru, and then left behind 50 miles away in San Antonio.

After shooting more of their Hill Country weddings, and adopting nearly the entire group of incredible Texpat-New York women, I finally met their guy, and my future husband, Jack. We were reuniting with some Austin friends down the street from my East Village Manhattan apartment and it was love at first sight. That night he told his friend he was in love with me. The next day, we were already on our first date guzzling champagne, devouring Japanese shrimp and Asahi, and dancing in seedy East Village dive bars. He asked me to marry him on our first date, second date, and third date.

I laughed, hoping one day he really would.

The moment we found out we got our first home together

The Proposal

In three years we traveled the world together – Vietnam, Croatia, Paris, Mexico the West Coast, the South, New England, on and on – and furnished a sweet little cactus-filled home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After his career change, I decided to surprise Jack with a vacation (a real vacation, not a wedding crashing trip!) to Greece, booked with our own private villas, views and even our own private pool on our balcony in Santorini.

Little did I know Jack had planned a surprise for me as well.

Sarakíniko, Milos, Greece by Claire Eliza

We landed in Athens and hit the ferry dock at 6 am early the next morning to the sleepy, charming island of Milos. After a barf bag worthy, choppy boat ride, we exhaled on one of the most beautiful, untouched islands I’ve ever been on the Mediterranean.

The lovely owner of our villa pointed to a little Dr. Seuss-like mountain on the island with a tiny church atop as “the best sunset on the island”. After a day of homemade pastries, eggplant salad, fresh fish, and poolside relaxation we I climbed that little mountain in the picturesque village of Plaka to watch the sunset over the Aegean.

The walk was filled with little blue doors, sweet Greek kitties, and bougainvillea everywhere. When we reached the top, Jack and I were hugging and he said “you know how I always tell you I want to spend my life with you..” and reached into his pocket, I gasped, he got down on one knee, we cried and laughed, I said yes.  It was magic.

We ate at the cutest, charming Greek restaurant in Plaka with my favorite Greek winemaker Hatzidakis (true story, I worked for years in the wine industry!) And thanks to Jack’s incredible timing, we had a whole trip through the Cyclades to enjoy our engagement and celebrate.

The Announcement

WE’RE GETTING MARRIED !

A post shared by Claire Eliza (@adventureclaire) on

Since we were thousands of miles away (and our families live all over the USA anyway) we told them over text and Facetime. Jack and I are used to giving news over the phone rather than face-to-face, but we wanted to make sure all our nearest and dearest knew before word got out on social media.

I’m a firm believer in you deciding what to do with your own news, it’s your life! As the both of us live a fairly public life, we were excited to share on Instagram once we knew the parents, siblings and best friends heard about the engagement.

Our Mexican Wedding Fiesta!

We landed back in the States and got planning; to say we were excited would be an absolute understatement. After about 50 venues (by which method I’ll indulge you all in soon!) we booked our dream venue Villa Santa Cruz in our favorite Mexican beach town Todos Santos for this November. We know we’re doing tacos all night, pool parties, decorating with bougainvillea, swimming with whale sharks, drinking plenty of mezcal and planning up plenty more surprises for our intimate group.

We’ve hired a few friends as vendors, asked a best friend to marry us beachside, booked our photographer Corinne Graves, and I bought my dream dress last week at The Dress Theory in Seattle (and a party dress at Leanne Marshall’s NYC sample sale!)

As the months roll along I’ll share my experiences and expertise in hiring these fabulous vendors, but if you just can’t wait, take a read through our previous editor Claire’s sweet wedding journey.

Newly engaged too? Here are 10 wedding planning posts you should absolutely read!