He Said Yes: Our (Pretty Friggin' Cute) Engagement Story



Two really neat things about our engagement (besides us, as people):

1 - We got engaged in our van. At a van life rally. (Soooo we’re offical #vanlifers now, right?)

2 - I asked. He said yes.

Here’s how it went: we both helped to organize the Asheville Van Life Rally a couple of months ago. I always joked about proposing to him, and truthfully, he’s asked me to marry him between 5-7 times per week (i.e. “Honey, I made chili for dinner.” “You did? That’s amazing! Marry me!”) since about six months into our relationship, so we were both on the same page about where we wanted our relationship to end up.

Us at the rally…

Us at the rally…

About a month before the rally, I realized that I wasn’t joking when I said I wanted to propose…I honestly did. When someone proposes, they’re saying, “I know you, and I love you. I know your quirks. I know you at your best and your worst. I know your dreams and your fears. I know your flaws and your heart and your soul. And I want to spend the rest of my life learning and re-learning you, knowing and re-knowing you, loving and always loving you, for everything you are and everything you will become. Please spend the rest of your life adventuring with me through the joys and complexities that relationships bring, because you mean the world to me, and I want to keep you.” Or something like that.

And typically (in heterosexual relationships), it’s the guy who gets to say that. And all the girl gets to say is, “yes, you can do that,” though usually with tears and screams and excitement.

But that wasn’t enough for me.

I didn’t just want to say “yes” — I wanted to say what I said above. Nick is a gift, not only as a partner, but as a human in general. Falling in love with him wasn’t like a bolt of lightning from the sky — it was like coming home. And I needed him to know how deeply and truly I meant it when I said I wanted to spend my life with him, and “yes” wasn’t quite the word I wanted to use when I conveyed that message.

Once I realized that, the scheming began. It was a no-brainer to me to do it at the van life rally — surrounded by the community that we loved, at an event we helped to pull together, in our van that we found, bought, and build side-by-side (I mean, does it GET any more perfect than that?!). I told my best guy friend, and then my close girlfriends. I talked to organizer of the rally. I asked his mom, told my parents, bought a ring, and planned for everyone to “come check out the rally” (i.e. be there for the proposal) — even his dad was going to be in town from Boston!

Little did I know…he was planning the exact. Same. Thing.

*pauses while readers’ minds are blown*

rose gold engagement ring autumn
rose gold engagement ring mountains

Yep. That best guy friend I told? Less than 24 hours later, Nick sent him a text saying he was starting to ring shop and needed some pointers. He told my close girlfriends. He told his mom. He talked to the organizer of the rally, too. Buuut ring shopping was more challenging than he anticipated (limited options in our small city, all astronomically priced, of course), so he decided to propose the week AFTER the rally. I proposed on a Saturday…he’d planned a trip to Charlotte to pick up a ring the following Monday. He’d planned to ask my parents to dinner that Wednesday or Thursday to talk to them. So on the plus side, we were very much on the same page. I hear that’s a good thing when it comes to marriage.

That Saturday at the rally, we walked around with our friends and family. I made up some excuse for the two of us to go back to the van (no idea what that excuse was…pretty sure my brain momentarily shut off). When we got to the van, we sat down on the bed and I told him how grateful I was that I’d met him and that’s he’d introduced me to the adventure of “van life.” I told him just how many good things he’d brought into my life just by being himself. I told him how kind and generous and loving he was, and how unbelievably lucky I was to have such an incredible person as a partner. Then I said, “I know I joke about it a lot, but…” *pulls ring box out of small satchel I borrowed from a friend because I own zero purses* “will you marry me?”

engagement kiss van couple vanlife engagement proposal
marriage proposal at rally

Except I started sobbing around “how kind and generous” he was, so he caught on to the question before I asked it. The following conversation resulted:

Nick: *suddenly aware of what was about to happen* Honeyyyy…

Renee: “…will you marry me?”

Nick: Wow…are you serious? Wow!! I mean…if you’d only waited a week…I was so close!

Renee: ……………………it’s cool if I take that as a yes, right?

Nick: Of course! Of course I’ll marry you!

*we make out a lot until friends run around the corner with obnoxious cheers, video cameras, and champagne*

*Renee cries some more. Everyone hugs everyone else. Everyone tells Renee to get it together*

*Wade wonders why everyone suddenly stopped playing fetch with him*

It was a totally magical day. Our friends and family filled us in on how we were simultaneously scheming to propose to one another, and how it was the most complex secret they’ve ever had to keep (and how they put bets on who would win, and yes I was the favorite, thank youuuu). We were lucky enough to be parked by @exposuresbyalice, who (without even realizing she was witnessing a proposal!) took pictures of us in our van as it happened.

Nick sported his new tungsten & rose gold ring, and I sported my grandmother’s wedding band that she left to me many years ago (cheers, Grams). Champagne and merriment and happy tears continued throughout the night. The Universe was ALL about it that night — everything went perfectly, and we were filled with and surrounded by so much love, we could have burst.

We went together to Charlotte that Monday and picked out a ring together. It had to be custom made and was delivered four weeks later. A few days after it arrived, Nick and I went for a hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and on the top of the ridge, with a spectacular view of the autumnal Smoky Mountains, Nick asked me if I’d marry him, too.

I said I had to think about it.



Want to see more gushy photos? We’ve got ‘em.