It all started in a beer garden on a warm, sunny evening last summer, with a pint of Camden Hells in hand. Sarah and I had decided to head to the pub for a couple of drinks in the sun, and the conversation ended up on Dorset. As we chatted about the sea, the sand and the fresh air, we started to imagine where we’d love to go and visit and as the conversation grew longer, our aspirations rose higher. We ended up dreaming of a stay by the sea at The Pig On The Beach, a beautiful, boutique hotel that Sarah had wanted to visit since it opened in 2014. And this got me thinking…
I’d known I wanted to propose for a few months and with Sarah being an ocean-loving Dorset girl through-and-through, The Pig was the perfect location. I booked our stay the very next day and the proposal planning began, starting with the ring. At this point, I was admittedly clueless. Lucky for me, Sarah was rather forthcoming in her openness, and willingness, to discuss all things ring (and engagement) related, despite having no idea what I was planning. She knew exactly what the ring of her dreams looked like, and I was able to make a note of some pretty specific criteria.
Over many weekends I started speaking to Jewellers across London and beyond, and became increasingly aware that there was more to this than I thought. After three months, and myriad conversations, I headed back to my hometown of Cheltenham for the weekend. While I was there, I decided to try a few of the Jewellery shops to see if they had what I was looking for. I entered, and swiftly left, a number of different shops with no luck. Feeling dejected but determined, I decided to try one more shop, Martins & Co.
I spoke with the manager, James, who had all the knowledge, and patience, in the world. As soon as we started looking at rings, my heart nearly stopped. After three months of searching, there it was. Sat right in the middle of the cushion, huddled amongst a plethora of rings, sparkling like a beacon. There was the ring I’d been looking for.
A few months later, in mid-January 2017, it was time for me to ask my first big question. It was important for me to ask for her father’s blessing, and I knew this was even more important to Sarah. So, on a weekend visit to Dorset, I took him to one side and asked if I could marry his daughter. He was elated, and I was honoured. It was now time to put almost six months of planning into action.
Fast forward a few weeks to Thursday, 9th February. It was Sarah’s birthday, and we’d travelled back to Dorset to stay with her family for a couple of days. From the moment we woke up, I was determined to spoil her. After a few presents, we headed downstairs for some breakfast, and I handed her a card. In it, I asked her to pack a bag and be ready to leave by midday. Beyond that, she had no idea where we were off to.
As we got into the car, I handed her a present. It was one of her favourite candles, with an ‘ocean tide’ scent. But this wasn’t just a present, this was a clue of where we were heading. I entered a post code into the sat nav, and asked her to follow its directions. It was a 45-minute drive over the hills and along the coast, and a 45-minute guessing game too. Eventually, we reached a junction; the sat nav asked Sarah to turn right, and I asked her to turn left. We did so, driving straight into the gravel car park of The Pig On The Beach hotel. Her excitement was palpable, my heart was palpitating. It was time to put my plan into action.
The hotel staff had been briefed, with one young lady designated to help. I handed her a glass bottle, and she headed down to the beach ahead of us. With our room not yet ready, I asked Sarah if she’d be up for a walk along the beach. She joined me, and as we arrived on the beach, I started to scour the sand. I was short-sighted, and quickly started to wonder how we’d ever find the bottle. But then there it was, propped up against a pebble ahead of us, just in front of some beach huts. Curious, Sarah picked it up and examined it. A letter lay inside, tied with twine. She uncorked the bottle, unravelled the paper and turned to look at me. It was my handwriting, and she’d recognised it immediately. She cast her eyes to the very bottom of the letter, and read the last line first (as you do…), which said:
‘…and so, I have a very important question to ask you…’
She realised what was happening, overwhelmed by emotion. I asked her to read the letter, and as she stuttered her way towards the end, I pulled the ring out of my pocket. Presenting it in an open clam shell, I dropped down on one sandy knee, and asked Sarah to be my wife.
In the midst of an emotional maelstrom, she said yes!
After an unforgettable evening, we settled down for the night in front of a log fire, and started to dream about what our wedding could be like. And this got me thinking: we have a wedding to plan now, and I don’t even know where to start…