That Time We Got Engaged in Europe (Surprise!)

The cold wind whips at my face as ten foot high waves crash onto the black sand beach.  The Icelandic shoreline before me is only one of a handful of breathtaking sights Travis and I have seen during the past two days. It has been a whirlwind start of our five month trip through Europe. In less than 24 hours we have yet to take a shower or sleep for more than six hours but we have managed to do lots of sightseeing; from the moss-covered jagged landscape of Thingvellir National Park to the sulphuric and uniquely-regular geothermic activity of the Strokkur Geyser to the haunting graveyard-like silence of the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Now the obsidian-hued Vik i Myrdal beach stretched before us, seemingly never ending.

The black sand appears to stretch on forever

The black sand was something we’d never seen before

Closing my left eye and raising my camera to my right a million different perspectives flash through my mind. Should I crouch and make the graphite-black beach my focal point, allowing the foamy white waves and lush green hillside to blur into the background? Or stay standing and allow the gentle curve of the sand to lead the viewer through the photograph? Focusing on capturing “the best” shot possible I barely hear Travis mumble my name from somewhere behind me. And he definitely mumbled – my full name, Calli-Jo, not the shortened “Calli” like I prefer and definitely not the casual “Cal” he usually uses. Turning around I find Travis kneeling in the wet sand before me.

Capturing my precious photographs are no longer important in this moment.

Can you tell I cried? I tend to do that - too much really

Can you tell I cried? I tend to do that – too much really

Unfortunately this is the only picture we have from our Icelandic engagement. Snapped by a passerby, the only one on the beach that day. A picture with our cheeks flushed from the freezing wind and our hair and clothes in disarray. This is how we look when we travel, when hitting the road is more important than applying lipstick (or mascara, or blush, or bronzer – maybe I should reconsider the “effortless” approach to my appearance while traveling).

In the days and months that followed our afternoon on the black sand of Iceland’s Vik i Myrdal beach we turned our attention to the colourful buildings along Copenhagen’s Nyhavn district, the exotic hum of the call to prayer in Sarajevo, and the enticing scent of fatty pork ribs at Sergiana’s in Brasov, Romania. We returned to travel without a word. Instead of frantically searching for a wi-fi signal to post the news of our engagement to Facebook we focused on the trip we’d spent months saving and planning for. Instead of rushing to call our parents on a fuzzy Skype connection we made memories and laughed and talked.

Taking in Budapest's beautiful Parliament - and laughing at the hilarious Italian couple that offered to take our picture

Taking in Budapest’s beautiful Parliament – and laughing with the hilarious Italian couple that offered to take our picture

Eventually we returned home, on February 13th of this year, excited to see our friends and family. They were excited to see us to, so much so that my Mom wrapped me up in an enthusiastic hug without even noticing the hunk of sparkle on my ring finger. We had waited five months to tell our families of our engagement and I let her drive off after that big hug without a word.

In the days that followed we sat down with our parents, siblings, and grandparents to tell them and share plenty of hugs. Friends were emailed and Skyped and soon the excited chatter around colours and dresses and table settings began. Although each conversation started slight different they all quickly approached the same intersection:

“What? You waited five months to tell us!”

It might seem selfish that we kept news like this a secret for so long but the truth is that sharing this news via the internet didn’t feel right. For us this was something we wanted to tell people in person. I wanted to be able to wrap my arms around by dad in a big bear hug and share the joy with him – not mumble an inaudible “surprise” over an unreliable Skype connection.

I love this photo Travis snapped using the iPhone but we had to wait to share it for fear the ring was too noticeable

I love this photo Travis snapped in Pamukkale but we delayed sharing it for fear the ring was noticeable

Waiting to tell everyone also had some unexpected perks. We were able to soak in our engagement and eventually talk about the impending wedding on our own terms. We figured out what was and wasn’t important to us before the barrage of questions even began (hint: food – important, craft beer – important, a big stuffy affair – not important). Also when we eventually did tell people we were able to relive the moment as though it just happened instead of coming home and finding that they had already moved on from our “exciting news”.

However this delay from sharing our engagement also meant keeping it off this site for a while, which is why we have only now finally gotten around to sharing it with the awesome travelers, writers, and photographers we’ve met online. Talk about a generation Y moment. Crafting the perfect “we’re engaged!” blog post while trying to avoid sounding self-absorbed is a struggle our parents will never know.

Do you have any experience planning a wedding on a backpacker’s budget? We would love some tips and suggestions. Or maybe you’ve got a killer idea for a honeymoon destination – it doesn’t have to be a typical romantic spot, we love adventure, great food, stunning architecture, and natural attractions too! Give us your opinion in the comment section below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge