A Marriage Proposal in Hawaii

How We Met: It was the summer of 2004.  I was enjoying myself at a house party with friends when I decided to step outside to get some fresh air.  I saw a basketball hoop, picked up the ball and obviously made the shot.  That’s when I heard, “balllllah”, from the corner of the courtyard.  That was the first time I saw Kawika. I was definitely intrigued but far too shy to respond.  So, logically, I made my friend call him for me!  Unfortunately, Kawika was returning to college the following day for football camp and we did not keep in touch.

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It was December 22nd, 2004.  Kawika and I were both home from college on winter break when we found ourselves at the same Christmas party.  The moment I saw the way Kawika looked at me, I knew it was all over.  Sure enough, he asked me out on a date.  Our first date was at Buzz’s Steak House in Lanikai, Hawai’i and we immediately hit it off.  We were inseparable.  I thought that returning to college would split us up, but Kawika drove (every single weekend until I graduated) from San Diego to Redlands to see me.

It was 10:00 pm on Monday, February 14th, 2005.  I was sitting on the floor in the hallway of my dorm talking to Kawika, as we did for hours every night.  I couldn’t stop crying as I was extremely homesick and sad that I was not able to spend Valentine’s Day with him.  In an attempt to cheer me up, Kawika made a joke about how cute my messy hair bun was.  I laughed a little then started to question how he knew what my hair looked like.  I quickly forgot about it as I often wear my hair in a messy bun.  Kawika then made a comment about the sweat pants I was wearing.  At this point, I was really confused (FaceTime did not exist yet).  Kawika then said, “look up”.  Through the glass peep of the hallway door, I saw Kawika standing there with a bouquet of flowers and a Tiffany’s box.  In the box, I found a sterling silver Elsa Peretti open heart ring with a note saying “mahalo for opening up your heart to me.”  This is the day Kawika became my boyfriend.

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How He Asked: When I began planning the proposal, I knew that I wanted to do it on the Pillbox hike in Lanikai, Hawaii with the Mokulua islands as a backdrop. The only thing was that my girlfriend at the time (now fiancé), Lauren, wasn’t the biggest fan of hiking. So I was forced to enlist the help from four of our friends. Given that one of our friends, Malia, recently started as a public relation and marketing director for a local hotel, we told Lauren that she needed our help in promoting the hotel’s new online marketing campaign. Given the loving and selfless person that Lauren is, we knew this would convince Lauren to willingly agree to go hiking. We went on to inform Lauren about the bogus “My Hawaii” campaign in which fans of the hotel’s Facebook page would post pictures of themselves holding signs describing what each person’s “Hawaii” meant to them. The elaborate scheme was that the six of us would go on a hike in order to kick-start the campaign and take pictures of each other holdings various signs with words like “fun”, “love”, “hiking”, etc.  The plot allowed us to capture the actual proposal on film without Lauren suspecting anything.

Finally after holding various signs and taking multiple pictures, Malia asked Lauren to hold a custom hotel sign that was folded up and printed on canvas. As Lauren began to unfold the “custom” sign, she gradually processed what the sign actually read; “Babes, I (mustache) you a question …”  Simultaneously, I proceeded to drop to one knee in preparation for the big question. Despite having rehearsed a brief speech in my head over a hundred times, which was intended to reflect on our past, present, and future together, I was only able to utter four words: “Will you marry me?” And while it took awhile to get an answer out of her, given that she was completely caught off guard, she eventually answered with a simple “Yes”.

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Photos by Brooklyn Dombroski at Brooklyn Hawaii