Chanel and Stevo
How We Met
We met in our hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa the Spring of 2010, on a blind date. Yes. Both of us were crazy enough to accept the invite, and the ‘conversation’ had been good enough to keep us together for seven years. When we met, the ‘Yes Man’ theory was a strong force, particularly with me. Remember the movie from the early naughts with Jim Carrey? The one where he chooses to say “yes” to absolutely everything? Well it inspired me around the time I met Stevo. I was literally saying “yes” to everything, and it opened up my world to seeing new places and meeting new faces, such as Stevo’s.
A friend of mine (that I had gone to university with) decided to set me up with her work colleague (Stevo). She sent us both emails “introducing” the other person, and as we both liked what we saw (she chose some really photos to get us to buy into the idea), Stevo phoned me a few nights later. I didn’t answer, but he left a voicemail and I melted when I heard his voice, so naturally phoned right back, and we organized the date.
A few weeks later, he picked me up from my apartment (even though I was over an hour late, as I had gone to the hairdresser on the other side of town and they were building the road that was on my way home) but late or not, we were going on that date!
We went bar-hoping in a trendy area (around 30 minutes away) so we had ample time to get to know each other in the car, en route. We stayed up until 6am that night, drinking wine (and tequila) and sharing stories. Two days later, I was meeting all his friends at a local cricket game (a popular Spring past time in South Africa), and the rest, as they say, is history.
How He Asked
Let me begin by talking about the build-up, which really added to the excitement of the whole experience (and dragged this out from only 30 minutes, into an entire celebratory weekend). 17 September 2010 – the day Steve and I went on a blind date and first laid eyes on each other. We have celebrated this special day every year since, and when Sunday 17 September 2017 came around (the day in question), I was excited for yet another incredible anniversary, although this time, we were doing way more than just celebrating 7 years together. Yup, Steve had so many other things planned.
Almost the entire weekend was a mystery to me. All I was told was:
That we were going away for 4 nights to a mysterious location, situated somewhere in Europe
That I had to bring all my camera gear, and clothing suitable for hot and cold conditions.
That was it.
As the weekend began (on the Friday) little sneaky tips and clues were given to me. First, that we would be taking multiple trains for a total travel time of five hours. Once we’d arrived at the second train station in Salzburg, and I ruled out Slovakia, Switzerland and Germany (figuring out that we were headed south for Italy) the excitement grew even more, as I had a slight inkling that we were headed for our favourite mountain range (and one of our favourite places in the whole world – the Dolomites).
On train number four, the penny finally dropped that we’d be spending time in San Candido (where we’d stayed a couple times before) although just as I was relieved from the (slightly anxious) curiosity that had taken over my life (you must understand, that I plan nearly 99% of all our travel – and we are full-time travelers – so am ALWAYS clued up as to what and where), Steve dropped another bomb saying that we’d only be staying there for one night. The next day, clues and excitement led us to the beautiful mountainous town of Cortina d’Ampezzo for some magical what-I-thought-was-only-anniversary celebrations.
Steve had been in contact with the amazing staff of the Cristallo Resort & Spa, planning a full 2-day itinerary (which I was forbidden from seeing, obvs) involving aperitivos, candle-lit dinners, spa days, and of course, an adventure-filled sunrise excursion we would never forget.
Our adventurous 7am drive on the day in question, from (my new favourite) hotel, was sheer joy. I was bouncing (both from excitement for a sunrise shoot, and the rough terrain up the mountain) and Steve was a nervous wreck, although he kept it together, and still jokes now that he couldn’t have asked for better weather. After just over 30 minutes of bouncy, chatty driving, we arrived at Croda Da Lago – a gorgeous mirrored lake at the top of the mountains, without a soul in sight.
So here we are, on the edge of a crystal lake, scouting to find a good spot for our usual “couple shot” for Instagram, and somewhere to have our picnic breakfast (which Steve organized with the Cristallo Resort…and which had champagne and champagne glasses #stillcannotbelieveit).
We found a little area with a great lake reflection, and a perfect blue sky, and Steve said he would set up the tripod*. I hung around, taking in the fresh alpine air, and then made my way to the water’s edge so Steve could set the camera focus.
*He ended up setting up two tripods – one for video and one for photos, which I did find peculiar, but totally went with it.
He pushed the shutter button on both cameras, and made his way down to me. I turned around and reached out my hand to hold his (as we always do for our couple shots), he grabbed it, and immediately dropped to one knee.
The next few minutes are a bit of a blur to me.
I vaguely remember my gasping for air, and tears (oh, so many tears!) I remember Steve telling me that he knew he’d marry me the day he met me, and I remember him holding my right hand, and us having to do a silly hand swop to get the ring onto the left hand. I remember his knee getting muddy on the edge of the lake, and I remember saying yes several times. I remember how he looked at me when he said, “my love, my Chanses, will you marry me?” and I remember never feeling more certain about anything in my life, before saying yes (one more time).
Knowing that the one person you cannot live without, feels the same, and wants to (officially) spend the rest of their life with you, (I now know) will leave you speechless and completely frozen, until there’s no more tears to cry, and only champagne to drink, and photos to take. So, naturally, that’s what we did next!