Chelsea and Tony

Chelsea and Tony's Engagement in Costa Rica

How We Met

Tony and I met at the University of Florida. It was my last semester there and I decided to add onto my crazy schedule by applying for a job at RecSports, the gym on campus. My first shift was at the smaller gym on campus where there are only two people working each shift. Fate stepped in because Tony was the other person on shift with me. We spent the next three hours goofing around and getting to know one another – oh, and also working. The rest of the semester we had a few more shifts together, each time the butterflies becoming more and more apparent. We found out later on we were both secretly trying to pick up shifts with the other person whenever one was available.

After graduation we both went our separate ways for a few years. I moved to Thailand to teach English as a foreign language, while Tony moved to Alabama for work. While I was traveling in Indonesia in May of 2015, I met a group of people one night. While we were all hanging out and getting to know one another, I mentioned I went to The University of Florida for my undergraduate degree. One of the guys in the group who was from England said he knew someone that went to school there. (Okay, if you’ve gone to any large university you know the chances of knowing this one person they knew was slim to none, especially if they’re not even from the same country.) As he started describing the person he knew my heart started racing because I knew exactly who he was talking about. I finally asked, “Is the person you know Tony Zaccario?” He instantly shouted “Yes!”

At that point I knew I had to reach out to Tony, even though we hadn’t spoken for almost a year and a half. So naturally I did, on snapchat because I didnt have a working phone number while abroad (thank goodness for social media, huh?) We sent a few messages back and forth but that was it.

The next September was the beginning of Gator Football season. I had been back in the states for a few months and was beginning to settle back in. A couple of my sorority sisters and I plan a trip to Gainesville every year to attend a football game. The weekend finally came and we were all so excited to reunite and spend the weekend together. That Friday night, as we were all getting ready for the evening, a text message pops up on my phone. It was from Tony. “Hey, are you in Gainesville this weekend.”

As they say, the rest is history!

How He Asked

Our two year anniversary was this past October. A couple weeks before Tony told me he had a present for me, but he wasn’t going to be able to give it to me on the actual day of our anniversary. I told him it was more than okay and moved on. Just kidding, I pestered him about it almost every day.

Fast forward to the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I was at my mom’s house helping her cook all afternoon. Around 4pm she said, why dont you call Tony and invite him over for dinner when he gets off work. I obliged and he said he could be there around 6pm. I thought nothing of it and continued cooking.

Around 6pm Tony arrived, said his hello’s, and handed me a card. He said “I know you’ve been waiting a long time for this, but tonight you get to find out what your anniversary present is. Inside the card was my first clue — it was a scavenger hunt. I ran all around my parents house finding clues, pictures, and hints to what our anniversary present was. At the end of the scavenger hunt I found out we were going to Costa Rica! And we were leaving in an hour.

Little did I know Tony had taken my two little sisters to our apartment earlier that day and they had packed a suitcase for me. Within a couple hours we were on a plane to Costa Rica. When we first arrived, we checked into Florblanca. An absolutely amazing resort in Santa Theresa. We got some lunch and Tony had horseback riding planned for that afternoon. We rode through a 500 acre farm and along the beach. It was a dream. That evening Tony told me he had a relaxing evening planned for us, and our anniversary dinner was the next night.

The next morning we woke up and we had massages booked. Before our massage Tony told me he had a little bit of bad news. When he planned the trip, the villa we were in was already booked so we had to move to another one after our massage. I didnt mind at all, I was just looking forward to a massage!

After our massages our new key had been left at the front of the spa for us. This is when Tony came clean. He told me that we didnt have to move because the villa was booked, but because he had upgraded us to their Honeymoon Villa. Immediately I said, “Dont you think thats bad luck?!” He just looked at me and smiled.

We spent the afternoon by the pool. Dinner reservations were for 5:30pm, but he wanted to walk along the beach and watch the sunset beforehand. We got ready and started to stroll down the beach. As we were walking we came across a message in a bottle. At this point, the gig was up and I immediately became so emotional. I read the note in the bottle, he took my hands and got down on one knee. I could barely let him finish before I said yes!!

Afterwards, we had a celebratory dinner with lots (and lots) of champagne. It was the most magical and romantic weekend I could have ever imagined.

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Special Thanks

Jennifer Harter
Photographer