Cynthia and Sam

How We Met

Less than two years ago I decided to hop on the online dating train. I have to say, back then I was not into the whole online dating scene. You can only imagine how I investigated each person I decided to “swipe right” on. I remember the night I came across Sam’s profile. My first thought: “Hey, he’s cute… Let’s investigate!”. I looked him up and realized we have over 100 mutual friends and figured he was safe enough to swipe right on. After a few initial messages back and forth, I was totally intrigued and looked more and more forward to seeing his name pop up on my phone. The dating app messaging turned into text messaging, and before I knew it we had set up a coffee date as our first date. What we thought would be a quick 1 to a 1.5 hour date turned into a 3 hour coffee date, where we realized how many times our paths could have crossed in all the years before we met online. We discovered we went to the same, relatively small private elementary school, but we never knew each other since he was always a few grades above me and our elementary school kept the boys and girls separated. We also learned that we went to the same community college, university, and pretty much grew up in the same community. I never thought meeting “the one” would be a smooth sailing from an online dating app (Thanks, JSwipe!).

How He Asked

Before I get into the details of our magical proposal, I have to include the story of how Sam officially asked me to be his girlfriend (or how he asked for us to date exclusively if we want to sound mature lol). On our 3rd date, we drove down to Laguna Beach (from Los Angeles). There’s a hidden driveway off PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) that leads to private driveways to some beautiful coastal homes in Laguna Beach. Along the same driveway, there’s a staircase of well over 100 steps that leads to an almost secluded beach area that mostly locals in the area know about. Once down, a beautiful beach area is revealed, surrounded by cliffs on both sides and a view of the Pacific Ocean’s blue colors at its finest!

Sam had single-handedly packed a full on picnic for our 3rd date. He brought a picnic blanket, wine glasses, wine, cheese, crackers, grapes, almonds, and chocolate! As the sun began to set, we shared one of the most incredible sunset views together. Being at this beach with the unique rock formations combined with the sunset made this place our first favorite location to catch a sunset; and it was the day Sam officially asked me to be his girlfriend. We spoke about going back to this beach a few times throughout our dating period, but never got a chance to go back there. I later learned that a month before he proposed, Sam decided to make our next visit to the beach the day he would ask me to become his wife!

He spend a month planning the perfect proposal for us. Being that my parents are divorced and I live with my grandparents (who are pretty much considered another set of parents for me), Sam had to ask for my family’s blessing at 4 different times (as if asking one time isn’t nerve-wrecking enough lol). He spend the next 4 weeks looking up ideas on Pinterest- a website I never even knew he knew about! He finally came up with the layout after combining ideas from various posts and drove around to multiple stores and shops to gather all the materials and decorations he needed.

Engagement Proposal Ideas in Laguna Beach, CA

The picture above shows Sam in the middle of putting together the beautiful layout for the proposal. This guy literally thought of everything… tape measure, a broom stick to smooth out the sand and create a walkway, a shovel to carve out a heart shape on the sand, twine rope to hang pictures, picture frames, plants, candles, lanterns, rose petals, tiki torches, custom flower arrangements to hang, and other decorations! (Picture of final product will be shown below). I later found out that he had made 2 other trips down to Laguna Beach before the day of the proposal to scope out the area and see how crowded the place gets on the weekend (making each trip down to Laguna Beach over 170 miles of driving round trip).

He had taken pictures of the drive off PCH, the entrance to the stairs that lead down to the beach, and the exact area he planned on setting up. He added annotations on the pictures and sent out numerous emails to our family and friends so they would have an easy time finding the hidden location the day of and to ensure no one would say anything that would give away his surprise for the big day. The plan was finalized weeks before as he spoke to my best friend and ask her to help bring me to the beach. A week before the proposal day, he told me he was going to go out of town for a business trip the following weekend. He nonchalantly said he would be flying out early Saturday morning and coming back later in the evening the next day that Sunday (which would ultimately be the day he was going to propose).

Meanwhile, my best friend told me she wanted to take me out to celebrate my birthday (which was only a few weeks before). This wasn’t an unusual thing either because my best friend and I have a tradition where we take each other out for each other’s birthday every year, usually making it either full or half day outing. The Wednesday before the proposal Sunday, my best friend and I planned a night walk and we decided it would be fun to walk over to Sam’s house which happens to be less than a mile and a half away, making it a great route distance for our walk (also wasn’t our first time doing this, so again, nothing unusual for me to suspect anything here either).

We walked to Sam’s house and spent some time talking before Sam asked us what we have planned together for the weekend. My best friend mentioned she wanted to take me to a restaurant in Laguna Beach and we would spend the day walking around the town area there. This was where Sam planted the “seed” to get us to go to our beach spot in Laguna that following Sunday. He brought up the secluded beach area we went to on our 3rd date and my best friend, being her excited/bubbly self about such places, told me she really wants to see it. We decided then that it would be cool to stop by at some point in our adventure day in Laguna Beach.

Cynthia's Proposal in Laguna Beach, CA

That Sunday came about quickly and my best friend did a great job making sure our (but mostly my) nails were done for the day (she’s my best friend for more than one reason!) We spend the morning pampering ourselves before driving down to Laguna Beach where we had an early dinner with a beautiful rooftop view of the ocean. After having delicious sangrias, we decided to stick around and listen to a live band at the restaurant (where my best friend was really just waiting for a cue from Sam so she could have me direct her to the beach area). A little before sunset, we left the restaurant and headed for the beach. We began walking down the 100+ steps and it wasn’t long before I noticed the people at the beach were sitting all along the sides of the cliffs.

I looked back at my friend and expressed how weird that was. A few steps down and I noticed a man with a fancy camera aiming his camera at us. This time I looked back at her with a confused look on my face and noticed the huge smile on her face. The next time I looked down (mostly to make sure I don’t skip a step and fall), I spotted Sam’s brother at the bottom of the winding wooden steps recording a video of us on his phone. At that point, I immediately understood what was going on.

Cynthia and Sam's Engagement in Laguna Beach, CA

The picture above shows the moment I realized I was walking down the stairs to see Sam, ready to propose!

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The set up was absolutely beautiful!

Where to Propose in Laguna Beach, CA

My smile immediately widened (possibly to its maximum width), when I saw Sam standing there, in the middle of a huge heart, shaped by rose pedals, at the end of the amazing aisle he created for me to walk through to get to him.

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Wedding Proposal Ideas in Laguna Beach, CA

Until this point, I didn’t know our family and friends were hiding on the side of the cliff. I was so focussed on not tripping and falling as I power-walked towards Sam. I have to admit, I wanted to run, but again, my biggest fear was tripping and falling lol

We made it just in time to take a few photos with the another beautiful sunset. The first sunset we caught here was when he asked me to be his girlfriend. Less than two years later, he asked me to be his wife.

Special Thanks

Jared Sislin
Photographer