Dani and Jason
Jason and I met at Vanderbilt University in 2010. He was a friend of a friend and he had come over to study for a test with her. We said hi and went our separate ways. Fast forward to a few weeks later when my friend Liesel had her birthday dinner and convinced us all to go out to the fraternities that night to dance and see all the “build” parties going on. We got dressed up and went out to a frat that was having a Pike’s Peak themed party complete with a mountain, slides into foam snow, yetis, and a 90s cover band. I spotted Jason from across the room and called him over to say hi. He and his friends came over to dance with our group. According to him, he tried to dance with me all night and I was running away from him. According to me, it was a girl’s night and I didn’t want to abandon the group for this cute guy.
After the party we went to catch the bus and he gave me his jacket and rode the bus past his stop to make sure we all got back safe and sound. I stole his number from my friend and asked him to hang out a couple of times. He was a chemical engineer in his hardest semester and he turned me down (three times!) before he asked me out to an a cappella concert and dinner. Our second date was a weekend long fraternity formal in Gatlinburg, TN. I remember thinking that it was either going to go really well or be the most awkward weekend ever. Obviously it ended up going well. We both had a knack for remembering song lyrics and we quoted them to each other the entire car ride to Gatlinburg. I also had painted a pirate themed cooler for him. I was nervous he wouldn’t like it but he said it was the best one at the formal and bragged about it all weekend. We both thought we weren’t ready to date again but there was something special about being together. Jason made me laugh, brought out the goofy side in me, was a complete gentleman, and on top of all of that was also extremely cute.
We started dating in April of 2010 and we have been together ever since. We have been dating for almost seven years, three of which were long distance. I moved to North Carolina for a year and a half and then to Texas for a job. We both felt like we were nearing a place in our lives where we wanted to start our lives and get married. However, we live in different states and had no idea what our timeline was going to look like going forward.
How He Asked
My parents’ anniversary was coming up in October and our family had a trip to Kauai planned to celebrate in September! My parents had honeymooned in Kauai 30 years prior and they invited my sister and I to come and have a family reunion for the first week of their trip and then they were headed to the big island to have some romantic alone time for the remainder. There had been an ongoing riff with my family and Jason because my parents had said that no boyfriends would be allowed on family reunions but fiances and husbands would be invited. Obviously I joked around with Jason that if he proposed he would get a free trip to Hawaii. I was fairly certain he would not propose in time and by July I was convinced that it would be a family reunion and nothing else. I was excited to go and spend time with my older sister and my parents and prepped for the trip.
The first three days were full of adventures with the family including a helicopter tour of the island, some beach hopping, runs by the beach, and hikes down to picturesque private sands. My dad had made an itinerary and on the fourth day we were scheduled to get up early and drive up to Waimea Canyon. He had also mentioned that he wanted to get a family picture for the Christmas card so he encouraged my sister and I to wear a nicer outfit than what we would for a regular hike/active day. We got up early that morning, got dressed, got some coffee, and headed up to the mountain. We entered the Waimea Canyon reserve and we were driving for a while but we kept on passing the scenic overlooks. My sister asked if we could stop and take pictures but my dad said that we needed to get to the top overlook soon or else it would be too foggy to see the view.
My dad stopped the car at the lookout and we all got out. We arrived a split in the road, one way was cement and led to an overlook and then the other way was dirt (mud at that point, as it had been raining) and led to the cliff. My dad started going down the dirt path but my sister refused, saying that we were wearing the wrong shoes. My dad seemed pretty insistent on the dirt path but we started walking up the cement path. My sister, mom, and I walked to the side of the lookout and were disappointed as it was foggy and rainy. I broke off from them and walked to the other side of the cement lookout to see if the view off the front was any better. I stopped dead in my tracks. Jason was standing below on the dirt path. I immediately broke down crying because I knew what was happening. I pointed to him because my mom and sister hadn’t spotted him yet and I started running back down the path and down to the dirt path to him. I reached him and hugged him and my first words were, “How are you here?” He laughed and led me to the edge of the cliff, put a lei around my neck, got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him. I immediately kissed him and said, “Yes, duh!!”
Jason had made this plan months in advance. He had the idea when I first said that my family was going to Kauai. He texted my dad on his birthday and asked if they could have a Skype coffee meeting the next day. My dad agreed and they set up the time. The next day on Skype, Jason made some chit chat with my dad followed by “the longest silence ever” (according to my dad) before he asked for my hand in marriage. My dad was elated and assured Jason that he had his full blessing. Jason then paused and asked the second biggest question, “Can I come to Kauai to ask her?” My dad was even more excited. He said that he had a feeling that Jason would end up on that trip and he decided that this would be their secret and he would help Jason to make a proposal plan. They came up with several different locations that he could propose and even talked about renting a helicopter to make his grand entrance.
Finally, they agreed on Waimea Canyon and the planning began. Jason bought his tickets and scoped out the spot on google. He looked at weather reports, tourist books, and timing for his important proposal. The day he left for Hawaii he told me he was going to Vanderbilt’s career fair for his work. He sent me a SnapChat of his professional attire and asked me to wish him luck. He then took off the suit, grabbed his suitcase, and headed to the airport. He even had to ignore a phone call from me because he was in the airport and the announcements would have tipped me off. He stayed at a hotel on the other side of Kauai and was texting my dad with updates on timing and the plan. They even had code names in each other’s phones just in case someone looked at their phone. Jason headed up the mountain two hours early and waited in the rain for my family to arrive. There was no cell service on the mountain so he waited and waited, in the rain and fog, on me to arrive. He had memorized what he wanted to say to me, looked at the ring about a million times, and was anxious to pull off the surprise of a lifetime.
I am still impressed to this day that he surprised me. I am usually very hard to surprise. I even know when he’s buying me a present from states away. I will always remember our amazing day in Kauai and saying yes to the easiest question I’ve ever been asked. I’m excited to marry the love of my life and end our long distance spell for good.