Doug and Brittany's Botanical Garden Proposal
How We Met: My husband and I met in a most unconventional way.
While we both grew up less than an hour from each other (me, Seattle, and him, Lacey) we didn’t meet until we were 27 and living on the northern and southern borders of the US.
After finishing up college at Gonzaga University I was accepted into Teach for America and placed in Phoenix, Arizona. While teaching at my placement school for a few years I started to develop a good friendship with the physical education teacher, Cayla Trakel. As our friendship developed I started to realize that Cayla seemed like she would be a great match for my little brother. For my birthday that year (2011) my brother, William, came to Phoenix to visit. That was the beginning of their relationship. They are now married with a beautiful little girl, Mylah Jae.
A few months after my brother and good friend started dating, Cayla went home to visit Will and while there ran into Doug. They had gone to high school together in Lacey and were now both PE teachers. They talked and reminisced about the good ole’ times. Doug had just finished his long stint in undergraduate life where he played baseball through junior college and college and then went on to be the assistant women’s basketball coach at his college in North Dakota. He had recently moved back to Washington and was looking for a full time PE position.
When Cayla came back to Phoenix to talk about how great her trip and my brother were, she also mentioned that she had ran into a friend from high school who she thought I would be interested in. She connected us via phone and we just began talking. Over the next few months we got to know each other over the phone and Skype and then when I was home that year for Christmas we finally got to meet in person. It was a typical 20 something date where we met at a mutual bar, and Doug had a few drinks to try and mask his nervousness. Over that Christmas break there were a number of fun, and memorable outings that we had and then I headed back to Phoenix.
As our relationship grew that spring, Doug made a few visits to Arizona and me to Washington. We were really excited about how easy and right our relationship felt. At the end of that school year Cayla decided to move back up to Washington to be closer to family and my brother. With that decision a PE opening at my school was now posted and available. Doug decided to go for it and apply for Cayla’s old position. With persistent effort and a good recommendation from Cayla, he got the job and it was the best decision we all ever made.
We had an amazing road trip from Washington through Idaho, Montana (to see my best friend get married) and Utah on our way back to Arizona. We then continued to build our relationship in the same area code. We got engaged a year later, and just celebrated our fourth month of marriage! We are so thankful and blessed to have found each other through my now sister-in-law Cayla and in a most unconventional way and are excited for the adventures the future holds.
How He Asked: Doug knew that surprising me at the proposal was both really important to him and me and was going to be really hard to do.
Interestingly enough Skype, the very vessel that brought us together, was now what he was utilizing to ask my dad’s permission to marry me. With an enthusiastic and tearful yes from my mom and pops, it was now in Doug’s hands. He will tell you he couldn’t sleep, felt sick and constantly checked the closet to make sure the ring was there every day until the day he asked me.
Doug then asked one of my best friends to help with his plan. He needed Claire to not only catch this moment on camera for him but he also needed her to be an integral part of the diversion. He asked that she take me to breakfast the morning of the proposal.
See summers in Phoenix are no joke so if you want to get errands done at a reasonable temperature 6am is the way to go. That morning Doug said he need to get up early to go an pick up some materials for a science project that he was going to do with his students on Monday, the ironic thing about that is that Doug teaches physical education but it was so early I didn’t ask nor did I question what he was wearing or the fact that he took a cooler (men do weird things sometimes). When Doug left, Claire texted me and asked me to go to breakfast at the local coffee shop and I accepted.
It was a normal breakfast at the cute local coffee shop with one of my best friends until the barista came over to us. She asked if I was Brittany, and when I said yes she handed me a card with my name on it (in Doug’s handwriting). I looked at Claire with her sneaky smile and opened the card, it read, “Card 1: After you enjoy your breakfast, head to the Desert Botanical Gardens for a day of surprises. Love, Doug” I immediately looked at Claire, with a tear in my eye and said, “You know I hate surprises” and she smiled. We stopped back at my apartment so I could change and headed to the gardens. When we got there, there was no sign of Doug. We got in line to buy tickets and then Claire magically pulled out two tickets, we proceeded in. At this point my heart is racing and I have no idea where he is. Then Claire pulls out and gives me card #2, which read, “Follow the Desert Wildflower Loop Trail and visit the Binns Wildflower Pavilion. Next, proceed to the butterfly garden. Love- Love is something that I have had for you since the first day we met.” Cue the tears because they were rolling. Once to the butterfly garden Claire gave me another card. It read, “Next proceed to the hummingbird garden. Emotion- Through good and bad, I promise to always be there for you.” We walked and right before we got to the hummingbird garden Claire handed me the last card, “Friendship- I am so lucky to be with my best friend in the world” and with that I came around the corner and saw Doug. Naturally, I looked back at Claire to see her scurrying away with her camera and I walked to Douglas. Doug took both my hands in the 110+ heat, sweating told me how much he loved me. He then reached into his pocket to get a ring box and got down on one knee. And I swear, it could have been the heat, but I thought I was going to faint. I smiled and said yes!
We left the botanical gardens a sweaty and crying mess. We called our family and friends. That morning, Doug had called not only my parents, but also my best friends to let them know what was happening that day. Later in the afternoon we had a small engagement celebration with some friends. This day would not have been possible without the time, effort and secrets of so many people. It was an amazing day and is a day I will never forget.