Eric and Jill: His Side of the Story + a Video of the Proposal

HOW WE MET: My parents taught me to respect my teachers from a young age, and I’m sure glad they did. Long before I knew Jill, her father was my P.E. teacher in 6th and 7th grade. Jill and I met at the end of October in 2006, during our senior year of high school. We went to neighboring high schools, and found we had a lot of mutual friends. She had me from the start, and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with her. We started a long-distance stretch of our relationship our freshman year of college, as she went to school in San Luis Obispo, CA, and I went to Cal State Fullerton in Orange County. We saw each other every couple of weeks, and decided to move back home to the bay area after the year was over. After a year at home, I went back down to Fullerton, and she followed the next semester to go to school at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa. We have been able to enjoy the last two-and-a-half years of our relationship close to each other, and both graduated this spring.

HOW HE ASKED: The last few weeks of college were stressful for Jill, and she was focusing all of her energy on finishing school. With that in mind, I knew she would not be expecting me to propose. I had planned to propose the week before she graduated, but the ring took longer to build than the jeweler expected, so I had to postpone for one week. Even though I was frustrated at the time, the delay was a gift from God. It ended up raining that whole day – not exactly beach proposal weather.

The next week I finally received the ring, and collaborated with a few close friends to help capture the moment. The Huntington Beach pier is a special place for Jill and me, and it is one of the most photogenic places I have photographed. With that in mind, we headed down to the pier on Monday to plan out the proposal. We figured the best way to capture the video was to bury my GoPro Hero2 video camera in the sand, and brush the sand off the lens. Evan would shoot from behind us, and allow the pillars of the pier to frame us. Ben would shoot from the south side of the pier, and would capture our silhouettes in front of the ocean. There was a heavy marine layer on Monday, and I was praying I could get a sunset on Thursday.

Thursday came and Jill took the last final of her life, so I suggested we celebrate with some sushi and saki bombs from our favorite spot in HB. We enjoyed good food and conversation, reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future. After dinner I asked if we could walk along the beach, and watch the sunset under the pier. It was windy that evening, but God had blessed us with a beautiful sunset, so we grabbed a jacket from the car and headed down to the beach.

I had given my buddies a heads-up text when we left the restaurant, and everything went exactly to plan. We talked about school being done as we walked down the beach, and when we got to the end she had no idea what I was about to do. I’ve never seen that much raw, beautiful emotion before, and after I got down on my knee, time seemed to stand still for a moment. Even now it hasn’t completely sank in that I am going to spend the rest of my life with my best friend! The footage turned out great, and my buddies captured some shots we will cherish for the rest of our lives. The next day her entire family came down south for her graduation, and it was awesome being able to spend the weekend surrounded by family.

Here it is on video:

And here is Jill’s new ring…

Photos by Evan Staeck and Benjamin Morse!