Gina and Craig

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How We Met: I truly believe that Craig and met because of fate!  After graduating from Florida State and living at home for a year I decided to move from Naples, FL to San Diego, CA in April of 2010. After going to University of Michigan and staying there for a couple more years for a job, Craig moved back to his hometown of San Diego a few months before I got there. If the timing wasn’t perfect I’m still not sure if we would have met! I transferred with a job that I had in FL out to CA. I didn’t love that job but I wanted to have some income when I got to San Diego.

It turns out that job was the key to meeting Craig. I was living in Pacific Beach with a big group of girlfriends from FSU and my office was all the way up in Carlsbad which was like a 45 minute drive away! I only had that job for 1 month and in that month I met a guy at the office who had a big group of friends who also all lived in Pacific Beach. Craig was in that group of friends and we met out at a bar one night. Craig and I were both the social butterflies of our group and liked to coordinate going out and going to the beach with everyone.

One day Craig messaged me on Facebook and asked for my number because he was going to get bottle service at this bar called Bar West. Apparently he had a crush on me right away but he was kind of talking to another girl and I thought nothing of him. A couple months later, after hanging out a lot all summer, we had a moment of chemistry while walking by each other in a restaurant. We both felt sparks immediately and kind of looked at each other like we knew something had just happened.

After that, we made plans to hang out a couple times by ourselves before Craig left that weekend for a group trip to Hawaii along with the girl he was seeing. While he was in Hawaii we talked every single day and knew that as soon as he got back we needed to see each other and be together. Five days after he got back he asked me to be his girlfriend and it was all history from there! We started officially living together 8 months after that and just before our 2 year anniversary is when we got engaged!

How He Asked:

From the Groom…written on our plane to Europe!!1063491_10103316800317423_156083720_n

My Engagement Story

[MY INTENTIONS] The date was July 16th; Gina was at her first day of her boot camp. It was 5AM and I was on my way to the airport to fly to Toronto for business. My Mom was nice enough to get up before the sun up to drive me to the airport. I had been thinking all weekend how much I was going to miss Gina and how one day I knew we would get married.

All weekend I thought what am I waiting for! No time is going to be better than now! This would be the perfect moment to let my Mom and Dad know my intentions as Gina would not be around and I could have that conversation.

The whole way to the airport my nerves are rushing from my head into my chest, “how am I going to say this out loud for the first time?” I ask myself. As we approach the airport on Harbor Dr I know this is my chance. I just blurt it out and am instantly relieved to have released it into the universe.

I said, “Mom, I think I am going to ask Gina to marry me.” As soon as I said it my Mom reacted like no one should be able to at 5AM. She was instantly ecstatic and couldn’t be happier for me and us. I got through security and quickly got a call from Mom with Dad on the other line and found myself making the announcement even more public as now my gate-mates could overhear this conversation.

THE RING

Now I knew what I wanted to do. The hard part began THE RING. Gina and I had looked at rings jokingly early in our relationship. Secretly I made mental notes thinking one day this may be all I have to go off. Sure enough here I was and that was all I had. Well this and Gina’s so cleverly titled Pinterest board titled “One Day.” I thought “If I ask Gina to go ring browsing now she will surely become suspicious and expect something.” When I returned from my trip I began to think of the when and where of the proposal.

I knew there would be no better place than our Italian adventure that we had been planning for over 6 months. If this were to happen I knew that I had better get on this ring now as this trip was 7 weeks away. When I graduated from Michigan my parents bought me a nice watch from a family friend who happens to be a jeweler in San Diego as well. Perfect, I knew my watch was overdue for its 5-6 year servicing. I could use my watch as leverage to get a better deal and throw in the servicing as well. Friday, July 27th I went with my mom to visit Jim the jeweler.

I brought my mom for the reassurance I would need when I found the one. Having researched diamonds online, at work of course because surely I would leave it up on the computer at home and Gina would discover it ruining the surprise. I had a good idea of what I was looking for as far as Cut – Color – Clarity go. I also had an idea of setting style and of course budget. After looking at stones and settings for over 1.5 hours I didn’t get that feeling people say you should get.

“You will just know when you find the one.” I left Jim’s without my watch and thinking did I have “the one” and just didn’t know it? Not to be discouraged I quickly called longtime family friend Harold Krasner at Harold Stevens. I had grown up with Harold’s son playing soccer at surf and Nomads so surely he would guide me to the one I had been looking for. We looked at stones for half an hour or so they were all so beautiful. How would I know? Debating over locations of inclusions and colors I felt like just doing eenie meenie minie moe to pick.

Harold did a great job of explaining the process as well as complimenting me on my excellent eye for spotting every detail even jokingly offering me a job. I had narrowed it down to what I thought was the one. In a last ditch effort to make sure I hadn’t missed anything I asked this stone is great but could you take a look if there is anything a bit larger but still within my budget; he obliged. When he returned from the vault he had a smile on his face I knew he had found something. He mixed up the diamonds under the counter as to test me unbiasedly.

He then placed the final two plus a new stone in front of me. The new one sparkled a little more than the others. I quickly said that is the new one and I was right. When I did a rush of butterflies came over me I had found “THE ONE!” This was a feeling I had not experienced when I viewed the dozens of other stones all beautiful in their own ways. Now the setting, I had a pretty good idea from Gina’s “One Day” board on Pinterest of styles she liked.

Round stone, halo, and diamonds on the band. I noticed lots of cushioned stones as well.  The best of both worlds was what I wanted! The brilliance of a round stone, with the beauty of a cushioned halo surrounding the stone as if every time someone sees it as almost being presented to them on a pillow of little diamonds. I decided no diamonds on the band because I thought with them your eye went from the center stone out.

With the polished band my eye went from the outside in straight to that special stone that I knew would bring Gina butterflies every time she sees it just as it did when I found it. Stone selected, setting picked and now down payment placed. With this custom setting this was going to be tight on delivery for our trip. It was August 3rd and a pick up day of August 29th 2 days before we leave for our trip. This better go as planned!

THE WAIT1058913_10103317676965613_379667836_n

With everything going as planned now all I had to do was keep it a secret. Every time we would hang out with mutual friends someone always jokingly would ask “You guys must be getting close to getting engaged / Get a ring yet Craig?” I would try and laugh it off every time as Gina’s response would be “God willing!” Part of me would think does this person know something? The other part just wanted to say “Why, yes I do have a ring.” I began to think how I would ask Gina. Where? Could I travel with this ring and keep it a secret for 10 days. Just the thought of it stressed me out.

I could just envision some TSA agent ruining this whole thing. I wasn’t going to let that happen. I had made up my mind I would do it in San Diego before our trip. Big and public or a private just us moment? I would change my mind daily. A balloon ride over sun set sounded pretty nice. But I wanted something we could go back to whenever we wanted a special place we could always call ours. I know, our beach. The beach has always been a very special place to Gina and me. Our first conversations began on the beaches in Pacific Beach and we had shared many special moments at our beach, 15th Street in Del Mar. That will be perfect.

TELLING THE FAMILY

Rick, Adrienne and not-so-little 2 month old Alexander visited us in San Diego in Mid-August. This would be the perfect time to let them know in person what my plan would be. Gina was in Florida visiting her family giving me the perfect opportunity to let them know. I waited and the got the same feeling I had in the car that morning on the way to the airport. Again I blurt it out and Adrienne and Rick both yelp with excitement and say why did you wait to tell us?! (as we are 3 days into their trip). Both Rick and Adrienne congratulate me on my selection. “Gina is a great girl they say”, I smile and say I know. Plus you have already been calling her Aunt Gina for two months now. It’s only right we make it official.

THE CALL

The ring delivery date was rapidly approaching and I knew I needed to ask Gina’s parents for their blessing. Gina had an all-day Junior League meeting on August 26th and this would be the perfect opportunity to make the call. This would be the next best thing to asking them face to face. I called Lisa’s cell phone ring ring no answer…Voicemail. Oh no, I thought, what if she calls Gina and asks why is Craig calling. Surprise ruined….I wait 10-15 minutes seemed like 4 hours to try again. Ring… Ring… Ring… She answers, small talk ensues. I ask if John is around and if I can talk to both of them. Surely she expects something now silence as she gets John on the phone as well and I go for it.

“Lisa, you know I love Gina so much, and I wanted to thank you for raising such a, beautiful, and intelligent daughter.” I’m thinking if I compliment her there is no way she will say no! “and I wanted to ask for your and John’s blessing as I ask for her hand in marriage.” Before I can even finish my sentence she lets out an excited scream that I was worried Gina could hear all the way from Florida. She congratulates me and is so excited and asks when I’m going to pop the question. I answer the same day I get the ring, Wednesday. John jokes about “no take back,” only like John can. The call ends with me asking them to keep it a secret. It then hits me at this moment that this is happening! Its days away and all these people better keep their promises to me to keep quiet.

THE BIG DAY1068968_10103316799988083_527069638_nI was on business in San Francisco Monday and Tuesday, thank God because it was getting difficult to see
Gina and wonder if she had any clue as to what I was up to. Wednesday morning I show up at Harold Stevens’ right when they open to get the ring. It’s perfect!

Just the way I wanted it. I leave the store and put the box in my pocket. My pocket is protruding so much there is no way I can hide this all day…. and I can’t let it out of my sight in fear of losing it, breaking it, having it stolen, every way of losing this ring came to mind!  I had an event at the Del Mar Race Track that day where I would keep the box in my jacket pocket all afternoon.

At the track people who have met Gina are asking me jokingly, as they always do, about if I was going to pop the question any day soon. I contemplate telling them and showing them the ring in my pocket.

But I think, “this is going to be special just the two of us. I know our families know when it happens and that’s it!” So I put on my poker face and brush them off. All with the ring right there in my pocket. I had asked Gina earlier that day since the weather was so nice, and it was, if she wanted to watch sunset together?  As she would ask on a weekly basis to watch sunset I knew she wouldn’t say no.

I came home from the races a little early to hide the ring in what I was planning on wearing later that night. The garage opens and what do I see? Gina’s car. Great, I start to stress. I immediately remove the ring from my jacket and as Gina opens the door to the garage I quickly throw the ring box in the center console of my car. We then drive together to get our haircuts and I lean heavily on my right elbow as it rests on the center console. All I can think is god I have to leave this in the car. I’m worried the whole time, thinking the insurance doesn’t kick in until midnight tonight.

What if my car is stolen or broken into. My haircut ends and I pay for mine and Gina’s and quickly run out to the car to make sure it still there. It is! Nothing’s going to stop this now. We return home me driving with my awkward lean still. Gina and I change out of work clothes to go watch the sunset. While Gina is getting ready I grab my North Face jacket as it has zippered pockets and would make for the perfect hiding place. I hide the ring, and tell Gina it was a little chilly at the races today. Yeah right! It was really like 86 and warm. Everything is falling into place and we leave for the beach.

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We arrive at 15th street to the most perfect un-metered and un-restricted parking spot I’ve had in 28 years. We walk down to the grass and I’m holding my jacket. Gina offers to carry it. I quickly respond NO. “Hopefully she didn’t pick up on that” is all I can think.

We get a bench and set up shop as we were early for our 7:16 sunset by about an hour. We sit and talk we are people watching. My mind is going a million miles a minute how am I going to bring this into our conversation.

How am I going to do this? Watching the sun is like watching a clock count down to the moment the past 7 weeks have been building up to. Gina snuggles into me looks me in the eye and says, “I feel butterflies” I almost jumped on the opportunity to say “well you are about to feel a lot more.”

But it’s only 6:20 there is still time. We go on talking as the sun begins to sink into the Pacific. Closer and closer it gets to the horizon I begin to look back and forth for a break in the foot traffic for the perfect moment.

Right… Clear. Left…. Clear. I scoot my butt to the edge of my bench… Grab my jacket, unzip the pocket grab the box and drop down to one knee. In this moment everything in my head that I thought of saying escapes me as I see the emotion come over Gina’s face, as the biggest smile I have ever seen across her face and I feel the emotion come over me as I say, “Gigi you know I love you, will you be my wife?” She quickly responds YES as I slip the ring on her finger!

The weight is lifted off me as we sit on our bench, on our beach watching the sunset sharing our own beautiful moment. I wish I could have lived in that moment forever as the tears run down our bliss filled faces we watch the first of many sunsets we will see together each of them bringing us back to this very moment.

THE AFTERMATH

We then tell a select few family and friends and the texts and calls of congratulations begin. All night the phones are buzzing from Facebook likes, emails, and texts from our closest friends and family. We wake up at 3AM out of excitement and the feeling of bliss ensues throughout the day. The outpouring of love from our friends and families was amazing and one of the many highlights from this experience.

From the Bride…written a couple days after the engagement!

It all started when Craig texted me and said that the weather 1069053_10103317746486293_246153619_nlooked nice tonight and we should go see
sunset. I pretty much beg Craig 2 times a week to hike Torrey Pines or see sunset so in my head I thought could this be it?! I told my friends, Megan and Geni, at work…I pretty much called it without having a clue.

I didn’t ACTUALLY think it would happen though! Throughout the whole night every little thing still made me wonder but again I was just being a girl and overthinking!

His North Face jacket. Perfect he can put the ring in the pocket. I offer to carry the jacket twice. He says no. Whatever Gina. Stop thinking about it. Well it was just such a perfect night and the thought still crept into my head.

My last thought was if his heart is beating fast it’s going to happen. Felt his heart and it wasn’t beating fast. Stop dreaming Gina. Ok done. Didn’t expect anything. Honestly I didn’t think he could have possibly bought a ring. Or planned anything. Boy was I wrong!!

I had planned a haircut before knowing about sunset plans at 6pm all the way down in Pacific Beach. Craig had a haircut at 4pm. Says Craig..it stinks you have to go all the way down to PB. Me..I know I really don’t want to, maybe I can just go to your place?  So I try calling and got the last appointment which just happened to be at 4pm too! I think our stars were aligned!

My hair lady was Chevonne and she was an eccentric and kind of gothic with lavender hair and her dad was born in England. We talked about Europe. She asked how long Craig and I had been together. All while Craig was just diagonal through the mirrors from me. Almost 2 years I said. I had some weird feeling she wanted to ask me if we would be getting married someday. Craig paid for my haircut like the gentleman he is =)

Anyways…we go home and change. I put on the ugliest outfit ever and debate about putting makeup on, going with the latter unfortunately. In my head I didn’t want to let myself down. What if I got all dressed up and nothing happened? Which it wasn’t going to. No way. At least I had a fresh haircut!

Craig asks when do we want to leave? Since I was so excited I wanted to leave soon so we left around 6. Sunset was at 7:15 so this was perfect. We drive down to 15th St beach. Our beach. We find the most perfect parking spot with no meter or time constraint. The stars aligned again. Walking down to our spot I was in the happiest mood. Something extraordinary had taken over me and I was radiating. The weather was perfect. Craig and I were finally going to spend some quality time together at one of our favorite places. And what if, just what if, this was the night? Again I thought to myself…nooo we haven’t even been dating 2 years yet!

So we keep walking. Go past a photographer sitting on a bench. Quick thought in my head: for us? Nah. Keep walking. Finally we make it to the grassy area we love so much because you still feel like you are on the sand but without the mess. We see a bench. Should I run says Craig? Yes I say! He runs all the way to the first bench and a couple with a baby swoops in at the last second before him! This same thing happens with 2 more benches! I spot the last bench and decide to run there myself and claim it. Stars aligned again.

It’s a perfect, gorgeous San Diego night. Lots of surfers, warm weather, all kinds of funny things happening around us. A bag of tortilla chips on a picnic table with some seagulls eying it. They dig their beaks through the bag and start going at it! 2 little boys with their dogs chasing birds. 3 ladies doing funny stretches after their workout. We were having sweet conversation about life and us. The night was so pleasant.

I’m still thinking about it and decide I need to dismiss the idea from my head so I give myself the heart beat ultimatum. Hand on his chest. Normal beats. Still beating says Craig? Barely, I joke. Ok let’s just enjoy this night I think to myself.

All of the sudden I see Craig looking around and getting nervous. My heart starts racing. He goes into his pocket and pulls out the box. What are you doing I scream! Omg! Omg! I hear him say Gigi you know I love you so much…I hear the word wife…I’m just holding his hands and holding my face. I can’t believe it. Craig is on one knee proposing to me!!!!!! Yes! We kiss and hug and cry together. It’s so perfect we can’t believe that just happened!!!

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We decide to wait a few minutes and just enjoy our little secret. We are engaged. Craig asked me to be his wife. I can’t stop crying and hugging and kissing him. We keep looking at each other in disbelief. The best word to describe the feeling of those minutes was surreal.

 Finally we decide to get up. Craig had made us dinner reservations at Pacifica. We start calling family and friends. We couldn’t even eat because we were still dwindling in the newly engaged and giddy zone.

It was the most amazing night of my entire existence. I honestly had NO idea it was coming even though I was playing with the thoughts in my head. I was so proud of Craig. For what he did for me. The feelings we have for each other were magical and explosive. We were simply smitten. He is my soulmate. My forever.

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Photos by: Joielala