James and Laura's Proposal at Moonstone Beach

Laura and James_2

How We Met
 – laura

We met in the way that many couples do – when we least expected it. Two weeks prior to meeting James, I (Laura) had decided to give up dating and just trust that “God’s got this.” I was preparing for a month-long sabbatical from work in which I would make progress on my first book, and I wanted to go into that time with no strings attached. Of course, on the very first day of my sabbatical, I met James.

James and I had been going to the same church in San Francisco for a year, but our paths didn’t cross until June 1, 2015, when we ended up at the same restaurant. It wasn’t a complete coincidence, but it also wasn’t a set up. I had been planning on grabbing dinner with two friends that evening before a talk at the SF Jazz Center, and one of those friends brought his friend James along. As James would tell you, he was smitten immediately. And from my perspective, I was clueless.

Dating was off my radar, so I simply enjoyed the evening – meeting this interesting man at dinner and then listening to a stimulating discussion at the SF Jazz Center. At the end of the talk, there was opportunity to continue the discussion organically over drinks on the balcony. James and I are both old-fashioned souls, so naturally we both gravitated toward what I would later learn was James’ favorite cocktail – an old-fashioned. We talked for close to two hours, discussing our passion for great stories, our love of family, and pretty much everything. I didn’t have to go to work the next day, but James did, so he asked if we could “continue our conversation” when I returned from sabbatical. We exchanged numbers, and as James walked away, it dawned on me.

“I think James and I just hit it off,” I said to my friend.

“I didn’t want to say anything out of respect for your whole ‘no dating thing,’” she replied, “but I was hoping you would!”

That month, while I traveled in Colorado and Oregon, visited friends, and worked on my book, James and I touched base every day. We started to learn more about each other over Messenger, and then text. And as the month progressed, I realized there was something wonderfully different about this man and the connection that was already growing between us. I realized I was falling for him without us even having had a first date yet. That happened soon enough, though. 

When I returned from my sabbatical, we had our first date at a cute little restaurant in Russian Hill. The next year passed quickly, and our love grew strong. There was no doubt in our minds that we wanted to do life together forever.

Laura and James_1

How He Asked – james

When I was young, my family vacationed often in a quiet California coastal community called Cambria. We’d take sunset strolls along Moonstone Beach, and I knew even then – at 12-years-old – that one day I would return to ask the woman I loved to spend the rest of my life with me and start a family tradition of our own.

Fast forward two decades and I found that woman in Laura. 
So, when the ring was ready, I planned a secret weekend getaway for Laura and me. We took our time driving down the California coast – one of our favorite things to do together – and stopped at some favorite places along the way. Lunch in Monterey, a stroll on Pebble Beach, a walk in Big Sur, and then finally arrived in Cambria. Laura would tell you that this is when she was sure: This was the weekend we’d get engaged. That’s because she knew how important Cambria is to me; that I would only take her there when it was time to make a lifelong commitment to her.

The day of the proposal, we spent the morning walking along Moonstone Beach and then stopped for lunch in downtown Cambria. By this point, I was starting to get a bit nervous. We did some wine tasting in San Simeon and then grabbed ice cream at a little shop downtown, which did wonders for my nerves.

Finally, just before sunset, I suggested we take another stroll along Moonstone Beach before dinner. Laura was hesitant because it was windy and then she’d need to clean up again before dinner. But I had a plan, and she graciously went along with it.

Laura and James_3

We walked hand-in-hand down the boardwalk and eventually I led her down the path to the beach. We rounded a corner, and I suggested we pause to sit on one of the rocks and watch the sunset. I told Laura about that commitment I’d made at 12-years-old, and I expressed my love for her. Finally, I got down on one knee in front of her and pulled out a teal box that held the ring.

“Will you marry me, Laura?”

“Yes, of course!” She immediately jumped up and hugged me.

“Can I put the ring on?” I smiled.

“Oh, yeah.” She laughed. “We should do that.”

The ring was perfect as it slipped on her finger, and embraced again. There were no tears. Just huge smiles and hugs and kisses and so much joy. As we walked back up the path, I told Laura that there was one more surprise left.

Laura and James_4

Laura and James_5

We journeyed up to the restaurant where we had reservations, and the hostess pointed us toward the front patio. When we opened the doors, both our families and some of our close friends were there waiting.
“Congratulations!” They shouted in unison. We were both thrilled to celebrate our engagement with these people who had been praying for us and supporting us over so many years – long even before we’d met. We’re so excited for this next season of life and can’t wait to be married and do life together forever.

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Special Thanks

Hannah Cullen | 
videographer
Carly Crawford | 
photographer