Samuel and Christina

Samuel and Christina's Engagement in Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

How We Met

So Christina and I originally met in high school. I was just a young kid doing my own thing and she was the same. We had many mutual friends, but never officially met or ran into each other at all during school. It probably makes it more difficult that we were 2 years apart and in different grades. So one day, Christina was walking pass the auditorium with her boyfriend at the time, which had happen to be a mutual friend of ours, and the introduction was finally made. We shook hands,chatted for awhile, and then parted ways. After that day, we would see each other every now and then, but rarely spoke. We just weren’t interested in each other at the time.

Almost 10 years go by…yes, you read that right…10 years! We were still connected through mutual friends on social media, but didn’t have any reason to talk to each other. One day, Christina sends me a friend request on Facebook and I accept and add her as well. We strike up a conversation and catch up on each others lives. At the end of the conversation, I smoothly drop my number and told her “not to be a stranger and send me a text sometime.” She responded with “I’ll text you right now so you’ll have mine too.” Who knew that day would pave the way and impact our lives so much.

We began talking more and more and then occasionally hanging out as well. Things eventually got serious and we began dating. Many loving years flow by and we now live together and have a beautiful daughter named Malia. We couldn’t picture our lives without each other or now without Malia. We are ridiculously excited to be engaged and even more excited for the big day!

Wedding Proposal Ideas in Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

Where to Propose in Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden

How He Asked

For me, this was the most difficult and nerve-racking part. Sure, getting down on one knee while holding a ring box sort of says it all, but the moment that you get engaged should be an unforgettable occasion. I didn’t want to let anyone know that I was planning a proposal. The goal was to plan, set up, and execute. Easier said than done. I had been contemplating between multiple ideas for months before finally deciding. I knew what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it. I wanted her to be surprised, but I wanted that element to last throughout the entire proposal. I came up with the idea of setting up some tables with photos of us. While researching online, I realized that the standard table was to large and wide for my vision & liking. What I really needed was more of a “pub” style table. It provided the personal and intimate experience that I was looking for. After doing some more research, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t find a table with specifically the exact measurements that I needed. In come my woodworking skills! I didn’t know why it took me so long to come up with the idea of making my own pub tables. I had a garage full of saws, tools and everything I needed to create them. After a few days of breathing in sawdust, they were complete! Christina had been asking me what I was doing in the garage and I told her that I was helping a friend with a project. Good thing she didn’t look into it any further.

Searching for the venue was tricky. I didn’t want to just set up and pop the question anywhere. I needed a private location and didn’t want to risk random people messing with the decor or interrupting anything. We had just a had a baby, so we were tight on budget. I had researched and called numerous places, but everything was too expensive. I knew the type of setting I wanted, but couldn’t afford any of the prices that the venues were throwing at me. While searching for local venues, I found a small gem in Long Beach. Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden saved the day. I contacted them and requested a tour. It was perfect and pricing was amazing! Now that I have my venue, I can begin planning and staging. As mentioned earlier, I wanted her to be surprised the whole time and not have any clue on what was going on until she entered the garden. After brainstorming some more, I decided on telling her that my work had a company event/award ceremony at the garden and I was a recipient. It was perfect and even gave me an excuse to arrive early at the garden to set up. Everything was coming together, but I wanted to make the day even more special. I contacted some of our close friends and family and mentioned that I was proposing and wanted them to be a part of it.

The big day finally came and I was more nervous than ever. I arrived at the venue with all of the decorations and started setting up. Although I had many offers to help set up, I wanted to do it all myself to make it more personal and rewarding. I decided on staging the three tables along the first part of the walkway in the garden. Each table represented important memories of us. Early relationship, our relationship now, and our beautiful daughter. I wanted her to stop at each table and reminisce. After doing so, she would then proceed throughout the garden and be greeted with roses from our family and close friends. I wanted her to see how important we were to them. How everybody was able to show up despite busy schedules and prior plans. At the last table that was staged on the bridge, I set up an iPad with a video of photos of us. This was for two reasons, I wanted her to indulge in enjoyable recollection of past events and to ensure that she stayed facing in one direction. After her pressing play on the iPad, I knew had exactly 1 minute and 15 seconds until I came out from hiding and surprised her. Mind you, I had been in the back this whole time and she hasn’t seen me yet. After the time has lapse, I made my way out, said my speech, got down on one knee and asked one of the most important questions in my life. I hope you guys enjoy the video!

Our Video

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Special Thanks

Elizabeth Montes
Event Coordinator
Rick Cadiente
Videographer