Zach and Kailey

how he asked

When I woke up on December 31, 2016, my first thought was, “How early is too early for a mimosa?” Zach and I were spending the last of the year in Palm Springs with his parents, his sister and her family, and my best friend Ashley who’d flown in from New York. We spent the days leading up to The Day dining and drinking wine by the pool—par for the course in Palm Springs. Specifically, the day before, Zach’s nieces and I had a nail day during which I painted their tiny 7 and 4-year-old nails and my own. I had called for this afternoon activity based on nothing more than my instinct not to have bare, peeling nails.

But back to the good stuff. On that New Year’s Eve morning, sun poured into our hotel room and Zach sang “Another Day of Sun” from the almost-Academy Award Best Picture flick, La La Land. I sipped coffee in bed and giggled as he danced around the room. (If this sounds ridiculous, maybe it is— but it’s actually pretty standard behavior for us.) We had a brunch reservation at 10am, so I peeled myself out of bed, showered and dressed. And changed, and then dressed again. I applied simple makeup but forewent my usual Beachwaver hair ritual. I figured the desert air would dry my hair on the walk to brunch.

Ashley stopped by our room while I got ready and then popped next door to Zach’s parents’ room. Zach checked in on my readiness and then we started our walk to brunch (mimosas, here we come). We walked by his parents’ room and they joined us on the walk. Ashley trailed behind with them and I kept saying to Zach, “I’m going to go chat with Ashley for a second!” But he had a firm hand behind my back—which was weird and unlike him—and said, “It’s ok.” He gently guided me along our walk until we hit a spot on the path where the sun shined its brightest. He stopped us and said, “I want to read you a poem.” As the words left his mouth, I noticed Ashley and his parents were many feet behind us stopped behind a tree.

His poem started and my mind raced. “This is so sweet!” quickly morphed into, “Oh my god, is this happening? This is happening! IT. IS. HAPPENING.” At the end of the poem, my sweet angel asked me to marry him.

He pulled out a ring from his pocket — a ring I recognized from the jewelry store we’d visited over my birthday weekend in November. A ring I tried not to be too amped on but told his sister it was a ring I’d wear no matter what it was for. But this ring was here, today, to solidify the love we share. To solidify that I am his, he is mine, and that our future will be together.

I cried and my whole body shook and finally, I said yes. Zach put the ring on my finger and I sobbed (slobbered, really) into his shoulder as we embraced. On this same day a year prior, we were merely texting as a result from a mutual right swipe on Tinder. Yes, Tinder. (Thanks for super liking me, honey.)

Seconds after our first engaged kiss and hug, someone popped out from behind a tree to my left. I said “hi” without realizing who it was at first. Lo and behold it was our dear friend and photographer extraordinaire Valorie Darling. That little beauty had been taking pictures of us the whole time! Then, Zach’s sister, her husband and daughters all walked out from wherever they were hiding with sparkling rosè and rosè Jell-O shots. Our friends Rob, Ali and Brian then joined us and we all toasted (I think…honestly this is a little fuzzy). I was overwhelmed with emotion and love.

We then went to our room to call my parents, who obviously already knew this was happening. (I still can’t believe they kept it a secret the entire time I was home for Christmas!) I was a mascara mess after all of this, so I retreated to our bathroom to clean up and change yet again for brunch. When I finally emerged from the bathroom, my girl gang (Sam, Laura, Kaitlin) yelled “SURPRISE!!!” and pounced on me. Cue the screaming and crying all over again. We all walked to brunch nearby where the huevos rancheros and mimosas were flowing. I sat with all my girls and we dished about the engagement and whether I suspected it at all. I’ve actually had many people ask, “Did you have a feeling this was going to happen during your trip?” To which I respond, “Do you think I’d have wet hair if I knew this was going to happen?”

All jokes aside, I was truly floored. At brunch, the reality really set in. It happened. I am going to marry my best friend and soulmate. I am going to be a Mrs. Then, just as I was starting to relax, the last of Zach’s surprises walked into the restaurant. My little brother flew in from Ohio to celebrate with us. I was A MESS.

I’m still amazed Zach planned such an unforgettable day of love and surprises that continued well into the night. We had a beautiful dinner with everyone at Workshop Kitchen + Bar where we toasted to 2017 and our future together. Afterward, Zach and I walked home, just the two of us, hand in hand, retelling every detail of the day.

December 31, 2016, truly was the best day of my life. I am so thankful for everyone who was there to celebrate the day with us. Thank you, Zach, for planning every detail and for showing me your love and devotion every single second of every single day. I love you more than life itself. I can’t wait to be Mrs. Mann.

Special Thanks