Our Engagement Story | Denali National Park Surprise Proposal

Where do I even begin? 

Well if you didn’t see by the title, WE’RE ENGAGED! Stephen and I got engaged July 5th in Alaska! 

I wanted to share the story and photos of our engagement with the world!

But let me backtrack real quick to how Stephen and I met. 

I moved to Austin after graduating from college and lived on the Northside of town. After my apartment was infested with rats and the management company was doing nothing to fix it, I moved out and moved across town. A few days after moving into my new apartment, I came home from work and ran into Stephen, my downstairs neighbor. He was on his way back from doing laundry at our communal laundry room. (side note: I will never again live somewhere with communal laundry.)

A few weeks later, I came home from work with a note on my door. The note was attached to a concert flyer and asked if I wanted to go to a concert. Stephen left his number on the bottom. After a few hours, I got the courage to text him. I was in a friends wedding that weekend, so I couldn’t go to the concert, but we texted back and forth hoping to find another time to hang out. After a few weeks, we finally got to hang out for the first time. We took my dog Aspen to the greenbelt and went for a little hike. 

After that, I found every excuse to get home early to catch him before he went into work since he works in the evenings, and I was working 9-5 at the time. After 6 months of hanging out as much as possible. We decided to make things official in December. And here we are a year and a half later, we’re getting married!


Now to the proposal:

My parents and I had been talking about visiting Alaska for a while leading up to planning our big trip. I had spent my summer after my freshman year of college backpacking and kayaking in Alaska and wanted to show Stephen the true beauty of it. I also wanted to spend time with our entire family since we live all across the United States. 


We all headed to Alaska at different times, but everyone got to see the vastness and beauty of Alaska. Stephen and Sarah Bea (my sister-in-law) seeing it for the first time!


After a few days to settle into the condo, the time change, and the never-ending sun. We started on our Alaskan adventures. We went white water rafting down 6-mile creek. It is nowhere near a creek and quite terrifying, but we survived and had a blast going down class 4 and 5 rapids. After having to perform a swim test at the start, we all were a lot more adamant about staying in the raft. 


The next day we planned to take a plane ride to Denali National Park and land nearby at a lake. I had my inclinations that this would be the spot Stephen would propose on this trip if he were going to propose. But he wasn’t acting any differently, and we packed one suitcase together, so I didn’t think there was any way he had the ring. We also packed a day bag together for the flight, and I knew it wasn’t in there. He definitely threw me off, I was convinced he was and then very quickly convinced he wasn’t going to propose. 


At breakfast that morning, I went to the bathroom and came out to everyone talking under their breath. My suspicions were heightened once again. We left for the floatplane shortly thereafter and once again I didn’t notice Stephen acting strange, so I still wasn’t convinced. 


We made it to the airport, and I was too busy waiting in line to pee to notice Stephen was pacing on the dock. We loaded up on the plane. After the proposal I found out that he strategically sat on the left of me because the ring was in his left pant pocket, sneaky sneaky. He made a comment about how his palms were sweaty but the plane was 1000 degrees and flying in little planes is scary, so I figured he was just hot and nervous, I certainly was. 


The whole flight we were in awestruck of the gorgeous views, the incredible height of Denali and the giant glaciers. I loved feeling so small in the mountains. No one really spoke as it was hard to hear through the headsets, but I took a billion photos of the incredible views. After we circled Denali we came over these lush green mountains that opened up to the most ice blue water I had ever seen. It was breathtaking. 


 As we approached the lake, we saw several other boats and people on the little island. Which the pilot said was extremely rare, it was 4th of July weekend, so it made sense. 


We landed on the lake and had a few minutes to take photos of the beautiful mountains. I didn’t think Stephen was going to propose so I took pictures of my parents and brother and his wife and then had mom take a photo of Stephen and I. My mom made me double-check the camera settings a million times to make sure. We finally got the camera settings right and took a few photos in front of the mountains. 


Stephen then turned to me and said: “I have a feeling you know what’s about to happen…”. He started saying a bunch of sweet things about taking on this life together, we both don’t remember it really, and then a little dog ran up behind me. The dog started barking and wouldn’t leave. Finally, after the dog went back to its owner, Stephen got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. 


Of course, I said yes! 


I was shaking so much and couldn’t believe what was happening. It was such a beautiful moment, in the prettiest place and surrounded by my whole family. It was perfect. 


We got to soak in the moment at the lake and then flew back to anchorage for a celebratory dinner. The whole plane ride home, I struggled with motion sickness. It was a rough hour and a half, but I made it all the way back without throwing up, so I counted that as a win. Unfortunately, I felt so sick after getting off the plane we had to wait a while to share the news with Stephens family! But it was so fun getting to FaceTime then and share the story!


We enjoyed a delicious dinner and headed back to the cabin; it still didn’t seem real. 


As we went to bed that night, Stephen shared some of the things he had written down that he wanted to say when he proposed. The first few were a number of very sweet words that didn’t make any sense. He had tried to get his thoughts together, but they made zero sense. The note he wrote the morning of the proposal made a lot more sense, but he didn’t say any of it during the actual proposal.


He did such an amazing job planning everything. His mom had given my mom the ring when our parents met in Austin a few weeks before our trip to Alaska, sneaky sneaky, he never had the ring. Not until breakfast the morning of the flight when they were talking under their breath. Mom had handed him the ring under the table when I went to the bathroom, and he zipped it in his pocket. When he got on the plane, he sent a picture to his mom of his pocket to see if you could notice it sticking out. I couldn't tell a thing.


We had such a fun trip getting to spend time together as a family and exploring Alaska! It was a trip of a lifetime and one I certainly will never forget for so many reasons. 


Scroll down to see the breathtaking views and the pictures for proposal.