Alright, it's no secret I've taken a bit of a break from the site over the past few months, but I promise I had a good reason...I got engaged! So the last few months have been a whirlwind of celebrating, planning, organizing, mixed in with a lot going on at work, so free time to write has been non-existent. But I'm back, and today I'll be sharing our engagement story.
Stephen's parents had been planning to visit in June, and we had been planning their trip for weeks. He let me weigh in on all of the details so I wasn't suspicious at all. They arrived on Thursday afternoon, and our first big item on the agenda was heading to Catalina Island with my parents the next day. We woke up ridiculously early, piled into the car and drove down to Newport to catch the 8am Catalina Flyer boat. The day was off to a great start as we walked through the town of Avalon when we arrived, and made our way over to the Descanso Beach Club for an early lunch. I am so glad we decided to try Descanso on this trip! This is the ultimate dining spot on Catalina in my opinion. Full ocean view on a great patio, and super clean area. They do not accept reservations for the patio area, so it's first come, first serve. We arrived right after they opened around 11:15am and were seated immediately on the patio. Our server was fantastic, and very quick and accommodating. I opted for the nachos (which are easily shareable) and the rum punch, the perfect drink to enjoy for lunch by the beach.
After this, we were off to pick up our 6-passenger golf cart from Catalina Island Golf Cart. This is when I started noticing Stephen being a little "off." Not quite so talkative, laughing at random times, just not being himself. So as we drove up the hills of the island, my Mom wanted to stop off at a few places to take photos, and at one point, as we were reaching one of the highest cliffs, she asked to stop again. This time, no one was rushing to get out of the cart, so being the frugal one, I remember saying "well if no one is going to get out, why don't we keep driving the cart since we only have it for 2 hours!" Stephen pointed out a cross, placed right at the edge of the cliff overlooking the water, and we ended up walking down some stairs toward it. It was at this point that I asked him if he was having a good time since he was being so weird! Then I realized what was going on. Almost instantly I realized no one had followed us down to the point, and our parents were suddenly out of sight. Slightly odd I thought. Then, as Stephen does best, he offered to take a photo of me overlooking the ocean. I was facing the water with my back to him, and he said "one second, I don't have it yet," and then he said "okay, I have it" - so that when I turned around, there he was on one knee, with my stunning, custom ring by Sam and Sue. And it all made sense. He told me after the fact, that the spot is called Buena Vista Point, a nod to our love of Disney. Cue the excitement, parents rushing toward us, many photos and excited texts to friends later and I was silly enough to think that that would be the highlight of my day.
In our initial plan for the day, we had talked about just picking up a light meal on the way home that night since we would be tired from the day, so Stephen told me he had arranged for us to just grab a bite closer to home at a restaurant. Fine, I thought, that could be nice to celebrate. Meanwhile, I'm texting all of my closest friends sharing the news and they all seem as surprised as could be. Fooled again. We got back on the boat around 4pm, arrived back in Newport around 5:30pm and then made our way back to Los Angeles for dinner at a place Stephen had found near my apartment called Yardbird. As we got closer, I wasn't even thinking about what this could be, I was still reeling from the surprise of the day! As we valeted our car and walked into the restaurant, the hostess was taking a little time to get us sat, and then she finally asked us to follow her. As I turned the corner into a private room, I saw all of my closest friends, clapping and cheering for us. This was a moment that will forever be hard to describe, but to see everyone there, waiting for us, was just like something in a dream. The room was completely decorated with photos of us, a custom cocktail list specific to our engagement, and a bottle of my parents wine to share with everyone with dinner. Not only were our parents in on all of this, but all of my friends too, and they acted SO surprised when I told them we were engaged, those stinkers!
Yardbird so graciously worked with Stephen and some of our good friends, to plan the most incredible, memorable, surprise engagement party. Let's start with the fact that the restaurant has fantastic ambiance, dim lighting, great décor and a great overall flow. The room we were in was the perfect size, and we were seated around this great square table where you could see and talk to everyone at the dinner. Now let's talk about the food and cocktails - my GOODNESS. Stephen picked out 4 of their cocktails, and had assigned new names to each of them, for example, one was the "She Said Yes!" and one was "The Elizabethan" as a twist on my middle name. I cannot say enough good things about the cocktails, the presentation, and the taste of each. Of course I had to try all 4! The food was next level, as we had passed appetizers when we came in and a huge meal once we sat that included everything from chicken and waffles, mac n cheese, gooey cornbread, crispy brussel sprouts, short rib on polenta, etc. Everything we tasted was more incredible than the next. We were all so incredibly impressed with the variety on the menu for the evening. To cap it all off, they brought in these incredible dessert platters with over a dozen dessert options on each. I was truly in heaven and could not believe how great everything was. Most importantly, let's talk about the staff and the service. Juan, Caryn, Fabian, and all of the wonderful staff of Yardbird LA made us feel like nothing short of family. The staff was hugging me and congratulating us, but in a way that felt so honest and personal, like they were truly touched to be a part of our special evening. They spared no detail, and helped our friends get the room decorated with photos, string lights and engagement décor. Both Stephen and I agree that "above and beyond" does not even begin to cut it in terms of what they did for us that evening. Every detail, piece of decor, personal touch, and handcrafted experience was the most exceptional thing we've ever encountered.
I am still basking in the engagement glow, and enjoying every moment of the planning process thus far. A big thank you to everyone who made our engagement so special. I can't wait for this new journey!
Check out some of the engagement party magic below!