Things I never saw coming:
Planning a wedding during a global pandemic
But here I am, engaged to Efrain…. planning a wedding during a global pandemic. Here’s how it all happened.
Our story is full of surprises, Efrain being the biggest surprise of my life. I met Efrain during a season of my life when I had given up on dating. In fact, I sat down to delete Bumble when I saw I had a notification that said, “What a compliment! Efrain used his one chance and extended this connection another 24 hours. Tell him thanks!” I thought what the hell, that’s the most effort I’ve seen in ages and he’s cute. I sent him a message literally thanking him for extending the time, not knowing that my future husband was on the other side of the message.
We talked about our hopes and dreams, and what we look for in a relationship before we even met. We were on the same page about everything, and I felt an excitement that I had never felt before. Still, I was hesitant to go on our first date because I was so jaded about relationships. But something drew me to him, and we set up a place to meet for dinner. Separate cars, in public, something low key and escapable if necessary. The perfect online date.
Which was great because that night I thought I was being catfished!! A car pulled up next to mine, and I immediately got a text from Efrain that read, “I just pulled up!” So I thought, that must be him. I looked over and an 80-year-old got out of his car. I thought omg this is it. It’s happened to me. Was that his grandson in the photos or a random stranger?? I convinced myself it had to be a coincidence, and I got out to sit on a bench outside the restaurant. The older gentleman walked straight toward me, and my heart was beating out of my chest! I planned my escape, and he turned at the last second. Then I saw Efrain walking toward me. I was immediately at ease, and he has been the same source of calming energy for me ever since. We talked for hours about our hobbies and our goals for the future, and we’ve been inseparable ever since!
That was almost one year ago. In under one year we’ve been to every accessible Hawaii island except Maui, which we are going to as soon as we are able to travel again. We spent Christmas in Texas, New Years snowboarding in the Canadian Rockies, and we celebrated my birthday in Colorado and his in Molokai. We’ve been on countless hikes, so many scuba diving excursions, and we even went snowboarding on the Big Island. We wanted adventure to be at the center of our relationship, and it certainly has been! In addition to being the best adventure buddy, he’s the kindest, most selfless and caring man I have ever met. Every day he reminds me why I love him so much. Even when we argue, we never go to sleep angry. He is literally my dream come true!
Now that I have showered him with compliments… it’s on to the proposal! The fact that he was able to surprise a photographer with a photographed proposal and engagement session shows how much thought and effort he put into this.
Back in February I saw my good friend Rae Marshall was looking for a couple for a styled shoot. For any non photogs out there, a styled shoot is a photoshoot set up to get new creative images for your portfolio. I always volunteer us for these because we love taking photos together, so it was a no brainer for me to message her. She said she would love to have us for the shoot! I was super excited because I love Rae’s work so much and I was stoked to finally have some photos by her! For over a month I chatted with Rae and relayed all the info to Efrain: location changes, wardrobe ideas, and the florist that we were collaborating with for the styled shoot. I thought I was planning this shoot for us, especially since he had so many questions about how everything worked.
When the day finally came, we met with Rae at Maleana Gardens and she gave me a dress to wear. Again, a very styled shoot thing to do, so I was none the wiser!! She went ahead of us and told us to meet her down a path. Believe me when I say this location was magical. I was feeling all kinds of happy as I walked down the path lined with beautiful flowers and greenery. When we got to where Rae was, she told us we were in a good spot. I still had no idea what was going on, until Efrain grabbed my hands and said, “So, all of this is a set up, there is no styled shoot.” I had no idea that her post about the styled shoot was bait set up by him, I had no idea there was no florist involved because it was never a styled shoot and I had no idea that the entire time I was telling Efrain the plan, I was simply repeating Efrain’s own plan back to him!! Ahhh!! I’m still so amazed at how he pulled this off.
He told me how much he loved me, and how he wanted me to know he would always be there for me. He got down on one knee and I said “yes” a couple of times before he opened the ring box and officially asked, “Chelsea Stratso, will you marry me?” To which I responded, “It’s f*cking huge!” (I meeeeeean have you seen the ring yet???) And then again I said, “Yes, my love!”
It was by far the happiest moment of my life. The effort he went through to surprise me is incredible, and it showed me just how much he cares about me. He threw me off multiple times by telling me he had something “special planned” for other dates. Even the morning of the proposal he told me to clear the following Saturday because he had plans for us. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m not even going to tell him how obvious that was.” LITTLE DID I KNOW IT WAS HAPPENING THAT DAY. I was completely surprised, and over the moon happy.
We are in such a crazy time for the world and we are bombarded by bad news all over the place. But I look down at my ring every day and remember that good things are happening. Good things are still going to happen. In a time when so many things are uncertain, I am certain about one thing. I have the man of my dreams by my side through the good and the bad. And when the world is normal again, I get to marry that man.
Good. Things. Are. Coming. ✨