Europe,  Our Life,  Travel

LET ME SHARE THIS WHOLE NEW WORLD WITH YOU – SAYING “YES” TO THE LOVE OF MY LIFE (OUR PROPOSAL STORY!)

Okay, so the title of this post kind of gives it away, and for many of our family and friends, it isn’t a secret anymore! However, not many people know our story or how we got to where we are now.

I am so thankful for Ben, our journey and our courage as a couple to push through years of ups and downs to finally be able to reach a place where we are the happiest we have ever been.

T-Minus Ten Years Before the Proposal

Ben and I have been together nine years this year and we met when we were seated next to each other in GCSE chemistry class (where we ended up having *ahem* – chemistry!)

I’ve got to admit. I wasn’t thrilled to begin with, and I’m sure he wasn’t either. We barely spoke for the first few months, only exchanging sentences such as “can you please pass the pencil sharpener?” and “can you move up a bit, I’m at the edge of my side of the desk”!

After many months of sitting next to each other in every chemistry lesson, our brief sentences slowly turned to conversation (when we weren’t learning about ions, atoms, and molecules of course) and we began to build a friendship. I started to consider him one of my best friends and I knew I could confide in him about anything. This 15-year-old teen who I hadn’t met before our GCSE year, became one of my closest confidants, and finally a year after meeting, we officially became “boyfriend and girlfriend”.

Our romance from teens to adults wasn’t smooth, and there were many bumps along the road, including difficulties battling my mental health, being separated at university, and being separated even further when I left to go traveling solo – an experience that allowed me to emotionally grow and change in more ways than I could have possibly anticipated.

T-Minus Six Months Before the Proposal

After years of only seeing each other on a Wednesday evening and at the weekends, Ben and I started to think about our future. Even though looking for a place to call our own was ideal, we wanted to do something different. Since returning from my three-month solo travel stint, I had been itching to leave again and we were excited to see what else our beautiful world had to offer.

So, eight years after we got together as out-of-control teenagers, we set off for a different out-of-control adventure around the world, filled with unexpected twists, turns, and memories that would last a lifetime.

We grew in ourselves, we developed in our jobs working from different cities around the world and became godparents in New York City to the littlest love of our lives the most beautiful girl in the whole world!

Now, I’m not going to lie and say that I was completely surprised when Ben proposed…I kind of had an inkling that something could happen in the “not-so-distant-future”. I mean, when you have been together for nearly a decade and you’re in your mid-twenties, you gain an intuitive third eye, where anything could be a clue!

Turns out, Ben was originally planning to propose to me before Christmas as the whole Christmas period in general is my absolute FAVOURITE time of the year. He was actually initially planning to propose to me when we did our little trip to Lille, France just before Christmas. However, as he was designing the ring himself, it hadn’t arrived in time and so he had to quickly change his plans for another time and date!

T-Minus One Week Before the Proposal

After Christmas, our first stop on our continuing trip around Europe was beautiful Florence, Italy – one of my favourite cities in the world. We stayed in a gorgeous, historic apartment just next to the Ponte Vecchio bridge and River Arno.

We had the loveliest time exploring the city, cooking delicious ravioli and tagliatelle and just generally appreciating each other and our time together in one of the most romantic places in the world.

T-Minus One Hour Before the Proposal: the 2nd of February 2020

So the actual day of the proposal, I had wanted to see Michelangelo’s “David” and Ben wanted to take me to a beautiful town just outside of Florence, nestled in the Tuscan countryside called Fiesole. We queued up around the block of the Galleria dell’Accademia in the morning and I managed to gaze up at the sculpture of artistic perfection by my favourite artist. I was even shaking and I could count the number of photos I took and minutes I spent just being in awe of such a masterpiece!

Following our visit to the gallery, we took the bus from the centre of Florence which took us slightly further north, through the beautiful Tuscan hills until we reached the quaint market town of Fiesole. We were surrounded by old sunflower yellow buildings and sweet little cafes and began to walk through the winding streets up to a lookout point on top of Mount Ceceri, where Leonardo da Vinci first flew is flying machine, a place that Ben was VERY interested in visiting!

After a fair walk up steep hills on the uneven ground, we reached a small lookout point with stunning views of Florence below. We took some photos with our camera on our tripod and then Ben went to “turn it off” but instead switched it to video mode and managed to record the whole thing on video – something we will cherish forever.

Those who know Ben personally, know that he is a huge romantic, and although he said such beautiful things to me before getting down on one knee, I have to be honest – I didn’t hear much of it because my head was completely spinning. It had suddenly hit me that after ten years, my best friend was about to become my fiancé. Ben slowly took the ring out and got down on one knee and asked “can I keep you?”, a line from one of my favourite films, Casper.

Obviously I said “yes” of course – despite not actually being asked “oh sorry – will you marry me?!” until Ben suddenly remembered how to ask officially! I didn’t even see the ring until after I said yes and gave him a big cuddle, but it was so beautiful, and it meant so much to me that he took the time to design it himself. It was a grey salt and pepper diamond with tiny diamonds underneath and it’s gorgeous.

The whole proposal was so unbelievably perfect and I feel so so thankful to be marrying my best friend.

Later that Day…

Ben had surprised me with a beautiful hotel stay in Florence for two nights in a stunning five-star hotel overlooking the Michelangelo Plaza. The hotel was called Villa la Vedetta and everything about it was perfect!

We arrived at the hotel and got settled in before heading out for a celebratory proposal dinner at Trattoria Marione with champagne, Florentine Steak, all the accompaniments we could manage – so many that they could barely all fit on the table!

The food was SO DELICIOUS and It is DEFINITELY one of our favourite meals to date!

Here’s to the Future!

What can I say? I am still so overwhelmed with how lucky I feel to have someone like Ben in my life. After ten years of friendship and nearly nine years of dating, here we are – planning our wedding for 2022!

He is everything I could ever need, want or ask for and I can’t wait to see what our future has in store – hopefully lots of dogs, cats…perhaps a bubba or two! But definitely lots and lots of traveling and seeing the world together!

Here’s to the future, to pushing through adversity and to finding the love of your life.

ARIA

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