In late October, my bestie Cate asked me if we could spend a girls weekend away together. I had just been her Maid of Honor in her September wedding, and she proposed the trip as a thank you gift for all I had done over the past year. So of course we immediately booked a hotel in Carmel and plotted our days of shopping, relaxing, and adventuring along the coast.
We drove South, giddy with expectation for all the fun we were going to have. Cate happens to be a photographer, so naturally she brought her camera along. We stopped at every opportunity to take photos. We wandered the scenic streets of Carmel, drank insane amounts of coffee, and hit up Anthropologie for some shopping before Cate suggested we make our way into Big Sur.
I love the central coast - Big Sur is my favorite place in possibly the whole world (Peru is a close second.) It also holds a special place in my heart as a getaway for Ryan and I – we would often drive the whole coastline talking for hours, finding the best spots to hammock and picnic before the sun sank over the water.
Cate and I rolled the windows down and let our hair blow around. It was perfectly sunny and warm for so late in November. I told her about some of my favorite memories in Big Sur with Ryan, not noticing that she was quietly avoiding eye contact and not responding too much.
About an hour in, Cate brought up her desire to Julia Pfeiffer State beach. How could I say no? We pulled onto the narrow road that leads to the beach, but to our dismay, park rangers were turning cars away. “The lot is full”, an elderly man explained. Luckily I couldn’t see Cate’s face – she later told me just about had a heart attack. What she knew, and I didn’t, was that Ryan was waiting for us at the bottom of that hill.
Just then, another park ranger came racing around the back of our car. “There’s a spot, go through!!” he said, practically shouting. Cate didn’t hesitate and sped down the path. We parked in the lot and got out. She was quieter than she’d been all day. She grabbed her whole bag of camera gear. Odd.
We walked out onto the sand, famous for its purple hue. She told me to go stand by the cliffs so she could photograph me one last time. I turned around to hand her my hat, and in shock I watched Ryan walk towards me. The first photos Cate took are of the complete surprise, fear, confusion, and then joy that crossed my face.
He held my hands and told me he forgot everything he wanted to say. I said I probably already knew. Then he was on his knee, asking me to spend the rest of my life with him. When I said yes, everyone on the beach was cheering – but neither of us heard. We were lost in that moment.
In August this year, we'll agree to forever. God is good.
All photos copyright to Cate Beth Photography