It was a race to see who proposed first, whoever proposed first was the last name they take as wives. Casey won, fair and square with a secret proposal in Colorado with a vintage ring.
Tell us about the planning process for the proposal.
Kelsi– Casey and I daydreamed about marriage and would ask each other hypothetically what type of ring each would love. But each of us choose each other’s rings all on our own. Because we were each secretly planning to propose at the same time!
Casey is that person who finds a secret hard to keep if she is excited (she always tries to give me my Christmas present days early!). So she would drop hints here and there. She is so cute. I had a suspicion for sure!
With these daydream talks of marriage, the topic of the last name definitely came up. Whose last name? Should we hyphenate? But Bell-Riley sounds like a law firm! We did know that we wanted to share our last name. Soooo, we decided we would make it a competition! Whoever proposed first, we would take that name.
Let the games begin!
Any stories from the lead-up to the proposal, stressful or funny?
Kelsi– We took a road trip to Colorado to see the aspens change to brilliant yellows in October 2020. And it was there that I hid with my credit card in the bathroom of our adorable Inn in downtown Telluride and completed the purchase for her ring. Her custom ring would arrive in just a couple of weeks!
Just two hours later, we were driving down a back-country Colorado road. Casey wanted to pull over to walk through a whispering aspen grove. It was there that Casey got down on one knee when my back was turned. When I turned around and saw her on her knee with a little box in her hand, I exclaimed, “Casey!” in surprise! And Casey was so nervous that all she could muster up to say was ‘uuuuuuuuh.’ And then gestured to the aspens and then to me, and then to the box in her hand ‘uhhhhhh’. I took a step towards her, took off my sunglasses so she could look into my eyes (haha), and asked her, ‘Is there something you would like to ask me?’ So she nervously blurted out, ‘Will you marry me?!?’ I exclaimed, ‘YES!’
She then said, ‘Great!’ And pushed the box towards me. I laughed and told her, ‘You are supposed to put the ring on my finger!’ She then pulled out the dreamiest, most beautiful vintage-inspired ring from that little box and placed it on my left hand. She chose a ring from a jeweler based out of New York City called Ken and Dana Designs, and I adore it!
Casey was so incredibly nervous, but she won that competition fair and square! So, therefore, I will take her name, and one day we will be the Bells!
I wasn’t too far behind, though! Having planned a trip out to the redwoods and proposing to her in a redwood tree grove one month later.
I did the same as Casey, and when her back was turned, I got down on one knee and pulled out her ring. She was staring up at the tall redwoods and thought that this would surely be the place if I were to propose back. I said her name, and she was right about that suspicion when she turned towards me! As I told her everything I wanted to say to her, Casey began to jump up and down, saying, ‘Open the box! Open the box!’
I definitely was more composed and said everything I wanted to say. But to be fair, I had a much easier task.
It was so fun to give Casey that special moment as well, as I knelt down on one knee and professed my love to her.
What led you to the destination of the proposal? Had you been there before?
Casey and I are avid ‘leaf peepers.’ Leaf peeping is a term for the activity in which people travel to view and photograph the fall foliage in areas where leaves change colors in autumn. One of our first trips together was to Vermont in early October of 2018, and that’s where we found that ‘leaf peeping’ is definitely a shared joy for us. We had wanted to, but we couldn’t return to Vermont in October 2020 because quarantine was required for flying into New England. Therefore, we decided to explore Colorado, and drive all the way to Telluride in our Subaru (who we call ‘Mountain Mama) with our dog, Tucker, as well!
This was the trip Casey had been planning to propose. I had a suspicion, but it was an unspoken feeling! And I was indeed correct!
Tell us about the engagement ring experience.
Casey never outright told me that she had found a ring for me, but she would drop cute little hints here and there. I have told her that I have always dreamed of a vintage-style ring. One day we were looking at rings online for fun. One caught my eye, and I lingered upon the photo. She noticed. Then went and found the jeweler, ‘Ken and Dana Designs’ based in New York City. And secretly worked with them to create the most beautiful ring! I love it so very, very much.
And I was also secretly designing a custom ring for her at the same exact time! I had found an amazing online jeweler, ‘Do Amore.’ Every ethically produced ‘Do Amore’ ring helps build a water project for clean drinking water for communities in developing countries. It was wonderful to support such a good cause with love.
What does your engagement mean to you both? Has anything changed?
Kelsi– Being engaged to Casey means everything to me. She is the person I want to spend every single day with. It is so effortless to love her. I feel beyond grateful to have found a love like this. And to be able to celebrate this love with our friends and family this coming September.
Casey– Our engagement expresses our confidence and deep love for each other, and I think it represents a promise that we will continue to grow and change together! The only current change is the constant change that we love each other more deeply and more fully than the days before.
How is wedding planning going? What do you hope for your wedding to be?
Kelsi– Wedding planning these last 1.5 years has been incredibly fun! This is such a long engagement, so the planning isn’t rushed but just fun! However, I have become quite aware that I am incredibly indecisive. I ruminate on the smallest of details. But Casey always throws in a perspective that helps us make final decisions. We have had so much fun planning this wedding, and our visions of our big day align in such a beautifully perfect way!
Casey– Honestly, the wedding planning has been mostly a really exciting time! We’ve found ourselves laughing about the little things and have enjoyed meshing our ideas together. Sometimes we may disagree, but ultimately it doesn’t take much for us to reach the vision we’re looking for! We hope all this planning will produce a wedding that feels warm, inviting, and loving for us, our friends, and our family!
How are you going about choosing your key vendors?
We have had such a fun time choosing our vendors. We choose our photographer and videographer by their style, and we are beyond excited about our choices. Our photographer shot our engagement photos, and that was such a great way to get to know her before the big day! We had the absolute best time, and we just adore her!
Our florist, Daisyhead Florals, is my sister’s good friend, who owns her own business in Sacramento. We call her a flower magician! We love her fun style and are so excited to have her beautiful creations at our wedding! It is incredible to be able to support a small, local business like hers!
Where do you find inspiration for your wedding planning?
We want to throw a big party that feels like us, and we want it just to be a super grand ol’ time. So we have some fun ideas and plans for the big day, such as having our bridesmaids dance down the aisle, having flower dudes throw flowers, and having a super groovy playlist!
Our vibe is retro-inspired with a feminine touch. We adore romantic touches such as dried florals and a candlelit ambiance.
Photography by Amanda Photo Co.