A lonely Christmas, turned surprise New Years Eve proposal, Coffey and Rhianne share their Woodford Folk Festival engagement.

HOW WE MET

We met at a music festival south of Perth in a place called Bunbury, very drunkenly of course. I guess my [Coffey] drunken charm did the trick because Rhianne was very persistent in wanting to take me on a date after that!! We have been together now just over 4 years.

THE PROPSAL

As far as epic plans go, it was more of a moment of realisation that THIS IS IT. I [Coffey] had already purchased the ring, I knew I wanted to propose for a while but the ‘when’ and ‘where’ details were unclear.

Rhianne had no idea it was coming. We had discussed it, of course, and she often made cheeky little comments along the lines of “just marry me already” (subtlety at its finest).

When it came to hiding the ring, I wasn’t sure she wouldn’t see it, to be honest, and I went with the cleverest place I could think of – my sock drawer. My genius amazes me regularly. I [Coffey] thought over and over about how I wanted to propose. When it happened, it was the complete opposite.

Being that the proposal was relatively spontaneous, there wasn’t too much hilarity or stressfulness surrounding it.

Although, Rhianne was working at a festival in QLD over Christmas 2016 (we lived in Perth until just recently) and that meant we would be apart for a couple of weeks. This wasn’t a new thing, Rhiannes work meant she was constantly travelling and that was part of our relationship. However, earlier that year Rhianne had lost her beautiful Mum, and this was the first Christmas where she wasn’t going to be able to hear her voice. As you can imagine that was incredibly tough for her.

On Christmas day, we called each other, myself in Perth, Rhianne at Woodford in QLD, and I could hear in her voice how difficult the day was and her tears broke my heart. At that moment I had this realisation – ‘WHY WASN’T I WITH HER!’ I had work, and that’s why I never went initially, but Rhi is way more important than work, so without a second thought I booked a Christmas night flight, told work I was headed to Brisbane, made all the arrangements. I packed my bag, ready to surprise my lady on the other side of the country!

The engagement ring was hidden very secretly in my bags side pocket.

I travelled with our friend Josie who was heading over to the festival as well. When Josie and I arrived in QLD I forgot about the time difference and Facetimed Rhianne. She was so mad wondering why I was out and about so early in the morning (it was about 530am Perth time). She thought I had been out all night partying without letting her know. Josie was laughing in the background and I remember saying I have a surprise for you. She DID NOT want to hear it! I think she was about to hang up on me to be honest, which would have been awkward. So I just flipped the camera onto Josie and it stopped her in her tracks. At first, she wondered why I was with Josie– but then, within seconds, it clicked and her beautiful face lit up like a Christmas tree. She proceeded to run from her tent screaming COFFEY IS HERE! And everyone she came across just started yelling happily and saying hello.

That was a wonderful surprise for her, but little did she know what else was coming in just a few days time.

The plan was to get on one knee just before the stroke of midnight. I had written Rhianne a letter for her to read at the top of the amphitheatre. As she almost finished I would get down on one knee, pull the ring from my pocket and ask the lady of my dreams to marry me. And that’s exactly what happened. Rhianne was absolutely stunned. There were a few of our friends who were eagerly anticipating the moment from a short distance and I was nervous as hell! We got to celebrate bringing in the New Year and becoming engaged at the same time and it was a beautiful night. It wasn’t overly romantic, but the combination of the initial surprise, hiding the ring in my pocket on NYE, and getting down on one knee makes for a really great tale to share with our friends and family and a proposal neither of us will forget.

The proposal was as on a whim as much as the initial surprise of arriving at Woodford. It just felt right. I always thought I was going to propose on our next overseas trip actually, but we met at a festival so proposing at one seemed appropriate and with the emotion and challenges of that year there was no doubt who I wanted to share my life with. I guess I had an overwhelming love moment in that time and desperately wanted to give her that ring!

THE ENGAGEMENT RING

I had ideas in mind for the type of ring that would sit on Rhianne’s finger when I eventually proposed, but boy did I get a shock when we one day had a cheeky look at a few jewellery stores. Rhianne wears gold, always has. So, as you can imagine I thought I had it covered. Yet there she was eyeballing WHITE GOLD rings. I never would have picked that, but obviously pretended it was what I was thinking too.

We tried one particular ring on, a Vera Wang. Rhianne looked at it more in admiration but said its too expensive, and never imagined she would end up wearing it one day. But I knew it was the one when she tried it, and even though it is mismatched from her other accessories, it suits her perfectly. Now, slowly but surely, she’s becoming a white gold kind of gal.


Photography by Sara Hannagan