While horseback riding on a beautiful empty beach in San Diego during sunset, Nadine had a photographer hide on the beach to capture a perfect proposal.
Tell us about the planning the proposal.
Nadine was the mastermind behind the proposal! She is a huge romantic and wanted to create an experience that would be meaningful and intimate for both of us. We had spoken about getting engaged, preferably after she graduated from Cal State San Bernardino with her Bachelor’s degree. However, Nadine planned the most beautiful sunset horseback trail down the beaches of Tijuana State Park on our fifth anniversary.
Nadine pulled out all the stops for the secret keeping. She changed her passwords across all devices. She told me she had a surprise for me that I wouldn’t find out about until Christmas (up until we were on the beach, I really thought that my big surprise was happening in December!), and even looped in our families and friends so that they could play roles in the engagement. Our friends Brad and Michael created a “she said yes” scene in her home, complete with a “my humans are getting married” for our dog, Lavey.
What led you to the destination of the proposal? Have you been there before?
We had never been to Tijuana State Park, which is a beautiful trail and campsite leading to the beach along the border of San Diego and Tijuana. It was a fitting location for us for multiple reasons: Nadine is from San Diego (born and raised), and my family is from Mexico. In addition, our home state of Durango, MX, would have been much too far. So Tijuana/SD was a perfect homage to both of our roots.
Finally, the horses were in reference to my love of horses, having grown up around horses and ranches all my life thanks to Abuelito Federico and the many charreadas (Mexican rodeos) he would host at his home. Knowing that Nadine detailed these factors was heartwarming because it showed that she truly loves where I come from and honors my family and our culture. So much so that she made it an integral part of our proposal!
Tell us about the engagement ring experience. Where are the rings from?
Our rings are off of Etsy from a vendor named NyFineJewelry. My ring has a gold band with a moonstone gem in the center. Nadine’s ring is a pear cut, gold band with an alexandrite center. We both were not into getting diamond rings, and we wanted more colorful and quirky gems to represent our personalities! Nadine hid the ring throughout the horse ride, but it was so sweet because our horse riding guide (who was also in on the engagement) plucked some flowers on the trail and handed them to Nadine so she could use them for her proposal!
What does your engagement mean to you both? Has anything changed?
Zara- Before being engaged, Nadine and I lived as if we were married. Living together and loving each other so strongly, knowing that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We were able to purchase our first home together before the engagement, which felt like, “wow, this is really happening. We are really building our lives together!”
Getting engaged after that lent some more permanence, especially now that the Supreme Court is systematically overturning the civil rights of millions of people. It is only a matter of time before LGBTQ+ marriages come under scrutiny (again). So at this point, there is a sense of urgency we did not feel as strongly when we got engaged. But having that sense of urgency does not (and will not) overshadow our love and commitment for one another! Being engaged is an exciting and fun step in our relationship. But knowing she is here with me every day is what keeps me happy!
Nadine- What our engagement means to me is being able to spend our lives being happy, supportive, and loved for the rest of our lives and to always continue to grow with the love of my life! What changed is our improvement in communication, our balance, and the feelings that I have grown even stronger every day. Also, how much stronger we are after overcoming so much together. It just makes me feel that we can do anything together as long as you’re with me!
How is wedding planning going? What do you hope for your wedding to be?
Wedding planning has honestly been fun! We are both planners and super detail-oriented and organized. Give us a planner, and we are in love. Since it will be a backyard wedding, we have had much more freedom to get creative with our vendors at our wedding. Rather than choosing from a list of pre-approved vendors that come with a wedding venue. We are excited about some things we have in store (like The Thirsty Horse Mobile Bar) and the blend between our two cultures (Filipino and Mexican) that we will be incorporating through decor, food, and wedding traditions. Hoping it will be as lovey, fun, and dreamy as us! We hope it will be filled with lots of love and support from our family and friends and a really good time for us to celebrate our love with the people we love!
Photography by Alazzia Gianni