Their proposals couldn’t have been any more different, both perfectly unique and wonderful.
Sarah and Priscilla secretly planned an elaborate surprise proposal for each other during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Priscilla and I are quite organized, practical people. We both knew early on that this relationship was the genuine article, so after we’d been dating a year or two, conversations about marriage, rings and life planning naturally followed on. It was important to both of us that our rings were exactly right, so we asked a local goldsmith, Benjamin Black, to design and make a pair of beautiful custom engagement rings to our specifications. Priscilla’s is platinum with a salt-and-pepper diamond, and mine is yellow gold with a green sapphire and some white diamonds re-purposed from a family piece.
Like us, they’re different to one another but totally complementary.
Once Ben had finished the rings, it was like a race to see who could propose first, despite New Zealand’s first lockdown. I put my plans together and asked Priscilla not to book any work for a particular weekend. She requested I keep a later date free, but this turned out to be a red herring – she had something else in mind. Instead of making plans on the day she’d told me, she casually announced one afternoon that she was going to do a sound tech job for a band in Raglan for the weekend, and invited me to come along. When we pulled up outside this gorgeous rustic glamping tent, I wondered if she might have decided to switch things up, but she assured me the cute accommodation was just a fun surprise for me.
She dragged out the suspense by arranging a picnic dinner at sunset above Ngarunui Beach.
At the time, I couldn’t help but think wistfully that it would have been a lovely place to propose. There wasn’t time to dwell, however, as the gig was about to start, and Priscilla announced that she’d left a key piece of equipment back at the tent. We drove there in a hurry, and, on arrival, I was alarmed to see a blazing fire in the garden outside. It was only when I leapt out of the car that I saw the rose petals strewn around the fire pit, the bottle of champagne, and two flutes. “Surprise! There is no gig,” Priscilla said gleefully, and got down on one knee.
A few weeks later, it was time for me to surprise Priscilla right back. She’s adorable with surprises – loves them and hates them at the same time – and all I’d told her was that we were going to the airport at 7am.
When we got to the Barrier Air kiosk, all was revealed.
We took a tiny Cessna across the Hauraki Gulf, and she drove our rented 4WD through windy, narrow gravel roads to a wonderful cliff-top apartment with amazing 180-degree sea views.
That evening, I convinced her we were staying in for the evening, so we poured a gin and settled on the couch. Just when she thought there were no more surprises to come, there was a knock at the door. Great Barrier is one of only a few dark-sky reserves in the world, and Priscilla is super passionate about star-gazing. I’d booked a private star-gazing session for us, and once Priscilla had taken in planets, galaxies, and star clusters, I asked her to marry me.
We’ve spent much of the COVID-19 lockdowns planning our wedding, which is in March. Fingers crossed, it’s going to be magical.
Photography by Ethan Lowry Photography