It’s been over 3 months since I last updated the blog. Time flies! And life does too. It was a summer for the books: I submitted my master’s thesis, wrapped up grad school at the University of Copenhagen, started a new job – oh, and got engaged.
It’s been a whirwind, full of big moments and milestones. Honestly, it’s almost hard to believe…if I looked back even just a year ago, I could never have imagined this is where I’d be. But I am. And I’m so dang happy, content, ecstatic, overwhelmed, and overjoyed to be here. Engaged to the sweetest, sappiest, silliest, most patient and giving fella I could’ve asked for. But enough with the sentimentals — onto the engagement story.
Our engagement story
But first, some context. Mark and I had planned a big Disneyland extravaganza for his birthday, which fell on Sunday, July 23rd. We’d splurged and booked a VIP tour for the day of, invited a bunch of friends, and decided to stay in the Grand Californian for the duration of the weekend.
The week before the trip, Mark casually mentioned that he’d also booked the Napa Rose Wine & Food Pairing Experience, a new(ish) foodie experience that the restaurant does on Saturdays at 2pm. I didn’t think anything of it: Mark loves wine, we both love Napa Rose, it’s his birthday, check, check, check.
When we got to the restaurant, the door was locked. Kinda weird? Maybe. But I didn’t think anything of it. When they let us in, we realized we were also the only guests in the entire restaurant. That probably should have been a red flag too, but I just chalked it up to the newness (and the niche-ness) of the wine pairing experience.
As far as wine tastings go, this one was a full on education. Our dedicated sommelier (shoutout to Ryland!) walked us through all 5 flights of wine – fully explaining the proper way to sip, the region the grapes came from, the tasting notes, the associated food pairing and why it paired so well, etc. etc. etc.
At one point in our tasting, Mark excused himself to go to the bathroom. He was gone for a while, and I got to make awkward small talk with our somm about the woes of his small bladder to fill in the silence. When Mark came back he said he’d run into Yvonne, the super friendly, super amazing general manager we’ve gotten to know over the many, many dinners we’ve had at Napa Rose.
He told me they had some sort of fancy new dessert that they wanted to test out on us, which I assumed was some sort of “happy birthday” type dealio.
It should have been obvious that something was up when Yvonne walked out with plate and the rest of the staff came out behind her holding cameras. But I truly thought they were just stoked to be debuting a new pastry chef creation! I could tell that what she brought out was some sort of flower, but the covering over it was mostly opaque, so I couldn’t see the ring hidden on the top of the petals.
Being the huge Instagram nerd I am, I had automatically started filming as they were bringing the dessert out, and I am SO glad I did. Yvonne swooped in like a pro and continued filming for me, and ended up getting the entire proposal on film. It was such an omg-everything-is-a-blur sort of moment that I’m sure I would’ve instantly forgot had it not all been documented somehow.
A bit of backstory on the rose: Mark and I had our very first date about 4 years ago, at Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. So, like the complete and utter romantic that he is, he brought the proposal full circle — a Beauty and the Beast inspired enchanted rose made entirely out of sugar. The pastry chefs really outdid themselves.
And so did Mark. In addition to dreaming up the rose x ring surprise, he’d also worked with his friend Tre to create a proposal geotag for us on Snapchat. So nifty.
He’d even coordinated the whole day with my family, and had them surprise me right after he popped the question. They were waiting outside the restaurant, and came in for hugs and kisses and lots of love. Mark got them a room at the hotel for the night, so we could all celebrate together. I still get kinda teary eyed thinking about how perfect it all turned out.
A VIP tour for Mark’s birthday bash
After a night of engagement celebrations with Mark and my family (we had a huge dinner, complete with 24 layer chocolate cake, at Steakhouse 55), we woke up, noshed on Mickey waffles from room service, and got ready for another full day of celebrating — this time for Mark’s birthday.
Like I mentioned before, Mark’s birthday was the real reason we were all at Disneyland for the weekend. It was the cover he used to propose without raising any of my suspicions. Sneaky dude.
We’ve spent many, many birthdays and special occasions at Disneyland, but this was the very first time we’d spent the day with our very own plaid on a VIP Tour. Well, not exactly the first time. We had done a VIP Tour back in 2015 when we visited Disneyland Paris, but this was our first experience at the OG Disney park.
And truth be told, this experience was 100x better. Our tour guide, Diane (in the plaid vest), was a gem. She got us on 15 rides in 6 hours, and sprinkled in fascinating Walt and Disney trivia throughout the day.
Look at this rapt audience!
There were 10 of us in our group, hopping from one Fastpass line to the next. That’s the gist of the VIP Tour — you decide what you want to do for the 6 hours with the guide, and if your preference is the rides and attractions, they’ll get you on all the Fastpass lines so you can beat the crowds and fit in as much as possible.
It’s basically 6 hours of line-cutting. 🙂
Diane split up our marathon ride session with a little visit to the dark side. I’m not usually one for photo opps with characters (I get SO awkward), but Darth Vader and Chewbacca were a blast.
Ending the night with Napa Rose and Fantasmic
Our tour was from 10am to 4pm. After a final ride on Splash Mountain, we all bid a fond farewell to Diane and made our way back the Grand Californian to change out of our wet clothes and get ready for dinner. I think my poor dad spent at least half an hour using the hair dryer on his shoes. Ha.
Dinner was back at Napa Rose. It was so lovely to see Yvonne and the rest of the fabulous Napa Rose crew for the first time after the proposal. They’d saved our sugar rose for us, brought it out for our guests to see, and even let us take it home on one of their plates at the end of the night. Talk about world class service.
For a few glorious hours, we rested our legs, noshed on food ‘n wine deliciousness, toasted Mark for his birthday bash (and successful proposal), and then made our way back to Disneyland for Fantasmic. As part of the VIP Tour, we had access to special reserved seating so we could watch Mickey battle the forces of evil without also having to battle the crowds for standing room only.
And, surprise! We had two more friends join us for dinner and Fantasmic.
We’ve been so lucky to get to know Jason and Thea (@journeywithjasea) the past few months. They’re the kind of people who make you feel like you’ve known them for years. 1000% genuine, rad humans. Plus they love Disney just as much as we do, and are just as happy spending hours in the park eating Groot-shaped bread and Mike Wazowski shaped cronuts.
As a testament to how freakin’ sweet they are, they gifted us this enchanted rose hanging pendant as a memento of our engagement. I MEAN. It doesn’t get more sentimental than that.
They also gave us customized, engraved wine glasses with our names and the date we got engaged. Be still my wino heart. If you guys are reading this, we still cannot thank you enough!!!!
Anyway. I hope you got a kick out of our engagement story (and video). Mark’s going to be overjoyed that I put the video on the internet — but I figure, hey, he did an amazing job and it deserves to be shared!
Lastly, if you’re ever thinking about splurging on a Disney VIP Tour, I say absolutely go for it. And ask for Diane! We got on every single ride we wanted to, waited in almost no lines, nabbed VIP seating for Fantasmic and the fireworks, and learned a ton of interesting snippets about the parks along the way. It’s not cheap, but you can have up to 10 people in a party, so if you split the cost amongst a group, there isn’t quite as much sticker shock. Highly, highly recommend.