When you’re an expat, surprise marriage proposals often can’t factor into the romance of a relationship – for us it was more of an ‘oh, hey, I know that you didn’t want any serious relationships whilst you were travelling, but we seemed to have ended up in one. Where should we go with it?’ type of discussion.
It involves a lot of heart searching, quite monumental decision making and the knowledge that as much as you’ll miss the beaches of your home country, you’ll one day come to enjoy the rain. For me it wasn’t a quick decision, but rather an easy one – not intending to get all smooshy & what have you – sometimes you just find your best friend without intending to, and marriage turns out to be much less scary that you think it will be.
As we couldn’t do the traditional surprise proposal in a breathtakingly romantic location, my better half decided that he would make it special, our style. He first called my Dad in secret to officially ask for permission (feminists, yes, in this day and age it’s unnecessary – even more so when your Dad’s alleged shotgun is literally on the other side of the planet) as per tradition.
He then planned a weekend away for the two of us to a secret UK location and squirrelled away a batch of plans. To my utter delight, we boarded a train bound for Ely and checked into a sweet B&B (it was out of season, but the owner hearing about the plans for the weekend kindly allowed us to stay anyway). We awoke on Saturday morning to reluctant sunshine and despite Mr Kiwi’s best efforts to steer us towards Ely Cathedral, I convinced him that we should enjoy the sun and pop into Cambridge for a touch of punting.
At the time I was volunteering/working for the Churches Conservation Trust (a charity body that takes churches of architectural and special note that have lost their parishes and cares for them) and I knew that Cambridge had one of exceptional beauty. We walked into All Saints Church and began to drift through the nave, admiring the beautifully painted walls and just enjoying a quiet moment. Cue my shock as at the head of the aisle my beau sinks to one knee, extends a little velvet box and asks me to
Approximately right here.
I knew it was coming at some point (see above) but it still hadn’t prepared me for the real situation, and I may have panicked slightly (to the confused amusement of the European family who had wandered into the church behind us) and said no. In fact I didn’t just say no, but told him in a crazy manner “don’t ask me, don’t ask me, I’m going to say noooo!”.
Luckily, knowing me better than I know myself, my nervous would-be fiancé just laughed and re-offered me the beautiful engagement ring specially made for us by a family friend (and retired jeweller). We celebrated my eventual ‘yes of course I will!’ with a glass of bubbly, a punt down the Cam complete with wise-cracking guide and a romantic evening meal on the outskirts of Ely.
And that’s the simple reason why the rather cute city of Cambridge will always be special for us, a place that we’ll never forget and somewhere we try to pop back to on occasion to re-live those memories. It was a perfect us moment. (The next day we finally made it to Ely Cathedral where he confessed had been his original spot – though I’m glad of our slight alteration of plans as with an audience I definitely, definitely would have cried!)