Kelsie turned 30. Normally a group of us would be descending upon a new city and taking it by storm to celebrate. But then a global pandemic hit.
We’ve always gone all-out to celebrate our 30th birthdays and Kelsie’s the last one to join the club. She deserves a special 30th, pandemic or not. So we put our heads together on how to do that, and this is what we came up with. Judging by reports that she was a sobbing mess when she saw it, I’d say mission accomplished. Happy 30 Kelsie, we love you.
Jason and Cat got married, and boy did they knock it out of the park. Their vows were funny and moving. The speeches were heartfelt and well delivered. The food was rich, the drinks kept flowing, and the dancing never stopped. There may’ve been actual flames coming off the soles of my shoes.
It was sincerely a beautiful day, and I’m thankful and lucky to have been part of it. I walked away from their day excited for their new chapter, and reminded and inspired to make good on my own vows.
I also walked away a little hungover the next day! Yes, I broke my no-hangover New Year’s resolution, but my Dad put it well when he said, “If there’s ever a time to be hungover, it’s the day after a friend’s wedding.”
Congratulations Jason and Cat. You deserve it all, and you got it all.
Kim and Will got married and it was about as Kim and Will as it could’ve been. Every color of the rainbow, dungeons and dragons lore, all accounted for. They did it their way, and that made it perfect.
So thankful to share their day with them, and for all our days past, and all the ones still ahead.
Jenn and Duncan have been inviting us up to Sacramento to float down the American River with them pretty much every year they’ve been up there. We’ve missed a few, but this was the third time for Alexis and I. We love it. It’s brings close friends who live far apart, together again. There were 16 of us this year. 17 counting a baby girl on the way from Jenn and Duncan.
Have this feeling that this time might be one of the last of this scale. Things are changing. Priorities are changing. Life isn’t slowing down. So I brought the camera.
Even though these memories are just a few days old, and their pictures are still perfectly sharp and clear in my mind, can’t help but smile watching the footage. Have to imagine that feeling only amplifies with time. It’s not the most fun being the guy carrying the camera around everywhere, and I’m sure it’s not fun having it pointed in your face the whole time either. Seems important though.
If there’s anything we’ve all learned this time around, it’s when you’re on the river, bring a damn knife. Life jackets couldn’t hurt either. For all the worried mothers out there, we’ll just leave it at that.
I asked the girl I’ve been crazy about (and driven crazy by) since the day I met her, to marry me. How we got from there to here is a long story. One that I’ll save for another time. But today, I want to tell you about the best day of my life.
A few days earlier we started to plot our weekend, and talked about spending the day together. No friends, no family, just us. The weather was shaping up to be nice, so I suggested we go downtown to layout at Grand Park. I knew this is where I wanted to propose.
There’s been plenty of opportunities to propose in more exotic, adventurous or even stereotypically romantic places, but Los Angeles is where it was meant to be. It’s always been the backdrop to our story. It’s where we found each other. It’s where we fell in love. I also knew how much this city means to her as an individual. She moved around a lot growing up, and Los Angeles is the first place she’s ever called home and truly meant it. I figured what better place to propose than in the heart of LA, in a sprawling park overlooked by one of the city’s most iconic buildings.
I usually have a hard time getting out of bed, but on this particular day you’d have thought I spent a lifetime in the military. I left Alexis in bed and got breakfast started for us straight away. I had some time sensitive plans in place, and I wanted to get ahead of the day. Thank God she still wanted to go to the park.
We got ready, packed a bag and headed over. When we got there, we found a blaring children’s dance festival of some sort taking place. It was loud and it was weird. Not exactly what I expected. Thankfully, it’s a big park and where we were headed was on the opposite end. It was a hot day, really hot, but we found some shade under a tree to lay our blanket across. We sat down and talked a bit while I doodled the iconic LA City Hall building across the park. I gave up after a few minutes and told her I was going to just draw her instead.
I repositioned myself so she couldn’t see what I was drawing. I lifted my eyes from the page every few minutes to examine her features, all the while she was doodling too. After a few minutes, I said I was done. My heart was racing and was hoping she couldn’t hear it in my voice. With a worried face, I warned her not to be mad, since the portrait didn’t really turn out that great, and didn’t quite look like her. When I spun my sketchbook around, she found the words “Will you Marry me?”
Her eyes lit up and moved from the page to me, back to the page and back to me again. As she stared at me with wide watery eyes, I took the ring from my pocket and offered it to her. I told her I loved her, that I always had, and that I wanted to spend the rest of my days with her. We kissed and held each other. After a few beats… I had to remind her she still had to give me an answer. It was a strong yes, and I finally put the ring where it’s always belonged.
Once our nerves settled, I pointed to a man that was hiding out behind some bushes. His name is Archi, and I hired him to photograph the moment. He’d been there the whole time. We all finally made eye contact and laughed. Honestly, I didn’t even know where he was for a while. True mark of a pro. We spent the next half hour or so taking some photos with him. Some in the park, and some across the street in front of the LA City Hall building. It’s was just too beautiful a building to pass up with a professional photographer on hand. As we were walking up to City Hall, I joked to Alexis that I was really just trying to fast track this thing, and get the papers today.
We wrapped up with Archi, and I suggested we go sit down somewhere nearby to grab a drink and call our families to break the news. I think both our nerves and minds were still buzzing, so a drink sounded like a great idea. And let’s not forget, it was still REALLY hot out. There’s a little dive bar called La Cita that our whole group of friends has been making memories at for as long as I’ve known them. Seemed fitting to make it a part of the day.
We got there and headed straight to the back patio to find some margaritas, but instead we found 24 of some of our closest friends, waiting to surprise Alexis and celebrate with us.
This was all part of the plan, and I knew it was coming, but man, even I was stunned when we stepped out on the patio and heard everyone’s roar. She was completely surprised, even more so than when I proposed I’d say! Good job guys. To top it off, we were immediately each handed a margarita and a beer, because that’s what true friends do.
People hopped on planes, some spun their odometers, and some took off work just so they could be there for us. We even had a friend there by complete happenstance. We thought he was still living out of state, but he moved back to LA two weeks prior and just happened to be at the bar. What are the odds?
I always knew that no matter how I chose to propose, I wanted to involve our friends somehow. Alexis draws her energy from those around her, and shines her brightest surrounded by the people she loves. For most of us out here, our friends are the closest thing we have to family for a few thousand miles. They say you can’t choose your family, but it’s just not true. Friends are the family you do get to pick. After about an hour of hugging, shaking hands, drinking, and laughing, the whole gang migrated over to Hollywood for dinner.
The spot was Delancey, a little Italian place, known mainly for their pizza. Alexis and I have been coming here for as long as we’ve dated, and it’s quite literally one of her favorite restaurants. It’s a small place and we were a group of 26, so when I spoke with the manager ahead of time, I was beyond excited that they’d accommodate us. They even opened up a little bit early for us. We ate, drank, laughed some more, and Alexis’ brother Tony gave an impromptu speech from the heart to top it all off.
We closed out after about two hours, and all started walking down a few blocks to Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In the summer time they project films on the side of a huge building that overlooks an open lawn. It’s one of our favorite LA pastimes.
We setup and sprawled across the lawn, chatting and drinking for about an hour before the movie. Thanks to our army of friends, we had lawn chairs, blankets, desserts, 120 beers on ice, and the equivalent of four bottles of wine in the form of two beautiful boxes. Even had a custom “She Said Yes” banner setup, thanks to Christina. I really leaned pretty heavy on some folks to pull this part of the night together, and I have no doubt it would’ve been a mess without all their help.
That night they were screening Sabrina, an old Hollywood classic starring Hepburn and Bogart. Alexis and I have always shared an affection for the music from that era. Under the stars, surrounded by the towering palms and our LA family, I just knew it’d be magic. And it was.
By the time the movie ended, it was already 11pm and had been a long, full day. I knew some people would wanna call it then and there. What I didn’t know is how Alexis would be feeling. Lo and behold, onward she said. Cue the karaoke.
An added surprise was Michelle and Stuart made it out all the way from NYC just in time to meet us for karaoke. They were originally planning on being part of the surprise at La Cita, but got largely delayed at the airport. Glad they still got to party with us a bit.
Now, I know they say time flies when you’re having fun, but man, time really flew by at karaoke. We sang and danced for a couple hours, but I swear to you, it felt like no longer than fifteen minutes to me. Tops. Might have had something to do with drinking for nearly twelve hours. I was told that amidst the dancing, I lost my footing for a moment there, but luckily my fall was broken by John. Sorry and thank you John. Needless to say it was a blast. Our friends Drew and Kelsie were sneaky and incredibly kind to have picked up the entire tab for everybody too.
It was last call by the time we sung our last tune, and the remainder of our party started to part ways. However, no night in LA after 12 hours of drinking is complete without at 2am trip to Denny’s. Thankfully, there was one a few hundred feet away. Afterward, we said goodbye to our last three standing friends, and called it a night ourselves.
And that was that. My only regret is not having asked sooner. Can’t say thank you enough to everyone involved. It was the best day of my life, and Alexis was shining brighter than the diamond on her hand to say the least. And that diamond is pretty damn bright.
Video compliments of Duncan, thanks bud!