January 3, 2108
Every year my family and I head to Florida to celebrate Christmas and spend time together. It’s hands-down my favorite time of the year! This years trip marked twenty years of tradition and definitely marked the most memorable moment of my life thus far!
The trip is nothing elaborate, just days spent together on the beach, reading books, cooking meals and simply hanging out. The past fifteen years, we’ve been traveling to Longboat Key, Florida a quiet, quaint little gulf-side town 15 miles north of Sarasota, Florida. Clayton had come to Florida in 2016 after our trip around the world. This was a pretty big deal in the Haley Family, not just anyone comes on our coveted trip. This year, Clayton arrived in Florida via a 1500 mile road-trip with our close friends who were moving from Wyoming to Tampa for a new job. I drove up to Tampa to meet the crew and help unload them into their new apartment and pick up Clayton for the Haley Florida Trip year two.
The week ahead called for colder temperatures, so I was a little bummed for Clayton and his short week in LBK. After a normal week of running, walks on the beach, games of uno with my nieces our last day in Florida was upon us.
Each year we walk to the end of the Key which hosts white mangroves, and cool beach trails. Bundled up, (because 55 in Florida is COLD I don’t care what you say) we headed to the end with good spirits soaking up our time outside on the last day. When we got back to The Sea Grape Inn (our condo), we only had a little time before the sun was going to set. Clayton was all about another walk on the beach to catch the sunset for the last time. *In retrospect cue the “how did you NOT know he was going to propose?!” we just got back from a walk and he wanted to go on another one… so obvious, but still- I had no idea what was coming.
With the colder temperatures, the beach was completely empty, meaning we had about two miles of gulf-side beach to ourselves, except for the lone para-sailer who was having a very hard time getting up with the unrelenting waves. Walking down the beach we continued chatting and enjoying the final sunset as we normally would. The sky was a gorgeous mix of purple and gold as it glistened off the water. The empty beach was also a marvel. Turning around to get back for dinner, we made it almost all the way back to The Sea Grape.
Clayton walked close to the water dipping his feet in telling me it ‘actually felt warm’! Doubting him, I walked ahead. Realizing he wasn’t in my stride I turned around to see him... Down. On. One. knee.
Pretty sure time stopped, I lost all sense of talking, thinking and my whereabouts. I was in 100% shock, (best kind). Clayton’s beautiful words (and stunning ring) resonated in my mind. After several seconds of not saying anything (just hands to mouth in pure bliss shock), I finally said YES, YES, YES. I slipped the ring onto my finger, we embraced and enjoyed the moment. As we looked out into the Gulf, we were in disbelief as we saw, about 20 yards from the beach a dolphin coasting through the water. *is the REAL LIFE?!
I had a million questions. Did you ask my parents? Did you really have this ring burning a hole in your bag all week as you slept in our tiny condo all week? Where was I when you figured all of this out? How were you acting so normal?
Clayton, cool as can be guided me back toward the Sea Grape, we were greeted by my entire Family (even Jenny and Co. on FaceTime) and shared celebratory drinks and excitement! I still think back to this moment and my heart shines with happiness. So much love, and so fun to have my family there.
We headed inside for dinner and to piece all the details together. My head was spinning and my heart racing- I couldn’t even think straight. I was so happy!
Clayton hadn’t told ANYONE he was going to propose, outside of asking my parents and right before looping in my brother in-law, Matt to help get the family down to the beach after we ‘headed out for a casual stroll’. After a few drinks, we couldn’t wait to share the news with our closest family and friends.
We anxiously called, Clayton’s parents through FaceTime. Thinking they would be home from work eating dinner we called both their phones and laughed as we got no answer. Shortly after the initial calls, we were able to share the news and the excitement continued!
It was so fun to call our closest friends and watch as they reacted will full emotion (Mash cried, Lex nearly drove off the road while answering during her drive home and Anna already had five potential wedding hashtags created). It was THE BEST!
With an early flight back in the morning, we finished celebrating and got ourselves packed up to head home to Missouri.
It was most certainly a Wednesday to remember for all of time. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect proposal. It was our moment in one of my favorite places AND I got to say yes to spending 4eva with my best friend. I definitely did not sleep for more than an hour that night. Oh it’s true- 2018 is off to a very good start.
Want to follow along on the engagement journey? I’ll be writing about our planning, updates and all things fun and real right here.
Heres to many adventures ahead!
Until next time,