Two months ago my boyfriend and I went to Paris, the beginning of what was to be a two-week holiday. Neither of us had been away for so long in years (going home to Ireland doesn’t count!) and so we’d been counting down the days (for months). We planned to spend a week in Paris, before taking the train to Barcelona just in time for Primavera Sound Festival. Yay!
We went just before our three-year anniversary, and I’d be lying if I said there had been no winks and nudges with a little bit of “Paris, eh?’ from some people; i.e. my mother.
On our first night we went to a lovely little restaurant in Bastille, Le Tabarin, and then returned to the Oberkampf apartment we’d rented to finish off the night with yet more wine and some cheese (obvs!).
Just as we got back, the muggy evening gave way to one of the biggest thunderstorms I’ve ever seen, so we leaned over the balcony with our glasses of wine, watching the lightning and enjoying the rain. And then he popped the question!
Well, kind of.
Fiancé-to-be : Just so you know, I’m going to ask you to marry me this week.
Me: (a bit flustered) Err, well, don’t tell me that NOW!
Fiancé-to-be: Actually, I’m just going to do it now.
And so he did. He said many lovely things and then he asked me to marry him. And I said yes. Then I asked him back. He also said yes. Phew! It was simple, and a bit awkward - just like us. It was perfect.
I’ve since been asked to tell this story approximately 827 times, so this is the definitive version.
And so, some more deets!
The ring - He hadn’t bought a ring, saying that he knew better than to try to choose by himself a piece of jewellery that I’d be happy to wear every day for the rest of my life. Smart boy.
And so we went ring shopping in Paris the next day. Which SOUNDS great, but in reality we spent the afternoon wandering around Marché aux Puces de St-Ouen on the outskirts of town, in the rain that hadn't stopped since that romantic thunderstorm the night before. Rain is definitely more romantic when you're indoors. If you're after some amazing antique furniture or designer costume jewellery, then this is the place to go. Engagement rings, not so much.
Day two we fared better. After much internet searching (highly recommended BEFORE you go ring shopping), we went to Bijoux Monic in the Latin Quarter, which has been going since 1946 and is run by the lovely and very helpful Monic Jacques. I was after a ring with garnet, which is my birthstone, and/or pearl, which is what my name means. And there in the window was a tray filled with garnet and/or pearl rings! It was meant to be!
Telling friends and family - Okay, so definitely do this before the inevitable Facebook announcement, as you probably don’t want your nearest and dearest to first hear the happy news on the internet. Telling people is probably one of the loveliest parts to be honest, as everyone is just so happy for you; so full of the feels!
Aforementioned inevitable Facebook announcement - And then you can tell the world, and this is usually the place to do it, it being the modern-day equivalent of putting a notice in the local paper. Again, the response we got was a bit crazy; lots of good wishes from all over the world, and many more feels.
The next few days I found myself walking around with a big grin on my face; it all felt a wee bit special. We talked about where we might get married, the first dance, and how we can somehow involve both David Bowie and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in our wedding day. All the fun stuff.
But then all the not so fun stuff creeps in, like the planning and the guest list and the dreaded budget. There are countless articles in magazines and all over the internet telling you what you should and shouldn’t do when you get engaged. What I believe you shouldn’t do is read any of those articles. Not at first, anyway.
What I would recommend is to relax and just enjoy being engaged for a few months. Spend time together, go on dates, and enjoy all the benefits of being a freshly-betrothed couple. Bask! Before you know it you’ll be drowning in spreadsheets and table plans, so make the most of it while it lasts!
Of course, it’s easier to give this advice than to take it. Being a wedding photographer, it’s quite easy to get distracted by all the, y’know, weddings. But I’ve promised to hold off on any actual planning for a few months, until we visit Ireland and choose a venue. I’m hoping my job will prove to be an advantage, that my experience with weddings will have prepared me a little more than most. Fingers crossed!
It is definitely a little strange to be on the other side of things though, but I'm very excited to get started on the planning soon! In the meantime I’d also love to hear from any other brides- or grooms-to-be; if you have any advice or words of wisdom please do get in touch or share below! Looking forward to it all!