Dylan and I met sometime in 2010 or 2011, though we cannot agree on the exact time or place. We were introduced by a mutual friend who said we would be perfect together and joked that we would get married someday. It didn't take long to realize that we liked each other but the timing was just not right. I had just graduated from Oregon State University and had dreams of moving to a big city someday soon, meanwhile Dylan was about to head to Portland to start school.
Ironically, when we reconnected in Summer 2013 Dylan was back in Bend and I was living and working in Portland. I had to use some vacation time so I decided to spend a week at home in Bend. I had promised Dylan that I would let him take me out on a real date and we met for a casual lunch at the beginning of my time off. From there we spent every day and night together until I headed back home. We spoke every day, took turns driving to see each other and were officially dating in September. The following July, I moved back to Bend and we purchased our home in September. We had a lot of big life changes in only a year, but it felt right to both of us and we knew we had found something special in each other.
I had already caught the travel bug before meeting Dylan, so I was relieved to find someone who loved travel and adventure as much as I did. The first of our many trips together was to the Out'n'About Treehouse Treesort in Cave Junction, Oregon where Dylan took me for my birthday. We spent a magical weekend exploring and relaxing in the changing October trees. We ziplined, drank wine and woke up to wild horses running underneath our private treehouse. A couple of years later I convinced him again that we should travel for my birthday, this time on a bucket list trip to Greece and Amsterdam.
By this time, we had been dating for about three years and had lived together for two of them and I was ready and anxious to move to the next step, much more so than Dylan. I had hoped and (heavily) suggested that Greece would be an amazing place to get engaged but I really didn't think there was a ring in his suitcase as we headed out of town. I knew he would be nervous if he was carrying it with him, and I wasn't sure if he was as keen on the idea of marriage as me.
A week into our trip, after hiking and eating our way through Athens, we were sunbathing in sleepy Paros. As we headed out to explore the narrow cobble streets, Dylan casually suggested we find a jewelry shop and check out engagement rings. This was it! The moment I had dreamed of forever! I got dressed up, excited for the moment I had always dreamed of ....and there were no jewelry shops open.... on the entire island. We knew there would be engagement rings in Santorini (one of the most romantic places in the world) but I didn't know if I would be able to wait that long.
After what seemed like an eternity (about three days), we were settled in Santorini. We spent the morning of my 29th birthday snorkeling in the crystal clear Aegean sea then headed to explore Fira. We found a welcoming shop on the famous Gold Street, Golden Santorini in Caldera Jewelery where I fell in love with a ring made of vintage coral from Italy, but it did not have a center stone and didn't feel like a wedding ring. The gracious shop owner Rena assured us that she could redesign it with a diamond in the middle by the time we were ready to leave Santorini. She toasted us with shots of homemade Rakija (a Serbo-Croatian alcoholic drink made by distilling fermented fruit) and we laughed and cried as the sun set on the private deck of her jewelry shop.
After we picked up the ring, we tried not to mention it to each other. I was over the moon but Dylan was nervous about how and when he was going to pop the question. It was our last day in Santorini and I figured he would probably ask before we headed to our next destination. We had planned a trip to SantoWines which overlooked the caldera. I was confident he would pop the question there, but first he wanted to make a stop that was just recommended to him by the owner of the atv rental shop.
Dylan drove us to a big empty dirt field and asked me to walk around with him. To my surprise, at the end of the field was a staircase, which led to a beautiful old church overlooking the sea. He stopped and pointed out a natural heart formation in the cliff and had me stand there for a photo with the clear sky and sea behind me. Instead he pulled out the ring and got down on his knee and my adventure partner/best friend/love of my life asked me to take his last name. Of course I said yes, shocked that he was able to surprise me. As it turns out, he hadn't gone to this spot at random, he had stayed up late the night before researching the most romantic spot in all of Santorini. In a crowded island, we were all alone.
We celebrated by visiting SantoWines and tasting micro brews at Santorini Brewing. We drove the atv to the the highest point on the island, Monastery of Profitis Ilias and stopped for coffee in Pyrgos village. We ate and drank and stayed up late to catch our ferry to our next destination, stopping to admire the incredible cliff side lights reflecting off of the sea one last time.
We finished our trip in Rhodes and flew to Amsterdam. When we got home, Dylan's parents picked us up in a limo and we drank champagne and relived our engagement, all of us giddy about the trip. We came home to our dog and cat who we missed dearly, and congratulatory gifts from friends.
We spent the next 16 months planning our wedding day and reminiscing about our perfect engagement. These photos don't do justice to the trip itself, but hopefully it gives you an idea about our perfect, priceless day in Santorini.