It’s hard for me to believe it’s only been a year since I started the greatest adventure of my life. This time last year, I was in the middle of a fairytale day created by my boyfriend. In the 365 days since, he became my fiance, my husband, my roommate, and my partner in life. We waited so long for this phase of the journey and it has been more beautiful than we could have dreamed.
This year, we are remembering and cherishing the blessings of 2013 and looking forward to new chapters in 2014. May God bless you all as you explore what HE has in store for you in the coming year.
In honor of the tremendous creativity of my amazing husband, I am reposting our engagement day story from New Year’s Eve 2013.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights…” James 1:17
I’ve heard it said that, “Once in a while, in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairytale”. On December 31st, 2012, the Lord gave me a good and perfect gift. Nick Giardino, the love of my life, planned a perfect day and the Lord surrounded and protected it with love and beauty.
The entire day was a surprise adventure for me. Nick planned everything with great love and attention to detail. I met him at his house that morning and we set off for a day I’ll never forget. It was beautiful to be able to rest and trust in him to lead me through the day.
The Lord gave us beautiful little moments and gifts throughout the day. As we started on the journey, Nick said we needed to listen to some love songs. He had a soundtrack for the day! As he pulled it up on shuffle (it was in order for a different part of the journey), the first song that came on was our song! We listened through some beautiful love songs and talked as we headed towards our first destination.
As we were driving down the highway, I noticed that we were passing the Chicago Botanic Gardens. I made a mental note to tell Nick we should go there some day. But, just as I was thinking that, he quickly turned the car into the entrance! He had set the GPS to make me think we still had miles to go. He had told me we were going to a new cafe that we’d never tried, so I was completely surprised to learn that the cafe was at the Botanic Gardens!
As we arrived and began to walk around, he told me that he wanted to take me somewhere beautiful. He told me that I was the most beautiful person he knew and the gardens were the most beautiful place he could think to bring me. It was beautiful and peaceful, all covered in snow and ice. We walked around and talked of God’s creativity. I love Nick’s heart. He kept marveling in the wonder of God’s creation. As humans, it takes us great effort, time and energy to create something truly beautiful. Few people ever really do manage that. But, yet, the Lord breathed all of this into existence! How great is our God? We spent several hours surrounded by the wonder of His creation.
After walking through the green houses, we found our way to a beautiful and peaceful spot by a lake. Everything was covered in white. Off to the right, there was a bell tower. We took in the moment and talked a little about music.
Inside the box was a Pandora bracelet! Before I had time to ask any questions, he presented me with another box.
Inside the second box was a beautiful music note charm for the bracelet. He told me that he wanted to bring me somewhere beautiful and give me something to mark our beginnings. With extreme thoughtfulness, he planned our day to reflect our journey. The charm was meant to represent something about our story as well as remind me of the day. I can’t believe how carefully he planned this! Our journey began 18 years ago at Landmark. We spent countless hours together in band, on band trips and celebrating our love of music. We both have a deep love for music and it has woven a thread through our story. Remember the soundtrack on the drive? It was all crafted to weave these moments together perfectly. (I must also note that he meticulously wrapped all of the boxes. I thought they were professionally wrapped!)
If you can see, in this picture, there is a ring on my left hand. That ring was given to me by my parents when I turned 16. The ring represents my promise to remain pure before the Lord and for my husband until my wedding day. As it became clear that this day was leading to something amazing, I sent a message to my Dad. I said, “I’ve kept my promise and I will until we’re married, but if it’s OK with you, I’m hoping to trade this ring for one carrying a different promise tonight”. It was a really beautiful moment for me and my Dad. Nick had already taken great care to ask my Dad’s permission and blessing to marry me, but I wanted to honor them as well by wearing that ring on that day (and be able to hold true to its promise).
While we were on the carriage ride, Nick gave me another bead for my bracelet.
A Cinderella carriage!!! I really did feel like Cinderella that night! Nick knows that I have a soft spot for fairy tales and Cinderella has always been my favorite. He absolutely gave me a magical day!
After our carriage ride, we stopped and had hot chocolate at the Ghirardelli store. He had planned for more time in the carriage, but they do not let the carriage on Michigan Avenue until 7pm. So, we had a few minutes to spare. As we were enjoying our hot chocolate and each other’s company, we saw a fancy horse and carriage drive by!
His name was Socks and he just knew he was royalty! We followed him and his driver Christine to their stop and took a ride down Michigan Avenue – the Magnificent Mile!
He gave me a Christmas tree bead to represent the lights we saw on the carriage ride. Also, he knows that I really love Christmas and one of my favorite things was buying our Christmas tree together. We took great care, this year, in decorating his house for Christmas and he reflected that in our perfect day.
Once the carriage ride was over, it was time for our dinner reservation. We drove to our hotel, the Fairmont Chicago. He checked us into the hotel, took our bags upstairs, and then we went to dinner at Aria. (Note: musical term!)
As our courses began to arrive, he took my hand and blessed the food. Once he had finished praying, he gave me another box!
He told me that he wanted to give me this bead at the beginning because our story is not possible without the Lord. He has been SO gracious to us! He chose to give it to me later in the evening because of the placement on the bracelet, but, in truth, our story is built on a foundation of grace and mercy from our heavenly Father.
Once we had finished with dinner, it was time to go upstairs. He told me that he needed to go into the room for a moment. When he came back, he said, “It’s not what you think right now”. I simply trusted him and walked into the room. The sight that greeted me truly took my breath away.
It was simply amazing! His parents had secretly helped him with his plan! They arranged the room so perfectly while we were in the city. There were 18 dozen roses beautifully arranged in vases set around the room (1 for each year that we have known each other). There were princess touches everywhere! There were candles, strands of pearls, crystals, and even glass slippers! The walkway was peppered with rose petals and lead me to the table where another box rested upon Nick’s Bible. He asked me to open it.
He accepted my ring as a promise to make him my husband! At this point, it was nearing the midnight hour and he wanted us to watch the fireworks. But, from our suite, we weren’t sure we were going to be able to see them. As we welcomed the new year, as an engaged couple, we heard the fireworks begin. We ran to the windows and found that we were able to see the fireworks just over a building by Lake Michigan!
Nick was so excited! It was the final piece of the puzzle and he had been afraid it wouldn’t come through for us. He rushed into the other room, grabbed the champagne and poured a toast for us. As we welcomed 2013, he gave me one last gift.
He completed my bracelet with a firework! He really thought of everything! It’s such a gift to know that someone loves me enough to give me such a perfect day!
It’s so amazing to see my bracelet every day and remember each moment! It was like something out of a movie! I truly felt like Cinderella at the ball with my Prince Charming!
The next morning, as we were thinking over how well everything went and all of the little things and moments the Lord gave us, Nick said something I will never forget. He said, “The only way we got a perfect day like that is because the Lord said, ‘You are my daughter and I love you and I want you to have this perfect gift”.
I can’t wait to marry this man the Lord has given me!