Beach engagement at El Matador State Beach in Malibu, California
Four years ago, Ciera and I were both associates at a high-end law firm in Los Angeles that practices family law litigation.
A few months later, fate—and one assistant—would step in. After developing a reputation for not being the easiest associate attorney to assist, I was assigned a new assistant, “Diane.” I was then told that Diane would also be Ciera’s assistant. A few days into the new assignment, Diane came into my office and invited me out to dinner to simply get to know me better. I was taken aback but said, “Sure, why not” in the moment. As soon as Diane walked out of my office I called Ciera, who managed to squeak out an “Okay” when I buzzed her on our intercom system to ask for her to come to my office. As soon as she came in I began rambling, ensuring her that she could say no, but also equally imploring her to join the dinner with our newly assigned joint assistant. She said yes, and the rest, as they say, has been nothing short of “meant to be.”
We were taking a trip to Napa with Ciera’s parents in a few weeks and I definitely wanted to propose with their blessing. With the ring safely secured in my travel bag, and my fears of becoming Ben Stiller on the plane in Meet the Fockers, we raced to the airport to head north from Los Angeles. For the first time ever in our relationship, despite our many travels and my assurances to Ciera that I have “never missed a flight,” we got to the airport too late and we couldn’t check our bags. Knowing that her parents were waiting, I told Ciera to go ahead on the first flight and I would take a later flight with our bags.
I couldn’t believe that this had happened on the trip where I was going to propose. I finally arrived and met up with Ciera and her parents in San Francisco. Over breakfast one morning, I asked her father for permission to marry his only daughter. With tears in his eyes, he shook his head yes. Ciera and her mom quickly joined and all that was left was to execute the proposal.
I had arranged a private tour of a vineyard in Napa Valley as it seemed the perfect, private place for the big event. As I was trying to drive to the vineyard in the hills of Napa Valley, Ciera became frustrated and annoyed because I didn’t listen to her directions and missed a turn. (We still laugh to this day that she was so mad at me right before the proposal). We took a tour of the vineyard, and after I took her back to a secluded spot that I thought was perfect, I dropped down to one knee. I said my part, she amazingly said yes, and we are set to be married in front of almost one-hundred-and-fifty people in less than thirty days.
—Julie McAlarnen, one half of the couple
Photographer: Greg Ross
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