I was never the type of girl who imagined my wedding. Sure, from time to time I would slip into a daydream of what my engagement would be like or what color bridesmaid dresses I envisioned, but I didn’t spend an exorbitant amount of time obsessing over anything of the sorts. In fact, I used to chuckle at women who did this. I couldn’t fathom how they could spend so many hours planning the details of an event they weren’t even guaranteed. How could they be so convinced someone would even want to marry them? Maybe that’s why I didn’t obsess over my imaginary wedding; because up until my mid-twenties, I was convinced that marriage was not in the cards for me. 

That is until I met the woman that changed my whole perspective. It was New Years’ Eve 2014 when I met Laine and we didn’t start dating until 10 months later. Not even a few months into our relationship, I found myself bearing resemblance to the women I mocked for so many years. Engagement daydreams and wedding visions were suddenly renting space in my daily thoughts, sometimes without my permission. Before I knew it, I had pinned about a million engagement rings on my Pinterest page and apparently, my bridesmaids would be wearing blush. I couldn’t believe who I had become!

Fast forward three years into our relationship and the engagement talk was rapidly going from fantasy to reality. We both knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, and somewhere along the way, we decided that Laine would be the one to do the proposing. I was smitten! If I thought my imagination could not get wilder, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was constantly catching myself in deep thought imagining every scenario in the book. Would she propose at our home? Would she propose in front of friends and family? Would she do it spontaneously or would it be delicately and meticulously planned? I went from anti-plan to completely engulfed. 

It is no secret that in today’s social media-driven society, engagements and weddings have become more exaggerated than ever. Gone are the days that a proposal does not include a professional photographer and ring that will make all the world squeal. Sure, some couples still attend to the sweet and simple, but for many people, engagements and weddings have become nothing short of a production. It often seems that these big moments become more about the Instagram post opportunity instead of the person behind the planning. Although there’s nothing wrong with being excited about that perfectly captured engagement photo, the meaning of the moment—the whole saying yes to the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with—is overshadowed by balloons and immediate plans for where the bachelorette party will be. I found myself right at the eye of this storm. Before Laine had even proposed, I was already planning what would come next. However, something happened during our proposal that made me enjoy the moment for exactly what it was, and reassured me that it absolutely was about spending my life with Laine and nothing else.

It was August of 2018 and Laine and I were headed to Denver Colorado for our friend’s thirtieth birthday. We split an AirBnB with the birthday girl and her wife, as well as two of our other mutual friends. We planned on doing a lot of brewery hopping, a lot of brunching, and our trip would end with a Brandi Carlile concert at the Red’s Rock Amphitheatre. I had never been to Denver, so I had been looking forward to the trip for months.


When we arrived, we started going over the itinerary for the next few days. Laine mentioned a hike on Saturday morning that I hadn’t yet heard about, so I proceeded to ask a few more questions. She quickly shut it down and assured me that I didn’t need to worry; she was planning an awesome hike and I didn’t need to know anything more about it. I obeyed and did not ask any more questions, thinking nothing of it. Laine and I love the outdoors, especially if it involves mountains. She can be pretty thoughtful, so I figured she wanted to surprise me with a beautiful hike. Saturday morning arrived, and after a delicious brunch, we packed into our friends’ truck and headed about an hour outside of Denver to hike in the Roxborough National Park. Laine’s aunt lives in Roxborough, so upon our arrival, we parked at her house and began our group hike. The surroundings and backdrops at every turn on the trail were gorgeous. But there was one backdrop that was especially stunning. 

We came upon a wide-open view of a beautiful scene of panoramic red rocks. I stopped to say out loud how amazing this particular picture was. The skies were bright blue and the red rocks seemed just a little redder at this particular opening. As I said, we were with a group, four of them being some of our best couple friends. Because this backdrop was so dreamy, everyone wanted a picture with their significant other. First, it was our friends Melissa and Lauren. Then our friends Tara and Alex. It was our turn to have our picture taken, so I handed my phone to one of the girls and Laine and I posed for the photo. 

As I began to walk away to grab my phone back, I noticed that Laine wasn’t following. I turned around to see why she was lagging behind, and there she was, down on one knee. I was in complete shock. I never thought that I would cry during my own proposal. I am usually not one to cry under pressure and figured the tears would come later, but not at the moment. I could not have been more off base. My eyes immediately welled up with tears and my legs were shaking while I tried to take in the moment for just how special it was. The woman I love was asking me to marry her, to spend the rest of our days together, in the most beautiful weather and the most romantic scenery. It was more than I could have ever dreamed up. 

After her sweet and simple proposal speech, she asked the infamous question, “Will you marry me?” and held out that little black box. The moment that so many people dream of their whole lives. But when she opened it, it was not what I’d imagined. It was not one of the million rings that I had pinned on my Pinterest page. And it definitely wasn’t blinding me with sparkle. It was a white silicone band. 


Laine had asked me to send her an inspiration picture of a ring that I really loved. I knew that I wanted something slightly different and I loved rings that had a vintage vibe. So I sent her a rose gold banded ring with pave diamonds and a peach/champagne hue sapphire as the center stone. It was the dreamiest ring I had ever seen. Well, it turns out that color sapphire is a hard gem to track down. Laine worked with a jeweler and was finally able to find the perfect stone, but she was working against a time clock knowing that she wanted to propose during our Colorado trip. When the sapphire finally came in and it was put in the setting, it did not fit. The setting needed to be sent off and readjusted so that it could fit the stone that she had selected. And to Laine’s devastation, the ring was not ready prior to us leaving for Denver. Of course, all of this was happening unbeknownst to me. Ultimately, she decided that she was not going to let the lack of ring stop her from proposing.

So she stuck to her plan. She took me on an amazing hike and she asked me to be her wife in a setting I couldn’t have imagined more perfect. And when she opened that box, it could have been empty. I was so elated by the thought of marrying her, the lack of sparkle in that little black cube could not have mattered less. Almost immediately, it became clear to me that the flash and the production, all of the scenarios that you subconsciously imagine, are insignificant in comparison to the person who is looking back at you on that day.

Photo courtesy Kaila Strickland

I am so glad that little black box contained a plastic white ring. I put it on, glowing with excitement, and wore it around Denver all weekend with pride; not because of the ring, not because of the way it all went down, but because of the woman who had just become my fiancée. Yes, we had friends there to take that Instagram-worthy picture. Yes, I was elated when we got home and drove straight to pick up my real ring (it was ready the day after we left for Denver!). But I wouldn’t trade our moment for the world. I was able to truly revel in our special day for exactly what it should be about: Laine and I. We’ve have been married for a little over four months, and some days I still choose to wear that little white ring instead of my sparkly one. It serves as a constant reminder that this life we are building won’t always be a romantic production, and things won’t always happen as planned. But as long as we remember why we chose each other, we are already winning the race.

Kaila Strickland HeadshotKaila Strickland lives in Dallas, Texas, with her wife, Laine, and their two dogs. She works in the wine industry by day and has a passion for writing and fitness. In her free time, she enjoys working on her blog, taking group fitness classes and traveling with her spouse. She is a firm believer in all things equality and believes wholeheartedly that love always wins. You can find more writing content from her at The Comfy Closet.