Keri + Jake live on the beautiful North Shore of Oahu and knew that they wanted to celebrate their love in this place they call home. When I was chosen to be their wedding photographer for their wedding at Loulu Palms Estate, I was beyond ecstatic. I had met with them previous to them booking me and they were such a fun, easy going couple with an amazing love story. Here is their story as told from Keri…

When we first met in February 2012, Jake was on a double/blind date with my roommate. I went out for late night tacos with my friend, Rachael, at Luibueno’s; because Happy Hour – $2 tacos and a cheap caesar salad, and my roommate, Jake, and the other couple walked into Lui’s for a post-dinner drink. They sat at a cocktail table, so I went over to say hi. Jake and I shook hands (so formal, “it’s nice to meet you.”), and I remember thinking to myself, “what a good-looking, well-dressed guy!” That was it, Rachael and I left.

The next day, I asked my roommate how her date went, and while she said Jake was really nice and really cool, she didn’t think he was that into her. My first thought, “Hmm, well maybe he’d be into me…”

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day, Rachael and I decided to get up early for some breakfast and a surf. She picked me up and we went to the Beet Box, the local hole-in-the-wall, only-three-tables, back-of-the-health-food-store café. As we sat down with our food, a group of guys came in. There were only three tables in the place so we all ended up eating together. Enter Jake. He walks in to join his friends for breakfast, and lo and behold, we meet again. As we talked, there was instant chemistry. I was so intrigued by this tall, handsome surfer man who lived in Spain – how exotic! The boys finished up eating and left.

Rachael and I hung back, finished our meals, and headed out through Celestial (the health food store) to go surf. As we’re leaving, we see Jake perusing the coconut oil and salad dressing. He stops me and says, “Hey, can I talk to you for a second?” I say, “Sure…” and the three of us head outside. Rachael, catching on more quickly than I, excuses herself to go shop next door. As we stand there awkwardly on the sidewalk, Jake says, “You should move to Europe with me.” I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor, and the only think I could think of to say was, “Umm, but I don’t speak Spanish…” “That’s okay, I do,” he says. He then told me that he needs to go before he misses his flight (if you know Jake, it wouldn’t be the first time), asked me for my number, and that was that.

Over the next few days, we texted and talked on the phone. It was so comfortable. He was intellectual, funny, and I could tell right away how important his family was to him. In fact, he had flown back to the mainland to go to the Camden Conference in Maine with his mom. After days of this, Jake said that he really wanted to take me out on a date and that I should “fly up to San Francisco.” After convincing me that my cat would be fine, and agreeing to split the cost of a plane ticket, I got my work shifts covered and headed off to California (my roommate even took me to the airport, in case you were wondering how she felt about things).

We spent four days in San Francisco, hiking, walking around the Fisherman’s Wharf, a wax museum, the MoMA, meeting some of Jake’s friends, and exploring Año Nuevo National Park; I even saw elephant seals for the first time! It was a whirlwind of fun and falling in love that I had never experienced. Before I left, we decided that Jake would have to come back to Hawaii before leaving again for Spain (long story short, he had to be in the US as his job was working out his Visa).

Two days later, Jake was back in Hawaii, and we decided that I had to move to Europe. My parents, rightfully so, thought I was crazy, and my mom even had a background check done on him to make sure I wouldn’t disappear! We spent that week in Hawaii making arrangements for me to move. He was headed back to Spain, but I told him that I couldn’t come to Europe without him meeting my family first; I knew that if they only met him, they would love him too.

Fast forward to the end of March, I left Hawaii, Jake left Spain, and we flew into Baltimore-Washington International Airport carefully planning to arrive at the same time. We spent a week in Maryland with my family, and on April 3rd, we flew to Spain where we spent the next three months living in Spain, France and Portugal before moving back to Hawaii for me to attend grad school! (scroll all the way down for the proposal from Jakes point of view)

THE PROPOSAL : I’ve wanted to marry Keri from the moment I sat down in that little cafe and got lost in her blue eyes. Everything about her was everything a man could dream of — generous, kind, beautiful, and honest. I decided to do everything I could to convince her to spend her life with me. Well, it took five years and two continents and a very remote set of islands in the Pacific and the time suddenly felt incredibly right to ask her.

We have talked about marriage since the very beginning, and Keri gave some pretty subtle hints about a ring that she would love. But that was over five years ago. So, a few months earlier, I decided to nudge around the subject a little (ask her what she thought of her girlfriends’ rings), just to make sure she was on the same page. Sure enough, her taste had shifted. She talked about the metals she might like and the idea of the ring began to form in my head.

And so one afternoon, I went down to our local coffee shop and sat in the empty outdoor patio and looked online through rings until I found the dream setting. It was perfect. Then I found a beautiful diamond that I hoped would light up like her eyes the first time we sat down to talk. And just like that, a ring was being made in San Francisco, a city that holds a dear place in our heart, and would be flown to Hawaii three weeks later.

Three weeks was great — it gave me ample time to plan the proposal, which really meant, somehow figure out a way to surprise the hardest person I know to surprise.

However, on a beautiful morning one week later, I got a call from a friend saying the FedEx man had dropped off a package. One week! I thought for sure I had three. I went down to see the friend and there it was — the box! I opened it and the ring was even more beautiful that I could have imagined. I kept opening the lid and smiling and I decided, ‘You know what, Jake, you should take her to the spot and do it today.’

So, I asked Keri to go hiking with me. “But it’s so hot today,” she replied. “I know darling but it is such a glorious day – it will be beautiful out there.” “But it’s soooo hot.”Let’s take a couple of beers,” I said. “But we never take beers hiking,” she replied. “Well, let’s do something different.” She finally acquiesced and I packed up our backpack with a few beers, a blanket and the package.

We drove out to Ka’ena point, which is one of the most beautiful places on O’ahu. Ka’ena literally means “the heat” in Hawaiian and is known for it’s spiritual significance in Hawaiian culture as the “leaping place of souls.” What a place to take the biggest leap of my life.

The view from Ka’ena is commanding – the wild surf of the North Shore comes crashing up against the Westside’s oozey, blue currents. Large seabirds cut silently across the sky and it feels like the place has not changed since the beginning of time.

Ka’ena Point holds special meaning to me because Keri and I discovered the most magnificent picnic spot above some old World War II pillboxes (machine gun turrets) high up on the hill. We’ve never come across another person up there, and love to spend hours gazing at the clouds that stretch from Makaha to Turtle Bay. Ka’eana is literally the confluence of the places and cultures we love.

So, what better place to ask for Keri’s hand in love than this isolated corner of the island?

We hiked out there in the October sun, made it to the top of the bunkers, and I started to get a bit nervous. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to try and document it, but I felt like taking a picture would be an easy distraction for her. So I placed the ring box in an area of my backpack I could easily reach, told I her I was going to set up the timer on my Fuji camera and ran up the hill and looked for a good perch. In all of my nervousness, I forgot how to turn on the stinking video on my Fuji! I fumbled around trying to find the setting for so long that she started to shout “What are you doing up there?” “Nothing, honey, just trying to figure something out.” I frantically searched through the camera’s menus and myriad buttons and just couldn’t find it, so I reached in my pocket and fished out my good old iPhone and set up the video.

I ran back down to our little picnic zone, looked out at the horizon one last time, and turned to her and asked her to face the camera. I pretended like the picture went off and faced her and held her hands and looked into those giant wonderful blue eyes while the wind whipped her hair and told her how much I loved her and was grateful for everything she had done for me and went to get on a knee but ended up on two and reached into the backpack and pulled out the ring and asked her to marry me.

And she said “Yes!!” and we hugged and cried and looked up the hill and I said “ that’s a video recording” and she laughed and we hugged and kissed some more.

We then called our parents and some friends and shared the wonderful news and had a couple of beers and headed down the mountain and walked the two hours back to the car in near silence and bliss, reveling in the stillness of love.

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