How We Met:
Our story is a bit unconventional, but we would have it no other way. We met in October of 2010 at a dive bar on karaoke night — one of the few places that we were likely to have ever connected. At the time, Trace was working as a host at Chili's while finishing his undergraduate degree, and his coworkers Lisa (one of the wedding attendants) and Steve (the officiant) convinced him to go to Bout Time — an admittedly dingy hole-in-the-wall with a LOT of personality, to say the least. Andrew, who was working as an event specialist at a catering company, attended the same bar for the first time while actually on date with someone else (go figure). As luck would have it, mutual friends of his date knew mutual friends of Trace’s and the two began to frequent karaoke night weekly within this social group, though never really interacting. Truth be told, when we met we did not hit it off right away; Andrew found Trace to be extremely cute, but also extremely loud and obnoxious. Trace was still living the college life, after all. Though we eventually began to draw closer to each other thanks to a mutual love of horror movies, it took some serious work before Trace could convince Andrew to take their relationship from casual hangouts to official dating status. Many karaoke outings and movie nights later, Andrew finally agreed to make things official with Trace on April 11, 2011. Naturally, our first official date as a couple was a trip to the movies three days later to see Scream 4, an appropriately planned event since we both held an undying adoration for the Scream series and had bonded over it many times before. From there, we began a long and oft adventurous journey of courtship. Our years have been filled with laughs and fights, steak dinners and bottles of wine, TV binge nights and film festivals, and— above all — growth and love. Our mutual decision to solidify our partnership for life was made a reality when Trace proposed on January 31, 2016.
The Proposal from Trace's Point of View:
So, I had to be the one to propose because Andrew had always requested that I be the one to do it. I’m the less romantic of the two and am generally pretty terrible at sentimental moments. I’m just a little awkward. Because of this, Andrew thought it would be more romantic and meaningful if I faced my insecurities and be the one to take that leap since he had already made it clear that he would say yes. It took about two more years(!) for me to get up the nerve to propose.
It took me a while to finalize a plan. A major contender was setting up a puppy play date with a friend and attaching the ring to our dog’s collar before sending him into Andrew’s arms. I eventually decided that was too complicated and decided to use a colleague from my work in the event industry to surprise him. I contacted my friend Brittany, a photographer, and asked her to text both Andrew and me and ask us if we would model for a mock engagement shoot. This made sense because, with the recent Supreme Court rulings, everyone in the industry was trying to get more marketing materials with same-sex couples. Andrew bought into the idea and agreed to do it to help Brittany out.
There were some hurdles along the way. I bought the ring right before Christmas but was told I was going to have to wait six weeks for it to come in. At that point I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to wait until after our annual Mardi Gras trip in February to propose. We set a date for mid-February. As fate would have it, I got a call in mid-January informing me that the ring had come in, a mere three weeks after I bought the ring. Wanting to propose before our trip, Brittany and I scrambled and we set a date for January 31st. Unfortunately, when we mentioned this to Andrew we learned that he had already made plans with a friend for the same day. I immediately contacted that friend and told her my plan and ordered her to cancel her plans with Andrew. She obliged. We were set for January 31st so I picked the location: a levy behind the first apartment complex we lived at together.
On the big day, we arrived with our dog Coach McGuirk (aka the cutest dog in the world). We met up with Brittany and her assistant, but I said I forgot my sunglasses and wanted to run back to my car to get them. Her assistant followed me and I grabbed the ring box from the car and handed it to him. Finally, the shoot began. After spending about 45 minutes taking a few shots in different areas (it was surprisingly hot, even for January), Brittany told us that she wanted to get a shot of a faux proposal (this was my idea) and handed me the ring box. While doing this, she told me that it was grandmother's ring so be very careful with it, (that was her idea) in order to sell the idea even further. I was visibly nervous but I think Andrew was so annoyed with the heat that he couldn’t tell. I then got down on one knee and said, "Andrew, I know you think this is fake, but it's actually real. Andrew Steven Arriaga, will you marry me?" It took Andrew a second to realize that I was serious, and he just stood there for a minute before finally (finally) saying yes! We kissed and hugged and I drove him to the Driskill Hotel (where Andrew had always wanted to stay since it’s haunted) and we spent our engagement night there.
The Proposal from Andrew's Perspective:
After being together for about four years, I knew I wanted to marry Trace. Historically being the one of us who is keener on planning everything out—and definitely the more sentimental of the two of us—I made these feelings quite clear, hoping that Trace would realize he was in the same boat sooner than later! Though I tried not to be too pushy about wanting to get married, I did inform Trace that if we were ever to be engaged, I would love it if he would be the one that proposed. I figured I had made my feelings pretty clear over the years, and just thought it would be nice to see him make that kind of gesture that was both grand and out of his comfort zone. Truth be told, I had already decided to propose myself if he didn’t do so by our fifth anniversary, but he didn’t need to know this!
Fast-forward to January 31st, 2016, three months before our fifth anniversary… Trace and I had agreed to help out our photographer friend Brittany as models for a faux engagement photo shoot for her portfolio. I really thought nothing particularly significant about her invite, as Brittany had actually shot photos for me a while back and we are always happy to help her out. To make things a bit more effortless, the shoot was going to be held nearby at the levee behind the apartments where Trace and I used to live with some friends. When we arrived at the outdoor shooting location that day with our dog, I was less than thrilled that it was especially hot for wintertime, even for Austin. We toughed it out in the heat though and spent a little less than an hour taking a number of different shots while staving off sweat in between. It was admittedly less romantic than any of the resulting photos might suggest, and I was growing pretty restless in the sun if I’m being completely honest! I was doing my best to remain in good spirits, but I am sure my grumpiness was starting to show. Likely noticing this, Brittany requested one last shot: a faux proposal photo op with Trace being the one to go down on one knee. I was definitely all about this, figuring this would be good practice for him! Little did I know that this was no faux proposal at all; in a whirlwind of about 20 second, Trace caught me completely off guard by getting down on one knee and uttering the words, “I know you think this is all fake, but it’s actually real. Andrew Steven Arriaga, will you marry me?” Needless to say, I was in a state of complete shock! I have felt this kind of genuine surprise in my life maybe once or twice before, and most definitely not in such a tremendous way. In the moment, I was overcome with emotion and awe—but of course said yes as quickly as I could!
To make things even more special, Trace also planned a wonderfully romantic evening for us that continued right after the shoot at one of the most gorgeous and historical Austin locales, The Driskill Hotel; he had even been in communication with my boss so that I could have the next day off of work as well! Being the very intuitive and detail-oriented person that I am, I never expected that Trace would pull off something so sneaky without me even remotely becoming suspicious. Needless to say, I am so unbelievably glad that he did. It is a moment I will remember with the utmost joy for the rest of my life… or, more appropriately, the rest of our lives together!