Even though couples get engaged all year round, it is safe to say that the height of “engagement season” has now past. This past Monday marked eight years since my husband and I got engaged, and in the process of cleaning out my garage last week to make space for a bigger playroom for the boys, I found our proposal story that I had written down shortly after it happened…and I’m glad I did because these days it’s hard to remember what I ate (or if I ate) for breakfast the day before!

Years ago, I had read in a magazine that about 80% of brides-to-be were deep down a bit disappointed by the way they were proposed to. While I have no idea how they gathered their data to come to this statistic, it is always a good idea for the proposer to really think carefully about how he/she wants their proposal to go down (and not rush it). I think my then boyfriend was nervous about this and apparently wanted to do something I would never forget.

February 14th, 2009 was not only Valentine’s Day, but was also our four-year dating anniversary (I know, cheesy, but hey he was young and naive). Unfortunately, because of his unpredictable work schedule, he had to work that day and instead mailed me a card where he indicated that he would be taking me somewhere in March, and ended with a “p.s. It’s going to be cold.”

Almost four weeks later, I received an email from him with a detailed list of things to pack for the trip. Some of the items on the list included things such as a facemask, waterproof matches, long underwear, a flashlight, a bathing suit, etc. Super random, right? I felt anxious and a little annoyed because I thought he was just pulling my leg.

After five weeks of anxiously waiting to find out where this surprise trip was to, we had our bags packed and he tells me that we were flying to Fairbanks, Alaska as we were walking into the terminal at LAX. Once we arrived at Fairbanks, I remember the pilot announcing that it was 15 below and I had no idea what he was talking about. I should point out that I sometimes shiver in low 70-degree temps, and I was clearly not prepared for what I was about to walk into once we stepped foot out of the airport.

While we were having a carb & butter-loaded dinner (the Alaskan way), I was informed that we would be going on a two-day dog sledding trip the next morning. Although we had never done this before, we are both big dog lovers, and I was excited and nervous all at the same time! When our guide showed up early the next morning to pick us up, he had 24 eager dogs in the back of his dirty truck and (unbeknownst to me) three sleds.

We drove out of the city for about 45 minutes and pulled off the road to a boating dock. There, our guide set up three sleds with separate dog teams, showed us how to brake, how to use the snow hook, and handed us a walkie talkie before he took off with his “race-training team”. We looked at each other and for a moment wondered what the heck he had gotten us into. I was freezing, despite the hand and foot warmers and new snowboots the guide made us stop and buy, and admittedly very nervous. I said a quick prayer, pulled hard to loosen the snow hook and my dogs bolted off.


Watching our individual dog teams power through the snow on the long stretch of the frozen Salcha River was truly an exhilarating experience. After an exciting day of “mushing” for 25 miles and taking in the breath-taking scenery (shockingly without falling off our sleds), we arrived at a riverfront cabin nestled in the forest where we would be staying the night.


Talk about a place in the middle of nowhere! At first I thought to myself, “this creepy guide could easily kill us both and dump us anywhere around here and no one would ever find us”. I am not a princess when it comes to my expectations for travel accommodations either, but this was also far from luxury travel. We were bunking up like the locals- wood-burning heater, no running water, no electricity, and walking through snow almost thigh-high to get to the outhouse. Super romantic right? But that’s the thing, it actually was.

That night after a full game of Monopoly Alaska edition and the most delicious white salmon dinner that our cabin host grilled for us, I decided to pass on the outdoor dip in the jacuzzi and head to the deck of the cabin. We sat there in silence (mainly because we were freezing our butts off), staring up at the stars, drinking wine, and patiently looking for the famed Northern Lights to dance across the sky for us. After a little while we caught a faint, sweeping glimmer of the Northern Lights and decided to go back inside the cabin where it would be warmer and finish the bottle of wine. Once inside the candlelit cabin, he proceeds to remind me of how he feels for me, gets down on one knee, and asks me to marry him.

The next morning, newly engaged and excited, we jumped back on the sleds for another 25 mile run. It was truly a once in a lifetime, unforgettable adventure.

If you have recently gotten engaged, I highly recommend you document the moment so you can later relive those emotions all over again!

Cynthia Aceves