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Marisa and Paul's Postcard Perfect Mendocino Proposal Story

outrigger proposal story

Paddling on the Big River

As background for how he asked, Paul and I have played guessing games since the beginning of our relationship. When I’m not allowed to know where is he deployed to (he's a Navy Pilot) – he sends me clues and I try to guess the location. He then sends me a postcard from wherever he happens to be. It helps make us feel connected even when we’re very far apart. For one of our weekends together we were planning to go to one of my favorite California locations – Mendocino. I had thought something might be in the works for this weekend, as I hate surprises and questioned Paul to no end. However, I had no idea that he’d use postcards and clues to propose! 

The day began with breakfast at the beautiful Heritage House Inn, where we were staying. While we were eating, the waiter brought me my first postcard which had a little note from Paul and my first clue written on it. This clue brought us to Catch a Canoe, where we rented an outrigger and went paddling up the beautiful Big River. When we returned to the office, Paul suggested I look around the shop. With a little help from the staff (they had hid it a little too well!) I found my next postcard and clue. 

lighthouse proposal

Point Cabrillo Light House

This time we were headed to the Mendocino Hotel Restaurant for a patio lunch. During dessert my third postcard came to the table and we were off to the Point Cabrillo Light House. During all of these activities we had our dog Rosie with us. When we got to the light house, I walked Rosie along the paths over looking the ocean while Paul explored the museum because I wasn’t sure she’d be allowed inside. Paul seemed to be gone for quite some time, so I suspected he may be hiding another post card, but had no idea he was working out his final plan with the Point Cabrillo’s Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers. 

Once Paul returned outside, he told me that he had talked to the staff and gotten permission to allow us up to the light. This is typically closed to the public and available only to staff and members of the Coast Guard. The one condition was that we had to hang out at the light house for the next hour while they prepared to close, because we couldn’t have access while they were open to the public. If we’re being honest, from the time of the first postcard I had my suspicions that this might be the day Paul was going to propose. However, I had no idea when the postcard clues would be ending, I wasn’t sure if this would be the last one or if we’d be heading to dinner and beyond before he popped the question. So I agreed to spend sometime exploring the grounds while we waited to be able to go up to the light and wasn’t entirely sure what would be happening when we got up there. Close to their 5 p.m. closing time, we returned to the museum, where the excellent volunteers answered my questions and told me more about the history of the light house. After their last visitors left, the volunteers held onto Rosie for me and instructed us on how to climb the ladders up to the light. 

he proposed

She Said Yes

On the door to deck surrounding the light, my final postcard was placed. I was so focused on carefully climbing out to the deck that I didn’t even realize it was for me! I had to be instructed to remove it… I took the postcard outside with me and immediately turned it around, while Paul came out behind me. Written on the back was “if you can guess what is in the box and why I am on one knee, you get to keep it” – I turned around and Paul was kneeling with the ring box asking me to marry him. All the staff and volunteers at each location were so helpful and kind to make this plan workout just as Paul had imagined and made for a day I’ll definitely never forget. I’m so excited to spend the rest of my life with my kind, thoughtful, hilarious best friend!

postcard save the date

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