OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY
We are so excited to share our engagement story with you! It honestly still feels a little surreal that we are engaged and preparing to embark on the journey of life together. Nick surprised me with where and when he proposed but we had talked a lot about marriage earlier in the year and started shopping for rings back in the fall. The process of getting engaged somehow lasted nearly half of the year, which made 2017 an incredibly special moment in time for us.
LAUREN'S POINT OF VIEW
Nick had the daunting task of coming up with a way to surprise me and let me tell you that is not an easy thing to do. I was subtly (insert nick rolling his eyes) dropping hints about my favorite romantic places and times of year. “Isn’t Christmas the most romantic time of year?” I would say while cooking us dinner, he would reply with an unenthused sound, usually something along the lines of "meh". He had my entire family in on it. They were all trying to convince me it wasn't going to happen until February and I must admit, at a few points they really had me wondering. My mom would call me and say “I don’t think he’s going to do it at Christmas, we tried to tell him you would be disappointed but he won’t listen”.
Despite their best efforts to keep it a secret there were a few dead give-aways. To put it lightly, lying isn't a skill that runs in my family. Here are a few of there schemes:
Elaborate scheme number one
Call Lauren on numerous occasions to convince her that for some reason Nick needs to go help move boxes into Nana Vicky's storage room the first morning Nick's in Calgary for Christmas.
THE REAL STORY
My dad and Nick were driving to the jeweller to pick up the ring before they closed for Christmas
What i thought was happening
I thought they were picking up the ring and going to my Nana's to move boxes. Nick faked a convincing back injury when they got back which led me to believe that at one point they had moved boxes.
THE DEAD GIVEAWAYS
1. The fact that my mom talked about it non-stop every time we talked on the phone for a week.
2. Nick and my dad never run errands alone together on holidays.
3. I figured the jeweller would be closed for Christmas and this was their only chance to pick up the ring before a proposal on a) Christmas or b) in Lake Louise
4. The fact that when they were on their way home, they phoned my mom who preceded to ask about a little box that was heavier than all the rest.
Elaborate scheme number TWO
This wasn't so much a scheme as it was a slip of the tongue and I actually can't say what it was because this person doesn't know that they gave anything away and I'd like them to remain in their blissful state of unawareness. But it was a BIG give away.
Elaborate scheme number Three
That we were staying the night in Canmore at a friend's home when we drove up to Lake Louise and Banff for the day.
THE REAL STORY
We were staying the night at the Chateau Lake Louise with Lake view rooms.
What i thought was happening
I thought the story of us staying in Canmore was a bit fishy. So I had a hunch that we were actually staying at either the Chateau Lake Louise or the Banff Springs.
THE DEAD GIVEAWAYS
1. My parents are incredibly organized people and they didn't have all the answers. I would ask questions like "How are we going to get the keys?" Their response was usually about 30 seconds of exchanging worried looks at one another followed by a dragged out answer that usually was something along the lines of "Uhh, we are getting the keys from someone in town".
2. One day my dad got a call on his cell phone. We were all sitting in the kitchen chatting and he took the call in another room. When he came back into the room a few minutes later he looked at my mom and said "That was costello calling to confirm our reservations" (this is my favourite restaurant in the Banff Springs and the restaurant we were going to the night we went to Lake Louise.) My mom replied "Ohhhhh, great" she then turned toward Nick and winked the most obvious wink I've ever seen in my life. I immediately thought to myself, why would they be lying about going to my favourite restaurant?
3. When we had a bunch of family and friends over on boxing day my mom was asking all of the guests what their favourite restaurants were in Lake Louise.
With many proposal worthy moments of the vacation come and gone, all of my hopes were riding on Lake Louise. My confidence improved with each of the schemes I was picking up on, especially the aforementioned scheme 2.
The drive up was completely normal. We made small talk, played car games and commented on the stunning trees that were dripping in snow. Meanwhile I am running every possible proposal scenario through my head, and Nick is checking his jacket pocket every 2.5 milliseconds.
We pulled up to the Chateau Lake Louise and stopped at the valet area. Usually we park in the overflow area just up from the hotel, however, this year my Nana was with us and it was -39C. The valet seemed pretty plausible so I don't think much of it, until Nick bolted out of his seat to go to the "bathroom" in the hotel. My Dad walked my Nana into the lobby and we all waited for Nick's return. Quite a bit of time had passed and we had just started debating if we would meet him after parking when he came running back to the car.
Once we parked we weren’t sure if it was too cold to skate so we decided to just bring my camera into the hotel to take some pictures. Nick swung the camera bag over his shoulder and we headed into the lobby. We quickly spotted my Nana and Nick and my dad went over to meet her. My mom and I ran off to freshen up in the washroom.
When we returned back my Nana, dad and Nick were huddled around each other deep in conversation. My Nana decided she had to go to the washroom too; my mom escorted her back to the washroom leaving my dad, Nick and I in the lobby this time. Nick grabbed my hand and said, “There’s somewhere I saw earlier that I would like to show you.” I looked to my dad and he gestured for me to go with Nick.
Nick led me down a crowded hallway towards a stairwell. There was a sign in front of the stairs saying “Restricted. Guests only.” Nick stopped and looked at the sign and then at me and said “For guests only…interesting.” Let’s go up here, I followed him up the stairs and when we reached the top the biggest rounded windows looking out onto the most stunning views of Lake Louise greeted us. The hallway of windows was somehow empty. Nick grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the windows. We looked out together in awe of the beauty of Lake Louise in the winter.
He still had my camera bag with him and he said, “This would make a great picture, stay there.” I did what he asked and kept looking out the window. I heard him clicking the camera when all of a sudden he said “Hey, Lauren.” I turned around thinking he was having trouble with the camera settings but was surprised to see him down on one knee with the ring we designed together staring right back at me. Everything he said in that moment is a bit of a blur. It’s amazing how quickly a proposal happens. After a beautiful speech he asked “Will you marry me?” and I responded “Of course!”
Once he put the ring on my finger we kissed and hugged, celebrated and stared at the ring he had been trying to hide from me for the past week. We headed back down the stairs and quickly spotted my parents and Nana who were jumping up and down with excitement in the middle of the crowded hallway. We managed to push our way through the mass of people decked out in eighteen layers of jackets to get to them. We hugged, cried and celebrated together. They congratulated Nick and I and showered us with hugs and kisses. They grabbed my hand and looked at my stunning ring crying out that it was perfect for us! I felt exactly the same way.
Finally they filled me in on the rest of the surprises that the day held. We were going to be staying at the Chateau Lake Louise that night with lake view rooms! My dad had arranged for us all to take a horse drawn sleigh ride around the lake in a few hours. They had made dinner reservations at two restaurants and have left the decision of where we went up to Nick and I.
My brother, Kyle was celebrating Christmas with his wife Jamie’s family in Mexico, so he called to congratulate us. We headed back to the spot where Nick proposed to me so we could talk to him on FaceTime and show him where the special moment had happened. He was very happy for us and we all couldn't wait to get together and celebrate!
THE SLEIGH RIDE
After we finished calling family and friends to let them know the big news, we grabbed a couple snacks and hot chocolates from the hotel's cafe and headed out to our sleigh ride. It was so incredibly magical. We were all bundled up in about 3 jackets each and the poor horses fur was frozen because it was so cold. The best part about it being -39C is that your eyelids freeze open so it's impossible to miss anything.
My mom, dad and Nana sat in the row in front of Nick and I, we were lucky enough to get the last row so we could take pictures of the horses behind us. The sleigh ride was one of the most special things I've ever done. We had the most stunning views of the mountains, the trees, the hotel, we even came across a frozen waterfall. It was truly a breathtaking experience. Nick and I huddled close together and took pictures to send back to our friends and family. We felt closer than ever because we actually were, as we had frozen to one another, and the sleigh.
One of the most special parts of the sleigh ride was my Nana's reaction to it. She told us all the next morning that she dreamt she was a little girl again on a sleigh ride with her family. She said she was talking in her sleep saying "Tori! Tori" (a nickname her parents called her when she was young).
Our rooms were late being ready so the hotel gave us drink vouchers, so once we'd completed our sleigh ride we headed into the hotel's restaurant over looking the lake to celebrate with some wintery cocktails. When the waiter found out we were newly engaged he brought us a free bottle of prosecco to cheers with (the first of many drinks that day). Fairmont hotels really know how to make you feel special. After the prosecco we ordered a round of frangelico and limoncello followed by hot chocolate with kaluha and baileys.
We finished up our drinks and thanked our charming Irish waiter for the complimentary champagne and bunch of laughs. We then headed up to the rooms to drop off our bags and unload a layer or two of clothing.
The rooms were spectacular, with stunning lake views and lots of nice touches that you only find at a Fairmont hotel. The chateau Lake Louise has so much character, from the funny double doors to the bathroom to the snow piled up around the latched windows.
Our next mission was to survey our potential dinner possibilities. We started with the Lago restaurant in the Fairmont. We snuck past a sign that read closed after we found the gate was unlocked. The staff we met on the way in was warm, friendly, and congratulatory. They welcomed us to walk around the restaurant and also have a peek at the menu. The hostess snuck a peak at my engagement ring and congratulated us both and was excited to see us shortly.
Next, we went down the road to the post hotel to have a gander at their restaurant. A family friend had raved about everything from the food and atmosphere to the seemingly endless wine list. When we arrived, this was all confirmed. The atmosphere was festive and exquisite, a fantastic location to celebrate a special occasion. All signs pointed to yes, and the last thing to do was have a glance at the inevitably top shelf dining options. We were confused when we sat down and only found two pages, one with a rather obscure tasting menu and some cold appetizers.
This began the great debate of food and feasibility versus atmosphere and ambience. We discussed it and settled on the Lago being a very reasonable choice and convenient setting for our dinner. The staff at both places was incredibly friendly so we figured either experience would be nothing short of extraordinary,
We headed up to our rooms, got polished up, and met up for a glass of champagne before we headed off. Celebration was in the air, and we kicked the night off with “Celebrate Good Times” blaring out of nicks phone. The bubbly went down quickly, and after a few moves were busted, we headed for the elevators.
We arrived at Lago to the warm, friendly and excited staff. Our hostess walked us to our table and we unfortunately realized that we had made a bit of a blunder with our decision. We were immediately aware that this was a buffet style family restaurant for busy moms and dads that want to treat their families to a good Italian meal in a convenient and comfortable setting. Nothing at this point was exactly screaming ENGAGEMENT CELEBRATION. Until our waitress brought us a complimentary bottle of prosecco. Gulp. An awkward silence fell over the table as everyone put on their best “Here we are, lets make the best of it” face. We sheepishly put in our orders as we all internally debated whether or not it was too late to somehow salvage our other reservation. At this point there was a tough decision to make, so I decided to speak up and see what everyone else thought. I started with a delicate whisper of “I think the ambience at the other place might have been a bit better”.
We put our heads together and made a team decision to check on the other reservation, pay for the prosecco, apologize profusely, and somehow graciously skulk our way out of the restaurant. The reservation at the Post Hotel was still available, but we had to jet there quickly. We all explained our situation to the waitress, and she could not have been more understanding or comforting to us in this very awkward predicament we found ourselves in. We explained we would pay for the prosecco and unfortunately head off, but she returned with the manager and insisted that the bottle would be sent to the room on the house.
We honestly cannot say enough about the entire staff at Lago and how they handled this situation. It is never easy to deal with a situation where the customer is looking for a certain atmosphere that may not align exactly with what their restaurant provides. This in no way puts one over the other, as the Lago demonstrated that customer service, professionalism, grace and experience of the patron are the bedrock of Lago and the Fairmont hotel chain as a whole. We left extremely impressed and humbled by the treatment we received, for these reasons we will no doubt return there.
The glow of the experience with the Lago staff had to happen at the same time as a brisk slalom run in our Mercedes chariot in the snow. My dad made it there in record time and dropped us off right at the front door. Nick and I rushed in to lock in the reservation, flash the ring, and play the aloof engaged couple that had lost track of time. It was just our luck that the incredible service continued and they barely blinked at our tardiness, took our coats, and led us to our perfectly set table in the centre of the restaurant.
NICK'S POINT OF VIEW
As soon as we entered the dining room we realized that second time was truly a charm. Good thing it was, because at this point we really actually had no other option. Word had already spread around the lake that a supposedly engaged couple is restaurant hopping looking for free bread and bottles of Prosecco. Happy with our final choice we settled into our cabin chic fine dining experience.
We were lucky enough to be seated right next to the Wilmots, family friends of the Foot's who lived in the same neighborhood. It was a lovely surprise to get to catch up and share the great news with them.
Little did we know another embarrassing surprise awaited just around the corner.
Our waiter greeted us with an accent just mysterious enough to feel interesting, laid our napkins on our laps, and passed out the menus for the nights dining experience. Remember at this point that the deciding factor in our initial restaurant choice was that the Post Hotel only had a two-page menu with very limited options. These menus had more than two pages. These menus had a plethora of options. These menus had some of the best sounding food we had ever heard before. This newly engaged couple was mortified.
We laughed it off, ordered a nice bottle of wine and toasted to finally getting to eat. At this point we actually toasted to our engagement, and how lucky we all were to get to spend the day celebrating together. We couldn’t have imagined a more special day and it’s funny how these quirky situations can end up being such a highlight. We spent the rest of the night eating great food, drinking great wine, and joking about how bad we all were at keeping the secret from Lauren.
We got back to our room to find an amazing surprise, the Lago restaurant had sent our Prosecco up along with a signed card from the whole staff congratulating us on our engagement. If I hadn’t run out of adjectives in my previous praising of the staff, I would go on here. We hopped into our terry cloth robes of fluffy heaven and complimentary slippers and wound down for the night. We recapped the excitement of the day and couldn’t wait to wake up to Lake Louise the next morning, together.
We awoke the next day into what we affectionately refer to as “robe life”. Robe life is not just reliant on you wearing a fluffly white bath robe, it is more than that, some say it is a way of life. That life includes matching slippers, tea and coffee, watching the sunrise on the lake, and ordering honey and lemon by room service. We were surprised by some OJ and leftover champagne from the family, which was a wonderful start to the day. Anyone who hasn’t drank a mimosa in a bathrobe doesn’t know what they are missing.
We went down with Ray and Cathy for a delicious buffet breakfast, and had another wonderful experience with yet another first class employee of the Fairmont hotel. At this point we were in such a good mood that anyone who so much as looked at us was getting our entire life story, and in turn offering up theirs.
Next we were heading out to skate so we scurried up to the room to put on 8 and a half more layers and brave the cold. We checked in with Lauren’s nana who chose to let us become ice sculptures as she watched from the coziness of the hotel room. We headed down, laced up, and slid out onto the ice. The scene was too beautiful not to photograph, so Lauren the ever ready photographer lined us up for some shots. Getting the right pose was easy because we froze solid after the first take. It brought new meaning to the term still life photography.
After skating Ray, Cathy, Lauren and I headed to the ice bar to thaw out with a hot drink. We toasted (again if you can believe it) to a great couple of days at the chateau and an exciting night ahead at the Banff springs. We thought while we were there that we should glance up to where our room to see if Victoria could see us. Next thing we knew, we were being graced with an acknowledgement of royal proportions. “The Wave”, as it is now known, was the highlight of the morning and got us laughing hard enough to forget our nose hair was frozen.
Next we all went back to the rooms, got our bags together, and packed into the car to begin the journey to the Banff springs. We enjoyed a nice phone call with Lauren’s auntie Claire, as the news had spread to Medicine Hat and everyone was very excited. While trading stories we also came to terms with how we might not be that great at keeping a big secret from Lauren. She alleges that she saw through some of our facades and also caught a couple winks across the room. She’s not an easy person to surprise but we are grateful that she let us believe we were fooling her for a little while.
We pulled into Banff, then up to the majestic Banff Springs. If you have ever wondered how they got the idea for a snow globe, just go to Banff. It’s like walking around in a postcard. The hotel feels like Hogwarts, thanks to all the castle like architecture, hidden hallways, and talking paintings. Okay, I made the last one up.
After wandering around the hotel a bit, and a mandatory stop at the jewelry store for Victoria, we headed to the lounge to have a quick drink before dinner. We were so hungry at this point that we started debating whether or not the people across from us would really miss their nachos or not. A cheers and a caeser later, and it was off to dinner at Costelos, one of Lauren’s favorite restaurants ever.
Dinner commenced with some cheers of wine, and Lauren and I doing some goofy intertwined drinking from our glasses. Luckily this was promptly documented by Cathy’s phone, and accidentally sent out to a large amount of family and friends. Rapid fire photography runs in the family. No big deal because after all, nobody here but us chickens.
The wine and the food were incredible, and so were the inside jokes. At this point we had “a little brief”,”nobody here but us chickens” “screen porch” and “I don’t know but its something.” Credit for most of the comic relief goes to Vicky, who was always keeping us laughing the whole trip. This last supper was the perfect end to a fantastic two day celebration together.
After a little bit more wandering around the majestic Banff Springs, we loaded into the SUV for the ride home. Ray was our flawless wheelman for the entire trip, and even showed complete composure when the SUV skidded into some deep snow on the side of the road. We got home safe and sound, and pretty much everyone had an extreme case of celebration exhaustion. I say pretty much everyone because Lauren wanted to edit photos, Cathy was talking about the weekend, and Vicky was gearing up for charades. Basically Ray and I were falling asleep on the couch, exhausting from trying to keep up with the Day/Foot women.
From start to finish, the trip was extremely special. Not just because of the milestone beginning for Lauren and I, but also because it brought us all closer as a soon to be family. It was very important to Lauren to have as much of her family to share in the special day as possible. While it may have made secret keeping difficult at times (see schemes 1 to 3), surprises that we could have never expected will be in our memories forever. The two days were full of love and celebration, which was a perfect start for Lauren and I on the rest of our lives together.