An assortment of glass containers lines the beach in Nantucket. Small candles flicker inside, casting a yellow halo onto the sand as the sun sinks slowly into the horizon. The sky is gently turning a lavender color with stripes of vibrant pink snaking through the clouds.
Matt Price and Cassie King ride up to the dunes on bicycles. She sees the glass jars, the trail of light crawling up stone steps. The wind is blowing lightly, ruffling her soft blue dress and she approaches the candles. Beneath the first one a small slip of paper flaps in the breeze.
“What’s that?” Matt asks, pointing to the paper.
She unfolds it.
“Remember the time I ran up to you in the AC and I said your name and we first met?,” it reads.
She climbs higher on the steps, grabbing another slip of paper. Another memory is typed onto it. She’s laughing and crying now, reliving the memories of her and Matt’s long relationship.
Finally, she nears the top.
“Hey, there’s one more,” Matt says. Cassie unfolds it. “Remember that time I asked you to marry me on the beach in Nantucket?”
“And I’m weeping,” Cassie said. “Weeping is the word for it.”
“You know how I said I want to date you with the intention of marrying you?” Matt asks, down on his knee, the ring positioned in its little velvet box. “Well, I want to marry you with the intention of being with you for the rest of my life.”
“And I’m just crying harder,” Cassie laughs. “And of course I actually have makeup on so it’s like, bleh.”
The whole beach clapped and a professional photographer, who happened to be on the beach with her family, handed the couple her card.
The truly amazing part of the proposal was the amount of tiny lies that went into it.
The first was when Matt asked Cassie’s father for his blessing.
For one month he lived off of 10 dollars a week to afford a 600 dollar round-trip plane ticket from Tulsa to Chicago. Cassie was in Chicago at the time, so they had to hide it from her. Matt told Cassie nothing of the plan.
“I flew to Chicago, had lunch with both her parents, bought them lunch, asked each of them separately [for their blessing],” Matt said. He asked her dad first.
“‘You’ve had my blessing from like, a year ago,’” her dad said sitting across the table. “‘Then we talked about my proposal,” he said.
His idea was to have a bunch of jars on the beach with notes chronicling their relationship underneath them. Not his first idea, but definitely his most original.
To get the jars, Cassie’s mom sent Matt on a fake errand and distracted Cassie long enough for Matt to carefully package the jars in his backpack.
Matt had Kelsey, an old friend of the couple’s, typed up the memories on an old typewriter.
The day before the proposal, during dinner, Cassie’s brother and sister planned the set up of the proposal. Before the proposal, Matt’s friend texted him every three minutes to hide the texts between Matt and her sibling’s. Finally, when the candles were set up Matt asked if Cassie would like to see the sunset before heading home.
“She loves stuff like that, I hate stuff like that,” he says, scrunching his nose.
They rode their bikes across the island to the beach. The sun was just beginning to set and the air was warm. It felt like summer.
Cassie’s brother was crouched in the tall grass, peering through trying to film the proposal with a camera. Her sister Maddie was kneeling in the grass, her hair blowing in her face, trying to inconspicuously take photos. And suddenly, it was happening. A relationship that had worked through three years of trials and triumphs was getting its promotion. Three years of rough patches, big blowout fights that were always resolved. Three years of pursuit were ending in a final, satisfying catch. They were moving toward their dream together.
“From the very beginning I was like, ‘this is for life’ and I never even considered it not working out,” Matt said.
“When we got engaged it was nice because I thought, it’s our time now. I’ve seen so many people get engaged,” Cassie said. “But I wanted to marry you for a long time. It’s our time now.”
Story by Sydney Ilg, Photos courtesy of Cassie King