Our Engagement Story


My grandmother would have been 100 years old on Saturday, and I know her spirit was there, shining through the clouds as Lucas got on one knee and asked me to marry him as the sun set over Rio de Janeiro. This trip suddenly has a whole new meaning.

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I was finishing up my post about our second week in Brazil, but after the announcement, I can’t leave you hanging! I’ll be back soon with our regularly scheduled content.

We had returned from the south coast of Brazil for two more nights in Rio before heading up north to Salvador, and after a quiet week of relaxing on the beach we were ready for something a bit more lively.

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Our new hostel was known for its parties, and we booked $11 beds in a shared dorm. A complete 180° from every previous hostel, this one was packed with folks (who spoke English) and we quickly made friends with our French and Swedish roommates. It was a Friday night which meant street party in Lapa—our second time going, but it was even more crowded this week as there was no rain.

No details needed, but it was easily the most memorable night of our trip and one that will be hard to beat.

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Feeling quite groggy the next morning after lack of sleep, we were determined to spend our last day visiting Christ the Redeemer and watching the sun set at Arpoador rock.

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After a long and confusing bus ride/transfer service, we finally arrived at Cristo Redentor. Tip: never go on a Saturday during good weather after a week of rain, especially the day before Easter (especially if you have claustrophobia).

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It was a zoo, and we were herded like cattle to the viewing platform, fighting our way to the edge to try and get a photo each time the clouds cleared. It took about 2 hours to get these photos, but very worth it. And the ever changing mix of blue sky and clouds swirling around Christ—magical.

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By the time we got our photos a few hours later than planned, we had to rush to Copacabana before the sun set. The metro dropped us off just in time and the sky began to change colors as we ran down the boardwalk towards the rock. Just before the end of the beach, Lucas stopped me and told me to wait there while he grabbed something. Thinking nothing of it, I paused to take a quick video, and a few minutes later we were back on the run.

We climbed past the crowd to the back of the rock, where I found a clearing to set my camera down to record a time lapse of the sunset (or so I thought). Making sure we were visible in the frame, Lucas turned me towards him, said that we had made some amazing memories together so far and we’re about to make so many more, and kneeled down with a ring. I was legitimately shocked, to the point of asking him if this was real (several times). The crowd took notice and began to clap, and of course I said yes and spent the next five minutes trying to comprehend what had just happened.

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Sidenote: Funny(ish) story… an hour before the proposal, Lucas realized he had lost the ring (as in, not misplaced it or left it in the hostel, but it was gone forever somewhere in the streets of Rio). Needing a Plan B quick, he bought one off a street vendor along the beach for $3 as we were rushing to catch the sunset—hence the reason he told me to stop and wait there.

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We both agree it actually worked out for the better though, because now we get to go find one together on this trip, and the story behind it is much better than the jewel itself. I’ve heard Brazil is known for their gemstones so I can’t wait to find the one 😉

Back to the story. After the initial shock wore off, it was pure elation as we found an all you can eat Brazilian BBQ, splurged on a fancy dinner and stuffed ourselves with steak and caipirinhas.

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That night we ditched our sweaty hostel dorm and stayed in a hotel across the street, enjoying our first hot shower and uninterrupted night of sleep in a week.

As I write this now from 30,000 feet in the air, I’m looking to my left at a beautiful man fast asleep, tears welling up as it hits me that I get to wake up to him forever. Memorizing the markings on his tanned skin, smell of his hair, color of his lips and the shape of his hands so I’ll never forget what our love was like in the beginning. Wishing I could freeze this moment and equally anticipating growing old together. These are the best days of our lives…

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More stories from Brazil on the way.

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68 thoughts on “Our Engagement Story

  1. How wonderful. Absolutely romantic and such a wonderful memory. Much happiness to the both of you.

  2. Oh Jenna, I’ve been following your blog for a such a long time and to watch this journey has just been incredible. Cannot express how happy I am for you! Now we get to see Jenna Sue Wedding Planning? 😉

    Congratulations to you both! <3

  3. So many congratulations to you both! Such an amazing start of an adventure for you both 😉

  4. YAYYYY congratulations! How exciting! I’ve been following along since Florida days and I’m so happy to see you happy! Enjoy the journey! 🙂

  5. Wow…can you even believe how your life has changed from the days of heading out on your own solo journey? This is so amazing and so happy for you both.

  6. Tears in my eyes as I read this story. Yours is one of the only blogs I genuinely look forward to and enjoy every moment you share with us. Finding love and the person who fits with your soul is such an extraordinary feeling, I’m so happy for you both. We need more love stories like this. Thank you for sharing.

  7. ” these are the best days of our live” My dear girl…so much more, so much better , so exciting awaits you. With this start, you will soar together! Live it, love it and thank you for documenting it!

  8. Congratulations Jenna & Lucas!
    Many more wonderful adventures and memories await you.
    I think all your readers were hoping this voyage would be a romantic 6+ month trek!
    May love keep you both safe. Love ya,

  9. Congrats to you both! You both look so happy and your pictures are beautiful! My husband and I got engaged on a trip to Thailand, and it definitely makes a vacation memorable!

  10. What a fantastic (not the part about the lost ring) story you both will have to share with your grandkids!
    I so look forward to your posts, they are filled with things/places I’ll never see, and I enjoy seeing them through your eyes.
    Congratulations Jenna and Lucas!

    1. It makes me so happy to be able to share these places and stories with you! Thank you for taking the time to comment Marne, it means so much to both of us <3

  11. Congratulations Jenna and Lucas! Thanks for sharing this piece of our lives with us, it means a lot!

  12. Oh Jenna…what a lovely story. I’m very happy that you have found the love of your life!! Congratulations sweet girl and Lucas!! XOXO

  13. Woooo Hooooooo!!

    I am taking a quick break while tiling my kitchen (following your DIY tips, thank you!) this is exactly the kind of happiness I needed to hear! Congrats to you both!

    An amazing story, thanks so much for sharing!

    Hi-Ho-Hi-Ho off to tile I go…

  14. LOVELOVELOVE! Your engagement story is perfect -and yes remember every moment of how you feel. Last May my fiance proposed to me and we are getting married this weekend – YAY!!!! It is a joy and happiness I never knew possible. I remember the day he proposed -which was videoed by our dear friends- and all you can hear me say is ‘seriously?!” “seriously?!” “promise me you’re not joking” ANNNNNND then happiest tears. So happy for you and enjoy every second of saying ‘my fiance’ 🙂

  15. Such a beautiful story! Congratulations to you both! I love how carefree and easy going you two are even in the wake of losing the original ring! I think it’s awesome that you get to go find the perfect gem together in such a magical place. Best wishes!

  16. Congratulations to you both Jenna and Lucas. I find it so amazing how your life has changed so dramatically in the past couple of years. You made that happen and I applaud you for that. My husband and I traveled quite a bit solo and together before we had kids. A tip to you…figure out how to maintain traveling with your kids. I really wish we had figured that one out. I know it’s possible, we just got caught up in every day life. Love living the dream through your lens. Thank you!

  17. Congratulations, Jenna and Lucas! And all because you each were willing to make a life-changing decision that took you on the path to meeting each other. You can both be proud of taking such a leap of faith. Best wishes, Ardith

  18. Oh my word; I couldn’t be any happier for you two! Thank you for taking the time to share this moment with us; I know you didn’t have to. Congratulations sweet Jenna and Lucas (who I bet is just as sweet 🙂 ).

  19. Oh wow, many many congratulations. Wonderful news . I am so happy for you. Your journey has been incredible and I always look forward to reading your blog. Special memories being made for you both 🙂 x

  20. Well, good grief, talk about stumbling on your blog tonight per searching for “door jamb trim!” Which was a post from 2014 instructing how to make a closet door look vintage (which was very cool). I went to your “home” page, and whoa, I was shocked to slowly decipher how your life has unfolded since then. I thought the man in 2014 looked different from the one in the recent posts, and after doing more reading figured it out. And wow, you took a leap of faith, and my gosh, that’s a story right there, loaded with “Lifetime” and “Hallmark” and all kinds of gooey, ooey stuff and, “Yes, girl, you did it!” Who takes off for Southeast Asia alone, and fearlessly, too? I guess you do, and that’s amazing, forget the door tutorial, I’m blown away, and want to chuck this condo I just bought, and join you (oh, I’m your Mom’s age, so….). The Christ statue is one of my dreams to see, always wanted to since I saw a photo of it when I was about 12. You keep growing, and changing, and gosh, don’t look back. I am looking forward to hearing good things from you two. Did you really meet backpacking? I want to know his story, and it must’ve been God who sent your feet walking in tandem, to meet halfway across the world. ♥

  21. Jenna…this is so amazing. Really, you two seem like the perfect fit to each other and I can’t wait to see your journey together in life (hopefully…if you continue to share it with us). I always say if you can travel well together…with all the unseen curve balls and stresses, then you know you’re golden together. 😉 If you would have told that girl that set off to travel around Southeast Asia solo to find herself..and peace again, that THAT journey would lead her to the most amazing person and such incredible future happiness….would she have believed you? Betting not… but how crazy cool and wonderful right?! I am so psyched for you both and it gives the rest of us some hope in that just maybe, after some heartbreak/rough moments, that something magical could be waiting for us too and that we just need to take that leap to cross paths and connect ….here’s to hoping! 🙂 Sending you and Lucas tons of love and laughs and of course, safe travels.

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