She Said “YES!” A Proposal Story from a Sister’s Point of View

As we pulled up to the gate at MacDill Air Force Base, I wondered if the heavily armed and attentive guard would notice my nervous smile and sweaty hands. Would he mistake my shifty eyes for “suspicious behavior” and ask us to pull over? Christina, who was driving, was relaxed and calm as she handed him her military ID. She had no idea that in ten minutes she was going to be asked for her hand in marriage, and I had the job of leading her into the “trap” and photographing the whole proposal. The mixture of excitement for my sister and the pressure to capture every special, fleeting moment was overwhelming.

macdill afb


The ten-minute drive to the beach once on base seemed to drag on and on. I watched the beautiful Tampa Bay scenery go by in slow motion and tried to make small talk, anything but rings, weddings, and proposals. I dug deep in my mind for things to talk about and came up with “oh, there’s a palm tree” and “look, military people.” I basically just pointed and named the things we were driving by for ten minutes. Smooth, Courtney. Real smooth.

We finally arrived and walked up to a gazebo on an uncrowded and serene beach to meet up with our family. They had arrived early to “prepare gourmet appetizers to enjoy while we watched sunset.” All good actors, they casually greeted us and Christina said “ummm these are the appetizers we are here to eat?” She was clearly not impressed with the bag of pre-sliced, half melted cheese and small bag of fruit that 8 of us were supposed to share. Before she had too much time to ponder the strange spread of food, dad said “girls you HAVE to go check out the turtle’s nest down on the far right side of the beach!” We took off towards the water, Christina oblivious to our beaming and teary-eyed family members behind us.


but I don’t see any sea turtles

IMG_5566When we reached the mason jars filled with flowers and candles, I knew we had arrived. I started walking towards them and Christina stopped behind me saying “Court don’t go over there, it looks like somebody is about to get proposed to or something.” Delighted, I turned around and said, “oh yeah?? Does it??” My trigger finger furiously snapping pictures of her confused face.

Then she saw him.


Her mouth fell open, not believing her eyes.

Her boyfriend, who was supposed to be studying at home in Tallahassee, materialized from behind a bush.

I grinned and asked again, “what did you say, Chrissy? What do you think it looks like is happening here?”, my camera hiding the tears starting to roll down my cheeks.


IMG_5579IMG_5581After what seemed like the longest 20 yard walk ever, Spencer arrived to where Christina was standing, still frozen in her tracks. She kept repeating “you’re here? I can’t believe this. What is happening? YOU’RE HERE???”

IMG_5584IMG_5588Spencer led his soon-to-be fiance to a chair with the letter “C” on it and had her take a seat. He handed her a scroll to unroll and read while he washed her feet in a white, ceramic bowl. For a few minutes, she giggled as she glanced between the letter and her boyfriend, overwhelmed with what was happening. In the Bible, Jesus used foot washing as a sign of commitment, servanthood, and humility. In John 13:4, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples before dinner, surely a surprise to the men that their King was on the ground washing their dirty feet.

IMG_5606IMG_5618By washing Christina’s feet, Spencer was symbolizing his servanthood, humility, and commitment to her as her future husband. Either that or Spencer just couldn’t stand the smell of her feet and needed to give them a quick rinse before popping the question. But I’m pretty sure it was the former.

After the impromptu pedicure foot washing, Spencer pulled a little black box out of his pocket, shaky hands evident even from my distance. While I couldn’t hear their exchange of words, the wide smiles and excitement pouring out of them told me that he had asked to marry her, and she had said “yes.” More tears escaped my eyes, but I refused to lower the camera from my face to wipe them, afraid to miss one single moment.


IMG_5627IMG_5639HUGIMG_5642They hugged, kissed, looked at the ring, and repeated about 15 times. After a few minutes, Christina seemed to remember that she and Spence were not alone, the world existed outside of their love bubble. She looked over at me crouching in the sand and yelled over the celebrating seagulls  “you knew about this!?!?!” I laughed and shrieked “Umm yeah, we’ve all known the whole weekend sweetheart!!!!” For what seemed like the hundredth time, Christina said “I just can’t believe this.”


IMG_5702The three of us made our way back to the family who were all dying to wrap their arms around our newly engaged Christina and our soon-to-be brother. Spencer gave a reassuring “thumbs up” to the crowd to let them know that she said yes. Phew.


At this point, you can imagine the conversations and squeals that took place. My sisters and I giggled and hugged, all trying to get a better look at Christina’s new big rock. We high-fived each other, amazed at our ability to keep such a colossal secret from the worlds sneakiest sister. She had no idea, SUCCESS!

IMG_5822IMG_5860IMG_5858In the middle of all the champagne cheers-ing and well wishes, Christina’s brow furrowed and she asked “wait, are there no sea turtles?” We all burst into laughter and said we hated to disappoint, but no sea turtles.

As we packed up the cars to head to a celebratory dinner, something more exciting than sliced cheese and strawberries, I couldn’t stop smiling. To see your sister and best friend having the most exciting day of her life is an incredible gift and wonderful experience. I watched Christina climb into Spencer’s car and felt a pull at my heart. As Spencer had washed her feet to symbolize humility and service, I was experiencing some symbolism of my own.

On the drive to the beach, Christina sat next to me just as she had for the past 22 years. Since I can remember, road trips, school carpool, work commutes, and joy rides have been a minivan jam packed with four horribly behaved sweet, angelic girls.

car ride

I’m not pictured (was probably taking the photos back then too, duh)

As each sister finds her true love and starts a family of her own, it’s incredibly bittersweet. The symbolism of our car ride to the beach together and leaving apart honestly hit a little harder than I thought it would. Another sister all grown up, starting adventures with a new partner. A new seat mate.

callAnd I couldn’t have picked a better man for the job.




33 thoughts on “She Said “YES!” A Proposal Story from a Sister’s Point of View

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  4. Need the kleenex…what a great story of two wonderful people preparing to spend the rest of their lives together. Have fun planning for the BIG day Spencer and Christina…it will be here before you know it.

  5. What a beautiful engagement story! This is the best Ive heard so far! CONGRATS CRISSY & SPENCE..AND YOU MISS CO CO HAVE SUCH AMAZING TALENT WITH WRITING..IM READY TO PURCHASE ONE OF YOUR BOOKS 🙂 All of you girls make me so proud of the young women God has chosen you to become! I know your parents are sooo thrilled and proud of each of you! I love hearing how everyone is doing! I feel blessed to have played a small part in your lives! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂 God’s blessings always! Xo

    • Thank you soooo much Rae Rae!!! I have really discovered a love of writing and am excited to see the paths it has already taken me down, both personally and professionally. So your words mean a lot!

      I agree, Chrissy & Spencer’s engagement was just absolutely perfect. It was soooo much fun and I couldn’t be more thrilled for them. We are incredibly fortunate to still have you in our lives after all these years ❤

  6. Congratulations! Courtney…so well done. Thank you for sharing such a precious moment. Love it. What a joy to all be able to share such a special moment together as a family…SISTERS!!!!!:)

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, they mean so much! It was such a beautiful day and to be able to be a part of it was simply the best. And you’re exactly right, having ALL the sisters there was wonderful. That is why her amazing boyfriend planned to propose that day because we were all randomly going to be in Tampa together and that never happens. He knows how close we all are, so he planned it then. Good man!!

  7. OMG that is the best engagement story I have ever saw, thank you for sharing it with us in you other Courtney way,I am so happy for the two of them, this means I need to get serious about this weight loss challenge ,It looks like I going to another Peterson wedding, can’t wait

  8. Beautiful! You are a great story teller both in words and pictures. The whole ‘washing feet’ thing got me, what a lovely symbolic gesture. Congrats and blessings to the happy engaged couple!

    • Thank you so much, that means the world to me! I know, wasn’t the foot bath amazing? Watching that whole process take place made me really emotional, too. Hope you are doing well!

  9. Awh, such a lovely story! You told it in such a lovely way also, I felt like I was actually there and started tearing up a tad. All the best to your sister and soon to be brother!

  10. What a beautifully written and photographed story of a perfect proposal. Thanks so much for inviting us all to share this once-in-a-lifetime moment. It’s great to have a writer in the family!!!


  11. My eyes are leaking…again. You have such a way with words, Courtney, and cameras, and sisters, and people. Thanks for all the ways you’ve brought the reality of this event to LIFE for those who weren’t actually there to witness it.

    • awwwh your words mean SO much to me Val! I’m so glad you liked the pictures and post. Your son did a heck of a job giving my sister the best day EVER. Love those two. Can’t wait to see you again!

  12. shut the hell up – this WHOLE post is so insanely perfect, I LOVE IT! That funny photo of you all is CLASSIC, and you’re the best sister in the world and holy crap about his whole proposal. Could he have made it any more perfect for her! WOW ❤

    love love love it

    • Thank you!! It was just SO MUCH FUN! If I had an amazing time, I can only imagine how my sister felt during the whole thing LOL. I just wish we could do it all over again! Spencer did a GREAT job, she really did get her fairy tale proposal 😀

      • you could totally do it again! OMG genius business idea just hit me: engagement planning teams! Like, you could hire a company who would make sure it was special and photographed and tralala. People would SO pay money for that.

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