All professional photos in this post were taken by the talented Marisa Ruth Photography.
Saturday, May 1, 2021 was the most beautiful, happy, overwhelmingly special day of my entire life so far.
It all started on an unsuspecting Thursday afternoon, when I received a text from my dad out-of-the-blue: “You got yourself a good one, Kaci.” He included a smiley face, and a thumbs up emoji.
Immediately I FaceTimed my mom, freaking out.
She answered the phone, took one look at me and said, “what are you so smiley about?”
I told her about the text, beaming, and asked her, “Does this mean Tyler talked to Dad?! Did they have the conversation!?”
My mom happened to be at a doctor’s appointment when I called, so she had a mask on—which she later told me was a good thing, because she wasn’t too happy with my dad in that moment due to his slip-up.
Thankfully though, she had me fooled. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Kaci. I’m not even home right now. I promise you, neither of us have heard anything from Tyler.”
The one time a mother is allowed to promise but lie, she later told me.
I wasn’t sure what to think. I responded to my dad saying, “I know, but why do you say that?” He responded a while later telling me about how when him and my mom had gone out to dinner the night before with some friends and one of my aunts and uncles who had recently met Tyler, that they were all talking about how much they liked him.
I was bummed—I guess the text hadn’t meant what I thought it did.
A few days later, our friend Caleb texted the group chat Tyler and I have with him and his wife Kaitlin, asking us if we wanted to do a day trip to Santa Cruz together sometime soon—maybe next Saturday?
For a split second, the thought crossed my mind: could this be something?
Tyler and I started dating late last September (which is a whole other beautiful God-story I will share at another time), and by early February, we knew we wanted to get married. We had discussed our timeline for marriage, as well as how long we wanted to be engaged, which had me thinking and hoping we might get engaged sometime during the month of May. The Saturday Caleb suggested would have been May 1st.
The only problem was, Tyler knew a couple things were important to me when it came to a proposal: that he ask for my dad’s blessing, which was equally important to him, and that he talk to a few of my best friends. It didn’t appear he had talked to my dad yet and at that point, I was 100% convinced in talking to my friends that none of them knew anything either.
Turns out the people closest to me are better liars than I thought.
I didn’t think much of Caleb’s text, and we made plans to hang out with him and Kaitlin that Saturday. The day before, they texted us saying that family stuff had come up, and they were going to have to bail. This was part of Tyler’s plan.
Later that night I asked Tyler if I had seen Caleb’s text and he responded, “Oh yeah I did! Hm, maybe we can see if Jake and Sarah (other friends of ours) want to go. They’re always down for last minute trips to Santa Cruz.”
He texted them, and they texted back with the response Tyler had already told them to give: we would love to, but we’re busy!
Tyler asked if I still wanted to make the drive out there just the two of us, and proceeded to act like he was trying to figure out a last minute plan when in reality, he already had an itinerary for the day.
He got me to dress up by suggesting he look for a winery for us to go to, and the next morning he picked me up at 9am. The day started with a stop at Peet’s, because their matcha is the best. We then made our way down to Santa Cruz, stopping first at a beautiful park in Los Gatos to do our quiet times together.
Next up, brunch.
From there we made our way to Saratoga, where Tyler had reservations at a beautiful winery in the Santa Cruz mountains. Surprisingly, there weren’t too many people there, so we had the hilltop mostly to ourselves.
Next we went down to Pleasure Point, a spot in Santa Cruz overlooking the ocean, a place that holds special memories for us and meaningful milestones in our relationship. There was a lady sitting on “our bench,” but we stood nearby and reminisced, thanking God for all He had done.
This was one of those moments where the day felt extra special and I thought, could it be? But in a way, that worried me—because I was convinced Tyler hadn’t talked to my family and friends yet, and didn’t want such a special event to happen without their involvement.
Looking out on the ocean, Tyler turned to me and said, “Kac, this has been such a great day.” He hugged me. “You know what would make it even better?” he asked, looking directly at me. I held my breath. “Chick-fil-a. Chick-fil-a sounds amazing right now—do you want to stop on the way home?”
He was trying to throw me off. It worked.
“Chick-fil-a? Really?” I thought. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some chicken strips with the spicy buffalo and CFA sauce, but that was not what I had in mind. “Uh sure, we can stop at Chick-fil-a,” I told him.
As we started to head out, Tyler goes, “Oh you know what? I just remembered this cool lookout point Logan (his friend) showed me last weekend. If you’re not too hungry, maybe we can stop there on our way out?”
We proceeded to drive toward the Mount Hermon area, but Tyler didn’t seem to know where he was going, so I didn’t think too much of it. When we parked to start the short trail up to the top, I walked around the car and gave him a hug. His heart was beating very hard…I thought something of that. ☺️ Even so, it didn’t appear he had anything with him (aka a ring), so I wasn’t sure.
As we neared the top of the mountain, Tyler looked at me and said, “Do you remember when your dad texted you a week or so ago, and you thought it meant him and I had talked?”
I looked at him, eyes big.
“That’s exactly what it meant,” he smiled.
I looked up, and saw a beautiful set-up with blankets, roses, candles, a photo of us, a sign with our names, a charcuterie board, champagne glasses. I saw a head pop out—it was my friend Marisa, who is also a photographer.
My heart was now beating as hard as Tyler’s.
This is really happening. Oh my goodness!
Tyler walked me to the bench and sat me down, then pulled out a bowl filled with water and rose petals, which he used to wash my feet. This is a sweet moment where I was able to pause and soak it all in, knowing what was about to happen.
From there, Tyler pulled a letter out of his pocket and read it to me, closing with the words I love you—the first time we had ever said them.
He pulled out a ring, got down on one knee, and said, “Kaci Nicole Piccillo, will you marry me?”
Easiest “yes” I’ve ever said.
Then there was cheering—from one of my best friends Kirsten, her husband JT, Marisa, Jake, Sarah, and Logan! Tyler looked at me and said, “do you want to say hi to Heather and Kelly?”
I was shook. Heather and Kelly are two of my best friends who live far away—Heather in Germany, Kelly in Los Angeles. Kirsten had them on FaceTime, and they had seen the whole thing. It was 3am Germany time, but Heather stayed up to watch.
I felt so overwhelmingly loved and intentionally thought of in that moment.
We popped some champagne, celebrated with our friends, then Marisa took stunning photos for us in the meadow nearby—photos I will cherish forever!
After we finished taking photos, Tyler told me we had dinner reservations with the handful of friends who had helped set up the proposal, so we needed to go. When we got in the car I said, “Ooh we should FaceTime my parents!”
“Do you want to FaceTime them now or after dinner?” Tyler asked. “Maybe we can enjoy the car ride just us.” In that instant, I knew my family would be at dinner—Tyler and I are both huge family people, and I knew there was no way he would try to get me not to FaceTime them unless it were to protect a surprise like that.
I knew my family would be at dinner, but I had no idea we weren’t actually going to a restaurant.
Tyler still had me believing we were though, so in the car he had me throw on a blindfold (which was actually a face mask because, 2021). He said he didn’t want me to know what restaurant we were going to.
We parked, and Tyler walked around to open the door for me. I couldn’t see a thing. He led me a few steps forward, stood behind me and asked, “are you ready?”
3, 2, 1. Blindfold removed.
Words will never do justice to what I felt in that moment, as my eyes took in what was before me: so many of the people we love, gathered in the beautiful yard of our friends Charles and Kristin, decorated with twinkle lights, lanterns, pampas grass.
It was overwhelming in the best possible way. In an instant, I realized Tyler had been coordinating with all these people to be there for this special day. I felt so utterly loved, I couldn’t even comprehend it.
He my family there, so many of my closest friends, one who drove up from LA and one who flew in, his parents who flew in from San Diego, friends and mentors from our church community.
In reflecting on this day, I was telling a friend the whole engagement story and she pointed out a parallel I hadn’t caught before.
During that week and half or so leading up to the engagement, I was convinced Tyler hadn’t begun planning or talking to any of my family and friends—to the point where I began to worry a little. Logically, I knew better—because I knew Tyler’s heart. I knew Tyler knew those things were important to me, and I knew he would want to make the day so special. Yet in talking to those closest to me, it didn’t seem like anyone knew anything.
Here I was, stressed over hoping Tyler would talk to a few of the people closest to me, but little did I know he was coordinating something much bigger and more beautiful than I ever even dared to dream.
My friend’s parallel is this: isn’t it the same with God? We can’t see His plan, and we wonder if He sees our hearts. We wonder if He cares about our desires. If what He has will be what we want.
We stress and we worry and we grasp at control, but God—He doesn’t assure us by telling us what the plan is and what it’s going to look like. Like with Tyler, He simply asks: do you trust that I know you? Do you trust that I hear you? Do you trust Me?
In the waiting, God invites us to know His character more—and there, we come to understand more of His heart for us even if we can’t yet see His hand.
I love this parallel from our engagement day because it tells the story of my journey leading up to God bringing Tyler into my life.
There were many years of waiting, and many moments I wondered if God truly saw my heart’s desires—moments I wondered if He cared.
I questioned whether He would give me even the bare minimum of what I longed and prayed for…but meanwhile, what He had for me was so much greater than anything I could have even thought to ask for or imagine.
Tyler Weston Harlow, you are immeasurably more than anything I could have thought to ask for or imagine. You are a man after God’s own heart, and the man who has mine. You are my best friend, and my favorite answered prayer.
The unfolding of our story was not instantaneous like the blindfold being removed, but the unveiling of His plan as it has unfolded has been every bit as breathtaking. Our story to me is a display of the goodness and faithfulness of God, and your continual pursuit of me reflects His: intentional, creative, and resolute.
I love you with my whole heart, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of our days seeking to know God more, love Him more, and glorify Him with everything we have.
P.S. Tyler and I also shared the entire story from both of our perspectives on my YouTube channel—check it out below!
Hello I’m Kaci!
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