When Nicole and Steve met, neither one was looking for a relationship. After a few casual dates, they realized they both loved the outdoors and began hiking together in the Sierra foothills and Marin County—Nicole’s territory. While most of their experiences were fun and uneventful, there were some exceptions.
Five minutes up the trail at Malakoff Diggins near Nevada City, the fearsome roar of a mountain lion stopped them in their tracks. “[It was] like The Lion King when the dad lion jumps in and scares them away,” Steve says. They linked arms with one facing forward and one back and moved slowly to the car.
During another outdoor adventure with Steve’s mother in Downieville, a sudden thunder, lightning and hail storm erupted, as the mild temperature dropped drastically—and they were wearing T-shirts and shorts. “I thought, this is the last day we’re going to be living,” Nicole says. “We could smell the trees burning around us that were getting hit by the lightning.”
These experiences, though scary, brought them closer and created special memories unique to their relationship.
Three years from the time they met, Steve proposed on a hike at Muir Woods. “I think people sometimes just jump in and do it too quickly without realizing that it isn’t just about the day and the event and the pretty flowers,” Nicole says. “You’re going to be with this person, essentially, until one of you goes to heaven…We took our time.”
After trekking uphill for an hour and a half they stopped—tired and sweaty—at a bench overlooking the whole valley. Wearing no makeup, swinging her feet, munching on a stale granola bar, Nicole had no idea Steve was about to propose. He got the ring out and said, “Nikki, will you marry me?”
“I was ecstatic and on cloud nine—shaking, crying, and I had no cell phone service,” Nicole says. “I couldn’t call my parents.” The hike down was a kind of torture, as she wanted to let everybody know.
Nicole’s parents knew the proposal was coming, but not when. For several weeks they had a steak dinner ready to prepare for celebration. “They would chill the champagne every weekend, every weekend, every weekend,” Nicole says. That day, the four of them finally got to barbecue those steaks and enjoy the chilled champagne. For Nicole, it was one of the best days of her life…besides the wedding.
Two years after the proposal, they were married. “The wedding planning was fun,” Nicole says. “I didn’t know what I was doing, obviously, because I’d never gotten married before, but I did a lot of research first, so when the time came to actually select a venue and vendors, it was easy.” Their first priority was to spend as much time as possible with each other and their guests on the day of the wedding. The second priority was decided by their experience attending others’ weddings. “Spend your money on the food and the bar,” Steve says.
“Long story short,” Nicole says, “set your priorities in the beginning. Think about what it is that’s important to you as a couple.”