Our Grand Teton Engagement

Some people love surprises. I don’t happen to be one of those people.

As engagement conversation began between Teddy and I, I shared that wherever we got engaged, I wanted it to be a meaningful location and I didn’t want people watching. I also wanted some time to keep it to ourselves before everyone else knew. We also talked about budget for the ring and what type of rings I liked, but more specifically what types I didn’t like.

While this may not be for everyone, I was aware the day he picked up the ring, how much he spent, and knew where it was kept prior to us getting engaged. But I never peeked at it. Seeing what he picked out was a surprise I was willing to wait for.

During the summer of last year, we had a 12 day road trip planned through Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana. We had talked ahead of time and I knew somewhere along this route and trip would be a spot for our engagement, but I wasn’t sure yet exactly what location it would be, although I had my guesses.

The first day of our trip, we ventured through Idaho toward Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. We got there at sunrise on day 2 and I was pretty sure this park would likely be where I’d say the most important “yes” of my life.

We explored Mormon Row, the Snake River Overlook, and Oxbow Bend. We went to Jenny Lake and hiked up to Hidden Falls. We ate lunch downtown and grabbed coffee and then got ready for our afternoon hike at String Lake and Leigh Lake. As Teddy was getting his camera bag ready for the hike, I noticed he went to the trunk to grab something where our suitcases were located. I pretended to ignore it but I was pretty sure he was grabbing an important box out of his suitcase.

We began our hike which started by String Lake and then brought us by Leigh Lake. Leigh happens to be my middle name, so when considering a place that could have meaning for a proposal, I was thinking this is where it would be. We started off on our hike as we do, chatting and taking photos of the beautiful surrounding. We passed a few other hikers and people on horseback, but there weren’t a lot of people on the trail. Compared to other trails in the Tetons, this isn’t one of the top hikes but we really did find it so peaceful and magical that it’s one of our top hikes.

I could tell Teddy was nervous as we walked since he was getting quieter. We stopped at a bench with a beautiful view looking out onto String Lake so I thought this might be it. I noticed that there was a box outline in his pocket at some point along the trail so I was mentally preparing myself.

But we kept hiking.

We hiked along Leigh Lake, and there was nobody along the trail, so we sang and talked loudly to avoid surprising any bears that may be in the area. We came to the end of what we planned to do along Leigh Lake and we turned around. I was a little confused at this point because there were so many great spots it could have happened. Was he too nervous? Was it not the right spot? I had no idea.

We kept hiking but back now in the direction of the car. Teddy seemed more nervous now so I tried to help by stopping and admiring the views at a few beach sections. We got to one spot and I was quite certain this would literally be the spot and after a few minutes chatting I turned to him and…

he started hiking again!

Okay then, I guess I’m following you.

At this point, we’ve hiked about 3 miles, had 20+ beautiful overlooks and we were back at String Lake and just about to the car. Teddy asked if we wanted to keep going on the trail but down in the direction of Jenny Lake. I was hungry and tired but I agreed.

We found a spot near the edge of the lake with a bench and without kids screaming or a lot of people walking by. We sat on the bench for a bit and talked about our trip. I start to get even hungrier. We’ve been by the lake sitting for 20 minutes and still nothing. The impatient person I am, I decide in my head if he doesn’t propose in the next 10 minutes at this beautiful spot, I’m going to get some snacks from the car.

Then it happened. Teddy got the ring out, was down on one knee, shared words with so much meaning, and asked if I’d marry him. With nobody around to witness it, I said “yes” to this man being my best friend forever.

But then it was my turn to ask him an important question. “Why in the heck did you wait so long?” And here’s when I found out what was really going on.

Initially along the hike, Teddy had the ring in his backpack, not in his pocket. So at one of the bench stops, he had to transfer from back to pocket which I noticed. Then, by Leigh Lake, he was scoping out spots on the way out, and found one that we stopped at on the way back. This was the spot where I was sure he would propose, and then didn’t. He told me as he turned to me to propose, he saw a pile of waste on the ground. And he said it didn’t look like the animal kind but rather human.


So he decided even though it was a beautiful spot, this was not how he wanted to remember the proposal so we kept hiking. From there, he just wanted a spot without a lot of people which was harder to come by as we got closer to the parking lot, which is why he extended the hike further so he could find somewhere to do it.

This all now made sense. After I laughed so hard as he told me this, two volunteer park rangers were walking by and we ended up chatting with them. They were a retired married couple who do this over the summers and volunteer at parks. They told us some stories about bears, visitors, and their experiences so far that summer. As we were chatting, we could hear very loud thunder in the distance so we headed back to the car. Then the sky opened up and it just poured for the next 30 or so minutes. It was hard to see as we were driving and I was so glad Teddy proposed when he did because standing outside in that wouldn’t have been fun.

We headed to our cabin for the night and got ready for dinner. We were staying by Colter Bay inside the park which isn’t far from The Mural Room restaurant at Jackson Lake Lodge. Teddy had eaten there with his mom on a trip prior and so we went out and celebrated our engagement with a great meal at sunset overlooking the Teton Mountains. It was a perfect day.

The next day, we visited a friend of Teddy’s who lived in the Jackson Hole area. She ended up being the first person we told since she saw the ring. After that was a couple in town who volunteered to take our photo by the antler arch. They had asked while taking the photo if we were on our honeymoon. We said no, but we did just get engaged. The man had accidentally had the photo facing him still on selfie mode, and it was a live photo, and what we ended up getting in the first shot was a video of him saying “Congratulations” in the most genuine way and it’s one of my favorite treasures from that trip because he was just so happy for us and didn’t even know us. (We did get a photo then on non selfie mode from him too.)

I shared earlier we wanted to just enjoy it for ourselves before sharing further. Since a friend and then another couple in town knew, we decided to share with friends and family that day as well. After a few days, we shared it on social media. Looking back I’d do it the same way again. I enjoyed it just being something we knew and could savor before sharing further.

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