Our Caribbean Proposal Story

newly engaged couple act excited as guy points to her diamond ring

Whenever I sit down with a bride and groom, one of my very favorite things to ask them is to tell me their perfect proposal story!  Not only do I get to know a bit about the couple as they share but I am also one of the most romantic people at heart.  I LOVE hearing how people meet and how the guy proposed! Growing up, I loved watching The Wedding Planner and hoped that one day I could be be part of the wedding industry myself.

Just a few weeks ago, I asked my brides in our Team Hawkins Bride Facebook group to share their proposal stories with me again and with each other. Oh my gosh, it was so much fun reading everyone’s story again!  It made me realize that I haven’t shared OUR Caribbean proposal story with you all either! And after 7 weeks of lock down in our house, what better way to “escape” than to reminisce on our Royal Caribbean Cruise where Andrew asked me to marry him way back in January of 2012!

Please enjoy the much younger looking versions of Team Hawkins before their flight to Florida for the cruise, LOL! ALSO!… I was not yet a photographer so all these were taken on my little digital point and shoot camera!

Selfie taken by couple in airport flying to their cruise

Brief Backstory | How We Met

A lot of you know that Andrew and I met online.  Yep. Online. Like legit dating website.  THAT’S a long story but suffice it to say that Andrew was legitimately looking for like minded friends and wasn’t finding them in his area and MY parents actually SUGGESTED that I sign up.  (Like WHAT?!) We started emailing each other in August of 2011 and after LOTS of long emails, chat conversations, phone calls and Skype chats, Andrew drove up from where he lived near Philadelphia to meet me one weekend in September.  (He suggested we make cheesecake together to give us something to do that first night in case we started to feel awkward (which didn’t happen btw!)  Picking apples at Beak n’ Skiff and our first “official, in person” date to Panera Bread in Fairmount definitely reflects our laid back, casual selves.

An Invitation to a Family Cruise

That first weekend went well so in October, I decided to drive down to Philly this time to meet his family!  Apparently THAT weekend went well too because after I drove home, Andrew’s mom said to him, “hey Andrew, you know that family cruise we are all going on in January?  You should invite Hannah”.  When he called to invite me that Monday I just about passed out.  I thought, “are you sure you (and your mom) like me well enough to be stuck together on a ship for a week?  Well… I DO really love the beach (the ocean is my ultimate happy place!) and… I’ve never been on a cruise and… I REALLY like you so… OK, I’ll come!”

Freedom of the Seas Royal Caribbean Ship in the ocean

Leading up to the cruise, friends and coworkers would tell me that I’d come home with a ring on my finger.  But I really didn’t want to have any high expectations of the week and planned to just enjoy spending more time than a weekend with Andrew (dating long distance STINKS!) and just go with the flow.

Freedom of the Seas ship by Royal Caribbean

Our Favorite Parts of the Ship

We took Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas ship!  Andrew’s absolute favorite part of the ship was the hot tubs!  On either side of the cruise ship, right in the middle is a hot tub that sits out OVER the ocean!  You can see the ocean behind Andrew through the windows!  It was definitely one of my favorite parts too!


man sits in Freedom of the Seas's hot tub overlooking the ocean

For this being my first cruise, I could just NOT get over how cool the ship was!  (Check out the hot tub in the middle right picture as it sticks out over the ocean!). Also, the towels folded like little animals was pretty cool… not gonna lie.

Inside of royal caribbean's freedom of the seas

We definitely had fun doing all the activities around the ship!

Newly engaged couple rock climbs on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas


A Formal Dinner and a Conflicted Andrew

Andrew had told me to pack a few formal dresses, and I’m glad he did because the night before the ship made its first docking, Royal Caribbean held their first formal dinner.  I was certainly excited to dress up and do my hair and makeup. Once I was ready, I walked down to Andrew’s room and knocked on the door.  But when he opened the door and saw me, he just froze. I remember him telling me how amazing I looked, which was so sweet but he also looked really… conflicted, though I had no idea why. Once he was dressed and ready, we walked around the ship and got a few pictures by the photographers on board before we headed to dinner. As we waited in line for one photographer to take our picture, I remember him being pretty serious.  I kept asking him what was bothering him but he continued to tell me it was nothing, which only made me more nervous, thinking I might have done something to annoy him.  We were only dating and I was worried that if things were headed in a bad direction, it would be a LONG rest of the cruise if he broke up with me. Come to find out that he REEEEEALLY wanted to propose that night when I was so dressed up but he KNEW that I would so much rather be proposed to on the beach. And THAT’S why he was so conflicted and serious. He was weighing his options and arguing with himself about proposing that night or waiting.

Our First Beach Stop | Labadee Haiti

The next morning dawned and with it, lots of excitement on my part.  I LOVE the beach and I could not WAIT to get off the ship and start exploring!  Andrew was still acting up tight and was really frustrated that he wasn’t able to find his camera.  I assured him that I had mine and I’d help him find his later.  If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you know that it’s a bit of a process to get on and off the cruise ship.  Andrew seemed in quite a hurry and it seemed to take forever to finally get to the beach.  When we did finally get off the ship I remember looking around and exclaiming, “oh my gosh, its beautiful here!  Let’s take some pictures!… uh… wait, where is my camera?”  Yeah… after reassuring Andrew that I had my camera, I had actually forgotten it on the ship.  I had to go through security again, find my way to the room, grab the camera and come all the way back out again.  Andrew continued to seem nervous (I was SO clueless!) yet I continued to stop to take pictures, take my flip flops off so my feet could feel the sand, and in general, just stroll lazily along.  All of the pictures below were taken right after we got off the ship!

Collage in front of Freedom of the Seas in Labadee Haiti

Andrew finally stopped me, looked me in the eye and said, “can we PLEASE make it over to that spot on the beach?!”  I agreed and soon, we were seated together on the beach, Andrew rummaging through his backpack.

Now something you should know.  I told Andrew that I REALLY wanted to save my first kiss for the man that I would marry so for months of our dating relationship, we didn’t kiss.  Old fashioned, I know. :). So whenever he’d want to kiss me he’d take a step back in respect and to break the tension he’d start quoting the book Green Eggs and Ham.  Not the ACTUAL Green Eggs and Ham but a modified version that went something like this, “I will not kiss my lovely Han, I will not kiss her Sam I Am”.

As we sat there on the beach, Andrew pulled out, can you guess it?… he pulled out Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Suess AND Andrew Hawkins.  Andrew had painstakingly rewritten/edited the book, matching the font of the book perfectly.


Green eggs and ham detail picture shot with fish net, shells and nautical rope
Green eggs and ham detail picture shot with fish net, shells and nautical rope

Green eggs and ham rewritten for proposal story

I think he picked the perfect page (with all the creatures looking on) to write a proposal note to me inside the book!

green eggs and ham rewritten for proposal story

But as I was reading, I could see out of my peripheral vision that he was still rummaging around in his backpack.  When I had finished reading this page I looked up at him and there he was, kneeling in the sand with a ring box open!  I kept thinking, “do I say yes or just kiss him!”  (I did both in rapid succession, if you’re curious!).

This… is a terrible picture but I think its hilarious because as soon as I had said yes, we attempted to take this selfie with our point and shoot camera.  I clearly was so excited that I didn’t realize I basically had him in a chokehold!

Newly Engaged (I think we might have been glowing in these photos)

As soon as we had took the selfie above, a lady from the beach came running over to ask if we had just gotten engaged.  She was so excited for us and offered to take a better photo for us!

newly engaged couple sits on the beach in Labadee Haiti

Labadee Haiti Royal Caribbean Post Card

Newly engaged couple in Labadee Haiti

 Ya think I was excited?!

Girl excitedly holds up her diamond ring after getting engagedBeach in Labadee Haiti

This sweet man knew how much more I’d love it if he waited until that next day to propose to me on the beach instead of doing it on the ship the night before. It was SUCH a perfect Caribbean proposal that fit our story and personalities!

collage of couple on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas docked at Labadee Haiti

Newly engaged couple stands in front of Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas in Labadee Haiti

It was during our cruise and honeymoon that Andrew started to realized how much I LOVED photography.  It was moments like these, when I tried to get the perfect shot of my new diamond ring that he took note of and would later remind me of as he encouraged me to start my own photography business!

Pink flower in foreground with diamond engagement ring on a girls hand


Labadee Haiti on Royal Caribbean's private beach newly engaged

Other Excursions

And that was only the beginning of the week!  We had lots of other excursions including exploring some Mayan ruins…

Royal Caribbean excursion in mexico

Snorkeling in crystal clear water…

snorkeling on royal caribbean cruise

exploring different towns…

Falmouth Jamaica sign couple

and drinking Mexican Coca-Cola!

collage of photos from royal Caribbean excursion in Mexico

So there you have it… our Caribbean proposal story!  Even looking back at these imperfect pictures, they are so priceless to me because they represent so many happy memories.  And THAT’S the other reason that I love photography.  Photos capture so many precious memories that are easily forgotten or of loved ones that may not always be with us. I am so thankful to have these from our cruise!

Tell me about the most priceless photo you have and why its so precious to you in the comments below!




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