Get ready for all the lovey-dovey, warm and fuzzy feels with this one, folks.
A photographer, a model, and two giant white Percheron drafts ride onto a California beach. But, wait - there is so much more to this beautiful story. I can’t help but think that deep down, humans love love (like how we all went crazy over Kaley and Karl's #KCSquared wedding). We possess this innate capacity for it, and a curiosity to learn more about an individual’s journey to find great love.
I caught up with newly-engaged equestrian lovebirds, Annika Holtz and Fanny Sinyan Jernström, to learn about their love story, their recent trip to California (which resulted in one of the most authentic and beautiful equestrian-inspired proposals I’ve seen to date), and how the whole thing went down. Why? Because I love love, and I’m assuming you do, too. The pictures stopped me in my Instagram-scrolling tracks, the heavens parted, and I swear Berlin’s ‘Take my Breath Away’ played in the distance. Plus, I was feeling super nosey and thought the NoëlleFloyd.com community would appreciate my investigative work. Wink, wink.
Alli Addison: Okay, beautiful horsey lovebirds - let's start with the basics. Where are you from and how did you meet?
Annika Holtz: We are both born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, and wouldn’t you know it - we met at a club in Stockholm through our mutual friend, Molly. I noticed her [Fanny] instantly. How could you not? I gathered up the courage to talk to her, the chemistry was undeniable and the rest is history.
AA: What brought you to California for this momentous occasion?
AH: I’ve been to California several times now, and I absolutely love it. I’ve gained really wonderful friends here, and now it was time to introduce Fanny to them all, and to the area that I love. Plus, it was Fanny’s birthday.
AA: Tell us more about the planning of the proposal, the location, and everyone involved.
AH: Crystal Hallet who owns Central Coast Trail Rides in Creston, California is one of my closest and dearest friends. We met through horses several years ago, and I’ve been able to watch her grow her trail riding business during this time. I go over to visit her and her family at least once a year, and help with some of the trail ride expeditions. I told her I was planning on proposing to Fanny and asked if she would be up for helping me out. I explained the entire grand plan and how I really wanted to bring along Duke and Maggie, the two giant matching white Percherons. They are big, beautiful, kind, and loving. And would make for great pictures, of course. So Crystal and her friend Morgan came along with us and brought the horses. Having everyone tag along made it easy to keep the secret. I had explained to Fanny that I wanted to take pictures, and that Crystal would help capture a few of the two of us. I jumped off the horse and wrote our names in the sand, and told Fanny to come to take some pictures. That’s when I got down on one knee.
AA: How about those nerves? It’s such a funny emotion when you are doing something you truly want to do, but the nerves set in.
AH: I was so nervous the whole day! Even though I knew what I was getting myself into. I’ve never been engaged before because I hadn't found the perfect person. But I always said that when I go down on my knee for someone, that it would be for the right person - and this felt right. Fanny really is my soulmate, my other half. We not only share this great passion for horses but so many other things. Plus, we just have fun together. In the end, I knew she was so surprised and had no idea. At least no idea it was going to happen that day, on her birthday. Although I sensed she felt I would propose sooner rather than later.
AA: Fanny, what was going through your head during all of this?
Fanny Sinyan Jernström: Well, it was my first time to California. I was just casually celebrating my birthday, riding Maggie on the beach, which was such a dream! We had ridden north on the beach to eat some amazing fish tacos (a lunch stop tradition for Annika and Crystal when riding, and very Californian). As we made our way back on the beach, trying to out race the tide, I began to sense that something was going on, but I had no idea what was about to happen. We made a stop for what I thought was “picture time.” We took a few, and I kept wondering why everyone had this weird look on their faces. Annika and I paired up with Maggie and Duke for what I thought was a sunset picture. She had written our names in the sand, and I thought ‘awww, that’s cute.’ But all of a sudden, she was down on her knee and my first thought was that she had fallen over. It took awhile for me to process what was happening, but then I noticed the ring. This girl is my best friend, soulmate, lover and the most inspiring person I know. I couldn't have wished for a better birthday than to have her ask me to be her wife and life partner. I’m beyond proud and extremely grateful to all who made this possible.
AA: A momentous occasion like this calls for a celebration, right?
AH: It’s a tradition for us to sip on a bottle of Fireball when riding on the beach, so immediately after the proposal we started the celebration together with the horses. We then headed back to the ranch for a big classic American-style BBQ. It was absolutely an amazing day filled with love, friends, and horses.
Annika’s Tips On How Not To Turn a Proposal Involving Horses Into An Epic Disaster:
- Bring two good looking horses that will make your photos equally good looking.
- Make sure the horses like each other, rather than hate each other. No need to start off a relationship with that negative energy.
- Familiarize yourself and your mount with the environment.
- Animals are unpredictable, and sometimes it’s nice to have extra hands on deck. If you have friends that can assist, let them tag along. We brought two friends, which made the dynamic great. If we would have only brought one friend, then it could have come off like a third wheel. Two was perfect. One took photos, while the other took behind-the-scenes photos and held the horses.
- Bring some libations for after-proposal celebrations. Champagne works. We like Fireball, however.
- Good luck.
Photos courtesy of Annika Holtz