What do you get when you take a beach stroll with some alpacas and add a couple in love? Well, in some Island cases, you get a wedding.
Including alpacas in a marriage proposal might not occur to everyone, but it was part of the equation for Henry Luessen last year. He and Hannah Schriesheim were old friends at Island Alpaca from previous visits, so when Luessan began to think about proposing, it seemed like a good fit. “I had found out about their beach stroll, and I thought that would be a perfect way to incorporate Hannah’s passion for alpacas and love of Martha’s Vineyard,” Luessen said.
“The ruse was that we were going for a birthday brunch for her out on the beach. The weather was gray and overcast, but we set up our picnic blanket, and then it started raining.” Undeterred, Luessen took Schriesheim down to the water and proposed. Luessen says, “Then 5 to 10 minutes later, a minivan showed up, and two alpacas popped out.”
Schriesheim was surprised because not only had he told her the ring wasn’t ready yet, but Luessen had sworn, in response to her request to have alpacas involved when he did propose, that “under no circumstance would there be alpacas there, because I’ll be distracted by them.” “And my plan worked out, because there were no alpacas at the actual engagement,” he laughingly shared, “One and a half years after the beach stroll with the fuzzy friends, we are still getting comments on how cool it was. There’ll certainly be some photos from the walk at our wedding!”
This summer there were two alpaca beach stroll proposals back-to-back. William Keough popped the question to Lindsay Vendetta on Sept. 1. Keough was familiar with Island Alpaca from his family trips, and so when the couple visited here last year, he took her there, since she is a huge animal lover. “William tries to incorporate as many animals as he can into surprises,” Vendetta said. “We went to the alpaca farm, and it just held a special place in our hearts. That was the time we both knew we were falling in love with each other. We associated that trip and going to the alpaca farm with a big step in our relationship.”
Fast-forward a year, and Keough says, “I was thinking about proposal ideas and wanted to try to recreate that day, culminating in the proposal.” He dropped the idea of the private farm walk as soon as he learned of the beach stroll option.
Keough told Vendetta that he had something special for her down at the beach. Whatever her suspicions, she was mightily surprised when two alpacas came walking along. Fortunately, the handlers fielded the gawking onlookers’ questions so Keough could whisk Vendetta off toward the Edgartown Lighthouse.
“I kind of rehearsed in my head what I wanted to say, but my voice was shaky, and I was getting kind of emotional because it was such a big thing,” Keough says. “I think that’s when she picked up on what was happening, and she covered her mouth and said, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Oh wow.’ So, I was like, Is that a yes?’”
“It went off perfect,” Keough said. “It added a really fun and unique twist to the proposal that made sense for our story and our story moving forward.” Vendetta adds, “It was very fun and amazing. It was the most thoughtful thing someone has done for me.”
Logan Steinfeld and Kelly Girskis are the most recent addition to the list of Island Alpaca proposals. Steinfeld knew Girskis loved visiting Island Alpaca during all her annual summer visits. “So,” he says, “I was thinking of doing something a little bit different and somewhat memorable to make Kelly smile a bit. And I thought I could use some company. I read on the website that they’d done a proposal before, and thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is perfect!’” He spoke with owner Barbara Ronchetti, who said the alpaca could have signs and wear little bow ties.
“Kelly was on the beach hanging out, and I told her I had to get something from the car,” Steinfled shared. “When I came back, Kelly was looking the other way. I walked down and got about five feet behind her with the two alpacas wearing these signs that said, ‘Will You’ and on the other ‘Marry Me?’”
“They were very light on their feet. I did not hear them,” Girskis said.
“She finally hears us when we’re right behind her and she turns around. Then I got on my knee and proposed, and the alpacas were right there, very patient and supportive,” Steinfeld said.
“I was just shocked. I was laughing so hard,” Girskis said. “They were so cute. I was just not expecting it. I don’t think I had even looked at the ring yet. I was pretty much just focused on the alpacas. It was awesome. They were so well-behaved.”
The happy couple are not sure yet of the exact date of the wedding, but assured me, “It will definitely be in Martha’s Vineyard!”
Lesson learned for hopeful couples from these alpaca beach walk proposals: How can you answer anything but yes when these camelids are involved?
Island Alpaca events
Find alpaca at the West Tisbury Farmers Market Saturdays, 9 am to 12 pm, through Oct. 12 at the Grange Hall In West Tisbury, and at the fall/winter Farmers Market on Saturdays from 10 am to 1 pm at the Ag Hall, Oct. 19 to Dec. 14.
The alpacas will be at the Edgartown School Craft Fair on Saturday, Dec. 7.
The Alpaca Walk & Talk is from 2 to 2:30 pm daily. Preregistration strongly suggested to guarantee space.
Visit Alpaca Discovery, 10 to 11 am daily. Preregistration required. Visit alpaca-fun.com. Enjoy alpaca with yoga at Alpaca Yoga 2:30 to 3:30 pm Saturdays, through Oct. 5. Preregistration required. Visit alpacayoga.com.