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Big White love story: Engagement on top of the world

A beautiful day to ask someone for their hand in marriage, Andrew Raisanen and Shaylene Ouellette. - Chris McRae
A beautiful day to ask someone for their hand in marriage, Andrew Raisanen and Shaylene Ouellette.
— image credit: Chris McRae

Shaylene Ouellette will always remember the day her fiancé, Andrew Raisanen, got down on one knee in the snow, a blustery wind whipping around them, to ask her the big question.

And should she ever forget, there’s a video.

So well planned was Raisanen’s proposal, he managed to bring a group of their friends along to mark the occasion, and film the shock on her face as she turned back to check that he was taking pictures of the view only to find him down on one knee and her ring waiting.

“He told me that we were going out with two other couples and their children for a ski weekend. It just seemed like something we would do,” said Ouellette, whose time off falls mid-week, bringing them to their destination of choice on Thursday, Jan. 17.

In fact, it took a good deal of planning, a couple of drinks over lunch for courage, and a trip back to their condo to make sure the cameraman had his good equipment in hand when Raisanen finally picked the spot.

“I wanted to be at the top of the mountain with as much background as you could see,” he said.

“It was just the perfect day, you could see all the mountains, so I just wanted to be up high.”

Ouellette and Raisanen are high school sweethearts who managed to capture the flame a second time after a cross-country move forced them apart.

The pair started dating while still in Grade 8, attending George Elliott Secondary School in Lake Country.

Ouellette then left the Okanagan Valley, moving to Lethbridge, Alta., and did not return for eight years. But she kept in touch with Raisanen after they graduated high school and moved on to adult life. After another long-term relationship he was in came to an end, they began chatting online. “I think I did think we would maybe get back together one day. I don’t know if he did, but I kept in touch just to check in and see how he was doing,” she said.

Virtually the day she arrived back in town, the pair were back together.

And five and a half years later, they’re now getting ready for a walk to the alter and a life where they’ll never be too far apart. “I’m kind of in shock of the whole thing,” said Ouellette. “I just wasn’t expecting it.”

Aside from the big proposal, the day was also Ouellette’s first time making it up the T-bar lift.

As the weather changed, she felt she wasn’t going to be able to make the trek even one more time. And so he picked his moment.

The bride-to-be hasn’t seen the video, but has heard it’s a little tough to hear what’s happening with the wind sweeping past their heads.

“You can see the body language and that I think speaks louder than words,” she said. “I think I asked him to pinch me at one point.”

It will likely be a couple of years before there is an Ouellette and Raisanen wedding. For now, this is a big enough step to keep the couple on their toes. “We’ve been together for almost six years and I kind of just felt it was time,” said Raisanen. “It was a really special day for both of us.

“So I’m glad it went well and everyone managed to keep the secret.”

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