‘I just tried to propose before she drowned’
Although he was not a confident swimmer, Caleb Allen was determined to propose underwater to his marine biology student girlfriend.
Caleb discussed his plan with staff at the Byron Bay Dive Center and booked a dive for then both on December 21, 2019.
"The day came and we set out with our instructor to explore the ocean floor and all the creatures living there," he says.
Towards the end, the instructor found a clear place on the bottom of the ocean floor that would make a good background for photographs and passed Caleb a necklace with an imitation gold and diamond ring on it, and a laminated heart-shaped piece of paper with the words "marry me" written on one side and a love letter on the other.
"As I presented the note and ring to Pam she nodded a yes and smiled as best she could without drowning," he says.
They returned to land and drove south to Lennox Head, where they walked by the headland. Caleb knelt and proposed again, and this time presented the true engagement ring with Pam saying yes without a mouthful of water.
The Wooloongabba couple met in February 2018 when Pam moved from the Netherlands to study marine biology and got in contact with a church in Fortitude Valley, which Caleb also attended. The couple married on November 7 2020 at the Bundaleer Rainforest Gardens in Brookfield in front of 75 guests. With Pam's family and friends in The Netherlands, a reception will be held at a later date when restrictions ease, with the couple celebrating their marriage with a dinner for two.
Original wedding plans?
Pam: The original wedding was planned for the Netherlands on the September 5 2020 at the beach. In May 2020, when we realised that international flights were not happening anytime soon.
Emotions around changing plans?
We both felt sad, uncertain, and unsure about what the future would bring and when to re-plan our wedding and where to have the wedding.
It was hard for me to make a decision between waiting for my parents to be able to come to Australia or to just get married without my family being there. We had no idea when international flights were going to happen again, and still have no idea.
Updated wedding plans?
In September 2020 we decided to get married in Australia and started to plan our wedding to happen in November in Brisbane. We made sure we set up a Zoom link to the Netherlands on the wedding day so that my friends and family could follow the ceremony and so that my dad could pray for us during the ceremony. Caleb's family is from northern NSW and it was unsure for a while whether they could be present at the wedding as well due to border closure. Hence we decided to just plan the ceremony and not a reception and keep the day simple. We hope to have a reception with more guests in Australia next year, including my family. And one in the Netherlands to celebrate the wedding there with Dutch friends and family.
What helped you get through the stress of changing plans?
As we are both Christians, our faith in the Lord helped us through. We also found strength in each other and my parents were great as well. They said that it's our life together and didn't want to hold us back. We had the time and peace to think about it and make a decision in the end.
Advice for other couples whose weddings are impacted by coronavirus?
If you want to get married, get married. It is hard to not have family and friends at the wedding if you have a restriction on numbers, but it is your life together and it is more than worth it!
What was the standout moment of the day?
The dinner for two we had in the evening together at the restaurant where we had our first date. Our table looked over the Story Bridge, beautifully lit up, and there were fireworks the moment we sat down.
One thing you wish people told you about planning a wedding?
How to let go of things on the day itself. As I planned most of the wedding myself, it was hard not to try to arrange things on the day itself as well. Or maybe in other words, how important a wedding planner can be to put your mind at ease and enjoy the wedding day.
Best advice for other couples planning a wedding?
Don't worry about the opinion of other people on your wedding day. There're always people that are not happy with how you arranged your wedding, but don't forget that it is your day and not theirs. Do it the way you want to do it.
Pamela Engelberts, 25
Profession PhD student, Marine Biology.
Parents Ruud and Tineke Engelberts, Meryl Delly, temporary Australian mother of the bride.
Dress From Bruidspaleis Den Haag, a Bridal Palace in The Hague. The dress was altered at Paddington Weddings.
Hair and make-up Grace and Style
Flowers New England Flower Co
Engagement ring 18ct gold diamond trilogy ring, Angus and Coote Lismore.
Caleb Allen, 24
Parents Stanley and Elisabeth Allen
Suit Politix. Dark blue three-piece suit with a burgundy coloured tie, pocket square, and socks.
Celebrant Clive Barber
Videographer Steven Robbins (a colleague from Pam's work)
Photographer Chris Jack Photography
Transport Caleb's brother's ute, bright blue 2019 Ford Ranger Raptor.
Cake Made by the groom's cousin, Leanne Keys
Originally published as 'I just tried to propose before she drowned' - QLD couple's underwater engagement