I just read your post and I am crying because I could not possibly be happier for you and for Davey! HOORAY!
And I totally, totally understand the vulnerable thing. And all I can say to you, it is fucking worth it. Not because it means "getting married," or "having a wedding" or "etiquette" or blah blah: because you both are just saying yes to the biggest thing in your head-and-heart when the stakes are really high, when someone you love becomes, just by the nature of who they are, your life-line: and your life is on the line.
All I can say is that I have never, not ever for one second regretted saying "YES." Not during the worst and ugliest fights he and I have ever had; not during the most frustrating moments of dealing with life and money and crap; not ever, not ever, not for one second! It is as impossible to imagine the alternate universe in which we did not choose each other forever as it is to imagine a fish leaping out of the sea into a dusty cigar box. It is the best and only, always, in all ways.
Because the daily stuff is at once the substance and the dross: and when you look at each other holding hands and realize it is like you are in the gondola of a balloon, rising slowly over a landscape that gets more and more vast, at how enormous and lasting and blindsiding and strengthening and joyful is this enterprise and that you realize how much bigger than the both of you it is, it is pretty much total affirmation of --- of everything. But you know that already.
I love you so much, Ashlee, and I am so, SO happy for you!!!!