How We Met
You know those type of love stories that go like this: “…(insert love quote)..” Well, this is NOT one of those stories. It all started when I moved into my very first apartment. I had graduated school, had a full-time job, renting my own apartment, my best friend lived in the building next to me, for what more could a girl ask!? Moving in, I was eager to meet my new neighbor. Then it happened! The girl next door ended up being the daughter of one of my clients at the Hair Salon I was working at. I quickly became friends with her and her boyfriend. Let me tell you, this was the life. My friends and I would go out on the town every weekend. I casually searched for Mr. Right, as boys would come and go, because as ‘they’ say, “You will find the right guy when you stop looking for him!”. Whoever THEY are. Overall, I was very content with my new independence! However, the neighbor boy disagreed. He had a friend for me. If you have friends like I do, they ALWAYS ‘have a friend I’d like you to meet’. Being an outgoing person, I agreed to meet his friend. I mean, what if he could be the ONE?
My neighbors invited both of us over to their place to hang out and meet. It was fine. We talked for a little while, but it dissipated into nothing quickly. We went on with our lives as normal. I continued to go out and casually date as he did while living in another city. My neighbors, however, did not agree with our uninterest in each other. They knew we would be perfect together. So much so, that they began ‘fixing us up’ without our knowledge. Even breaking trust when both of us would ask if the other would be there, the answer was always NO, of course. Awkward dinner outings where our friends would race to the table leaving the only 2 seats available- next to each other. How annoying. They kept this persistence up, we were set up 4 times in 7 months before we finally decided to settle the debate over dinner. We had our first date at a pizzeria in October of 2014.
We dated while living an hour and a half away from each other for months. When we knew this was real and fell in love while being apart, Andrew moved back to his hometown to be with his family and friends… and me. Life felt so exhilarating. I was overjoyed to be in love with someone who was becoming my best friend. Plus, I had a person to go with me on all of my adventures! I am obsessed with travel. I think one of the most adventurous things a person can do is explore the unfamiliar land. So one day, we were invited out for dessert with one of my best friends’ family, and the topic of amazing online travel deals through Gate 1 Travel came up. A trip to Tuscany, Italy, round-trip airfare, rental car, and hotel for 7 nights for $700 per person. WE WERE GOING! I just needed to figure out how to convince everyone else at the table, including my boyfriend, that it was a good idea. This proved to be easier than I anticipated. We booked it the following day! Six travelers would take on Italy in the Spring. Mind you, Andrew had only been out of the state a few times, never very far, and certainly had never been out of the country. Dating me- that would not be the case any longer!
how they asked
In March, we set out on our adventure. We flew into Milan, got our rental car, and took off. We planned to visit the Cinque Terre, Florence, Pisa, Tuscany, Rome, Venice, and many smaller cities on our way. Day 2 we explored Florence, my favorite city of Italy. Filled with culture, food, sites, and miles upon miles upon miles of walking. That day alone, our group walked 12 miles around Florence. Our final stretches were towards this stunning lookout, over the entire city, called Piazzale Michelangelo. There are an estimated 100 “flat, sloping & deep steps” leading up to the lookout, and after almost 12 miles, I was ready to say “NO THANK YOU!” to this final adventure. My best friend insisted it would be worth it, so we continued. Hot, sweaty, achy and exhausted we gazed out across the beautiful city of Florence while the sun slowly began to set in its pure golden hour of glory.
The pictures could never do this view justice, but we tried! Each couple in our group took turns taking a picture together with this stunning background before it turned dark. Mine and Andrew’s turn was next as I waited impatiently for him to come, stand next to me. Knowing smiling for pictures was in his top 5 most hated things to do in life, I got a little sassy wondering why ‘my man’ wouldn’t take a picture with me. Slowly but surely he wondered over to me and grabbed my hands. Awkwardly, I couldn’t hold one of his hands… there was something in the way. A LITTLE BLUE BOX!!! Andrew got down on one knee as I shouted, “What are you doing!?”. He could’ve said anything at all that moment and it would have been perfect.
But honestly, tears were strolling down my face so hard, my heart was beating so fast, and he was holding my dream Tiffany and Co. diamond ring, I couldn’t tell you exactly what he said. All I know is I was saying, “Yes!” and kissing the man of my dreams as he placed the ring on my finger signifying our love to last a lifetime.
We looked for our friends only to find hundreds of people surrounding us and applauding and cheering. The entire lookout has paused what they were doing to watch our special moment. The love was indescribable. For a moment, in a foreign country, everyone spoke English. People were congratulating us, taking pictures of/with us, hugging and kissing us. We have never felt more loved than in that moment and to know that our friends helped arrange the entire thing and kept it all a secret! Unknowingly, it was photographed and recorded for us to cherish the rest of our lives.
On October 28, 2017, we said, “I Do”, on our 3 year anniversary.
From my best friend/ the photographer:
While on a group vacation to Italy, I was able to capture my best friend’s surprise proposal during sunset in Florence on International Women’s Day.
For months, I had managed to keep the mega surprise, as well as the Tiffany & Co. ring she so desired, under wraps and under her nose. I even somehow kept a straight face while we spent hours at the airport in Milan waiting for a car rental and she was secretly chatting with me about not expecting anything on this trip, and feeling like it may not happen.
What she didn’t know is not only did I help plan the event with her boyfriend, she had come so close to ruining her own surprise when she decided to repack their suitcase, not knowing the little blue box was hidden inside a pair of shoes.
Andrew and I deliberated for a few days on where we would have him pop the question. On our first day while hiking Cinque Terre? No; we’d have just gotten off an airplane and look too jet lagged for photos and lack appreciation for the moment. Near the end of our trip while in Venice? No; one word – water. We settled on Florence at sunset, atop the Piazzale Michelangelo lookout, on our second day of travel. It was perfect.
We decided to hide the ring and box in my camera bag in case she stumbled upon it in their day pack. We spent the afternoon roaming the city streets, gazing upon the statue of David, walking miles and miles through museums and crowds. As the day began to fade away, we trekked the half mile climb to the famous lookout, Abbey unamused at our final climb as we had already walked seven miles that day alone. I promised and assured her the view from the top would be amazing to look out onto our favorite city as the sun sets. She rolled her eyes but kept moving.
The time had come. We planned it perfectly. I would snap some photos of the view, then capture my mom and sister together, hand over my camera bag to Andrew and have my sister take mine and my husband’s photo, then have Abbey ready and waiting for the final “couples” photo while Andrew slipped the ring out of the bag behind his back.
She posed for a fun solo photo, ready and waiting for her man to join her. He began making his way to her, fiddling with the little blue box. He then took her hands in his, and she felt the corners of the box and recoiled in surprise, as she realized what was about to unfold. “What are you doing???” I heard her squeal. Then we saw tears well up in her eyes as she watched Andrew get down on bended knee. She took one look at the ring inside, “that’s my ring!!” she cried! Andrew, being so quiet and nervous about proposing to his love, said words only Abbey heard. The crowds that gathered behind us to watch the sunset suddenly erupted into applause as Abbey nodded her head in delight to marry the man of her dreams. He stood up and as they embraced, we could see all the anxiety and the crowds fall off Andrew’s shoulders. It was just them, at the moment.