Alyssa and Michael

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How We Met

Michael is a mentor and public speaker at elementary schools with a company that helps the schools raise money for things they may need. I was teaching second grade when “Major Mike” came to my campus with his team of leaders. As a first-year teacher I was incredibly focused on my career and profession, and hardly had time to breathe. On the very first day of his program, we had a pep rally and Michael took to the stage. I couldn’t remember the last time I had been that entertained. I laughed endlessly, and as the week progressed, I realized he was more than just a funny guy.

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He was caring, compassionate, patient, and AMAZING with kids. One particularly hard day, Michael came to my classroom to teach a lesson. I had been having a very hard day with the kids and had to break the news that he couldn’t come in to teach that day. I took him into the hallway and looked his face, full of concern, and completely broke down. It was the first instance of vulnerability I had had with another person in a very long time. He took immediate action and asked if there was anything he could do to help. I politely declined but told him that the offer meant a lot. The next day, he came to my classroom with the gift of a large coffee and a huge smile. It was the smallest gesture, but it changed me. His charismatic attributes, classy sense of humor, and undeniable charming smile threw me for an absolute loop.

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At the end of his program, I knew I had to get to know him better. I talked to my friends and mustered up the courage to pull the ultimate power move and give him my phone number. I wrote it in my neatest teacher writing and had it on a notecard in my pocket all day, anxiously counting down the moments until he came to conclude his program. After he addressed my class, I walked him to the hallway and asked if we could hug.

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I told him that I admired his passion and drive and that his effortless way of helping students and making them feel included was something to be in awe of. I also threw in that I knew he could dance, after seeing him with the kids, so we definitely needed to hang out. I will never forget how he kept looking between me and my phone number for what seemed like forever. Then, he smiled and said thank you, and casually walked away. I didn’t know what would come of it, but I knew that there was something about this person that could not be denied.

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After a couple of days, Major Mike himself sent me the sweetest “hello” text, and the rest was history. Days of talking turned into weeks of dating and then months of companionship and joy. When COVID got really bad in Texas, both of our jobs were suddenly halted. We began spending a lot more time together and eventually made the decision to take a leap of faith and move in with one another. It was by far the best choice I have made, as now I get to be with my best friend every day. I always say that Mikey came barreling into my life, and I stand by that statement to this day. Taking chances when you feel vulnerable and uncomfortable is one of the hardest things you can do, but it will always also be the most worthwhile.

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How They Asked

I had made plans for my youngest sister to come and visit Michael and me in Texas. My family is from San Diego, California, and she just turned 13. It was her first solo flying trip, and I was incredibly excited to get to spend some really nice quality time with her. I scheduled (per my usual fashion) a photoshoot with the photographer, Kelsey, who took my college graduation photos for an intimate (and socially distanced) sister-sister extravaganza. We picked out outfits days in advance and woke up really early to catch the morning light.

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I slept through my first alarm and woke up in a panic, realizing that I may not have enough time to get us both ready. As I flew through doing our hair, I was panicking about not getting the chance to do my makeup. I asked Michael if he would be available to drive us so that I could do it in the car.

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He said he couldn’t, and in my rushed state I didn’t even think to ask, “Why?” He was super helpful, getting all of my things together and helping us to the car. We drove from our house to the Emma Long Auditorium Metropolitan Park in Austin, Texas, and walked to our first photo spot. Natalie and I had so much fun prancing around with the Austin skyline behind us and I was truly enjoying the experience. As we walked to other spots and took more pictures, I caught up with Kelsey about post-grad life and education. We talked about life and it was all so natural. We then set off to the last spot (and prettiest) to conclude our photoshoot. It was a bit of a walk, and I could tell the Texas heat was getting to my sister a bit.

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I also knew that we were crunched for time, so I hustled up to the spot and set all of my things down next to a grand white pillar. I turned to Natalie and told her to put her phone away as I was eager to wrap up our shoot. As I turned back around and looked up at the sky, Kelsey came over and led me to another pillar. She said, “Let’s start by looking at some of this, maybe?” with a sweet smile on her face, and I felt ready as ever. I looked up at the pillar and saw a small chalkboard sign with my name on it, then looked to the floor and saw the rose petals.

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In a blind panic, my eyes shot to every moment that I will now never forget. The petals led down the pillars, all of which had their own sign with words phrasing out “will…you…marry…me”. I turned back to my sister and said, “Nattles, what’s going on??” She had her phone out and was recording everything, and at that moment I knew what was about to happen. I looked back through the pillars and my tears of joy to see Michael standing there with his hands folded and his trademark soft smile.

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I went to him and kissed him, knowing we had been waiting for this moment for so long. I looked into his eyes as he grabbed my hand. He said, “Step into my office,” as he led me onto the podium. He laughed and said, “I’m really nervous right now, and I had a whole thing planned….” I told him not to be nervous and that I loved him. He expressed to me the depths of his feelings for me, and how I have changed his life. I wish I could remember every single word he said, but I was so excited and happy that all I could focus on was looking into his eyes.

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He knelt down and couldn’t get the ring out of his pocket. It made me giggle because that’s so Mikey. When he finally did, he asked, “Alyssa Marie Edwards, will you marry me?” I couldn’t breathe or think, or feel anything other than a resounding, “YES!” Knowing I have finally found my ride or die, my PIC, my funny guy, is the most comforting and stable revelation I have ever had. He makes me want to be the best version of myself at all times, because I know that’s what he and I both deserve. After we kissed, and he slid the ring (!!!) on my finger, I dissolved into tears once again.

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I heard yelling and knew that it wasn’t my sister or Kelsey. I recognized that voice, as it had been a steadfast presence in my life for several years. It was my best friend, Lauren. She had helped Michael set the entire day up and was able to be there to witness this momentous occasion.

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I literally SHRIEKED and ran to her arms. This girl had seen me through the toughest of heartbreak and sadness. She lifted me up and glued me back together more times than I can count. Having her and my sister there to see this day meant more to me than I will ever be able to express. I am elated that we are here, grateful that we have each other, and humbled by the amount of time, planning, and resources that came together to make this all happen.

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Special Thanks

Kelsey Applebaum
 | Photographer