How We Met
When you leave home and move off to college, those first couple of weeks at your new home are always filled with meeting new people. You never know whether those people you meet will play a major role in your life or whether they were one time occurrences. Luckily, this was not one of those hello and then goodbyes. We walked into our first class of undergrad in the fall of 2012 and each sat beside a stranger. Her name was Amber. His name was Dalton. We exchanged the typical pleasantries that everyone takes part in at the beginning of college; telling the other person your name, where you’re from, and what you are there to study.
To be honest, this wasn’t one of those love at first sight meetings. Both of us were in relationships and we weren’t interested in changing that. Over the course of the next few weeks, we continued to learn more about each other as we sat beside one another in Lifetime Wellness class. A few months after our initial meeting, we walked into class, sat beside each other like we always did, and learned that both of our relationships had ended the previous weekend. Still, at this point, there were still no thoughts that we would ever be a couple, it was just a weird coincidence that things had ended at the same time for both
Fast forward to early 2014, almost a year and a half following our initial encounter in Lifetime Wellness class. We had stayed in touch during this time through mutual friends but rarely hung out together. Oddly enough, it was a chance encounter on a Saturday around lunchtime that really jump-started the beginning of our relationship. (Hi, this is Dalton, I’ll take over the storytelling from here.) My parents were at Campbell this particular weekend because I had been accepted at Campbell University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and it was Accepted Students’ Day. As we walked into Marshbanks Cafeteria to eat lunch, alongside us were Amber and a few of her close friends. I introduced my parents to everyone and we went our separate ways once we got into the cafeteria. I thought that was the end of it, but Amber had other ideas.
After lunch, my parents and I made our way back to Maddox Hall to listen in on a few more seminars. While I was listening to what pharmacy school was going to be like and how to prepare, I get a text from Amber that says “Tell your mom she just met the love your life.” Clearly, she was joking, and I knew that but because I thought it was so hilarious I proceeded to tell mom anyway. Mom and I had a few giggles about it and didn’t really think any more of it; however, it was following that text that our relationship really started to grow. One of our mutual friends from the beginning of undergrad was none other than one of the best men for the wedding, John Conyers. John was always the one telling each of us what the other person was doing or saying about the other. Whether he was making up stories or telling the truth, he was constantly stirring the pot and trying to get the relationship to move forward. It was honestly because of him that we ended up hanging out as much as we did during the first few months of 2014.
As our relationship started to grow, we started throwing around the idea of being in a relationship and just seeing what would happen from there. There were some definite roadblocks, to say the least, but we will keep it at that. The beginning of our dating relationship became official on April 9, 2014, after going to Sunni Sky’s to eat ice cream. I didn’t ask Amber to be my girlfriend until the ride home and she thought I had chickened out. Now, here we are, planning for a wedding that will be just a few days after our 5 year anniversary of dating. Crazy how it all turned out!
how they asked
Let’s begin in mid-October 2016. Amber and I had made plans to go to the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. For a while we had talked about needing to start the search for the perfect engagement ring, so we saw this as a good opportunity to stop by Diamonds Direct. I didn’t have any plans whatsoever to buy a ring on that day. The point of stopping by was just so Amber could show me the style of ring she wanted. Can you guess what I walked out of Diamonds Direct with that day? You guessed it! A lot less money in my bank account compared to when I walked in. You see, when you’re with your significant other for as long as Amber and I had been at this point, you can read them like an open book. We had browsed numerous jewelry counters, and Amber had even tried on a few rings that she liked. After trying on a few different styles of bands, she decided on a style that she told me she wanted. However, she didn’t like the diamond that was set in the band.
Let me tell you though, the lady that was working with us quickly changed that! She pulled out a beautiful diamond and I saw Amber’s face light up as I had only seen a few times before. So, guys, you know what I had to do? I had to buy that setting with that diamond and have Diamonds Direct put them together, there just wasn’t another option in my mind! I think the lady working with us could tell what I was thinking, so she had Amber go towards the back of the store to look at more rings while she and I went to the front and started talking about my options. Before you know it, I was walking out of Diamonds Direct a few dollars poorer with an engagement ring on the way that Amber knew nothing about!
Let’s fast forward to the beginning of March 2017. I picked up the ring from Diamonds Direct early in 2017 and it was everything I had imagined it would be. I stored it in the living room of the house ( in a toolbox of all places) where I was living at Campbell University for a little over a month. Amber never had a clue that she walked right by it every time she came over to see me. Leading into March, I had devised the perfect proposal.
The Plan: The first week of March, Amber and I had a trip planned to Disney World with my family for Spring Break. Anyone that knows Amber and me, knows that we love Disney! And so does my family, so this was not our first trip there. One of Amber’s dream vacations is to travel to Italy. She constantly fantasizes about being in Italy eating a large bowl of pasta. What does Disney World just so happen to have? Their own version of Italy as part of the World Showcase in Epcot. I figured this was going to be the closest we could come to Italy and this point of our lives and what better place to propose!
My idea for the evening was that we would eat dinner at Tutto Italia Ristorante in Italy and then we would walk outside of the restaurant to the beautiful courtyard filled with flowers and a backdrop of a make-believe Italy where I would ask her to spend the rest of her life with me. I was planning on waiting for a few days once we arrived in Orlando to propose because we had some friends that were coming to Disney World as well (most importantly Amber’s best friend and maid of honor, Hanna, because I know how you girls are about this), and I wanted them to be there to share the moment with us. Perfect plan, right? Well, reality doesn’t always follow the guidance of a
The reality: I wish I could say my plan went off without a hitch! But, unfortunately, that would make me a liar. You see, the week leading up to the proposal I started to become super nervous. Nervous about what? Let me tell you, I have absolutely no idea! I knew she would say yes, and I had known for a long time she was the one, but every time I thought about it I would start sweating and get sick to my stomach. As Saturday, March 4th inched its way closer (which was the day we were set to leave for Orlando), I decided that I was too nervous to wait around for a couple of days down there without asking her to marry me. Our friends were either going to have to miss the proposal, or I was going to have to be admitted to a psych ward(Not really, but it sure felt like it!). I
made reservations for Tutto Italia Ristorante the night we arrived in Orlando because I was determined to get this proposal over with!
Oh, let me mention, I also decided to propose prior to dinner instead of following dinner because I knew there was no way I was going to feel like eating right before I was set to propose. We arrived in Orlando with my family, checked into the hotel, freshened up, and made our way to Epcot! My family went with us to Epcot because little did Amber know, but they also had a role in this plan. Once we got into Epcot, Amber and I separated from the rest of the family. Amber knew that just she and I were going to eat dinner at Tutto Italia Ristorante; however, that’s all she knew. The rest of my family went to seek out a Disney photographer that could be in the Italy courtyard to take pictures of us when I proposed. Until my family was able to secure a photographer to take pictures of us, I had to stall! Talk about difficult! I was as nervous as I could be and now you tell me I have to stall!
Amber will tell you that I definitely was not acting normal. I was quiet and I could only think about was what was to come! We sat there on this bench outside of Italy for what felt like hours to me, but in reality was only 20-30 minutes. I got the saying that a photographer was ready to start shooting. Amber and I made our way over to Italy where a photographer asked if she could take some pictures of us in the courtyard. It’s showtime everyone! We walked over to the Italy courtyard with the photographer and she began to take pictures.
After a few pictures were taken, I reached into my backpack and pulled out a picture book that I had of our love story. You see, whenever Amber and I are on the phone talking and there’s a break in the conversation, Amber always wants me to tell her a story. I’m a dude! I never have any stories to tell her! Well, this time I did. At the end of this particular story, I reached into my backpack a second time, dropped to a knee, and stuttered as I said, “Amber Michelle Oakes… will you marry me?” Spoiler alert! SHE SAID YES!!!!
At this point, my family had revealed themselves. They were crying. I was crying. Amber was crying. And as a good Disney World employee always does, the photographer just carried on taking as many pictures as she possibly could. The rest of that week was filled with pure bliss. We took pictures everywhere we possibly could and Amber showed off that new bling to anyone that
would stop long enough to look. Not all stories have to go perfectly to have a perfect ending, right?!