how we met
Tony and I grew up in the same small home town together. We went to the same Elementary, Middle, and High School. We knew all the same people, but we never knew each other that well. I had the BIGGEST crush on Tony in High School but he was a few years older than me so I thought he would never notice me! Fast forward some years later, I had been home on winter break from college of my senior year when my girl friends asked me come out to the local bar with them for some drinks. After a few drinks, I saw Tony was there and I couldn’t help myself but hit on him! Looking back, it’s so embarrassing, but I guess it turned out okay because he asked me out to dinner the next day and we have been inseparable ever since!
how they asked
So Andie and I had planned a getaway to the Gatlinburg area just a little over 90 days ago. We booked the weekend trip as a reward for going 90 days without messing up a workout regimen that required us to work out 5 days out of every week without fail. If we failed we would have had to give the trip away to someone else! So I had been thinking for some time now how I was going to pop the question and my main goal was to do it in a way that would be special but not over the top special to where she would have any clue that what we were doing could be that special moment where something like that could happen (I love surprises). I had this bright idea that I could use the trip we already had planned as a perfect cover up. Ok so I had the general place and dates to when I could do it but then I needed the perfect ring. After talking with her family about taking her hand in marriage, her amazing grandmother, Andrea Kaye Husick, insisted I used her engagement ring that has stood over 50 years of marriage and do with it as needed to create something special for Andie. I then took the ring to a well trusted amazing jeweler in DC. Through many in person visits, their ring designer (Alicia) and I, compiled all of my ideas of the perfect ring with the use of the center stone of Andies grandmothers engagement ring. I’m still blown away with how it turned out and am so honored to over double this diamond’s 50+ years of marriage it has already seen.
Side note: the ring was literally completed in the nick of time just a day before we left for TN. Just enough time for me to reveal it and show both her grandmother and mother.
So I knew we were going to Gatlinburg but where was I going to pop the question? I had originally thought about a winery/vineyard but wasn’t sure. All I knew was with Andie being a Photographer I had to have this Moment captured by a fellow Photographer, but to accomplish this in an area I have never been with someone I have never met let alone know who to begin to even call to do so. So once again I had to brainstorm. Luckily God had recently connected me and Andie with one of the best Photographers and now a good friend of ours, Candace Howell from Candicenicolephotography. I secretly messaged her and spilled my guts and asked if she knew of any good photographers from that area in TN. Immediately she sent me almost 10 photographer she follows from that area that she follows. Now out of those 10, 1 stood out instantly. Amanda May was different than all the rest and her love for Jesus sealed the deal!
Then birthed the next task to tackle. Where is this gonna happen and how can I do it without not ever seeing the place it’s going to happen at, never once meeting Amanda face to face and without Andie having a single clue till after she has said Yes. I emailed Amanda and she instantly was super excited to be apart of this secret operation! I had mentioned the possible winery idea but asked her to brainstorm with me other options since she lives within an hour of Gatlinburg and knows the ropes. After many back and forth emails and phone calls I decided on the perfect waterfall called Grotto falls. I picked it because it is the only one in Gatlinburg you can walk behind. Soooo we later found out the beginning of the trail for this waterfall was closed but she had said if I still was dead set on it we could park an extra 2 miles away which would extend the hike to this fall to 4 miles. Obviously that didn’t stop me and we finalized that as the rendezvous point where she would also have to make the same 4 mile hike up the mountain and be waiting looking like a tourist with a camera as well.
Let me first tell you, Andie and I both love the outdoors and to hike. So when Andie and I had talked about what we were going to do when we arrived to TN I told her I would love to hike the smokey mountains to a beautiful waterfall I saw online, she was immediately on board and we both agreed we were not gonna look like bums since we were going to take pics of each other the whole way up. ( figured it would be a little strange to ask her to dress nicely just to hike). So we arrived a little too early in TN after the 8 hour dive on Friday the 26th. We were supposed to begin our hike at 11:00. (15 minutes behind Amanda the photographer) so needless to say I had to turn into a weirdo and eat my breakfast as slow as possible which is completely not like me, took a half hour long and then started to look at the gift shop at flapjacks (the pancake place) like they actually had anything good to buy.
Let’s just say Andie was very impatient and was asking why I was acting like such a weirdo! I claimed my stomach was all outta wack. Luckily I bought enough time and Amanda had text me she was a little early so it worked out perfect. So we park at the beginning of this trail with no cell signal, no way to contact Amanda. And no real clear direction where to go or proof that Amanda had begun hiking already. To make it worse since the real trailhead to grotto falls was closed and we were hiking from a further trailhead(rainbow falls) where there were no clear signs of if we were going the right way to Grotto. Andie literally made the comment “Well if we don’t make it to Grotto, no big deal, we will end up some where cool either way. Whatever’s meant to be will happen.” I was downing inside and getting a little nervous. For the remaining hike all I could see was footprints on the trail I was hoping that was the photographers. After 4 miles up up hills and beautiful views along the way we made it to the fall! Amanda had said she would be wearing a pink head band so she would be easy to spot. She was up on a ridge so it took me a while to spot her but once I did I was relieved. So to pull his off I had told the photographer I was going to set up a tripod that Andie and I were going to shoot pictures of ourselves with our own cameras, or so Andie thought, all to get us into the Perfect position next to the fall right before I popped the question. Andie had to run and hit the self timer since our remote wasn’t working and upon her third return of our “self portraits.”
I got down on one knee! I was very nervous and barley formed real sentences. She said yes!!!! Then after some emotions and crying and hugging, I told her I had one more surprise, that’s when I pointed over to Amanda and Andie cringed and was only worried about how bad her make up must look from crying lol! It could not have gone more perfect. We then crossed over to where Amanda was and we both got to meet her and take many more pictures that I’m sure you have already seen!