How We Met: Ben and I met on our very first day of high school. Which just happened to be his 15th birthday. I joke that I was the best birthday present he will ever get. He agrees.
On our very first day of Freshman year, overwhelmed and lost, we were both late to English class. We happened to arrive at the same time and the only two seats left in the classroom were next to each other so we had no choice but to sit together. Looking back, there is no question that was the happiest coincidence of my life. As I sat down, I recognized him because one of my best friends had a huge crush on him. So, in an effort to make friends with the cute guy sitting next to me, I tried to make conversation with him. However, true to high school boy fashion, he responded in head nods and grunts. I assumed he didn’t like me. He insists that he was too stunned by my beauty to have a conversation. We agree to disagree on this one. But, within days, the entire school had us pegged to get married. Still to this day, we have no idea how everyone knew so fast, seeing as it took us a little while to figure it out.
I was determined to not date in high school, so I tried to convince myself that I didn’t like him. He had convinced himself that I was out of his league (totally not true). But, after a little while, my best friend convinced me to admit that I liked him. My best friend, just happened to be dating Ben’s best friend. Turns out, they had been conspiring to get us together. It worked. A few weeks later, Ben climbed an old water tower, put a sign up there, drove me past, and asked me to be his girlfriend. We were the news of our little town after that. Our high school was so excited that when Ben got to the cafeteria the next day, everyone stood up and clapped for him. Turns out our whole school was right. We really were made for each other. And we were lucky enough to experience all of high school together. We were even voted “most likely to get married” our senior year.
how they asked: After high school, Ben and I got to attend our dream colleges. Unfortunately, they were across the country from each other. Everyone told us that we were crazy, too young to decide to do a serious long distance relationship, and that we would never last. We knew that was simply not true. To be honest, we had known about 3 months into our relationship that we had found the person we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with. But, when you’re 16 years old, you don’t admit that to many people. So, we went away to our different schools. Seeing as we were both in school full time through the summer, being together in person was next to impossible. It was a long, hard three years. As we started talking about engagement and marriage time tables, I was sure that I had figured out exactly when he was going to propose, seeing as there was only one time that we were going to see each other.
I was so wrong. One weekend, my roommates decided to do a girls weekend. We went to a house on the lake, ate junk food, watched movies, and my friend painted my nails. I didn’t think anything of it. But, as it turns out, Ben had arranged it all so that my nails would be done when he put a beautiful ring on my finger. On Sunday, we went to church and as we were on our way home, my roommate asked if we could go for a walk. She said she was having “problems with her boyfriend and wanted to talk.” Turns out, this was just a lie to get me where I was supposed to be while I was still dressed up. We walked the path to a little island on our campus. As we walked up the hill on the island, I didn’t even notice that we were walking on a trail lined with flowers. I was so sure that Ben was at school in Seattle, where he was supposed to be, that a proposal was nowhere on my radar. As we got to the top of the hill, near a tiny chapel, my roommate asked me a question. When I turned around to answer her, in her place was a note with my name on it, a beautifully engraved Bible, and a bouquet of my favorite flowers.
I opened the note which instructed me to read a few passages in the Bible that were marked with flowers. Each passage had a new note next to it. One of the notes contained the exact same words that Ben spoke to me when he first told me that he loved me. At this point, I was crying so hard I could barely read the words on the page.
The last note read, “You have waited a long time. You can now turn around.” After all of our years together, I couldn’t turn around fast enough. When I turned around and saw Ben for the first time in 5 months, it took everything in me to let him finish what he was saying and not run into his arms.
He then dropped to one knee and said a few words that I’m sure were heartfelt and beautiful. But, the only thing I can remember is hearing him say those five words that I had dreamed of hearing him say to me since I was 16 years old: “Anna, will you marry me?” At this point, I was so shocked and overwhelmed, the first words out of my mouth were, “Is this real life?” I had dreamed of this moment for so long, that when it actually happened, it seemed too good to be true.
Ben chuckled and assured me that it was real. When my brain figured out that it was actually real life, I think I screamed “Yes!” at him.
But that is not where the day’s surprises ended. While we were hugging and kissing, he kept trying to tell me that there was someone he wanted me to meet. I was so elated, I couldn’t even process what he was saying. Eventually he got me to turn around and I saw that he had hired my absolute favorite photographer (whose work I loved so much that she had been my idol for years) to capture everything that happened.
Not only that, but he had arranged for my best friends to be hiding in the bushes and I was able to celebrate with them right after.
The photographer was wonderful and stuck around and did an impromptu engagement shoot with us. Which worked out wonderfully, since we wouldn’t have been together any other time to get engagement pictures done.
To top it all off, he had arranged that we could go home that weekend to celebrate in person with our family and friends.
Photography by Janelle Elise Photography