Annie and Brendan

Image 1 of Annie and Brendan

How We Met

I was a surprise wild child with my head in the clouds and a drink in my hand. My parents didn’t know what to do with me but they loved me and my free spirit found stable and steady refuge eventually. Brendan, however, was the eighth of nine children to a fifth generation pastor. He had been praying for his future wife since he was in high school. Happily, he was praying for me. We actually grew up in the same town of Vienna, Virginia; but we went to rival high schools and ran in different crowds, so we never met. I jetted off to Paris for college and he played soccer for a university in Virginia. It wasn’t until we had both graduated (I’m 2 years behind him) before we met. It was in a church, his church actually. He, along with his 8 siblings built the church building from the ground up with their father as the founding pastor. I had heard of The King’s Chapel (TKC) from friends, so I decided to see what it was about. He was the first person I saw. His eyes were so blue.

He directed me to where my friends were sitting and watched as I sat next to another guy, Taylor. His heart sank, but he didn’t lose any boldness. He walked over to Taylor and me at the end of services and asked us if we were coming to the annual beach trip that was set for two weeks later. I politely said no and meant it. I did not want to go. I’d only know a few people and it was a six hour drive to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. But I had a few more weeks before my job started and I wanted a tan, so I packed a few books and went. On a staircase landing, I had just arrived and Brendan was busy helping other people settle in. “I made it!” I exclaimed. “That’s great!” he responded before he rushed away to continue what he was doing. Ah yes, true love was destined… But on the second night, Brendan prayed a short prayer asking God to bring me over to him if I was what He wanted for him. I walked straight over to Brendan a few moments later and we have been together ever since.

how they asked

I had been nagging Brendan to propose for months. I’m impatient, hyper focused, and kind of annoying… but I just love Brendan so much. I wanted to be his wife. I wanted to be tied to him forever. He wanted the same thing, but he is not one to be told what to do (thank goodness because I need someone to stand up to me). At the end of every weekend when my left ring finger was still naked, I would whine and press him for a clue as to when he might do it (we already discussed getting married and timing and blah blah blah, etc.). He’d tell me to trust him, “I’ll do it when I do it,” he’d repeat with a stupid, knowing smile that made me so mad and so much more in love at the same time.

One day, we were hiking up Great Falls and my dad called asking if it was official… “what?” My daddy did it! He spilled the beans and dangit I knew I was getting engaged on that mountain! I hung up the phone and told a lie about his reason for calling. We stopped at a gorgeous overlook and Brendan reached into his pocket. My heart was crazy in my chest and I couldn’t hide the smile on my face and then, there in his hand, was his phone. He took a picture of the view, we hiked back down, and we were not engaged. What. The. Heck. A week passed, and still no proposal. We didn’t have anything planned except for this dumb photo-shoot that we agreed to over a month ago that Brendan didn’t even want to go to.

Image 2 of Annie and Brendan

But, his good friend, Brandon Williams, is a brilliant photographer but had yet to do a couple’s shoot. He asked if we would be the couple to help expand his portfolio. I (who bask in the flash of a camera) excitedly agreed. Brendan shrugged. The night before, Brendan informed me it would be at the Lincoln Memorial at sunrise… I agreed to the early time only as what I thought was a favor to Brandon. It did cross my mind that the Lincoln Memorial was where he asked me to be his girlfriend, but in prior conversations he mentioned that he thought it was weird to have a guy with a camera present at one of the most intimate moments of our lives. So, I knew he wouldn’t propose there. In the first few hours of January 28, 2017 with coffee in hand and me none-the-wiser, we goofed off and tried to pose seriously as the sun rose over D.C. Brandon said he needed to set up another shot and asked us to just talk while he got things together. I had my back to Brendan when I heard him say my name.

Image 3 of Annie and Brendan

I turned around to find Brendan on one knee, shaking and teary-eyed. I responded with a shocked and giddy “Yeah!” and then grabbed the ring and started putting it on myself. “Stop, woman!” He took the ring back and put the ring on for me as we both laughed.

Image 4 of Annie and Brendan

Brandon, who was in on the whole thing, captured the best moment of our lives, congratulated us, and slipped away. It was 7:00 am and as I watched Brandon walk away I shouted, “wait? This isn’t a couple’s shoot? You knew this was happening?” Brandon laughed and Brendan took my hand and led me to breakfast at a nearby restaurant.

Image 5 of Annie and Brendan

Special Thanks

Brandon Ellis
 | He tricked me!