Ardella and Justin

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How We Met

Ardella has always been the woman that any man would dream to have. Beautiful, intelligent, loving, and she loved God. I had the pleasure of first meeting Ardella as a very young man, in the hallways of our middle school in 2003, at 13 years old. Throughout our youth, onto high school and into college, she had always been a true and amazing friend. We connected through the years and kept in touch when she moved to Iowa for her undergraduate degree, and I went to Mizzou. We kept in touch when she joined her sorority, and when I joined my fraternity. We kept in touch when we left school and made our way back to our hometown of St. Louis. Although we had run into each other out here or there, it was not until the summer of 2015 that our story began. A mutual friend decided to have a bonfire in her backyard, where we had a chance to catch up.

We stayed at that bonfire laughing until 5am. A short few weeks later, we ran into each other again at a picnic in downtown St. Louis, and again enjoyed each others company and conversation. It was at this point in our friendship that I asked her to join me at another venue less humid than a picnic (a poetry night). She politely declined (as she already had plans), and accepted my offer to cook for her another day. That meal turned into a first date, followed by another date, followed by courting. Since she worked on Sundays, I would offer to go to church in her place and share the church notes with her (and as a writer, I took some in depth notes), which allowed us to discuss them and have a bible study of our own later on. From the day we ate our first meal together, we had spoken or seen each other every day since. Something that I knew I never wanted to end. Something I knew we wanted to last forever.

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how they asked

Once I knew God had spent all of these years preparing Ardella & I to be one, I knew I wanted our engagement to be something she would never forget. Since she is a teacher and an extremely observant person, I also wanted the proposal to be something she didn’t see coming from a mile away. The idea that materialized was to give Ardella a photo shoot. I knew I wanted to propose on a rooftop, with very large letters that spelled out “MARRY ME”. As I began to put this idea in motion, I decided to find a way to convince her she was receiving a FREE photo shoot, after I applied to a special couples sweepstakes in our hometown. After finding our awesome photographer Lauren, she suggested making a Facebook post from her business page congratulating us on winning! This would give her plenty of time to decide what she wanted to wear for the big day, get her hair in the style she wanted it and her nails be the perfect color for her. We spent two weeks prepping for our “Free Photo Shoot”, pulling in both of our families and friends to silently help her assemble her outfits, makeup, etc.

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(hint: There was never any drawing, and there were no other entries :) ) On the big day, we arrived at Arcade Loft Apartments at 11 am, to a vivid blue sky and the St. Louis Arch in the backdrop of the rooftop we found ourselves on. The photographer’s assistant met us at the elevator with a second camera and began recording us (the actual photographer was upstairs waiting for me to get in place and pop the question). As we walked to the perfect location on that rooftop, she slowly made out the large 2 1/2 foot tall letters that spelled out the most important question I would ever ask another human being. “MARRY ME”.

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It was at this moment that I dropped to one knee and asked her to be my wife. After she gave the positive affirmation my heart was longing for, we prayed into the new phase we were entering, and for our gifts to be realized and His will be done. It was official. I now had my fiance.

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(That’s her Dad peeking around the corner :) )

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But the morning wasn’t over. Now that the engagement was official, we really DID have our photo shoot and spent the next 3 hours going through 4 different outfits and several floors of this artist community loft (filled with photography studios, yoga rooms, painting rooms, etc.). We left with amazing, genuine images and moments from that day. She was truly surprised. After our shoot had ended, we migrated to her parents home, where both of our families gathered to celebrate the occasion. It was an awesome start to forever.

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Our Video

Special Thanks

Lauren McKay
 | Photographer
 | Created Our HUGE Foam letters
The McCain & Diggs Families (EVERYONE)
 | Planning