How We Met
Nate and I’s “how they met” story is one of the funniest parts of our relationship story. The beginning set the tone for everything that followed. In September 2014, I met Nate through a mutual friend-his roommate and teammate, Jake, at Evangel University. Jake and I were debate partners on our college debate team, and we had been spending a lot of time practicing for our upcoming tournament. Nate thought that Jake had a crush on me, so he wanted to play a joke on his roommate and keep him from being able to spend any alone time with me (because Jake is a little bit of a player). The joke actually ended up being on us because we hit it off right away. I like to tell people that we connected when I realized that Nate wasn’t JUST a collegiate baseball player. He isn’t your typical jock stereotype. In fact, he’s an incredibly intelligent guy. We bonded over a love for English, we both had played the Viola (he’s much better than I am), and we LOVED authentic Mexican cuisine. It was a match made in Heaven.
Nate’s Side of the Story- My roommate Jake had been talking a lot about this girl that he was going to debate with, but Jake was always talking about new girls. One day, I saw Jake with Ariel in the library at school, and it was my chance to mess with him. Ariel had been up to my room a few times to practice with Jake, but this was the first time I really paid attention to her. This time I realized how pretty she was! She was wearing this turquoise dress, boots, and a gorgeous smile. I wanted to talk to her, and luckily she made it easy by sitting next to me at the bank of computers where I was working. I was writing a paper about Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and we started talking about that. We both realized we were Education majors and that we both loved English. That week, we spent every single night together, and that Sunday I held her hand for the first time. I haven’t let go since.
Fast forward through a fall semester of late night talks, movie dates, pie nights, and typical Instagrammable cuteness. We even picked a couple hashtag, #500daysofNariel. But I decided that it would be faster for me to finish my degree at a state university back in my home state of Arkansas. Nate and I had decide early on whether or not what we had was something that was going to last. We had faith that it would. Four months into our relationship we became a long distance couple, and it was HARD. Late night drives to see each other, long phone calls, updating each other on our days, and pushing through even though we both missed each other a lot. We walked hand in hand through that very long spring semester and summer. In the middle of the summer, I adopted 2 cats, Ella and Teddy. Nate wasnt really an animal person, but he grew to love them as much as I did. Now, they are our cat-children and we couldnt imaging life without them.
I returned to Evangel in the fall of 2015 because I realized that the education I needed to receive to be a good teacher had to come from the faith based education practices of my professors at Evangel University. It didn’t matter that it would take more time because Nate was there and wouldn’t graduate for a few years anyway. And also, the love of my life was at Evangel, and that’s where I knew I needed to be. In August of 2015, we both returned to start our fall semesters, I declared an official english and theatre education major, and our relationship bloomed as we studied together, Netflix binged, ate lot’s of Papa Johns pizza, and fell even more in love.
how they asked
Nate’s Side of the Story- I had known for a while that I wanted to marry Ariel. She was funny, intelligent, creative, and driven. She had become my best friend, as cliche as that sounds. I knew that she was also getting antsy about marriage and proposing, and when I was going to do those things. In January, we both decided that we wanted to go ahead and get married in July of the upcoming summer. At that point, I knew that the time to propose was coming soon. I am not a very good planner, so I had to recruit some outside help. I asked her best friend Kaylee for her help, and she and I spent several nights texting back and forth about how to execute the perfect proposal. Now, my future wife is kind of particular about certain things. I knew she wanted to have her nails done when I proposed AND that it was important to her that there were photos. Specifically, she had always dreamed of having that one photo of her future husband on one knee. She’s a photographer, and she understands the importance of photos. The day before, I had still not been able to recruit someone to be there to take photos-Kaylee lived in Fort Worth, Texas which was too far away. It dawned on me that I could make this proposal even more special for Ariel by asking her parents to be there. I texted them that evening (right beside her while we were at the movies) and told them my plans. They agreed, and everything was finally set into motion. Ariel had suspicions that I might have been ready to propose to her that weekend, but she thought it was going to be on Sunday, Valentines Day. She’s a control freak, but I love her, and she made a hair and nail appointment for Saturday. I used this to my advantage. On Saturday morning, I woke up early and went to the place where she was getting her hair done. I paid for everything and left her a rose and a note. Next, I had her parents come to her apartment at 1 and surprise her. We ate her favorite pizza from Papa John’s and it was funny to watch her take in everything. She must have known what was going on, but she had no idea of the how or when. Her mind was working overtime to put the pieces together, and it was funny watching my type A future wife not be able to be in on the surprise. Her mother took her to her favorite clothing shop, and together they picked out a dress. Then they went and got her nails done. I had already gone to the nail place and paid for her appointment and left another note and card. Her mother was sending me photos of her reactions, and I was enjoying getting to see my soon to be fiance so happy. The two ladies came back to Ariel’s apartment to one final card and rose. In this card, I told Ariel how much I loved her, and that I would be waiting for her at Lake Springfield. This lake held a lot of significance for us during our relationship, so I couldn’t think of a better place to start our new chapter together. Around 5:20 I saw their car pull into the parking place, and I started feeling really nervous. Of course, I was also excited. My heart was pounding loudly inside of my chest. The lake has a long winding dock, which provided a wonderful view of my future wife walking down the dock toward me. She looked beautiful in her dress, and I knew she was going to say yes. I was so excited to get down on one knee. Her dad was standing on the side taking photos and jokingly yelling at us to hurry up because it was cold. Finally, Ariel was standing in front of me. I couldn’t wait to get down on one knee and propose to this beautiful woman. I took her hands, muttered a few words, and dropped to a knee as I pulled a box from my pocket. She was smiling and laughing and being the amazing woman that I had fallen in love with over a year ago. She said yes, and I slipped her mother’s beautiful diamond ring onto her finger.
Ariel’s Side of the Story- I had known since about six months of dating Nate that he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. He is kind, caring, adventurous, fun, and passionate about me. We have built this wonderful relationship together and I can’t wait to build our life together. My best friend Kaylee tipped me off that the proposal was happening fairly soon. I did think that it was going to happen on Valentines Day when Nate said he had to “work.” But I was wrong. Saturday morning began with a beautiful card and rose. His words on the note foreshadowed that something was coming later on that day, I just did not have any idea what. When my parents showed up at my apartment, I was surprised but elated. I had always hoped that my parents could be there for our special moment. My mom and I had a nice afternoon shopping for dresses and getting my nails done. It was a touching day for us both. We knew that she was helping prepare me for one of the best days of my life, but neither of us said anything about it. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for her. Finally, I was on my way to meet Nate at the lake and my heart was pounding like crazy. We pulled into the lake parking lot and I walked arm and arm with my mom. I was trying very hard to keep it together as she pointed to her locket and reminded me that my brother was also here with us today. We lost my brother, Matthew, in 2007. He was a huge part of our lives, and we grieve that loss often. I wish that Nate and I had met sooner so that he could have known my family as a whole. He and Matt would have bonded over baseball and sports movies. They would have been best friends. I carried this thought with me as I walked down the winding dock toward Nate. It’s cheesy, but as a huge fan of The Bachelor I had a moment of feeling like the last standing girl on the show. Nate was standing in front of me with a long stemmed red rose in one hand, and we both knew what was about to happen. I finally reached him as he handed me the last red rose of the evening. He took my hands, said some beautiful words, and got down on one knee. I ecstatically said YES as he slipped my mom’s beautiful, gold solitaire onto my ring finger. It was a stunning diamond. Perfect. And now, I can’t wait until July 2016 when I will finally get to marry the love of my life, and my best friend. I get to be Mrs. Cuellar forever.