Ashley and Zack

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How We Met

Our story is truly unique in that Zack and I are from the same city, but life drove us 3,000 miles apart during adolescence. We were both born in Long Beach Memorial Hospital in 1990. I moved across the country to Virginia in high school and have lived here ever since. After completing his Masters, Zack moved across the country for a director position in Student Ministry at my church in 2014. At this point, we had never met. I had been volunteering in student ministry for 5 years and was a little apprehensive to get a new Director. To my surprise, Zack was everything. We found out we had so much in common and were shocked at all the places our stories aligned. I would say the rest was history, but it wasn’t. It’s still a huge part of our story and each new chapter is still just as beautiful and amazing

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Me on the left. Zack on the right. Our matching baby photos from being born in the same hospital.

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Because I was a volunteer and Zack was on staff, we had to keep our lips sealed for a couple of months into the relationship to make sure it was something of value. This was our “coming out” photo taken by our good friends in DC. The support from our friends, family and church was endless… and still is.

how they asked

We flew to California to visit his family for Christmas/New Year. This is us on Christmas Day flying first class because the airlines messed up our flights. We got a ton of money in flight vouchers and I ate lobster macaroni and cheese. It was a weird day.

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We spent a lot of time going to different beaches, our favorite southern California restaurants, and meeting up with friends and family. We even spent time with my Dad and sister. It was gearing up to be the best trip ever. I went shopping all day with Zack’s mom and went to the movies to see “Sisters.” Zack told me he was out and about with his dad, so I didn’t think anything of it. Little did I know they were out having an engagement ring custom made just for me. That would maybe scare a lot of ladies, but Zack knew that I loved the look of a pear-shaped diamond, which is a lot harder to find than you think. He also said that I’m a unique and creative woman who deserved something just as unique.

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New Years Eve rolled around and there was no movement on the forefront. Here’s the thing though, I wasn’t expecting anything. I knew that rings were expensive and I wasn’t sure Zack was at a place financially to move forward on that. I mean, we both work at a church. In essence, we both make for great window shoppers most of the time. He also led me on saying things like, “I’m going to have to take on a 2nd job if I’m ever going to get you a ring.” Cruel right? The whole time he knew it was happening and that he was going to propose to me in California.

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When Zack and I were planning our trip to California, we came up with all the places we wanted to go. One of my top choices was Torrey Pines Beach. It was my absolute favorite beach to go to when I was growing up in California. I spent so many summer days there catching sand crabs, being an awkward teen in my first bikini, learning to surf, and watching hang gliders take off from the the cliffs. So, like the great guy Zack is, he made sure we went there. It was Saturday January 2nd. He said we were going to Torrey Pines. I invited his parents because it was a Saturday and they deserved a day at the beach too. They agreed, even though they knew Zack was going to propose and were worried he wanted it to just be us two. Leave it up to me to make everything a party! Again, I had no idea what was happening. I hadn’t brushed my hair that morning or even put makeup on. I thought we were just heading down to San Diego to catch waves.

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We walked up to the beach and it was beautiful. The sky was like a painting and the water was just as beautiful as it was when I was 14. It had been 10 years since I’ve seen that beach and I couldn’t help but tear up in the nostalgia. We found a perfect spot to set up camp. I started setting up all the chairs, towels and surfboards with Zack’s parents. Little did I know, Zack walked 10 feet away to set up a Go Pro in the sand. I was still catching my bearings when he grabbed my hand and pulled me aside. My exact words were, “What the heck are you doing?” The next 30 seconds of him pouring his heart out to me were so special and emotional. I love keeping that part of the story to myself because it makes it mine. It makes it ours. With his shaky voice and hands, he asked me to marry him and put the most gorgeous ring I have ever seen on my hand- that was just as shaky. I didn’t cry at first. There was a lot of shock that was still setting in. I said YES and hugged him harder than I ever have before. I looked over at his parents as they were crying. I started to cry tears of joy. They would soon be part of our beautiful journey.

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We of course had to share a fun photo on social media. As I said before, I wasn’t looking glamorous that day so I insisted this photo happen in the ocean when I’m the all natural mermaid God made me to be. It was us. It was two California babes showing our true personalities. I got some slack for taking my very pretty and expensive ring in the ocean, but it was only for a little bit and I wasn’t thinking clearly while floating on cloud 9.

I first called my mom and told her I was engaged! Zack had called her for permission to marry me a little while back, so she knew it was coming but didn’t know when. My Dad and sister knew as well. It seems like everyone knew but me! We celebrated by going to Old Town in San Diego and eating Mexican food with his parents and sister.

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Sharing the news with my high school small group was SO FUN. At the end of our small groups we always lift up our prayer requests and I always close out with praying for our future husbands. God knows our future husbands need all the prayers they can get if they are stuck with any of us crazy God-fearing women. All this time, God was preparing Zack to one day be my husband, and they were able to see this come into fruition.

It was the BEST. DAY. EVER.

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