As many of you know, I love photography. One of my favorite photographers, Aaron Durall, had been in contact with me a couple of months ago discussing a time where we could get together and shoot Austin and I. After I talked to Austin about it, Austin got creative and decided he would take advantage of that. Last Thursday I was sitting at Schlotzsky’s with my friend Kenna when a message from Aaron popped up on my phone. He told me that the weather was supposed to be beautiful on Sunday and asked if Austin and I were available to shoot. He told me his wife, Whitney, and him wanted to try out a new spot. I, completely oblivious, obviously instantly replied that of course we would, and then I text Austin letting him know. Haha! Austin completely played it off. That next Friday, was the last day of classes before Spring Break. Austin and I have typically gone on vacation somewhere over the past Spring Breaks, but because of saving money to try to eventually get married, we decided that we wouldn’t go anywhere this year. We said that we would however make a day-long hiking trip over break and therefore Saturday night purchased a hiking hammock that we had been wanting for awhile.
Now comes Sunday. Sunday was such a gorgeous day. I remember waking up so happy because I had slept with my bedroom windows open and the sun was shining through in the morning. I actually woke up and tweeted, “Today already wins.” Ha! Little did I know! Sunday we spent literally all day outside together relaxing in our new hammock. It was perfect. Austin acted so normal and I had no idea what was to come later that evening. As I finally went inside to get ready, I had laid out a simple pair of jeans and a top to wear to the shoot. My mom kept saying, “Are you sure you want to wear jeans? I mean, I just think it’s sort of rude that they asked you guys to take pictures and it is for their website and you are choosing to wear jeans.” Well, she won and I ended up wearing a casual dress.
Looking back, now I realize why she was so insistent I didnt’t wear jeans! Before we left for Joplin, I remember just looking at Austin and just thinking how handsome he looked. I had absolutely no idea that the man I was looking at, the man I had dated for 5 years was about to be my fiance.
When we arrived at the spot in Joplin, Aaron and Whitney were already there. The area was back in the woods and so beautiful. We got out and chatted with them before we began shooting. Still, Austin was (to my knowledge) completely calm and collected. We were shooting on a little path in the woods. Aaron then told us that we were going to walk back a little further on the path to shoot at a different spot. As we were walking, I saw something in the distance on the path but didn’t pay attention to what it was because we were all in conversation and I wasn’t suspicious in the slightest bit. Coming up closer, there was a beautiful quilt in the middle on the path. Aaron explained that it was a set up he and Whitney had laid out. On the quilt were roses, champagne and 2 champagne bottles.
I STILL HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS GOING ON. I remember I began talking to Whitney about how much I love quilts and in my mind I was thinking “gosh, I really don’t want to step on that and get it all dirty from my boots!” I remember asking Aaron if they wanted us to sit or stand and he replied “just stand there for a sec” and was messing with his camera. Austin then began to lower himself to the ground and I remember saying “Austin he just said stand up?” and there it goes. My memory was a total and complete blur. It was then that Austin got down on one knee and began taking off my promise ring that he got me 3 years ago.
He then slid the most gorgeous, breathtaking ring I have ever seen in my life onto my finger. I wish I could remember what he said, but all I remember is realizing what was happening and the world completely stopping.
All I did was cry and cry and cry. I wish there were words for the feelings I was feeling at that exact moment. But there aren’t.
As a girl, you dream about the day that you will get engaged ever since you were a little girl. You wonder who you will marry and how old you will be and how will it all happen and if your parents will love him and what he will look like. At the age of 17, I found my soulmate. I can remember telling my mom that there was just something different about him. Because we have been together for 5 years, we were able to grow up together and go through some of life’s biggest moments standing side by side. We told each other when we began college that we wanted to do things right. Since we each attend different colleges, we wanted to each be able to follow our own dreams and accomplish our own goals, all while still being together. We always said we wanted to wait to get married until we were at a point in our lives where we were financially stable and had graduated from college. I guess because we have been through so much together and always had to deal with distance and worked so hard to get to where we were at, that moment was made all the more special. That moment far surpassed anything I ever dreamed of when I was a little girl.
I cannot express how grateful I am to have had Whitney and Aaron there to capture every second. After meeting them both, I could tell instantly that not only are they both geniuses with the camera, but they were both genuinely good hearted, truly kind people. I love viewing each picture they shot because it takes me back to that very second in time. I can now remember each moment forever because of them and I am eternally grateful.
After getting home that night and talking to my parents, I had even a greater feeling in my heart. Austin told me that when he took my dad to lunch months before to ask him for my hand in marriage, my dad didn’t cry at all. When talking to my parents, they both told us that they had truly thought they would dread the day their little girl would get engaged. Instead, my parents told me that they were just HAPPY. Did my mom cry? Of course. But they told us that they have no doubts that God had us two picked out for each other all along. They said we have a very unique love and have no doubts we will enjoys many, many years of marriage and happiness and that they were so proud of how we had grown together as individuals and as a couple. They said it won’t always be easy, but as long as we put God first and each other second, there will always be nothing to worry about. I think it was then, that conversation, that reality began setting in: I WAS GETTING TO MARRY MY BEST FRIEND IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD. The absolute man of my dreams.
Even though it is only a few days later, I wish I could go back to that night. It was absolutely perfect. More than anything I could have ever, ever asked for. We are so excited to begin our own chapter together. I hope our little love story makes you as happy as it makes me!
Photos by: Aaron and Whitney Photography