Ayren and Morgan

Image 5 of Ayren and Morgan

How We Met

I’ve always wanted a woman who could cook a BOMB lasagna! – Morgan knew this.

Back in June of 2018 (on Morgan’s birthday !!), I moved to Raleigh, NC to take a job as a youth pastor at a church here. It’s a large church. At the time, we had 3 locations across Raleigh. I worked at one and Morgan attended another. We had been in the same room once but we probably never would have met if it weren’t for a trip our Young Adults ministry took in January 2019.

We went to Washington D.C. for a conference. On the second night, we both went down with our separate friend groups to the floor while we waited for the worship set to start. We ended up having to wait in a particular area for a bit before things got started. That’s when we ended up next to each other. I thought she was really cute so I decided to make some small talk, but I was met with the even smaller talk! A bunch of one-word answers… “Yeah.” “No.” “3 Years.”… it wasn’t enthralling, to say the least. As I would later find out, she thought I was dating another girl that was standing with us lol.

That trip was a game-changer for me. For the 6 months that I had been living in Raleigh, I didn’t know anyone here. I had no friends my age, but even with our minimal conversation, I knew that I wanted to get to know Morgan more. On the way back home, I sent her a friend request on Facebook and she accepted.

About a week later, I decided to send her a message. I was asking her how life had been since we made it back home and I told her that I really didn’t have many friends but I thought she seemed pleasant. We made plans to get dinner later that week.

A large portion of the time there, Morgan was clear that she wasn’t looking for a relationship. As a matter of fact, she felt like
she should intentionally take some time away from dating. As a matter of fact, she had just ended things with someone as soon as she left D.C. That was hard for me to hear, but when I searched my heart, I realized that I thoroughly just enjoyed being with her. We were both serious about our faith and adamant about living life the best we could as individuals.

As time went on we started talking more and more often, spending more and more time together, and both of our feelings for one another were becoming less avoidable. There was one day in particular where it was clear where things were headed. After church one day we decided to meet up for lunch. Lunch led to coffee. Coffee led to dinner. Dinner led to dessert. Dessert led to drinks.

At the end of our 12-hour date, neither of us wanted this day to end. We both knew we were in deep. We both knew we were looking for the same thing. We both knew we had found it in one another.

A week later, Morgan and I went running a 5k together sponsored by a coffee shop that has now become a central part of our relationship. Afterward, we went to my apartment. She helped me with the art and craft project I was working on for a sermon I had coming up. As the day went on, it was getting close to dinner time. Morgan turned to me and asked if she could make me lasagna…

Image 1 of Ayren and Morgan

The rest is just the beginning!

How They Asked

Walt Disney World is one of my absolute favorite places on earth! Before moving to Raleigh I lived in California and would go to Disneyland relatively often. Morgan and I went during a trip to California in the Summer of 2019 and couldn’t wait to go back. Living on the east coast, we decided to plan a trip to Orlando over Thanksgiving. Because she’s the best, for my birthday, Morgan bought us tickets to watch the Falcons play in Atlanta on Thanksgiving day.

We left Raleigh the morning of Thanksgiving, the ring was hidden in a pair of balled-up socks in my carry-on bag. Morgan was CLUELESS! – But I definitely had my doubts. The first night, while in the hotel I was looking for my toothbrush but couldn’t find it. So Morgan offered to help me find it. She immediately started digging through the bag where the ring was hidden! As if that was stressful enough, she goes “Good thing you aren’t hiding a ring in here!” “Of course not!”

Y’ALL!! MY HEART STARTED POUNDING! (FYI -I wasn’t planning on proposing until the last day of the trip) I slowly slid the bag away from her like I was negotiating as a hostage situation. Needless to say, over the course of the rest of the trip, I moved that ring about 87 different times.

The next morning we flew out to Orlando and the next few days were AMAZING! We hit all four of the parks, Morgan cried when she saw the castle, it was MAGICAL! All the while I knew this was leading up to the big question! Every day, I would document our vacation on social media and we both started adapting the hashtag #GreatestWeekOfOurLives. She was absolutely overwhelmed by Disney. If you’ve ever been, you know it can be sensory overload in the best way possible! How could it get any better!?

On December 3rd, we had breakfast reservations at Ale & Compass – a restaurant at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort. This was EPCOT day. We had planned to mostly eat and drink our way around the World Showcase so Morgan thought this was a good day to “dress cute”. This was perfect! Of course, my nerves had convinced me that she somehow knew I was going to propose, but the way the rest of the morning played out was a perfect surprise.

We had breakfast reservations at The Ale and Compass, a restaurant at Disney’s Yacht Club Resor. We almost missed our reservation. The only way we made it on time was by convincing Cast Members to let us ru… I mean… “walk swiftly” through EPCOT before it opened. We got to the restaurant, completely out of breath and as soon as my heart rate started to slow down, I remembered I had the ring in my jacket pocket and it SKYROCKETED!


I didn’t eat a bite of my food (the first sign that something was up), I kept disappearing into the bathroom, I was texting the photographer to make sure she was ready and that we timed everything right… so much going on!! As we walked out of the restaurant, I tried to not make things seem like we were in a rush. It was December so the resort was decorated for Christmas. We took some time to look at a tiny model town in the middle of the lobby and then casually strolled out of the resort.

Once we were a decent way out, I turned and looked at the building. I talked about how cool it looked and asked Morgan to get a selfie of us. When she held up the camera, I slipped the ring out of my pocket and put it over her shoulder. She saw us in the front-facing camera of my phone and goes “uh… what are you doing?” while still trying to hold her smile for the picture.

Image 2 of Ayren and Morgan

I brought my arm around her and showed her the ring… you would’ve thought she got the wind knocked out of her. I got down on one knee, forgot everything I had planned to say, and slowly took the coffee cup out of her hand so she wouldn’t burn either of us.

Image 3 of Ayren and Morgan

While I was on my knee Sydney, a local photographer who knew the area well, popped out and started taking pictures for us. There was SO MUCH going on and Morgan was slowly becoming aware of all of it!

Image 4 of Ayren and Morgan

The next few minutes were a blur. Sydney walked us around to get engagement photos, and Morgan was just trying to take it all in the whole time. That was the sweetest day. We spent the rest of our time in Disney showing off the ring to Mickey, Minnie, Anna, Elsa, and just about anyone else who would listen.

Image 6 of Ayren and Morgan

Special Thanks

Sydney Marie
 | Photographer