Bobby and Ashley

Image 1 of Bobby and Ashley

How We Met

It’s hard to put a love story into words, especially one you never saw coming. When I sit and reflect on our story, my heart is overwhelmed. Bobby and I met in 2011 in Colorado while volunteering at a Young Life camp. We came from totally different parts of the country. I am from South Carolina and Bobby from Chicago. You could say we were drawn together right away, it was a feeling we had never experienced before and wanted more of. We served side by side together building a friendship that would be the foundation for years to come. Silly hip posing photos, square dancing till our feet hurt, and gazing under the stars talking until curfew. At the end of the month, Bobby went to college and I started my senior year of high school.

The following years were a challenge. For years we dreamt of what if and talked about a life together. We supported each other through everything and God continued to weave our lives together. No matter what we stayed best friends during those years. I would always go to him during tough times and he would do the same. We continued to build our relationship and during this time, we enjoyed life. It was bittersweet because we ultimately cared about each other, but knew where we were in life, dating wouldn’t work. It left us dreaming of what if.

It wasn’t until 2015 did our relationship truly shift. I moved to Chicago that summer for an internship and we got to see what it would be like to actually date one another. I remember the specific night that we exchanged a kiss and we knew what we felt deep down for so long was true and we could no longer deny it. The next 4 weeks went too fast and I had to head back for my senior year of college. We ended the summer not knowing where we stood and not expressing our feelings for one another. We learned a huge lesson that you should always say how you feel because the other person can’t read your mind.

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Several months passed of almost no communication until February of 2016 when I received a six page letter from Bobby. Through the exchange of several letters The Lord confirmed in so many ways that we are supposed to be together. During that time, I just so happened to be visiting Chicago for spring break and we agreed to meet up. Truthfully, I would’ve backed out of seeing him if my friend Liz (Bridesmaid, of course!) hadn’t made me. We met up and it was awkward and neither of us really knew what was going to happen. We wandered Chicago aimlessly until we stumbled upon this church and finally admitted what we both had felt since we met. There was some hesitation about making things official so soon but we knew we were both crazy about each other and were tired of waiting. March 8, 2016 we realized that soulmates really do exists.

After a year of long distance, I moved to Chicago. Four months later, we moved in together in Lincoln Park where we reside today with our puppy, Cooper. We’ve both made sacrifices to get to this point in our relationship. When we are together, we completely disconnect from the problems that surround us. With him, I laugh harder, I feel more myself, I trust him to see the real me. I have never been so certain of something in my whole life. God knew that he was the one I was going to marry long before I let myself believe it. It’s crazy to see all the things that had to happen in each of our lives in order for us to fall in love. We have had our challenges and hardships along the way but I know this is the purest form of love.

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how they asked

Asking Ashley to marry me was one of the biggest no-brainer decisions that I have ever had to make. I often tease her that I knew I wanted to marry her shortly after we met, despite not being together for years after that special month at Trail West. But it’s true. Once I knew when I wanted to ask, the gears started to turn on how the heck do I pull this off and make this moment special for her and one we’ll remember forever.

Ashley gave me four rules for the proposal: Family, friends, say her full name, and Cooper had to be there.

I first concocted the plan around December 2017 shortly after I purchased the ring. I shared my intentions with my parents and Ashley’s family that I’d like to surprise Ashley on Easter weekend. I suggested we visit Ashley mother that weekend to celebrate Easter, but I actually had an ulterior motive. I thank God every day that Ashley took a major leap of faith and moved to Chicago to further advance her new career and strengthen our relationship. Proposing in Chicago would surely have been significant, but not nearly as special as popping the question in her hometown of Greenville, South Carolina.

Here’s how it all went down.

The Setting. Falls Park is a beautiful area in downtown Greenville that we make sure to see whenever we are in town. With the waterfall and bridge, I knew it would be the perfect backdrop. I asked my parents and our photographer to help set up a blanket, our favorite bottle of champagne, and a bouquet of flowers in a small grassy patch in the park overlooking the falls. It was a beautiful day to ask the love of my life to marry me.

The Family. My parents, Ashley’s mom and brother were secretly “in” on the entire plot. All, graciously, made the trip to the park that morning and played a part in making the surprise a reality. I asked them to hide on the east side of the bridge that spans Falls Park.

The Friends. Two of Ashley’s closest friends, Meg and Kaitlen, made the trip to the park that morning as well. I also had them hide on the bridge with our families.

Cooper. I had our best friend there to give me support and I had a nice chew toy waiting for him as a reward once the proposal got going.

The Plan. We manage to convince Ashley that we were going to the park in the morning for her mother to take some nice photos of us, which was a very “mom” thing to ask so I felt we didn’t give things away too soon. We woke up bright and early to start getting ready. Shortly before we were planning to head to the park, we got a visit from the fire department (Ask us for the long version sometime, but the short version is “bacon”).

The Walk. We drove to the park and I got out of the car “looking” for Ashley’s mother. However, I knew we wouldn’t find her, but rather I was looking for the picnic blanket where we would sit and have our moment. We made the walk down about 70 stairs and meandered to the blanket, at which point I think Ashley was starting to catch on. Ashley still asks me how I was able to stay so calm even though I was freaking out.

The Note. Letters have always been a crucial part to Ashley and I’s relationship. It was only fitting that I read to her the note that encapsulated all the events that led to this moment. I made her a several promises (seven , in fact) as we entered a new and glorious stage together. Most importantly of all, I promised to love her with all my might for the rest of my days.

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The Proposal. After finishing up the note, I had Ashley stand up and got down on one knee. Cooper by my side curious as to what his mother and father were doing. It was a perfect moment and I said those words. “Ashley Elizabeth Thompson, will you marry me?” AND SHE SAID YES!

The entire moment was everything we had hoped for. Seeing Ashley’s smile and pure happiness that day made all the planning worth it. It was the perfect way to start our new journey.

Image 9 of Bobby and Ashley

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Special Thanks

Matthew Pautz
 | Photographer