Cara and Justin

Image 1 of Cara and Justin

how we met – bride

It all started with a Facebook friend request. I had just become a member of my sorority in the fall of 2009 at East Carolina University. I was really interested in getting to know all these new faces in Greek Life. Being a freshman, I decided to start adding random people in Greek Life on Facebook. I was especially interested in the fraternities that were located next to my chapter house; which is where I came across Justin’s name. Luckily, Justin accepted my request. I had never actually spoke to him in person, but I noticed that he would occasionally write witty comments on my pictures and status updates. After a month or so, he finally messaged me online and told me this ridiculous story that went something like: “Hey, did I see you 4th and Tavern last night? I was there celebrating my birthday and I am pretty sure I saw you there.” The funny thing was, he never actually saw me – he just wanted an excuse to talk to me. (I’m not complaining!) Well, one thing led to another and he finally asked me out on our first date to…the dining hall (how romantic!) We continued to text, talk and hang out some throughout the spring semester and summer break, before we knew it the fall semester began and we were back at school. That fall, we attended numerous football games together (Go Pirates!), attended the same parties, and I invited him to some of my sorority functions. Finally after 9 months of waiting, Justin finally asked me to be his girlfriend.

Image 2 of Cara and Justin

how they asked – bride

In early 2015, Justin sent me a screenshot of an email he had received from one of his previous advisors at East Carolina University asking him to be a key-note speaker at an upcoming induction ceremony in May. Requests like this have been presented to Justin before and I didn’t think much of it. He was always giving speeches or leading a meeting due to him being heavily involved on campus during his time at ECU. I knew he was looking forward to this opportunity and I was excited and happy for him! The morning of his speech, Justin and I woke up early, packed up what he needed for the day, and headed towards campus. The entire 1.5 hour ride to ECU, I could tell Justin was nervous for his speech. He would not stop talking. He was anxious and ready to be there and to get the speech over with! We finally pull into town and he gets a call from his advisor letting him know that the ceremony has been pushed back an hour and that we didn’t need to be there at the time originally planned. To pass time, Justin decides we should drive around campus. I didn’t complain. We have a beautiful campus and it’s always nice to reminisce. We pull up to the center of main campus and notice some girls in their caps and gowns taking graduation photos. I noted to Justin how they picked a beautiful day for graduation pictures. He decides we should get out and walk around and enjoy the day since we had an hour to spare. We walked toward the Cupola and joked about how we could now walk under the structure since we both had already graduated (superstition has it if you walk under before graduating you will not finish in four years.) We laughed about all the fun times we had at ECU and then he grabs both of my hands and tells me to take off my sunglasses…

The girls dressed up in cap and gown were not recent graduates of ECU. They were photographers in disguise that Justin had hired! He got down on one knee and asked the most important question of his life. Without hesitation, I said yes!

Image 3 of Cara and Justin

Image 4 of Cara and Justin

He proceeded to tell me that there was no speech and no ceremony and that he wanted to bring me here to propose since East Carolina was the place that brought us together. I was so excited. I went to the car to fix my makeup, due to tears of joy. We proceeded to take a few more pictures and thanked the photographers for capturing the moment.

Before we left Greenville, Justin and I both suggested that we go to our favorite restaurant in town for some lunch and a champagne toast to celebrate. We walk into Winslow’s Deli and the hostess takes us back to a private banquet room. As I turned the corner I heard loud cheers and applause. There I found my parents, my best girlfriends, Justin’s family and friends all waiting for us to celebrate! Those sneaky photographers were there again and caught my surprise reaction on camera for the second time that day.

Image 5 of Cara and Justin

how they asked – groom

In the early months of 2015 I forged and email from a past advisor requesting for me to be the keynote speaker at an induction ceremony. It was to take place in May over Memorial Day weekend at East Carolina. I knew Cara would buy into the speech part because I had these types of requests before, but the part about being over a holiday weekend I wasn’t so sure about. I sent her a screen shot of the email and, as always, she expressed how proud she was of me. Score! Immediately after, I get a text saying: “That’s over Memorial Day Weekend and after school is out. How come it’s being held that weekend?” Knowing that this would come up, I immediately told her that it was due to poor planning of the executive committee, that they were unable to reserve space before graduation. Lucky for me, she bought the whole thing.

Cara had always mentioned how sweet it was when guys hire secret photographers to capture the proposal. So of course I had to live up to that expectation. I contacted Jana, co-founder at Magnolia Photography, who I had graduated with at ECU to see if she could capture the proposal and she was more than happy to help out.

A month out I started to tell family and friends that I planned on proposing to Cara and that I wanted them to be in Greenville so they could be a part of the big day. Some individuals were told sooner than others, in order for the secret to be kept. I had reserved a room at Winslow’s in Greenville for them to be waiting to celebrate after the proposal.

The day of the proposal, I was a nervous wreck. So many different facets that had to be executed properly for everything to work out the way I had planned. I had no idea where I would put the ring for the hour and a half drive from the lake to Greenville. I ended up putting in the trunk of my car and would figure out later how to get it out without her seeing. The fake ceremony was supposed to begin at 11:00 that morning and I wanted to get there as close to that time as possible. Cara kept commenting on how slow I was driving and if I didn’t hurry up, we would be late. We get into Greenville fifteen minutes before the ceremony was supposed to start. I fake getting a call from my advisor saying that the ceremony had been pushed back an hour because they could not get into the building. I told her that we should just go park in the middle of campus and walk around before we had to be there.

As we pull into the middle of campus, near the Cupola, I notice that the photographers were dressed in cap and gowns taking pictures of one another. Great disguise. Cara even commented that it was a great day for them to be taking graduation pictures. When we parked I remembered I had to get the ring out of the trunk without her noticing. So in order to do that, I told her to give me her purse to put back there while we walked around. Crisis averted. As we walk towards the Cupola we start talking about ECU and our time there. The time finally came to ask.

Image 6 of Cara and Justin

I took Cara by the hands, told her to remove her sunglasses, knowing that she would regret having them on for the pictures, and asked her the most important question of my life. At first she was speechless, she started to cry (tears of joy, I hoped) and said yes!

Image 7 of Cara and Justin

After a few seconds go by she realized that the photographers were taking pictures of us as they moved closer in. After saying yes, her next words were: “So does this mean that there’s no speech?” No. No speech. We took more pictures with the photographers, thanked them, and sent them on their way, or so Cara thought. The surprises didn’t end there. In order to give the photographers enough time to make it to the surprise celebration. I had Cara call her parents, and her friends that were going to be at the surprise party. Getting upset that some of them didn’t answer. Little did she know that she would be seeing them very soon.

We get to Winslow’s and the hostess starts taking us to the very back of the restaurant, explaining why she was going to sit us there even though the whole restaurant was empty. As we get to the back, the photographer pops around the corner to get Cara’s expression before she walks into the room. Cara is greeted with cheers and applause. For the second time that day, she started to cry again (tears of joy, I hoped.) Everything went according to plan and she was beyond surprised. But most importantly, she said yes!

Image 8 of Cara and Justin

Special Thanks

Magnolia Photography
 | photographer