Julia and Joe
Military or Army, Outdoor
Our story begins in elementary school. We met in third grade when I moved back to the United States after living in Australia with my family for a couple years. We were class representatives together in the fourth grade and the best of friends by seventh grade. In eighth grade, Colin mustered up the courage to kiss me and the two of us couldn’t have been more delighted about it! Colin says he literally skipped home that day. And I remember calling a mutual close friend of ours bursting with excitement to say, “He kissed me!!!!”
We spent our freshman year at different high schools, and while we remained friends, we found ourselves in new relationships. But, eventually, we found our way back to the same high school and back to each other.
It was on his 17th birthday that Colin found that same courage to plant a kiss on his best friend again and we fell completely in love. We spent the last couple years of high school soaking up time together before we graduated and ended up in colleges across the country from one another. I went to California and he went to South Carolina.
We were both unsure of what life had in store for us, but spending that first semester in college taught us one thing – that we never wanted to experience life without each other. We committed to our long distance relationship. After spending the first ten years of our lives together right around the corner from each other, all the distance in college taught us to never take those moments we have together for granted. We didn’t only make long distance work, but the distance made our relationship grow stronger and our love grow deeper. Those years apart only reinforced what we already knew in our hearts – that the two of us were meant to be together.
During our senior year of college, I flew out to visit Caroline in California over my spring break. At this point in our relationship, marriage was something that we talked about relatively often. We knew we wanted to be together and we knew we would get married one day. But, with my post-college plans of going to physical therapy school and Caroline’s plans to start her own wedding planning business in Nantucket, Massachusetts, we knew our wedding day would have to wait a couple years until we could finally end up in the same place again. So, Caroline didn’t expect a proposal any time soon.
She did, however, have her eye on a vintage ring from Trumpet & Horn that she found online when we were in high school. It turned out that the showroom was in Los Angeles. So, while I was in California visiting, I suggested that we go look at that ring together just to make sure it was the one she really loved. It’s a good thing we did because Caroline didn’t end up loving that ring once it was on her finger. While we were at the showroom, the owner, Kim, brought out a selection of rings that hadn’t yet made it on their website for Caroline to have seen. Immediately, Caroline was drawn to one in particular. As she tried it on, I could tell by the look in her eye that this was the one.
When we left the showroom that day, we both talked about how we wished this one-of-a-kind ring would still be available when our turn to get married came around in a few years. I could tell she was trying not to get her hopes up because she knew this ring was special and probably wouldn’t last very long once it was listed on the website. Little did she know, I had every intention of purchasing that ring very soon. So, when the ring was marked sold the day after it was listed, I was the last person Caroline expected to have purchased it and she convinced herself that the ring just wasn’t meant to be hers.
Fast-forward a couple months to the middle of the summer. To make sure Caroline remained unsuspecting, I worked with her family to arrange the proposal on her birthday. Every year, we celebrate at the same restaurant on Nantucket. It was a special place to her and I knew that in keeping with tradition she wouldn’t be under the impression that I was up to something. This particular year, she had suggested that she would love to grab a drink together before meeting her family for dinner. The place she requested to grab a drink was right on the water and I knew that it would be the perfect place to propose.
Caroline’s family reached out to Mark and Zofia, who photographed Caroline’s sister’s wedding a couple years before. They helped us choreograph the proposal so that they could best capture the moment! When we had finished sipping our champagne and the clock struck 7:30pm, I knew it was go time and that Mark was in his secret hiding spot. I suggested to Caroline that we wander along the water together before heading over to meet her family. About halfway down the beach, I told her that I had one more birthday present for her. I took her hand, bent down on one knee, and said “Caroline McKenzie Ott, I love you more than anything in the world. You’re my best friend and all I want to do is spend the rest of my life with you.” I reached into my back pocket, pulled out the ring and asked, “Will you marry me?”
With tear-filled eyes, she said yes and we threw our arms around each other as beach picnickers cheered in the background! After a couple moments of soaking it all up together, I pointed Mark out to Caroline, who had come out from behind the bushes to capture everything on camera! She was totally surprised and couldn’t believe we had pulled the entire proposal off without her knowing.
We spent some time taking a few more photos with Mark before heading over to the restaurant, where her family was waiting to celebrate with us! We had both been dreaming of this day for as long as we could remember. Now, I’m engaged to the girl I have been in love with for almost all of my life. Caroline and I really couldn’t be happier and we can’t wait to spend forever and ever with each other!
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