Cassie and Jeremy

Image 5 of Cassie and Jeremy

How We Met

Our story starts in the 1770s, spans continents, and – like so many others – has endured a pandemic.

Jeremy and I met in the summer of 2018, both of us working at a historic fur trading fort in Mackinaw City, Michigan. Literally, the first time we saw each other, I was dressed as an eighteenth-century merchant woman and he was a loin-cloth-clad Native American trader.

Luckily, the crazy clothes and time travel vibes didn’t scare either of us away, and we quickly became friends. His long hair and calm, kind demeanor intrigued me, while my height (I’m 6’0″) and smile sparked his interest.

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After a couple of group hang-outs, chicken feeding sessions, and a casual hike, he asked me if I wanted to go star gazing with him. Jeremy told me later that it had taken a couple of hours to work up the courage to ask me out, and he immediately threw his phone across the room after pressing send. I’m incredibly oblivious to anyone’s romantic interest in me and was both shocked and thrilled that he wanted to spend more time with me. I – of course – said yes.

Mackinaw City is quite the vacation destination in the summer, and it can be almost impossible to find a beach that isn’t full of tourists taking selfies. Jeremy took it upon himself to find the perfect, tourist-free location for our date. He drove around the surrounding area for hours after work, stopping at every little turn-out to see if it would be “the” spot. Finally, he found a drive that seemed to only be used for powerline maintenance. A brief hike through the forest led to an isolated expanse of beach with 180-degree views of Lake Huron and the Mackinac Bridge (one of the most coveted views in the city).

We prepared for a late-night, packing up some snacks, drinks, and blankets. After dark, he brought me to this incredible private beach, where we counted shooting stars, cuddled when it got too cold and talked about anything and everything. We stayed out until sunrise, not wanting to leave that magical space until we physically couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore.

The two of us were inseparable after that date and spent almost every waking moment together after work (we may have gotten a bit distracted during work too…).

[Getting stuck in the sand on one of our first dates. Some kind of Yoopers helped pull us out. (Summer 2018)]

But this bubble of bliss could not last forever. Although Jeremy had graduated from college that May, I was still in school. And I wasn’t just going back to my Michigan university in the fall; I had committed to studying abroad in Germany for the next year. This deadline almost felt like a guillotine blade hovering over our fledgling relationship. Should we break up now and save ourselves future heartbreak? Do we try long-distance? Is this 3-month-long summer fling really worth the effort?

In the end, we both felt that we hadn’t had enough time to explore our connection and that we wanted to be together in any way possible. Long story short, we made it through the year. Lots and lots of video calls and a couple in-person visits later, I was ready to graduate and move back to the U.S.

[One of our meet-ups in Iceland, enjoying the hot springs and scenery. (Spring 2019)]

After being apart for so long, I was DONE with long-distance. We moved in together in the fall of 2019. There aren’t many career opportunities in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, so I was originally planning on living with him there until I could save up some money and find a job that would progress my career. Y’all can guess what happened next, right? Say it with me: COVID-19!

Within a few months, we had gone from being as long-distance as you can get, to be completely isolated in the same house. Amazingly enough, we were just as good at long-distance as we were at being house-bound together. Even with all the uncertainty and fear circulating around the pandemic, it was one of the best years of my life. We were able to really focus on ourselves (and our cat), solidifying our relationship even more.

[He calls me his sunflower, and he’s my honeybee. (Summer 2020)]

[Wrangling our cat, Forrest, for a Christmas picture. (Christmas 2020)]

At the end of 2020, I got the job breakthrough I had been waiting for – but it would involve a move to northern Minnesota. Jeremy and I agreed that I couldn’t turn down this opportunity and prepared for another year-long separation. It felt simultaneously easier and harder than the last long-distance stint. Easier because we had already made it through a year of dating in different countries with a six-hour time difference. Two states away with a one-hour time difference seemed like a walk in the park. But it would also be harder. For the last year, we had been each other’s entire support system and primary source of companionship. Moving away from each other after being so close almost felt like a break-up. Despite all the negative emotions and uncertainty associated with my move, Jeremy made a firm decision as soon as he dropped me off and drove away. He wanted to marry me.

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How They Asked

If our relationship and love could thrive despite all the storms that life had thrown at us, we could handle anything. Within a couple of weeks of me moving out, he started looking at rings. Not just any ring would do, it had to be perfect (his standard, not mine). I’m not a girly girl and don’t really wear jewelry other than earrings, so Jeremy had quite the task ahead of him. He went to three different jewelers before finding one that would custom design engagement rings. The jeweler went through hundreds of rings with him, picking the materials, cut and size of the stone, type of band, and the setting. Jeremy knows that I’m an outdoorsy person and like to work with my hands, so he made sure that the stone was exactly the right size with a setting that wouldn’t catch on fabric or get in my way.

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After deciding on a gorgeous white gold diamond ring with tulip-like details on the setting, all Jeremy had to do was wait for the perfect moment. He kept the ring on his person at all times. He brought it to work with him, keeping the case open in front of his computer so he could glance at the ring throughout the day. Every time we met up, he had the ring in his pocket, hidden in an incognito case. For over a year, Jeremy had this engagement ring on standby, waiting for me to be ready.

After my job in Minnesota ended, I followed a different job all the way to California. Although we were even further apart geographically, we had (finally) started talking about marriage and both of us felt like we were prepared to take that next step. Jeremy even fed me this story about starting to design and buy an engagement ring, not letting on that he already had one locked and loaded.

I had plans to return to Michigan for a friend’s wedding in May 2022, so Jeremy and I made sure to schedule a stop in Mackinaw City while we were traveling through the state. I had a hunch that he would be popping the question somewhere in the city, but I wasn’t sure exactly where. Would it be in the historic fort that we first met? Outside the building where we first kissed? On the trail where we first agreed to become a couple?

It wasn’t until we slowed down and turned onto a hidden, dirt road that I knew where he would ask. We both took our time getting out of the car, savoring the memories of that night that started it all. In a flash of reverse deja vu, the same emotions from almost four years ago washed over me. Butterflies, wonder, a hint of nerves, but more than anything else, a sense of coming home. To add to the surreal beauty of the moment, trilliums (my absolute favorite flower) shone out from the underbrush.

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Jeremy took me by the hand, leading our dog, Granite, and I out to the beach. Softly lapping waves, the shimmering sun reflecting off the water, and rustling trees all around us set the stage. We didn’t say much, just soaked in the peace and happiness of that place. He finally admitted that he had planned an elaborate speech – had even tried writing a poem – but couldn’t remember a word. I assured him that I didn’t need anything fancy, just him. He turned to me, got down on one knee, revealed the most perfect ring I could ever imagine, then asked me if I would marry him. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind. The only answer was yes. The ring sliding on my finger felt like a key fitting into a lock. I was home.

Our relationship came full circle on that beach, from first date to forever.

Image 10 of Cassie and Jeremy