Claire and Cj

Image 1 of Claire and Cj

How We Met

The first time I saw CJ was Easter Sunday at College Park Church, in 2009. There was this really cute freshman boy in the middle school youth group trailer messing around on the drum set with his friend, goofing off and laughing. I was smitten ever since that moment. I was extremely obnoxious in both my personality and my fashion style…but somehow this got his attention I guess.

Image 2 of Claire and Cj

I don’t remember how we officially met, but we quickly began “liking each other” as was common back when you were 14 and 15 years old. We would only see each other at church on Sunday mornings or at youth group while we were surrounded by our friends, but it was enough. A few months later, and we were already talking about how we would marry each other someday.

This took my Dad off guard, as we were young and I was his first daughter. He basically told us to cool it and to enjoy being friends but that it was too young to be talking about spending our lives together. A couple weeks later, Cj rode the public bus and then skateboarded the rest of the way, to a park near my parents house. I rode my bike there and we walked around the path holding hands. We had our first kiss in a spot in the woods as 14 and 15 year olds and left.

Image 3 of Claire and Cj

As you can imagine, my dad was not thrilled, and we were told to stop communication. I felt like my world was ending. A few times we tried to sneak and talk, but my wonderful dad always somehow knew :) We wrote each other letters a few times, which I still have, but eventually we just gave up. We did not talk for 6 years. We didn’t see each other, we didn’t speak, we didn’t text, absolutely nothing.

In high school, we went on to date other people, but I still from time to time would think about that boy with the perfect smile who stole my heart when I was 14. One day, he was home from college, and I was at church. I saw him walk by as a 20 year old woman, and my heart literally stopped. How was he even more perfect?! I was still afraid to talk to him, afraid of what my dad would say.

Image 4 of Claire and Cj

That night, on a whim, I decided to text the number I still remembered from 6 years ago, and a few minutes later, he responded. I remember freaking out and expecting him to not continue on in conversation, but we texted for hours that night. I mentioned to my dad that I had talked to him and surprisingly, my dad said I should meet up with him and get coffee. He reminded me that we were adults now and that it was okay to be friends again. We continued to text and eventually made plans to hang out.

Before our plans, one day he randomly sent me a message that threw me off. He mentioned that he had never stopped thinking about me, that he was still waiting for me. I was so surprised and confused. He said he knew this may sound crazy, but he still believed he was supposed to marry me.

Image 5 of Claire and Cj

I remember freaking out and not knowing how to feel, and I let him know this. A few months later, he asked my dad’s permission to date me, and the rest is history. It did not take me long to realize I also still wanted to marry him.

Two and a half years after reconnecting, CJ proposed and made me the happiest girl in the world. I can’t wait to marry him in a few months and for him to someday be the father of my children. Our story isn’t exactly normal, but it is perfect for us, and I am so thankful for the way the Lord guided us back together after all those years apart.

One of our first pictures together..2009

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Right after we got our baby, Nala!

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first christmas together <3

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how they asked

About 5 days before Cj proposed, my two younger sisters texted in our group text saying how they wanted to take some instagram pictures on Thursday night. This is a very common activity for us, so I agreed unknowingly.

Image 9 of Claire and Cj

A day later, one of my best friends, Emily, who lives an hour away texted me that she would be in town this week and needs to take some pictures for her photography website. I mentioned that my sisters and I were already planning on taking pictures Thursday and she offered to take the pictures for us.

We agreed and the plan was set for 3:45 on Thursday. When Thursday came around, Cj called me mid day and mentioned that his boss was making him stay really late tonight. He was very stressed on this phone call and seemed really bothered by this, so I believed him. I mentioned that it was okay because I was taking pictures with the girls tonight so we would both probably be done around the same time and we made plans to hang out.

Image 10 of Claire and Cj

Emily drove with me over to my parents house and I did my hair while my sisters got dressed and ready. My parents kept making comments like “are you sure you really want to take pictures today of all days?” It was the coldest day of the year so far (-12 F). We kept saying we would just go quick and get a few shots and be back. Emily and my sisters did a great job not acting like they had a plan on where to take the pictures, so we first went to the school across the street from my parents and took some shots there.

After about 10 minutes, we were all freezing and decided to warm up in the car while we thought of another location. Emily nonchalantly asked if there was anywhere around that has paths, and Holly said “yes, West Park has some back in those woods”. We decided to go there next. I kinda became suspicious in this moment because Cj and I had our first kiss at this park, and he asked me to be his girlfriend here 3 years ago, so it is a special place for us.

But when we pulled up and no other cars were in the only parking lot I pushed it out of my mind. We braced for more cold and began the long walk towards the back of the park where the woods and paths were. I was staring down the whole time to keep the cold wind from being on my face and completely did not see Cj at first. All of a sudden, my sister who had been telling a story about work, became quiet.

Image 11 of Claire and Cj

I looked up and saw Cj standing there, in our special spot, with christmas lights and ornaments strung around him and a sign in the ground that said “marry me?”.

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At this point, I lost it and began sobbing. I don’t remember much else, but all I could see was Cj with the biggest smile on his face and that beautiful ring in his hand.

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My other best friend, Lexi, was hiding in the trees taking pictures while Emily was filming the whole thing. I was completely overjoyed..and freezing :)

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I later found out Cj and Lexi had been waiting in this spot for over an hour in the freezing cold, wanting to make sure they were there when we got there.

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I am so thankful that all of my best friends were there with me (my sisters, Lexi, and Emily) and that they were able to share their special talents with Cj and I in this moment.

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We all went back to my parents and ate chili before going to my little brothers basketball game. I have been on cloud 9 ever since!

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Our newest family picture, just missing my brother who was at his basketball game.

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My beautiful younger sisters, Holly and Abby, who helped pull the whole thing off.

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Lexi Mathioudakis, my best friend for over 9 years and the amazing photographer behind Doodle Shots!

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Emily Wehner, my best friend since 5th grade, and the talent behind Emily Elyse Wehner Photo and Video

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Image 25 of Claire and Cj

Our Video

Special Thanks

Doodle shots
 | photographer