Courtney and Willie

Courtney D. and Willie L.'s Engagement in St. John, United States Virgin Islands

How We Met

Almost ten years ago, I met a guy who would become one of my best guys friends at the Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL; of course I would’t know that at the time! It was Spring 2007 when I walked into Bill’s Bookstore to buy books for my classes. Now being the direction-ally challenged person that I am, I couldn’t find my books (even with signs), so I turned to the nearest associate who just so happened to be Willie. He helped me find all of my books and I proceeded to go downstairs to get in line and check out. Before I could check out, Willie found me in the store and boldly asked for my number. I told him he better be glad I was being nice that day because I normally don’t give out my number.

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Proposal Ideas St. John, United States Virgin Islands

Looking back on it now, I don’t know if he was being so helpful because it was his job or because he wanted to get my number – maybe a little bit of both, lol! From that moment forward, we just hung out a lot around town; went to different restaurants, movies, events on campus, house parties off campus, etc. He even helped to move my belongings off campus into a storage unit when the residence halls closed and I had no where to put my stuff. That’s when I knew Willie was a really good person and friend to keep around because I had a LOT of stuff and could only pay him with food. At the time, I didn’t cook too often, but you could always bet that I would make one of my favorite (easy) meals – grilled chicken, white rice and steam broccoli! And like a good friend, he ate it too, lol !

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Over the years, we developed a strong friendship that withstood the test of time, no matter the distance, what was going on in either of our lives or how long it had been since we had last spoken. Whenever I would travel to Atlanta, GA with girlfriends, he would host us, show us around the city and we would hang out. Of course, I would do the same on the few occasions he traveled to South Florida. After his last trip to South Florida in June 2015, we decided to take a chance on us and life turned our friendship into something much more than I could have ever imagined…

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how they asked

Willie and I knew from early on in our relationship that we were not dating to “just date” and because of the friendship we developed over the years, it gave us the opportunity to build a very strong foundation. Since our relationship started off as long distance, we found ourselves having many late night 3 to 4 hour long conversations. It was so crazy to me because even as just friends we had never spoken on the phone like that before. At first, I thought it was so weird, but after a while it just became a part of the routine. Of course, we had the normal small talk like we always had, but slowly those conversations started to include serious questions about what was next. Since the foundation of our relationship was already set, the conversations about our future only seemed to bring us closer and closer.

Within a year of us dating, after many conversations and lots of prayer we decided that I would step out on faith and relocate to Atlanta, GA from South Florida in June 2016. Fast forward to November 2016, we traveled to Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) for vacation to celebrate Willie’s (late) birthday. In Puerto Rico, we did a LOT of walking and exploring, so Willie let me know that he really just wanted to slow things down and relax while in St. Thomas, USVI. So I didn’t plan anything for us to do much on the island except grab a bit to eat, see the sunrise and spend some time on the beach. On the last day of our trip, November 15, 2016, we took a ferry ride from St. Thomas over to St. John to hang out, explore the island and continue to relax – or so I thought.

We planned to spend the day in St. John with one of Willie’s close friends who had moved back home to the island. His friend, Cooper, met us on the pier as soon as we got off the ferry with camera in hand. Since Cooper is a photographer, I was told in advance he would have his camera with him recording us all day for a business venture he was looking to start. So, with that in mind I tried my best not to notice the camera in our face all day and have a good time. We literally toured the entire island, stopping along the way to tour the local areas, grab some lunch and take amazing pictures.

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All day, I just really wanted to make it to the beach, get in the water and finally around 5 pm, we made it there! As the sun was beginning to set, Willie and I quickly dropped our bags off and walked in the water along the beautiful beach of Francis Bay. We talked about the trip, how much fun we had and quickly the days seemed to go by. As we returned back to the area where our bags were, a man seemed to appear out of thin air w/ guitar.

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I thought he was just a random musician strolling the beach like those people try to get you to buy food or hand-made jewelry – I believe I literally said that aloud, lol! Before I knew it, he started playing “Waiting In Vain” by Bob Marley and Willie turned to face me holding my hands in his hands. Within a few minutes, he was down on one knee asking me to be his wife and as the beautiful sun was setting behind us… I said YES!!

Courtney D. and Willie L.'s Engagement in St. John, United States Virgin Islands

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Special Thanks

Cooper Penn