Courtney and Zac

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How We Met

Zac and I met summer after our Freshman year of college through mutual friends – Zac’s best friend, Creighton, was besties with one of my best girl friends, Rachel. Every school break back home, I ended up hanging out with that group of friends and thanks to the transitive property (i.e., if Rachel invites Creighton and Creighton hangs out with Zac, then Zac will be at Rachel’s house), Zac was usually around. What started as just a friendship turned into prolonged flirting until I finally got the clue that “the one” had been standing right in front of me all along. Looking back, there are so many moments hanging out in which I was falling in love with him and didn’t know it yet. One of our first for real dates was to see Mad Max Fury Road (for my second time), and the fact that I spent the entire movie solely aware of his hand next to mine instead of relishing in Mad Max’s cinematic glory told me this was happening, or rather, that it was always him.

how they asked

Zac and I were on a summer vacation to Durango, Colorado, with my brother and his wife, and I managed to miss all signs that I was about to be proposed to. I suggested we spend our first morning stocking up on groceries, but everyone else insisted we go on a hike (sign #1 – this group is usually down for food at all times) to Spud Lake – a not too hard, but just right hike for our first day in the altitude, plus it had beautiful views, and we knew what to expect since we started our trip with it last year, too. They had me convinced, so we pack up some granola bars (sign #2 – Zac specifically keeps asking my sister-in-law if she has his Clif Bar…confusing because I already packed his favorite granola bars) and go. We get to the start of the trailhead that has a beautiful lily pad-filled pond, take some pictures, and start our 1-mile hike to an opening where there sits a picturesque lake at the base of the mountain. I stand in position for my brother’s wife to test out her camera settings knowing we’re going to take some scenic “look at our hike” pictures there.

Meanwhile, Zac is digging in a backpack for the Clif Bar (sign #3 – no way is he already hungry after a 1-mile hike), and I call him over for a picture. His back was SWEATY (sign #4 – Zac sweats when he’s nervous), and as I point out, “your back is sweaty,” he turns to me and says, “Courtney” (sign #5 – IT’S HAPPENING!!!!). He gets down on one knee. “Will you marry me?” He has the biggest smile on his face, and I’m in shock running through the day in my head amazed that he totally surprised me! He pulls out the ring, and I, of course, say “YES!” Once I bring the rest of our surroundings into focus, I realize that my sister-in-law captured the whole proposal on camera, and I hear clapping and cheering from hikers nearby. I am still so in awe that Zac picked the most gorgeous spot, put so much thought into making this a legitimate surprise (turns out “the Clif Bar” was code for “the ring” all along), and it was so “us”. I grew up going to Colorado in the summer, and now that we have a celebratory excuse to go back every year, it’s even more special. I officially have a favorite hike, a favorite day, and my favorite guy by my side forever!

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Special Thanks

Kate Duncan
 | Photographer
Blue Nile
 | Ring