Dana and Justin

Image 1 of Dana and Justin

How We Met

It was our senior year at UNC, Kappa had our first cocktail about two weeks into school. I had spent three years attending our cocktails alone because I thought it more fun to hang out with my sisters than to have an awkward evening with a guy that I didn’t know. Justin had spent two years repeatedly telling Alyssa that no, he didn’t want to be set up with a Kappa for a cocktail.

For some unknown reason (jk I know the reason – it was God’s plan) I decided that for this cocktail I wanted a date. I walked into the living room at the house where a number of my pledge sisters were and said “someone find me a date for Boots and Bowties.” And for some unknown reason (again, God), when Alyssa asked Justin if he wanted to be set up, he said yes this time!

We went on to meet in the parking lot of friends’ house, take what I still believe to be a surprisingly unawkward picture considering we’d just met, and headed to Bob’s with all of our friends.

This was September 6. On the 15th he sent me a friend request (he’ll argue that, but that’s the actual truth). On the 21st he took me to Kipos for our first official date. We spent nearly four hours at dinner and then went to Yopo because we wanted to talk some more! It didn’t take us very long to know we’d found something special and on September 29, he asked me to be his girlfriend.

how they asked

As my birthday present, Justin gave me a trip to go to Christmas at the Biltmore. Naturally, everyone proceeded to tell me “he’s definitely going to propose at the Biltmore!” nonstop. Well, he didn’t.

We had a great day exploring and enjoying the beautiful house, grounds, and town. He kept saying things like “well if we have time, we can go to lunch” or “let’s not go somewhere that we have to wait to be seated.” I still don’t understand why it didn’t seem weird to me that we had to be home by a certain time. After a wonderful day, we headed back to my parents’ house in Apex to pick up Harper.

As we pulled up to the house, Justin pointed out a tree that was covered in white lights, saying “did your mom decorate that tree in the backyard?” I responded as if that was a ridiculous idea because why would she ever do that? He suggested we go look anyway. As we walked through the gate to the backyard I saw a pathway made out of white candles in glass jars. It lead down the yard to a bench that was surrounded with white lights. They were covering the bushes, lining lattice behind the bench, and draped everywhere in between. It was breath-taking.

As we walked toward the bench I think I started to figure out what was happening, but my heart couldn’t catch up with my head and grasp it all! We sat down and Justin told me beautiful things about how he loved me and how thankful he was that God brought our family to North Carolina and to that house so that we would meet and fall in love. He then got down on his knee and asked me to marry him!

Unfortunately, my head was going crazy, I was bawling uncontrollably and I took a bit of time to respond. After a gentle “are you gonna answer me?” I gathered my tears and choked out a yes. We were engaged! Just as he put the most beautiful ring on my finger, a snow machine started blowing and I lost it again. Without me telling him, he knew I’d always want to get engaged in the snow and even though it was a 70 degree December day, he got me snow!

Eventually we headed inside and were greeted by my whole family – my parents, brothers (one of whom had been hiding in the bushes photographing this), my sister in law, grandparents, aunt and cousins. We hugged, cried, laughed, smiled, and drank some champagne before Justin and I headed off to a celebratory dinner.

I still smile whenever I remember it – I’ve never seen anything filled with more magic or more joy.

Image 2 of Dana and Justin

Image 3 of Dana and Justin

Special Thanks

Erik Andersen
 | Photographer