Dani and Will

Image 8 of Dani and Will

how we met

Will and I met at school, as teachers. I had been teaching fifth grade and coaching our school’s swim team. Will had been coaching our school’s football and baseball teams as he finished up law school. Will remembers meeting me for the first time at a sports awards banquet. He remembers shaking my hand and being curious, as he remembers it, about “what seemed like a fun, young (and beautiful!) swim coach”. I didn’t remember this meeting until much later, when prompted. About three months later, after a summer spent backpacking Europe, it was time to start school again. I was required to be at school a whole week early to help train the newbie teachers. Needless to say, I was not excited. All of the teachers gathered in the main entryway of the school for donuts and get to know you activities. This is when I first remember meeting Will. The crisp suit and tie he was wearing may have made him stand out this time. I seem to always remember what I wear on important days in my life, and I remember the crazy printed skirt from that day.

Will began working just a hallway away, and as fall coaches we began to see a lot of each other. Add to that the fact that the young teachers of any school tend to hang out after school hours, and we started to run in the same social circles.

Now I know what you’re thinking, Will soon asked me out, we started dating, and it was happily after. This is not what happened. Instead we spent two years seeing each other every weekday, hanging out in the same friend group on weekends, going on road trips, movie outings, wine nights, Game of Thrones viewings, cheering at school sports events, talking over coffee in the break room, and planning annual cabin trips–never even considering dating each other. What I remember was thinking Will was too smart, maybe too busy, and definitely not interested in me. In fact, I didn’t even think he liked me very much. Will remembers thinking that I was too pretty, too put together, and definitely unavailable. In fact, Will remembers avoiding any prolonged interaction with me and generally avoiding close friendship.

After two years of this, things started changing. Will knew that his time as a teacher at our school was about to come to an end. This was complicated by the fact that he had developed feelings for me, but after two years of friendship had absolutely no idea what to do about them. So we slowly started to talk more, began running into each other more frequently, and occasionally even texted each other. I thought Will was just being friendly. Hey, maybe he does like me (as a friend). Little did I know, it was much more than that.

As summer approached, we planned events together, texted about music, and even kept in touch when Will went to his sister’s college graduation on the east coast. To celebrate the end of our teaching year, we went on a group trip to Disneyland. There, we discovered a mutual spirit of adventure and an unexpected joy in experiencing days together. Will knew he had to do something. The day we returned, there was a farewell party at Will’s house. We found ourselves laying in the backyard together talking about everything under the stars. Will finally mustered the courage to put into words what he had been feeling. I was feeling the same thing. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “we slipped briskly into an intimacy from which we never recovered”.

Image 1 of Dani and Will

how they asked

After six months of basically inseparable dating, Will had learned a few things about me. He knew I loved the outdoors. He knew I loved discovering new treasures in Phoenix, our home city. He knew I loved fresh food, and gardens, and watching cute animals. He knew I loved stopping in the midst of the pace of life and experiencing beauty. He also knew he wanted to marry me.

I knew that I didn’t want to be completely surprised by a proposal, so I had asked Will to put me on “alert”. As Christmas approached, he put me on red alert. All of our families were in town, and after a trip to Shane Co. he told me I would have a new piece of jewelry before the year was out. Over break we wanted to host a night of games and food for all of our siblings, between the two of us there are 8. Seven are Will’s. After a night of raucous games, I left for home. Will casually stated that he was going to do laundry, it was 2 a.m.. I was suspicious. The next morning, December 22, 2014, I grabbed brunch with my sister, Kacey, and then went to Will’s. He looked very dapper in his newly cleaned clothes and asked if I wanted to go for a drive. So we drove. And drove. He took me on a meandering tour of Phoenix with no apparent end goal. About an hour and a half into the ride, I expressed my need for a drink and a restroom. By this time the anticipation was killing me! Will said that we could stop at a Starbucks, but I couldn’t get coffee because there might be coffee where we were going. He also told me that he would tell me what the first stop was, but he wouldn’t say how many. As we pulled away from Starbucks, Will let me in on the secret. We we’re going to a farm, famous for its goat milk caramels.

After a little more meandering (Will was stalling for time) we arrived at The Simple Farm, an absolutely idyllic spot; a little Eden nestled in the heart of Scottsdale. We wandered around the quiet rows of garden, smelling and tasting, in awe of the beauty around us. Will directed me to a place where caramels has been put aside for us. We picked them up, and for a moment I thought we were leaving (remember this was supposed to be the FIRST stop). Will had plans to make this the ONLY stop. He took my hand and guided me back through the garden. I followed, was briefly distracted by some adorable chickens, but Will now had the destination in sight. We walked further into the farm to a gorgeous secret garden with a single table set with steaming coffee, ceramic mugs, fresh flowers, and a warm plaid blanket. With trembling hands Will poured me coffee and handed me a letter.

Image 2 of Dani and Will

I couldn’t make it past the first sentence without crying. After a second and third attempt, I soaked in the wonderfully written words Will had composed. I made it to the final sentence: “I have one more question to ask you, look at me now”. I raised my teary eyes and got to my feet to join Will. He slowly got down on his knee and asked the question that I had been waiting for my whole life, “Dani will you marry me?”. Never letting him take his hand away, I gave him a resounding YES. As we hugged and soaked in the moment, I began to hear the whirring of camera shutters. Will’s good friends Amy and Jordan Photography had been hiding and snapping shots in the bushes the whole time. After gazing at the perfect ring that Will had picked for me and chosen to present in the perfect place, Amy and Jordan surprised us with a post engagement photo session. The golden light was streaming through the trees, birds were singing, and we couldn’t stop smiling. We can’t thank Amy and Jordan or Lylah of the Simple Farm enough for helping us on our special day. From the Simple Farm, Will and I visited my family and his family in turn, celebrating with all of the people we love most.

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Special Thanks

Amy & Jordan
 | Photographer