How We Met
Graham and I met by chance at an Appalachian State University football tailgate (GO APPS!) in 2013. We had some mutual friends and Graham traveled up to attend the game that weekend. We began talking and instantly hit it off. There was only one problem, the pesky 3 1/2 hour distance between Boone (where I was still attending school) and Raleigh (where he lived and worked). After meeting, we began Skyping nightly and monthly visits. After some time, we realized that even though the distance was hard, we were worth the extra effort.
Through the next two years Graham and I alternated making the trip up or down the mountain every 2 weeks, seeing each other twice a month. I graduated from App in December of 2015 and after a lot of thinking on my end decided to go right into a masters program. Graham was so supportive, even though it added an extra year of long distance. The distance was cut to about an hour and half so we made the effort to see each other every weekend. In November of 2016 I was offered a job in Raleigh, at the same place Graham worked. Three years later we had FINALLY closed the gap! Being in the same town as Graham made our connection grow even more, and all that we had already endured let us know that nothing could ever break us apart.
how they asked
Fast forward to December 7th, 2017 Graham and I left for a trip to Charleston, SC, where I was born. My parents had recently bought a vacation house there so we try to go once a month if work allows, so it was not a surprise trip. This time was different, Graham wasn’t giving me any information about what we had planned besides dinner at Husk. I kept pestering him about what we were going to do and tried to get any information I could from him, but he let nothing slip. Because of this, I was suspicious. However, I had always told him that I would want our parents to be there when/if he were to propose but North Carolina was getting pounded with a snow storm and my parents were posting pictures from where they lived on Facebook all weekend. So, the thought completely left my mind. The next day goes by and its really rainy and cold, so we mainly stayed in and decorated the Christmas Tree my parents had put up during their last visit.
On Saturday, December 9th, Graham and I went to breakfast at Charleston’s Grill he seemed really preoccupied and I asked him what was wrong, he told me nothing and not to worry. He then told me that we were getting drinks before our 5 o’clock dinner reservation so we needed to be downtown by 3:30 that afternoon. So around 1 o’clock I started getting ready. Our Uber arrived and we headed downtown. On our way down he finally tells me that in addition to drinks and dinner we have a carriage ride taking us to dinner so we needed to be in Battery Park by 4:00.
After drinks, we promptly arrive at Battery Park. Graham grabs my hand and says “Hey, I’ve never been in this gazebo before, can we go look?” I thought it was a really strange thing to want to do, but I said sure and we began walking. As we are walking, I notice a photographer to our right, taking pictures of a group of dogs playing in the park. At that moment, I look ahead and see the gazebo lined with flower petals. In the back left corner are 3 canvases one large one with “Danielle & Graham”, a medium one with “Whitaker” (his last name) and a small one saying “Forever”. In the back right there is a bouquet and a wooden proposal board made with six horse shoes from my horse trainers barn. Attached to each shoe is a heart shaped piece of paper with a saying he thought of about me. In the middle is a stanza from my favorite poem, Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe “And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side ,Of my darling—my darling—my life and my bride.” I immediately start crying when I see all that was planned and how beautiful it was.
When we got to the middle of the gazebo, Graham dropped to one knee and asked me to be his wife. I have never been so happy in my life! I enthusiastically said yes through the tears.
After the proposal, we had an engagement photo session until the horse drawn carriage arrived. In the carriage was a personalized blanket that said “Wherever we’re together is where we call home. Danielle and Graham, Love began in Boone.” We cuddled up in it and the photographer joined us on the way. Graham told me then that there was another surprise, that we weren’t actually going to Husk. The horse drawn carriage pulls up to Halls Chophouse where both of our parents are waiting to greet us. I was so shocked.
Our parents had set up the gazebo and hid behind the cars parked along the sidewalk to watch our engagement, then had immediately jumped in an Uber to beat us to the restaurant. We all celebrated our engagement and went back to my parents’ house for drinks. It was the most incredible, beautiful day of my life and I am so lucky to be marrying my best friend! We will say “I do” in Charleston, on April 27, 2019!