Dara and Justin
How We Met
Justin and I first began talking around November 2016. Only a few months prior, I had moved back down to South Florida to begin my first year of law school. Over the next few months, I was busy with school work, when someone in passing mentioned an app called Bumble. I didn’t think much of it at the time—just sounded like another dating app that I was not interested in. Fast forward a week or so later, I decided to download the app. Weeks went by without much success. But just when I was ready to delete the app his profile appeared. I remember thinking “WOW!” His profile said that he was a pilot, a newly-barred lawyer, and an FSU Alum (Go NOLES). I immediately swiped yes and coincidentally so did he. It was a match.
I first messaged him something along the lines of “Hi Justin.” I initially thought this would be another surface level conversation, so I just gave him surface level responses. Then he began to type paragraphs (if you know him, you would not be surprised by this). At this point, I knew he was different. He said that he had just moved back down to South Florida after graduating from Vanderbilt Law School. We immediately hit it off. It was almost like we had everything in common. Law school, FSU alum, cookie dough lovers, etc. So, over the next few weeks, we began to talk 24/7.
Unfortunately, we began talking around the same time that I was starting to study for my first year of law school exams. But Justin patiently waited 3-4 weeks before taking me out on our first date and boy was it worth it.
We first met in person at a restaurant in downtown Fort Lauderdale after he got off work one night. I remember seeing a tall, dark-haired man in navy blue slacks, a white button down, and brown leather shoes near the hostess stand and asking, Justin? Yep, it was him. Dinner lasted for four hours and after he walked me to my car, I knew he was the one.
Turns out we both knew that night that we were going to marry one another.
How They Asked
Justin: Planning started about a year before I “popped the question.” I had visited Vancouver during my last spring break of law school, so I knew it had plenty of absolutely breathtaking scenery for me to use as a backdrop for the question. Dara had one more spring break left, which served as the perfect opportunity for us to make the trek up all the way from South Florida. I had picked a beautiful spot in Squamish, but toward the early stages of planning, Dara had excitedly mentioned that she had found a lighthouse in Vancouver. That’s it. Perfect. You see, Dara has been obsessed with lighthouses since she was little, so at that moment I knew the stage had been set.
Fairly early on in the planning process, I told her I would take care of all the planning that way all of the activities could be a surprise. However, to be safe, as we got closer to our trip, I started to throw her off the scent of any proposal by slowly leaking what we’d be doing. In fact, I pretended that I had forgotten all about the lighthouse and said we’d fit it in somehow.
Picking the exact spot at the lighthouse was a little nerve-wracking. I used Google Maps to scout out a dock nearby that looked like it had a good view. But then, a day before we flew out, I had something in the back of my brain tell me to research it even further. Turns out the lighthouse was partially gated off at times because some of it was private property! Uncertain as to if we’d have access to the dock, I found another spot which actually had a better view of the lighthouse and informed Brooklyn (the photographer) of the change. For those of you reading this who aren’t engaged (yet), I think it’s pretty important for you to have a photographer who is quick to respond and provide feedback to your plan (if you choose to go the photographer route). Planning can be stressful, especially when you’re a few days out, so having someone like Brooklyn who responded immediately was great peace of mind.
Okay, now it’s game day. Dara’s asking when we’re going to catch the shuttle to our hiking spot, but I tell her, “I’m calling an audible. I have a spot I want us to check out before our hike. Trust me, you’ll like it.” Upon arriving at the entrance of the lighthouse park, I quickly text Brooklyn inquiring as to her status. She and her husband were still hiking through the forest on the way to the spot (to their credit, it was a surprisingly confusing hike to get there), so I had to stall. So naturally, Dara starts marching through the forest trying to get to the lighthouse as quickly as possible. I stop along the trail, awkwardly stopping and pretending I’m super interested in the different types of trees.
We’re hiking along. . . still hiking. . . okay, we’re lost. We can’t find the entrance to the trail that leads to the spot (remember what I said earlier about it being surprisingly confusing?). Scrambling for a solution, I tell Dara I’m going to call my dad since “he’s by a computer and can help us use Google Maps.” That wasn’t entirely true, as my parents were actually hiding somewhere in the very same woods so they could witness me pop the question. We eventually get to the spot and we are just floored with the views. The ocean, the rocks, the forest, the lighthouse—out of this world. I reached into my bag for the ring, tell her I’m madly in love with her, and she starts bawling. I get on my knee and pop the question in her fairytale setting.
It was a day we’ll never forget. Vancouver will now always hold a special place in our lives. And I get to marry the love of my life.