Drake and Alec

Image 1 of Drake and Alec

How We Met

Mine and Drake’s ‘Story’ is a sort of spontaneous alignment of several ‘right’ moments. We met through one of her older brother’s and my high-school golfing rival, Kane, but not in the usual introductory “Drake, this is my friend, Alec” sort of way. What happened was, Drake and I had somewhat met years before we actually…met, I’ll explain. During the beginning of my senior year in high-school, every once in a while, Kane and I would prank phone call each other. Maybe just trying to get into each others head during golf season? Who knows! Eventually, my number was given to Drake and her friends to prank call me, which continued for a few days until they moved on to other things and lost interest in leaving me messages full of laughter and giggling.

So our paths crossed much earlier, unintentionally, than the weekend in September of 2010 that we were formally introduced. Over the several years between 2007 and 2010, Drake and I had become Facebook friends through having Kane and several other people as mutual friends. So the Thursday I was scheduled to come home for the weekend from school, I messaged Drake out of the blue and asked her if she would be interested in getting dinner with a complete stranger. Like a smart girl, she politely declined my offer! I was taken back by the rejection, and wasn’t prepared to accept the ‘no,’ so I pestered her for a dinner date all weekend until she finally caved in and said yes that Sunday evening. We both hit it off; had a blast with each other, just joking and laughing and smiling. The following January, I got up the courage to ask her to be my girlfriend and my life hasn’t been the same since.

how they asked

Fast forward 5 years, over 260-ish weeks, over 1,800 days, countless laughs, millions of smiles, and too many inside-jokes to remember, I decided that I had spent enough time as Drake’s boyfriend; I needed to be in her life forever. I needed to ask her to marry me. I needed to buy a ring! This concept didn’t just spring out of nowhere, either. Drake and I have been inseparable from day 1. It’s as if we were best friends the moment we saw each other and spoke; an instant bond.

Back to the proposal part of our story. I needed a ring and special plan. After work on a Tuesday evening in December, I called my mom and explained that this was the time; the time where I, as a man, invest in a symbol of trust and loyalty to one woman, and pray that she agrees and says ‘yes.’ As I explained myself over the phone, she asked me the most important question: “Is Drake the one? Is she the woman who you are going to spend the rest of your life with?” She, without a shadow of a doubt, knew what the answer was going to be. Looking back, I believe this was more of a formality, in a way. Drake and my mother have been close for a long time at this point. My mother was as ready for me to ask as I was! The answer spilled into my head like a warm surge of adrenaline, “without a doubt, she’s it..she’s the one. The only one.” As my mom and I looked through ring after ring, setting after setting, diamond after diamond, I finally found the perfect combination that I was looking for. The ring, with the perfect setting and the perfect diamond combination sat in front of me as if it were taunting me to even try and find a better option. I knew this was it. My mom wholeheartedly agreed that this was the ring that belonged on Drake’s finger. I pulled the trigger! As we walked out of the store and looked at each other, we both broke down and cried, hugging each other, absorbing the significance of what just happened. I bought an engagement ring…to give to my future wife…it was a rare moment in my life that will define me, in many ways.

Now I needed to hatch a plan–a plan that is as special in every way as Drake is to me. Over the last couple of years, Drake and I have enjoyed taking trips to Europe and exploring cultures completely different from our own, so I knew that when I popped the question, it needed to be more than memorable..I wanted it to be just like ‘us,’ in a way that captured mine and Drake’s intertwined love for adventure. Two cities instantly popped out in my mind. We have always talked about visiting Istanbul and Rome, with their aura of charm, mystery, and beauty. When I saw the unique architecture of the Grand Bazaar and discovered its old and rich history, I wanted to incorporate that in my proposal, as it seemed like quintessential Istanbul. Months before our trip, after contacting the Turkish Government and the Istanbul Women’s Group, among others, going down one rabbit hole to find myself in another, I came in contact with a lady named Monica who happened to have a contact that could get us up on the roof of the Grand Bazaar. This man, called a key-holder, essentially held my plan in his hands, which was excruciatingly nerve-racking! When I received the news that he was willing to help us out, I was ecstatic. My plan might actually work!

Having had the ring sitting in my closet through Christmas, New Years, our 4 year anniversary, and Valentines Day, I could barely contain my excitement; the day of our trip was finally here! After 2 days in Istanbul and countless time worrying about the expensive ring I had tucked away in a sock in my backpack (which, by the way, NEVER left my sight), the big day finally arrived. I told Drake from the beginning that we had a private tour set up with a woman who knew the in’s and out’s of the Bazaar, but Drake had no idea the roof was able to be accessed! We weaved our way through the labyrinth of corridors, hallways, and back alleys of the Bazaar, stopping for tea at a friend of Monica’s store. What Drake didn’t know, was that this break in our tour was only to stall time, as we were a little earlier than we needed to be in order to catch what I wanted on the roof during my proposal: the Call to Prayer at 12:00!

After stalling for time, we made our way through the back of the Bazaar and up several narrow, cobblestoned stairways to what seemed like an ominous dungeon or hideaway for Turkish smugglers. As we walked down the brick-lined, dusty hall, we came to the man whom Monica had previously paid in order to allow us access to the roof. “Seriously? What a great surprise!” I told Drake, because I had mentioned earlier that my hope was that we would be able to see the view of the city from the roof, but that Monica likely wouldn’t be able to make that happen, as it is not customary for tourist to be able to gain access to the roof from the locals.

After unlocking the giant, wooden door, we walked up the narrow and tiny stone steps, where we were greeted at the top with bright sunshine and an incredible view of the entire city around us. Everything was falling into place just as I was hoping. As we stood at the edge of the roof, Drake and I just watched the city around us; bustling with people on foot, in cars, and on ferries, all going about their day. After about 10 minutes, when 12:00 hit, the melodic, enchanting song of the Call to Prayer rang out from every mosque in the entire city, like a song being intimately sung to both of us from all directions. As Drake’s hair flew around in the wind and the sounds from the mosques echoed around us, I had a surreal realization that every moment we had spent together from the second we met had led us to this; standing on the oldest covered market in the world, overlooking one of the most enchanting cities in Europe, holding each other like we always have. I had never seen Drake look so beautiful. It was as if she was the only person left on the entire planet in that moment in time. Just her and I.

Before the Call to Prayer ended, I took both of Drake’s hands and cupped them in mine as we faced each other. Up to this point, I had been rehearsing my entire speech I had planned in my head; in the mirror, on the plane, in the airports, in our hotel room…I had this speech nailed! There was no way I was going to mess this up! I’ve got this!!! As she looked up at me with her beautiful, brown eyes, I kneeled down on one knee and I said “Drake, I love you. You and I have been inseparable from—,” her eyes started filling with tears, then MY eyes stared filling with tears! All of the sudden, it was as if I hadn’t planned a speech at all! I uttered, through watery eyes and lumpy throat, as much of everything that I could remember.

As I finished with my long, drawn-out and muffled words, I pulled the ring from my back pocket I had stashed earlier in our tour when Drake wasn’t looking, and held it up to her. She threw her arms around me and yelled ‘YES!’

I will never forget that moment in time. That spark of brilliance that we shared. The moment when absolutely everything stood still; when nothing else in the entire world mattered. The rest of our story is being written, one laugh and smile at a time, and the next chapter is one in which I couldn’t be more excited to experience. Marrying my best friend and soulmate is a lottery I’ve won over and over again. I couldn’t be a luckier man to have Drake Wilkerson as my future wife.

This is a nutshell of our Story. We’ve been happily engaged for almost 10 months and couldn’t be more excited to tie the knot on April 30th, in just 3 and a half short months!!!

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Special Thanks

Monica Fritz
 | Photographer