Emily and James

Image 1 of Emily and James

How We Met

James and I met on January 3, 2016 while serving at a church conference. Both of us were fully embracing our single seasons and not looking to date. However, that afternoon James saw me from across the room and came over to talk to me. We made minimal small talk before I told him that, “I’m sure you’re a very nice person, but I’m just trying to have some introvert time right now.” James replied with, “Great, so what do you do for work?” and we haven’t stopped talking since! We texted on-and-off for about a month after that encounter and on Valentine’s Day, he (finally!) asked me to get coffee with him. We went to grab that cup of coffee two days later, which eventually turned into dinner and the best conversation either of us had had with anyone in a long time. In that short amount of time, we laughed, connected, and got to know a whole lot about each other. Three hours after that first date, James called me just to tell me that he had a good time, and I was smitten. About a week later, we went on a second date and afterwards I knew that he was the one.

Image 2 of Emily and James

We talked about everything under the sun and when we wrapped up our time together, he told me he would like to call my parents and ask for permission to date me. While I felt that was a little unconventional as we are in our late twenties, he told me that because they lived states away and we did not know when he would get the chance to meet them, he felt that was the right and respectful thing to do. Naturally, my parents agreed and thought his gesture was the best and probably knew from that point forward that I had met my Prince Charming. Four months later, on the beach in Florida, James told me he loved me. He was not expecting me to reciprocate right then and there, however I had known I loved him for a long time, and eagerly shouted out “I love you too!” Just a year later, we got engaged and best is yet to come!

Image 3 of Emily and James

how they asked

In the summer of 2016, James had told me that we would get engaged at some point in 2017. He gave me no specific timeline because as much as I like a level of control and to know the plan for any given moment, he was set on the proposal being a surprise. The first few months of the year, he was throwing out comments like, “I guess I should probably ask your dad for his blessing soon,” and “I really need to start looking at rings.” In fact, about once a week, he would mention something about his lack of preparation for an engagement, which not only threw me off, but made my anxiety rise. Little did I know, it was all a ploy to ensure I was unaware of his plans. My birthday is in March, and about three weeks leading up to it, my friends suggested a quick mountain getaway for my birthday weekend. All sounded good to me, and when the day arrived to leave for our trip, they ensured I was dressed up.

Image 4 of Emily and James

They told me we were going straight to my birthday dinner restaurant and we would not have time to change. Made sense to me, and I put on a new dress I had purchased for the occasion. As we are driving, we had almost reached our destination, and one of my friends suggests that we pull off – the sun was about to set and we could do a champagne toast. They assured me it would allow for great pictures, which is always a good hook. We drove into Tallulah Gorge, and I commented, “Oh, James and I came here last year for my birthday,” but I was still not connecting any dots. We get out of the car, and the temperature has dropped. Fortunately they were able to convince me to leave my jacket and Uggs behind in the car. We wandered around the trail (in dresses and heels, remember!) for a few minutes until they stopped and handed me a present. I opened it and it was a Bible with my name inscribed on it and a note sticking out where Proverbs 31 is located.

Image 5 of Emily and James

The note was from James, and I still did not fully make the connection that I was about to be engaged until mid-way through the note – James is known for his romantic gestures, so it would not have been unusual for him to send a gift with my friends for me to have while I was away. However, I read the note and it said that he had my current name put on the Bible because it would not be my name for long, and wanted to ensure I had one with my maiden name on it first. He ended the note with, “I have one question to ask you, follow the arrows.” I turn around and he has cleared a path and placed marquee arrows to direct me. It was the same path we had hiked last year for my birthday that led to a cliff where we sat and talked for hours. I followed the trail, and eventually made it to James, who had that very spot from the previous year, decorated to perfection. He helped me down to our official “spot” and made a beautiful speech. Then, he got down on one knee and proposed. My response was, “Absolutely, of course!”

Image 6 of Emily and James

After it sunk in that he had just asked to marry me, we both realized he had the ring still in his hand – he was so proud of what he had made for me that I had to remind him to put the ring on me! It’s the perfect ring and everything I wanted from the love of my life. We took a few photos afterward and eventually hiked back up to our car, where my friends were waiting with champagne. They all told me there was one more surprise. I figured it was likely a small dinner with our close friends back in the city. However, James had found a beautiful ranch to host a engagement party for us. When we arrived, I was surprised by our family and friends, and we got to tell our story to everyone.

Image 7 of Emily and James

Image 8 of Emily and James

I had scanned the room to see who was present, but did not notice anything out of the ordinary. A few minutes into relaying our engagement story, something caught the corner of my eye. I had not noticed my out-of-town best friends standing in the room! James had coordinated with them and flew them in to be with us during this special moment. I finally broke down in tears because I was so overwhelmed with James’ attention and care he had put into this moment for us.

Image 9 of Emily and James

It was truly the perfect weekend. My birthday was the following day and for the majority of the time, I had forgotten about it!

Image 10 of Emily and James

Our Video