Hadley and Justin

Image 1 of Hadley and Justin

How We Met

Justin and I met on a dating app, Hinge. It was winter and we had both come out of other relationships that hadn’t lasted past a couple of dates. We connected on the app and started talking. A couple of weeks go by and Justin gets a notification that I have seen his LinkedIn profile. He didn’t have any other social media other than Facebook, which continues to be an outdated source. I’ve never been subtle about things I wanted and this turned out to be no different. I was hoping that where it said he had an MBA was true! You just never know these days with anything! One thing that has always been important to me is education. Like every smart woman I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting ready to meet, well a serial killer or a creep to put it nicely!

Justin thought this was really funny and asked me on our first date. We met for dinner one evening at the Twisted Oak in Statesville, North Carolina where we proceeded to ask each other get-to-know-you questions and had a great dinner together. The check came and went and the conversation died down. That left enough room in my mind to start to get a little anxious and I started to get so terrified of what the last 30 seconds of the date would be. I didn’t want him to walk me to my car and I was not ready to be kissed yet! So I said, ” this was great! Thank you for dinner! But the Bachelor is on and Colton Underwood is turning out to have a really, riveting season so I really need to go home and watch the bachelor now. Have a great night!”

” I hope we can see each other again!” I left him speechless and then ran out of the restaurant, literally!

After several apologies for my quick departure, two days later he asked me to a movie. That date went much smoother. Justin was such a gentleman and asked my permission to hold my hand and put his arm around me at the movie. That is something I won’t ever forget. It’s an attention to detail and a kindness you don’t see very often. Which at that time most certainly made an impression! We went to see Bohemian Rhapsody and it has been an adventure ever since!

Going on a few years, a dog that is our firstborn and very much our whole world. Changing jobs, changing where we live. Each year getting more interesting than the last, life keeps moving and we couldn’t be happier. I laugh because we continue to love each other differently the longer we are together and are proud that we are not the same people as when we first started dating. I run away less now, even when I am nervous.

We are so excited to share our love with our closest family and friends and thank you for being part of our village.

How They Asked

Justin and I had been planning to go to Charleston, SC for a while. Two years… thank you Covid! Many of you know I am a descendant of the Middleton Family out of South Carolina through my paternal line.

The Middleton Place Foundation, Plantation, and Gardens mean so much to me. It’s one of my favorite places in the world! I was an intern for the foundation in college and have loved learning more about my family the more we return to enjoy all the grounds have to offer. The rich history, triumph, pain, slavery, and overall history paint a truthful picture of how the Middleton family held themselves in society during the social seasons of 18th-century Charleston. It’s a complicated history, but one I am proud of to ensure it isn’t repeated.

Fast forward a couple of centuries, to when Justin and I found out after a year of delay, The foundation was back on to host their reunion of the descendants in November of 2022. Including the family and those of the slaves who worked the property. I was so excited to share this part of who I am with Justin. We found early on in our relationship that we both love history and this was an event that we were not going to miss.

We enjoyed the lunch and family pictures, and the warm November Low country day! My fairy godmother Laura, suggested we take a tour of the garden which I had been dying to do since we set foot on the property! We started in my favorite, the four seasons garden that only has four incredible marble statues that represent, you guessed it the four seasons!

I started to walk in and noticed the photographer who was taking pictures of the reunion had followed us into the garden. That was the moment I realized oh my gosh he’s going to do it here! It was at that moment all sense of logic and planning of my response ( a very romantic yes) went out the window. I started walking around the garden trying to get away from Justin because I just didn’t know what to do.

Justin was trying to chase me down as he hobbled in a boot behind me. He had sprained his ankle two weeks prior, poor guy- can’t catch a break! The photographer, John said, ” Hadley, what is your favorite statue?” I responded with ” Spring, the detail in the flowers she is holding I like the best.” That gave Justin enough time to get down on one knee and for me to turn around to react to hearing him play with the velcro straps of his boot. I turned around to ask if he was okay and that’s when he pulled out the ring box, sideways and said Merry Christmas! I didn’t think I could be any more confused or anxious but that did it! I nicely turned the ring box to face me straight and then Justin and I proceeded to stare at each other for what felt like an eternity. I giggled and said, ” And then you say?” To which he smiled and said, ” Will you Marry Me?” I responded ” Yes!” The proposal was better than I could have imagined and perfectly us!

Image 2 of Hadley and Justin

Special Thanks

John Smoak
 | Photographer