Ashleigh and Shelly

How We Met

Shell and I met on the lesbian dating app “her.” We began talking on there in April of 2017. She was living in Warrensville, NC and I was living in Gastonia, NC but was moving that very week to Rock Hill, SC. If you know anything about dating sites, you know that there is a certain mile range that you can reach and had we not matched before I moved, we would have never even seen each other on the app.

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We talked on the phone for over a month before actually planning to meet. I think we were both afraid that if we met it would mess up the wonderful connection we already had and also because of the distance (3 hours). We finally planned to get dinner in Boone, NC at a little Italian restaurant downtown called Cafe Portofino. From the moment I got there to the moment I left, that girl (Shelly) did not stop talking, and even though I swerved her attempt at kissing me at the end of the evening, I knew she was going to be a very special person in my life.

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The beginning of our relationship was pretty rocky. I had mostly been single for the 7 years prior, and she had been in several serious relationships. I was dating men up until a year before I met her and she has known she was gay since her first year of college. Despite our incredibly different pathways that led us to each other, we have been relentlessly committed to loving each other and accepting each other’s differences.

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Fast forward a year and a half later, when I asked Shell to move in with me and she began to job search. A few short months later, she landed her dream job in Charlotte, NC within the nonprofit field. As we all know, the dynamic of living with a partner is the true test of a relationship. You cannot hide your messes, literal or emotional, and put on a fake happy face 100% of the time.

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It was at this point, I knew I found my forever. Of course, we had our normal arguments over chores, but at the core, we grew closer together during those months than I ever thought possible. She made the most mundane tasks around the house more fun. From building our own holiday traditions and dancing to records while cooking dinner, she became the center of my world.

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How They Asked

6 months after Shell moved in I began planning to propose. We had talked about who was going to propose and in what order, and it seemed she had been conditioned to think it had to be her because she was the more masculine one. But I knew well before this conversation, I was going to propose first. I bought the ring from a gentleman who hand makes his jewelry and planned to ask on the anniversary of our first date. (I ended up having to hide the ring for over 2 months, which let me tell you, was TORTURE)

I decided to ask her on the overlook at Rough ridge hiking trail at sunrise (something we had done a few times before) with my brother and his girlfriend.

All week before the proposal I was checking weather like a maniac because it was supposed to storm the whole weekend we were in the mountains. By this point, it was happening RAIN OR SHINE, because frankly, I couldn’t wait any longer.

The night before our sunrise hike, the weather app showed clear skies up until 9 am, so it was going to be PERFECT for the best day of my life. I made the plan to have fairy lights strung from the bushes and trees lining the entire trail up to the top of the rough ridge. I wrote down all of the reasons I loved her and wanted to spend forever with her on the back of over 30 photos that depicted the wonderful, fun and adventurous life we have built together over the past two years. The photos were hung from the fairy lights and at the top of the mountain on the overlook, I would be waiting for her, my heart in my hands, ready to give it to her forever!

Eight months after Shelly moved in, I took her on a typical sunrise hike to one of our favorite places on the blue ridge parkway.

I got down on one knee and asked her to dance in the kitchen with me forever.

The problem was how to get up the mountain before her, so I came up with the plan to ask her to get something from the car that I forgot so I could start up the trail before them. When she turned to go to the car, I BOOKED it up to the trail and I literally DIED about halfway up because I was running as fast as I could, that mind you, was mostly pitch black at the beginning because it was before sunrise. As I made my way up, I saw the beginning of the lights and I started to tear up. I knew she was going to love it so much.

After Shell finally made it up to the mountain and walked over to me, I got down on one knee and asked her “Will you dance in the kitchen with me forever?” she didn’t say any audible words, but she nodded, “yes” several times.

Today, we are not just dreaming of what our future would look like, but we’re actively turning our dreams into reality.

We’ve learned that relationships take constant work, compassion, and patience. It’s not always easy, and we’d be lying if we said this was effortless. However, when you know you’ve found the one, the work feels worthwhile.

It has been a difficult road in someways as my parents are religious and have been struggling with the acceptance of our love. And whether they feel comfortable coming to our wedding. But nonetheless we have persevered and the trials just seem to bring us closer together. She is my partner in every way, my confidant and my biggest fan. Life never seems to be too hard to bear with her by my side, and I have never been more irrevocably happy.

Our Video

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Special Thanks

Rachel Pressley
Photographer