Jessica and Valerie

Jessica's Proposal in Houston Zoo

How We Met

We were both living in Dallas, Texas and it was February of 2016. I (Jessica) was working as a nurse at a hospital in Plano and Valerie had just moved to Dallas to start her job at an architecture firm. One of my coworkers at the hospital had asked me to come out and play rugby?! Rugby would have been the last thing on my mind ever. I swam my whole life and never played a contact sport, EVER. But my friend would not stop harassing me to come out. So finally I went out to practice so that she would leave me alone. It was probably the third week of practice because I really did enjoy it and I kept going out, a new girl showed up to practice. Valerie was wearing these huge sweatpants and oversized ASU sweatshirt and a Kansas City Chiefs hat because it was cold outside. She probably said a total of 3 words that whole practice because she didn’t know anybody. She was an amazing player. The rest of the team couldn’t stop talking about how good she was. She even later would start to show rookies how to do things. Valerie had played in college at Kansas State University. We then had a rugby game that same weekend and we spent the whole night before the game talking because the hotel was absolutely disgusting and we were in a shady part of town. The day after the game I left for Disney World to run the Princess Disney Marathon and we basically talked the whole time I was gone. Valerie had asked me when I returned from Disney if it would be okay to hang out when I got back. I told her absolutely. So when I returned we hung out for the night and shared our first kiss on February 23rd, 2016. I was smitten from then on. But Valerie was unsure because she had just moved here and just gotten out of a relationship. So she gave me an ultimatum, give her 3 months and then at the end of the 3 months if we are both still interested we can move forward in a relationship. I did not stop thinking about her every day. I texted her every day. I tried to see her every day and hang out, even if it was just for lunch. On March 21st, 2016 she agreed to let me take her out on a date. I knew this date how to wow her. We had done a lot of talking over that short month time period, but I had found out her favorite animal, which was a giraffe. So in Glen Rose, Texas, there is a drive-thru safari called Fossil Rim. You stay in your car and drive through and can see all the animals and feed them. Well, I had done my research and found out that they had just had a baby giraffe and she was out roaming around. So when we finally got to that part in the safari I thought she was going to cry. Valerie got to feed a giraffe out of the roof of the car. She was in heaven and I had just scored big! We then went to the Fort Worth Zoo and to a brewery in town. That day forward I knew that I loved Valerie, but couldn’t tell her because we were not even close to the end of the 3-month test. Fast forward to June 11th, 2016. Valerie and I had gone on a bike ride around White Rock Lake and at the end of the bike ride, she asked me to be her girlfriend. Of course, I had said yes. I was just waiting for this day to happen!

How They Asked

It was December 19th, 2018 and I had just gotten off of work. When I work my three shifts in a row I do not get to see Valerie at all because of our schedules and how far we have to drive to work every day. So I had just gotten off of work and I was talking to my bestie, Meghan, and she was being really weird, telling me I needed to leave work because I was going to be late. So to my knowledge, Valerie was taking me to the Christmas Carol that night, so I kept telling Meghan that I was not going to be late because the Christmas Carol was at night and I had all day to sleep. So I finally left because she kept insisting that I need to leave. When I get to my car in the parking garage, Valerie was standing there. I was in shock and awe. I had not seen her since Sunday and it was now Wednesday. She was standing next to my car looking absolutely stunning. She was wearing a Santa hat and she had cut her hair. I had so many things that I wanted to say but couldn’t get them out because I was surprised and tired. I had just worked three nights in a row. So I get into my car and after a while she makes me close my eyes. So I close my eyes and I get out of the car and I walk into a house. It did not seem like we had driven for very long. My first thought when I stepped inside this house was, “OMG she bought us a house. I can’t believe she did this.” When she finally left me open my eyes the first thing I saw was the boys. I was so excited!

She told me that she had rented this AirBNB for us to exchange our Christmas presents because we were not going to be together on Christmas. But first I had to go to sleep. So I slept for about 2 hours and woke up feeling like I had slept for forever. So I get ready for the day and then we start to open presents. Valerie then tells me that there is one more present, but that I have to find the pickle ornament on the tree. When I finally found it, there is a Houston Zoo membership ticket on the top. She tells me that before we go to the Christmas Carol that we are going to go to the zoo. At this point, I am not thinking anything of this. We both love the zoo so much and I was just excited that she had planned a whole day date! So we get to the zoo and walk straight to the elephants. There were a baby elephant, toddler elephant and a bunch of adults.

I was in awe because they were all so cute and they were eating and drinking and playing. We probably stood there for 30+ minutes listening to the keeper talk. Valerie says to me, “We should go see the giraffes now.” I, of course, did not listen, I wanted to stay at the elephants. So she asks one more time and I still am ignoring her and tell her we will get there next. Then finally she tells me she needs to go to the bathroom I tell her, “Okay let’s go and then we can go to the giraffes afterward.” Little did I know the reason she had to go to the bathroom was to get the ring out of her jacket, without me knowing about it. One thing about Valerie is that when it comes to certain things, she can be cheap. But not cheap in a bad way, don’t think of it in a bad way. It is seven dollars to feed the giraffe’s three pieces of lettuce. That is outrageous in our opinion. So we get to the stand where you buy lettuce and she asks me if I want to feed them. I tell her that is too expensive and does she really want to pay that.

Where to Propose in Houston Zoo

She tells me, “Yes I do. It is Christmas time and you know how much I love giraffes.” I agree and we get our ticket for the lettuce. When we get to the platform she hands the guy the ticket and he gives us six pieces of lettuce. I stop and I am thinking to myself, “They gave us too many pieces of lettuce but I better keep my mouth shut and not say anything.” At the same time as this is happening, I look over to my right and see a photographer. I am thinking, “OMG we get six pieces of lettuce AND this photographer is going to take our picture. This is awesome.” I had NO CLUE what was about to happen!. So then she drops the lettuce after he hands it to us. Which I think nothing of it because we are both pretty clumsy. We walk over to the giraffes and she gives me all of the lettuce and does not feed them any. When I finally finish feeding them the lettuce, I start to walk away from Valerie because I did not want the giraffe to leave me. When I feel a tug on the back of my sweater. When I turn around Valerie is on one knee and she looks absolutely amazing.

She starts to tear up and says, “Jessica Leigh Morrow, you have made me the happiest person ever these past two-and-half years. Will you marry me?” Valerie couldn’t say any more than that because she was going to cry even more. Of course, I said yes! She gets up and puts the ring on. She starts hugging me and that is when I started to cry. It was absolutely the most perfect proposal and I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA! The photographer was someone Valerie had hired to be there. I only had two requests; For my family to know and for there to be a photographer. Jessica Pledger did an amazing job and she blended in so well with her elephant shirt. Valerie was so thoughtful of the whole thing including where our first date was! I could not have asked for an amazingly perfect day.

Special Thanks

Jessica Pledger
Photographer