Jessie and Matthew

Image 1 of Jessie and Matthew

How We Met

We met each other on July 21st, 2016. The day Matthew and I met, neither of us were looking for love. I had lost my father from cancer three years prior, and recently completed my second semester at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. I was entirely consumed with my studies and l had written off the idea of finding a husband until after college, thinking eventually (maybe early 30s!) I would be in the right place in my life to explore the idea of love. Matthew was in the Marines, stationed in North Carolina, and he happened to be home on recruiters assistance in our hometown (Redding, CA) the day we met. My younger sister, Lexi, is friends with Matt’s brother, Payne, and her and a few of her friends were over at the Stahl grandparents’ house with Matt. That evening I received a phone call from her asking me if I could come pick up her and her best friend Morgan from the house. I said sure (I mean, I really didn’t have anything better to do) and drove out to the “mansion” (as they called it) to pick up the girls.

When I arrived, my sister and Morgan ran up to me giggling and laughing and exclaimed: “Jess we have a boy for you! He is Payne’s brother, Matt, and he is sitting inside the pool house. He is cute and athletic and eats healthy! He’s perfect for you!” Now, for those of you who know me, you would know I am not the kind of girl who likes to be set up, and I remember telling them to be quiet because they were yelling too loud, and I didn’t want to be embarrassed. I was adamant about not going into that house and told them I didn’t want to meet him, suggesting we go home. Long story short, I decided to at least go in and see what all this hype was about ( maybe just to shut them up a little too…). I walked inside and noticed Matthew right away, little butterflies inside my stomach because I couldn’t get over how perfect his bone structure was – yes, your jawline was the first thing I noticed about you sweetie :)

A few of my other friends were there and I started talking to them, partly because I was too shy to go introduce myself. Eventually someone introduced me to Matt and we started talking about school, jobs – the usual conversation starters. And then the conversation drifted to how I was vegan, and he pretty much threw out every comment/question he had about nutrition/health and I would throw back my answers just as fast. I might have came off a little pretentious…but I must say, I was intrigued. He seemed interested, genuinely interested in me and my passions, and I liked that. The next day I added him on Facebook, and a day later he messaged me on Instagram asking to hang out. From there on out we had a few awkward hangouts and movie dates where we sat in silence, with sweaty palms and racing hearts – probably because he was thinking of making a move and I was waiting for it to happen. But, as reluctant to finding love as I was, I knew he was different, and I kept going out with him for a reason right? – so I had to at least see where all this went. One day he picked me up and took me to my favorite lunch restaurant in Chico, CA (TBar – yum!) and we spent the whole day together.

That evening when it was time to say goodbye, I realized I didn’t want to, and we decided to go have dinner and watch a movie. That night was the night I realized he could be my first serious relationship, and I started to get really nervous about the idea of long distance. In the beginning of August, It was time for him to return to North Carolina, and I drove him to the airport and said my goodbyes. We facetimed each other every night after that, and on August 15th, 2016 he asked me to be his girlfriend. When I returned to school he planned a trip to come see me, and that was when it all became really real. I liked him, a lot, and being with him just felt right. Flying back and forth to see each other became our lives for the next 9 months, and we fell deeper and deeper in love. I remember we each drove 6 hours to see each other, meeting halfway in Washington D.C. over Thanksgiving break. Being apart from each other was difficult for sure, but looking back now, it only made our relationship stronger.

how they asked

On Saturday November 4th, 2017, Matthew and I woke up at 6:30am to go watch the sunrise on Wrightsville beach. We stopped by our favorite coffee shop down the street, I grabbed a almond milk latte, and he an Americano. It was a crisp, cool fall morning, and when we arrived at the beach the sun was minutes away from poking its head out from behind the clouds on the horizon. The sunrise that morning was truly a work of art, one of God’s greatest creations.

Image 2 of Jessie and Matthew

I was so in awe that I probably took twenty or thirty pictures before Matthew grabbed me and said he wanted to go for a walk. We took of our shoes and slid our feet through the sand as we walked down the beach. As we were walking he told me he had a special present for me and I watched as he pulled a blue bible out of his backpack. He told me to open it and that I needed to read the first page. It read: “presented to Jessie Arnold on Nov 4th 2017 (check 1 Corinthians 13:4). I flipped to the bookmarked page and read the verse: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with truth. Love bears all things, believes in all things, endures all thins. Love never ends.”

Image 3 of Jessie and Matthew

My heart started racing and tears streamed down my face as I read his handwriting on the top of the page, which read: “will you marry me baby?” With tears flowing down my face I turned around as he got down on one knee and said: “Jessie Lynn Arnold from the moment I met you I knew your were special. I want to spend forever with you by my side, will you marry me? And I said YES.

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Special Thanks

Mitchell Stahl (Matt's younger brother)
 | Photographer