Karl and Jennifer

how we met

It was 2004 Fall Semester, it was my Freshman year and Karl’s Junior year at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland. I was playing on the Volleyball team and Karl was playing on the football team. It was an SU tradition to have the Football team to come support the home Volleyball games. As the guys would collectively gather to fill the stands it always brought an instant rush of adrenaline to our gym and to the court. With the chatter among the sweaty yet ‘hot’ crew, the guys never failed to cheer the loudest and to create that at home advantage feel. With our professional uniform being that of spandex shorts the men didn’t mind being our number 1 fans.

Weeks had gone by and numerous games were watched, not knowing at the time that I was specifically being sought out by one fan in particular. Mid season, Karl approached me in Maggs Gym (main gym on campus). As I was glistening with sweet sweat he stopped me in the hallway outside of the volleyball court. He was smooth right off the bat. Knowing I was from the little state of Delaware he referenced a Southern DE city and went on to chat about a few things he knew about it and broke the ice with confidence. Not realizing I was from the Northern most part of DE which for those of us Delawareans know the North and South are 100% opposite. But hey, he tried, ‘A’ for effort! From that point, it was simply juvenile flirting and I had no thought that there would eventually be an ‘US’.

I was honestly thinking of working on getting my roommate Katy and Karl to meet. Getting to know Katy quite quickly in the first couple of months, I knew she may have a thing for this guy Karl that happened to ‘run into me’ at Maggs Gym. Karl casually invited me to one of his ‘shows’ that he was a part of on campus… a modeling show ;) and I played the giddy game too so I said, yeah I MAY stop by. In the back of my mind thinking it would be the perfect time to introduce my roommate to him. Katy was all for it! So we got ourselves a little dolled up and headed to the show. We ended up meeting up after and I introduced Katy as my foreign roommate from Russia and her name was, Katya (Cot-yah). Why? I have no idea. Other than, I know I have the tendency to goof off and lessen the seriousness of any situation but it may have been derived from nerves as well. Bottomline, Karl believed me. (To this day Karl and I still call Katy, Katya) Thinking that they were hitting it off, I took the roll as the 3rd wheel and hung in the background, so they would have the chance to chat it up. Karl not realizing what I was doing was still on the chase for me (which I didn’t know at the time). The following week, he didn’t want to ‘play games’ and he asked me to a dinner at his place. Keep in mind he was 2 years older than me and lived off campus. For a little Freshman this was a little scary and I could hear my Mother and Father’s voice in my head! So, I invited my other BFF along, Nicki (volleyball teammate). So there the 3 of us sat in Karl’s apartment as he cooked an impressive home cooked meal for us ;) Fried catfish, mac n cheese and corn. It was his road to victory as he woo’d us both.

From there led to another date, a movie on campus. He showed up in his ever infamous black leather jacket and his big smile. I tested him to see if it was interest in the movie or me. So I told a little white lie and said some chick flick name of a movie and he still said yes he would love to come. Once we got there it was the hilarious comedy flick ‘Big Momma’s House,’ to say the least he was relieved. Days to follow we continually called one another which led to steady dating and then to the official title of ‘boyfriend and girlfriend.’ Some years were spent in college as a couple and some as just friends. Through our 20s we remained best friends and were each others sounding boards for our relationships with others. Then once again both were single Winter of 2016… NYE happened and so did the first kiss of our forever. Some things are REALLY worth a 2nd chance.

how they asked

About a month before the proposal date Karl asked me if I wanted to go to a Gala in DC that his work was hosting. That his Lieutenant was not able to attend so she was giving us her tickets. It was for a Tuesday night, which didn’t seem odd to me since I have attended Gala’s before that were during the week. He recommended that I take a half day Tuesday and a full day off Wednesday. Since we would be in DC late Tuesday night it would be a lot to trek all the way back up to Wilmington, DE for work the next day. I easily agreed. It happened to be the first weekend at work that we didn’t have any weddings (Event industry) so it was good timing. He also threw in the twist that his good friend from high school is an ever growing freelance photographer and would be in DC that same day. Since we would be all dressed up in formal attire his friend was hoping to capture some shots of us by the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool. Karl is always willing to extend a helping hand, so I didn’t see this as odd either. I guess when you trust someone you don’t question them.

The night before I was at my place face timing him with ‘dress options’ for the Gala. I must of tried on almost a dozen. He chose the electric blue ‘Diane von Furstenberg’ dress that I purchased a couple years prior but never found that perfect event to wear it to. There were no ‘strings attached’ to this dress. More than eager to get through work and to get to Karl so we could spend a lovely evening in DC, I got to his house that afternoon around 2:30 PM. We headed in the car asap to avoid any traffic possible heading into the busy metropolis. I didn’t notice any jitters, any odd behavior, any sign of proposal tendencies.

Once we arrived to our hotel in DC I was thinking I would have plenty of time to relax, shower up and get ready for the Gala. But, Karl was hoping to get ready immediately and to get down to the Memorial since he and the photographer were looking at the weather and it would be best around 3:30 PM that day. A very minor temper tantrum I decided to suck it up and roll with it. I kept my natural curls intact, applied some makeup, threw on my dress and flats (with heels in carrying bag). This day was the sunniest ever! June 28, 2016 had a calm way about it but an intense heat that overtook any other elements.

The taxi dropped us off right by the site and we then proceeded to meet up with Luke Thompson (photographer) and his colleague (videographer). I had never met Luke before so there was nothing I could note as to him ‘acting differently,’ same for is friend that was taking video since it was ‘something for her class.’ I have never modeled before so I was asking for direction as he placed us in different areas and poses. He said, ‘just act natural.’ We took quite a few along side of the Reflecting Pool, by the beautiful trees.

We then headed over to the Reflecting Pool and he had us stand where we were lined up with the Washington Capital directly behind us. He said he was practicing a ‘Perspective Shot’… I said to myself, ‘I have no idea what that is, but okay!’ He directed us to stand back to back. There was a bit longer pause than I expected and I noticed I was holding my hands in an odd way so I went to ask the photographer what to do but he was not right there to ask (later to find out he was asking a child to please move as she was walking right in the ‘shot’ that was about to capture our proposal). So I naturally turned around to see what Karl was doing with his hands. I did a quick neck snap back since I caught a glimpse of him on his KNEE. Come on girls we all know what that means! I started repeatedly saying in my head and possibly a little verbally… ‘is this really happening, is this happening, wait what!? is this…’ I truly wasn’t sure with the photo shoot going on if that was a part of it or what was going on. I stood still and eager but wouldn’t turn around again. Karl then rescued me by saying, ‘Jennifer turn around.’

I turned around and there was Karl on his knee with a ring box in his hand and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. I took a step back (literally) and gasped for a reality check but one could not be found, the magical way a proposal hits you is indescribable. He reached for my hands to bring me closer to him and then tried to start his sweet words but only a few came out… I interrupted by saying, ‘did you ask my Father!?’ He calmly said, ‘yes, yes I did, now let me talk.’ He then got right to it and asked, ‘Jennifer Ashley Grasso Will You Marry Me?’

With my ever growing smile, I said, ‘YES, yes, yes!’ Moments were captured that we will never forget due to our amazing photographer. Luke then proceeded to take pictures but now it was our ‘Engagement PhotoShoot.’ And just like that best friends of 12 years were engaged. We finally realized that we were meant to be, we were wildly in love. We both floated with adrenaline that whole entire night. It was crazy-beautiful.

Special Thanks

Kelli Wilke Photography
 | photographer
Longwood Gardens
 | venue
Luke Thompson
 | proposal photographer