Katherine and Ryan

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How We Met

Katie & Ryan first met in a Merrill Lynch conference room when she interviewed for a position in his group. The interview quickly turned into an Atlanta-sales pitch, as Ryan tried to recruit the cutest applicant to move south. Katie, won over with Southern Hospitality, accepted a job offer and relocated 1,959 miles from Bozeman to Atlanta.

In an effort to get Katie out of the office and show her the city, Ryan suggested they make plans to hike Kennesaw Mountain. It was there that she first met Ryan’s partner in crime, his labradoodle Indy. On the hike, Katie and Ryan found out they had a lot more in common than just finance. So afterward, to make Katie feel at home, they grabbed dinner at Ted’s Montana Grill.

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Over the next two years, Ryan and Katie spent a lot of time together in & out of the office, riding their bikes, walking Indy, watching the Bobcats & Hoosiers, and trying to teach Ryan the benefits of healthy eating. Admittedly as planners, Katie & Ryan both had an idea early on where the relationship would wind up. However, there were a couple outstanding items Ryan needed to cross off first….to be continued below

how they asked

I embarked on my first ever journey to Big Sky Country over Labor Day with two goals in mind. First, I needed to finally see the Zerbe Family Farm & prove I was a worthy farm hand. Second, I needed to ask Grant’s permission to marry Katie.

It’s a full day trip to get out to the farm. We flew out early in the morning from Atlanta to Minneapolis, then flew from Minneapolis to Williston, then drove 2 hours from Williston to Lustre, Montana. As Katie likes to say, “it takes a little longer to get to God’s Country”. Montana certainly lives up to it’s nickname. You feel awful small under that big sky, and it’s breathtaking to have a view of the western plains as far as the eye can see.

Upon our arrival, my farming internship quickly ensued. Grant was a good sport while I peppered him with questions as we rode together in the combine harvesting wheat and chickpeas. At one point though, the combine broke down. Grant sent Katie to Glasgow to get parts, and I knew this would be my window of opportunity to take care of Goal #2. I asked for Grant’s permission right there in the field, and began the process of planning the engagement that night with Mary.
Mary graciously offered to allow me to use a pair of Montana Yogo Sapphires in the engagement ring that she once received as a gift from Nana. I was thrilled that I had the chance to make the ring extra sentimental, as the sapphires were not only mined in Montana, but passed down through two generations. Mary also referred me to a local jeweler, who happened to be a childhood friend of Grant’s, to help me complete the ring.

While planning the proposal, I knew I wanted to somehow involve family. With our two families located on opposite ends of the country though, that was going to be tricky to do. However, with my parents now residing in St. Petersburg and her parents having a condo in Daytona Beach Shores, I thought I might be able to pull it off in the Sunshine State.

I grew up on a lake in Indiana and took sailing lessons during my post-college years in Chicago, so it seemed fitting to take the plunge on a boat. I found a sailboat captain in Daytona that was willing to take us out on a chartered cruise, and picked a date where I could catch the Zerbe’s in town on their post-harvest beach retreat.

Through October and November as I worked with the jeweler, the sailboat captain, Grant & Mary, and my parents, I was paranoid that I would let something slip to Katie. If you know Katie well, you know that she’s acutely observant and has a stifling knack for uncovering secrets. You can’t get anything by her. So I suggested to Katie that we take a trip to visit her parents to relax after a big career designation test I was set to take in late November. I also suggested we do something different while we’re there, like take sailing lessons. She was on board. I then worked on the route with the sailboat captain – planning when the proposal would happen, and where we would pick up both our parents as a surprise to continue the cruise. Everything was set.

Then the night before we were heading down, I got a call from the sailboat captain as I was driving home from work. His engine had broke down and he was unable to take us out. With no back up plan in hand, I was in a bit of a panic to say the least. However, he gave me the name of another captain that I then pleaded with to help me out in a bind. He wasn’t going to take his boat out that weekend, but eventually obliged after sensing my desperation.

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It was smooth sailing after that. We made it down to Florida for a relaxing weekend, set sail on the cruise, I proposed, we picked the parents up, sailed under a beautiful setting sun, and then ate a celebratory dinner at the marina restaurant. And oh yeah, she said yes.
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