Lauren and Ari

Image 1 of Lauren and Ari

How We Met

Like so many modern fairytales, our story begins on a dating app. We exchanged a few messages before exchanging phone numbers and scheduled the date just one day later. Ari remembers seeing me walking toward him from down the street wearing a long fuzzy gray coat. I remember studying Ari’s profile on the app to make sure I walked up to the right guy outside of El Vez, a restaurant in Philadelphia. We greeted each other with a hug, something Ari later mentioned was surprising. My heart was beating and I started to sweat as I scanned the bar for an opening; it was standing room only. I knew that wouldn’t be ideal for what was to be a long first date. The hostess seated us at a tiny table for two right by the front door. Our kind waitress visited the table three times before we finally ordered anything. There was no break in the conversation to sip on our margaritas or read the menu. It was completely effortless as we spoke about things that were far from superficial. I felt like I didn’t need to hold back and I could let down my guard. We didn’t hesitate to make plans for a second date two days later and a third date two days after that. For our third date, we went to the Christmas Village and rode the Ferris Wheel. As we got to the top, it started to snow. We kissed at the top with flurries all around and Christmas music in the background – it was like one of the cheesy movies we both love so much.

Image 2 of Lauren and Ari

Our love grew over the months with road trips to Rehoboth, DE, and New York City, cooking dinners for each other, attending synagogue together, meeting each other’s friends, and maintaining a Snapchat streak. Then, on March 13th the whole world changed. In a panic and filled with questions about COVID, we packed a week’s worth of clothes and drove to my parent’s house to quarantine with them. What started as an escape from COVID became a once in a lifetime opportunity to grow closer as a couple and for my parents to see our relationship fully over the three months we stayed there. The experience of living through a pandemic together, while I adjusted to a new role working from home and Ari finished his nursing degree and studied for his nursing boards, only brought us closer.

The pandemic amplified our love for one another. I like to say that we dated for 1 year but 10 COVID years, because the time we spent quarantining together meant so much to both of us.

Image 3 of Lauren and Ari

How They Asked

Ari told me he bought tickets to an outdoor event in Philly at 4:00 pm on December 3rd, three days shy of our first anniversary. I took a half-day off of work to do my makeup and hair, later learning that my family had planted seeds about what to wear, how to style my hair, and to do my nails (I, unfortunately, did not pick up on that last one). We left at 3:45 pm, so I knew wherever we were going must be close, but I never would have guessed it would be the street right behind our apartment.

Image 4 of Lauren and Ari

(Photograph above, the band @thecastlesinthesky)

As we walked down the cobblestones hand in hand, I noticed a couple singing and playing guitar while a photographer took their photos. I walked to the far side of the street so I wouldn’t disrupt their photoshoot. Ari said, “Do you want to stop and listen for a minute?” I thought to myself, “ummmm no?? aren’t we going to a ticketed event that starts at 4:00??” but we stopped just in time to hear the first few notes of “Head Over Feet” by Alanis Morrissette.

Image 5 of Lauren and Ari

I gasped and looked over to Ari who was beaming, “are we getting engaged?!” I exclaimed. “No,” he said coolly. We danced and laughed to one of our favorite songs and then I gasped once again as the band, who I later learned were Castles in the Sky a husband and wife duo Ari hired, transitioned into playing “Love You for a Long Time” by Maggie Rogers. “This is it,” I thought to myself, “this is definitely an engagement.”

Image 6 of Lauren and Ari

As the song came to a close Ari took a step back and told me that he “didn’t need to spend another second with me to know that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.” At this point, I’m sobbing. He gets down on one knee, ready to pop the question, and….. his 4:00 pm phone alarm goes off (his daily reminder to take his medications, which I had told him to set a few months back). It was such a funny little moment in an otherwise flawless proposal.

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Image 8 of Lauren and Ari

After we shared our first kiss as an engaged couple, we heard cheers from all over what had previously felt like an empty street. There were people taking photos and videos of us on their cellphones from their balconies in the apartments above and people stopping to clap for us as they walked their dogs. From around the corner, our immediate families came running toward us. I cried all over again realizing that they were all a part of making this proposal so perfect.

Image 9 of Lauren and Ari

(Photograph above, the ring by Emily Chelse Custom Jewelry @emilychelseajewelry)

Image 10 of Lauren and Ari

Our immediate families came to share in our joy (wearing masks of course!) and it made the moment so unbelievably special.

Image 11 of Lauren and Ari

Special Thanks

Ashton Sotiro
 | Photographer
Castles in the Sky
 | Musician