Lauren and Ben

Image 7 of Lauren and Ben

How We Met

In 2013 I was living in Tallahassee, Florida where I worked as a General Manager for a real estate project that was experiencing some construction delays.

During that same time, Ben worked at the company’s corporate office in Austin, Texas as Director of Operations. He called me and said that because of the construction delays, he would be doing a full audit on my property. It had been a long summer preparing for the property’s opening, so when I got the call about an audit I was like…ugh this guy.

Image 1 of Lauren and Ben

Image 3 of Lauren and Ben

A few minutes later, he sent an email with instructions. I glanced at the email and saw his outlook profile picture and thought that maybe an audit wasn’t so bad after all :)

Fast forward to 2014 when I moved to Austin to work at the corporate office. Within a few weeks of getting to the office, I saw him–the audit guy. I also found out that he was dating someone and so we became work friends and that was really that.

Image 2 of Lauren and Ben

Image 4 of Lauren and Ben

In December 2015, I was offered a job at another housing company in Austin. Ben was single at that time, but we were still in the work-friend zone. I had spent months attempting to flirt with him with casual walks by his desk and bump-ins in the break room, but he never really noticed (boys, am I right?)

I decided to throw a Hail Mary on my last day in the office and hoped for the best. I wrote him a quick email telling him to stay in touch and included my cell number. I pressed send (then instantly second-guessed pressing send and contemplated a retraction) and then packed up my desk and headed to happy hour.

Image 6 of Lauren and Ben

Image 5 of Lauren and Ben

Image 9 of Lauren and Ben

The next morning I looked down at my phone and saw a text from an unknown number. It was a text from Ben where he agreed we should stay in touch, mentioned grabbing dinner one night soon and then he ended the sentence with a Friends gif. Hook, line, and sinker.

And so began our love story!

Image 8 of Lauren and Ben

Image 10 of Lauren and Ben

Image 11 of Lauren and Ben

Image 12 of Lauren and Ben

Image 13 of Lauren and Ben

How They Asked

Friday, January 10th, 2020 was our four year anniversary. The night before, Ben asked me what I had going on at work the next day. I told him I had a few things to tie up but, most importantly, a new coffee shop was opening next to our office and they were doing free drinks all day. I had to be there. He told me that unfortunately, my free coffee had to wait because he had a special day planned and had already cleared the time off with my supervisor. I thought something might be up, but Ben had planned fun little day dates for anniversaries and birthdays before, so I wasn’t really sure!

The next day we woke up, exchanged anniversary gifts, and then Ben told me that the first stop on our anniversary day date would be massages at a local spa, Milk, and Honey, followed by lunch at Geraldine’s in downtown Austin. He suggested we just Uber around that day instead of drive and I agreed since dealing with parking downtown was zero fun.

After lunch, we went to a local coffee shop to grab a drink and plan some of our upcoming trip to Thailand. While we were there, Ben mentioned that he had one other surprise before dinner, but he had to cancel it because of the weather. Originally that Friday called for rainstorms, 75 mph winds, and a tornado warning–very unlike Austin–so he decided to reschedule this secret event and said that he’d tell me what it was at dinner.

That night we headed to one of our favorite spots in town, Uchi. Our first date was at its sister restaurant in North Austin, Ucihiko, and we also celebrated our two year anniversary at Uchi just two years prior. It’s a pretty special spot. We sat down for dinner, had a few drinks, and spent some time talking about the past four years and what was to come. Towards the end of dinner, Ben divulged the final surprise that he had to postpone until the next day; a photoshoot in downtown Austin!

So the next morning, we woke up, got ready, and headed to meet the photographer. Ben told me that he picked the first location as a meeting point, but that after that we could go anywhere in the city. As we got into the Uber I was racking my mind for cool/meaningful places downtown that we could go. As we got out of the car and started walking towards spot #1, I looked at Ben and knew exactly where we were going.

In the middle of downtown Austin, there’s an old parking lot that we used to walk by when we lived in the area. If you drove by, or even walked by, you may not even notice this small and unassuming mural on the wall. I love a good mural and the second I saw it, I fell in love. Every time we walked by, I would snap a photo of it, I just thought it was the coolest thing. The mural was painted in white and said, “The only magic I still believe in is love.”

As we approached the mural, we shook hands with the photographer, Sam. He had us put our coats down and then told us to stand in front of the mural for a few test shots. After he took a couple of pictures, he told me to face away from Ben. Suddenly my mind starting racing–wait, was this it? Was he about to propose?

I turned around to face the street and awkwardly smiled at the camera, not quite sure of what to do. As I stood there, I heard rustling behind me—I peaked (oops)–and saw Ben starting to get down on one knee. Sam then told me to turn around and, when I did, I realized that it was actually happening. He was proposing.

He pulled the ring out and said a bunch of super sweet things that I can’t for the life of me remember (anyone else blackout?) and then asked me to marry him. I nodded, very aggressively, and he put the ring on my finger. It was the most amazing moment and it was everything I thought it would be. We instantly tested out the word “fiance” and spent the next few minutes just enjoying that special moment together.

Once we took a few more photos, Ben said that he had one more surprise for me and motioned to the side of the mural. I looked over and suddenly two of our best friends, Brittany and Brett, ran out from the side. We hugged and talked about the engagement and how they had anxiously been waiting behind that mural trying to hear what was going on lol.

Then they mentioned that one other person was there to celebrate. I had no idea who it could be and stood looking at the same area where Brittany and Brett had come out a few minutes earlier. Suddenly I saw my best friend Lindsay turn the corner and I was in absolute shock.

Lindsay and I became friends at sleep away camp when we were 12 years old and stayed friends ever since. She lives in Manhattan and we typically only see each other 2-3 times a year. Knowing Ben reached out to her and that she flew to Austin to be there for that moment was so overwhelming. She popped out and we both cried, she walked over and we cried, she tried to hug me and, you guessed it, we cried.

Once things settled down, we were able to take group and individual photos with Sam. Being able to share/document that moment with some of our best friends is something I’ll cherish forever and ever. As we were getting ready to leave the mural, Ben pointed out that both of our cars were in the parking lot. He had used them to save the spots in front of the mural so that no cars would park there (so dang sweet). That also meant that my car was missing for two days and I had no idea lol. I couldn’t believe that he even thought to do that–I mean, no wonder he wanted to Uber!

Image 14 of Lauren and Ben

Once we left the wall, we walked to grab a cup of coffee and we called our close family/friends to tell them the news. Then we all went over to Le Politique for brunch and champagne. As we finished up, we decided to grab one more drink and Brittney suggested we do Whistlers on Austin’s Eastside. It’s one of our favorite spots, so I jumped in the car with Brittany and Lindsay and Ben and Brett drove over separately. When we got there, I was still on the phone with my family and told them I’d be in just a minute.

Image 15 of Lauren and Ben

As I finished up my call, I swung open the curtain that led into the bar and instantly heard screams. I quickly realized that the bar was filled with our closest Austin friends. I cried for the 20th time that day and went around to give everyone a hug.

We spent the rest of that afternoon cheers’ing with celebratory champagne, talking about the engagement and just all of the exciting things to come. It was just the most amazing day.

Image 16 of Lauren and Ben

Now fast forward five months to today, the day I’m writing this post, and I’m still on cloud 9 thinking about January 11th. Ben could not have done a better job putting everything together. He was just so sweet and so intentional with the thought process behind each and every detail.

Image 17 of Lauren and Ben

And as every good story goes, there’s a whole other side to January 10th and 11th that I never even saw. To give you a little teaser, Ben had to change up the proposal location, photographer, and even the meeting point for our friends multiple times due to the weather and cancellations.

Image 18 of Lauren and Ben

At one point we were getting engaged at The Long Center, another day it was the Austin Library, then a pedestrian bridge, and even a suite at The Line Hotel. He had umbrellas ordered, friends moving our cars around town, and probably texted the photographer more in one day than he’s texted me in four years lol.

Image 19 of Lauren and Ben

I still can’t believe that he put the whole thing together and I’m just so thankful for him and all of our friends who helped make everything so dang perfect. That day would have been perfect no matter how it went down, but I’m just so happy with the story we get to tell!

Image 20 of Lauren and Ben

Image 21 of Lauren and Ben

Image 22 of Lauren and Ben

Image 23 of Lauren and Ben

Image 24 of Lauren and Ben

Image 25 of Lauren and Ben

Image 26 of Lauren and Ben

Special Thanks

Sam Hugh
 | Photographer