How we met: I never believed in online dating. I used to think that people who used dating websites were absolutely insane. However, that is where our story begins. In September of 2012, Doug was serving in the army and was deployed in Afghanistan. I was in school to be a dental hygienist and decided to see what online dating was all about. I was VERY apprehensive to post anything about myself, only posting one picture and probably three sentences about myself. The very next day after I created my online profile, Doug had sent me a message. I hesitated to respond to him, but we ended up messaging back and forth for about a week. He kept insisting that I give him my phone number so he could call me. After a few days of him asking, I finally gave in and let him call me. I remember I was standing outside in my driveway looking out into the backyard. The first words Doug said to me were, “Hey, it’s Doug.” I literally felt like I had stuck my finger in an electric socket. I had goosebumps all over my body and it was at that exact moment I knew I was going to marry him.
After talking to each other for a grand total of 10 days, Doug purchased a plane ticket to come visit me in Wisconsin that coming January. Naturally, everyone thought he was crazy and that it wouldn’t last. We continued our phone/email/Skype relationship until he finally came home in November. My mom surprised me and bought me a plane ticket to go visit him in Colorado for the following week after his return from Afghanistan, which was amazing because it was 3 months earlier than we would’ve met if we had waited until January. That visit just confirmed what both of us already knew. There was no one else. We continued our long distance relationship, flying back and forth to see each other, and spending a grand total of 23 days together over a 6 month period before I moved to live with him in Florida.
The first year and a half in Florida was the most difficult time of our life. I struggled with extreme homesickness and wanting to move back to Wisconsin, my Dad had passed away, issues with my dental hygiene license and struggling to find a job. Doug was dealing with being back in school for the first time in years, adjusting to civilian life after the military, and going through back surgery and the horrendous recovery process. But, instead of that breaking us apart, it only made us stronger.
how they asked: In late October of 2014 we booked a trip to Wisconsin to be with my family for Christmas. I knew that I wanted to have family photos taken for my mom as one of her Christmas presents. I have a friend who is a photographer and asked if she would be willing to come take our photos. On November 17, 2014, Doug had his back surgery. As soon as he was able to walk around again, he called my mom and asked her permission to marry me. With my mom’s approval, he went out and bought an engagement ring. He secretly contacted the photographer and explained that he planned to propose at the end of the photo shoot and asked if she would capture the moment for us. She happily agreed!
In the weeks leading up to the trip home, Doug was acting so different. He was very impatient, agitated, he was hiding his phone and computer from me, and he was stressed out more than usual. When we began packing for the trip, he kept panicking about his computer in his backpack. I couldn’t understand why he was acting so different, but of course looking back now it all makes sense. He had the ring hiding in his backpack and was terrified I would find out about it before he had the chance to propose.
The day before we were having our pictures taken, Doug came down with the WORST flu. He couldn’t even get out of bed. Luckily he was feeling much better the day of pictures. So, we had gotten to the end of the pictures and I asked if Doug and I could get a picture of us kissing by our christmas tree. Doug looked at me and said “I have a better idea for a picture.” I genuinely thought he just had a better idea for a picture and still had absolutely no clue what was going on. I noticed that the photographer was moving to a different spot in the living room and Doug said, “I thought that this would be a good moment to capture another moment.” As I am still completely oblivious to what is about to happen, I watch Doug reach down to pull open a drawer in a table that we were standing by and see him pull out a little box. He explains to me that he has had this all planned for weeks and everyone knew about it except me. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was so surprised (and crying) that I completely forgot to answer him and he had to ask me if he could put the ring on my hand.
I cannot wait to marry my best friend!
Photos by Jennifer Leidy Photography