How We Met
Tyler and I met through a family friend in Nashville, TN. We’re both from the area and had spent most of our lives living only 30 minutes apart, though we never realized it. He’s from the west side of town, I’m from the east, and with no mutual friends, it was no surprise that our paths, though they were close, never crossed. I moved away to South Carolina for college, and when I moved back to Nashville, I was eager to meet new people but really wasn’t looking for anything more than a friendship.
One of my mom’s friends knew that Tyler and his brother had just purchased a home in East Nashville, and she also knew that I was living in the area with a few friends. So of course, they decided to trade our information so that we could get in contact and possibly meet up for drinks. I can’t remember who texted whom first, though I do remember it was not Tyler’s number I had been given. It was his brother’s, Andrew. So it was actually with Andrew, not Tyler, that coordinated our Fourth of July plans. I had no idea if they’d show up, or for that matter if I even wanted them to show up. After all, I wanted to have fun with my friends, not play host to people I had never met before.
The Fourth of July came, and I finally met Tyler. Though I was initially skeptical at having two perfect strangers join our group, all of those fears immediately went away when I first saw him. Everyone else at the party fell away and for the rest of the day we were inseparable. I’m not typically that bold when it comes to dating or flirting of any kind, but that day I found myself asking Tyler when we would have our first date. He looked me straight in the eyes and said “We’re on it right now. This is our first date.” I know, it sounds like such a line, and that’s exactly what I told him then. He responded with such sincerity, and I’ve grown to understand this is truly who he is as a person. As we ended the night watching the fireworks explode in the sky above us, all I could think was how in a place once so familiar to me, everything had suddenly changed. I knew in my heart that this would be a moment I’d remember for the rest of my life.
He meant what he said that day, and every day since because we went on our second date two days after meeting. Our first-weekend getaway was the next weekend and our first international trip 4 only months later. There was no doubt we were meant to be together, so time wasn’t our concern. The true issue we faced was in our distance apart.
The first year and a half of our relationship were long-distance, with Tyler commuting from Arizona to Tennessee and back every week. He’s an airline mechanic in Arizona and chose to commute to work so that he could live near family in Tennessee. Because he wasn’t planning on getting into a relationship anytime soon, he didn’t intend to fly every week if he didn’t have to. However, we started dating and he committed to work four nights of the week in Arizona, sleep as much as possible (which is little to none for someone working the graveyard shift), and then fly back to Tennessee so that we could spend every weekend together. There were definitely highs and lows to that portion of our lives, but it quickly became evident that a routine so demanding wouldn’t last forever. If we were going to be together, we had to commit. There was no trial run, no test period. So in April of 2019, I packed my bags and drove across the country to finally move to Arizona. The move might have seemed daunting, but knowing that Tyler was there waiting for me made it more exciting than anything.
We’ve never been a pair to do things halfway or even half speed. We know what we want, and we go for it, with full minds and full hearts. So it was no surprise to us, or our families, that after only living in Phoenix for 3 months, we had already made an offer on our first home. At this point, marriage was something that we were sure was in our future, but we didn’t care if it was the next thing we did. As cheesy as it sounds, we were truly just enjoying being together, building our first home, and creating our new life together.
How They Asked
I had been teasing Tyler for a little while about a proposal, and any time we’d have a fancy dinner or special plans I’d jokingly ask him if he liked my outfit. “Do you think it photographs well? You know.. from the side?” *cue me turning to the side and doing my best-surprised engagement face. Every time he’d roll his eyes, shake his head, and let out an exasperated sigh. “Yes, you look great, babe, but NOTHING is happening.” I’d saunter off, proud that I was able to tease him even the slightest bit, but each time with a little “but maybe…” thought in the back of my head. We’d had so many open conversations about marriage, and what that commitment meant to us both, that at this point it could happen at any moment and we’d both be ready.
About two weeks before October 24th, Tyler asked me to take a half-day of work so that we could go up to South Mountain for a sunset picnic with our two dogs. I thought it was a little odd that he was planning it so far in advance, let’s just say Tyler is not a planner, but I decided to try and go with the flow. However, as the day got closer I started getting more and more anxious for what I had convinced myself would be a huge moment in our relationship. I even asked two of my best friends if I should treat myself to a manicure, and when they both told me to save my money I had to give them a little hint that it might be for a special occasion. I think I said something like “Okay, yeah savings are cool and all but what if Tyler’s proposing?!?!” It was a true Bride Wars moment; you know, when Kate Hudson’s character runs into the restaurant yelling “I’m engaged!” even though Daniel was just working late and no proposal had actually happened… Yep. that was me.
I was almost able to hide this excitement from Tyler, but he finally caught on to my suspicions the night before when I asked him for the thousandth time “Are you sure this is a good outfit?!” He reassured me the outfit was great, but to not overthink anything because we were just going on a simple picnic. At that point, I understood that every “clue” I was so sure was a hint to a proposal that was just concocted in my own imagination. To say my bubble had been burst was a severe understatement, but I tried hard to hide my disappointment. I mean I had nothing to complain about because we were still going on a wonderful sunset picnic, right?
The next morning passed painfully slowly, but it was finally time for us to head up the mountain. By this point, I had completely given up the notion on this being a proposal kind of event. After all, only thirty minutes before we left Tyler asked me if I still wanted to go or if I thought we should postpone to the next day. Instead, I was excited and focused on having a romantic picnic and enjoying my favorite part about Arizona; the sunsets that seem to last forever. As we made our way through the traffic and up the mountain I noticed Tyler seemed unusually quiet and a tad anxious. It was then that those sneaking suspicions crept back into my head, and I had to focus on not letting them take control of our evening.
Once on the mountain, we tried to set up a blanket on a few rocks overlooking the city, but the wind had decided to come out in full force. My hair was whipping around my face, the blanket was going everywhere, and the dogs wanted to do anything and everything except stay still in one place. In the midst of this chaos, Tyler decided it’d be a great idea to take a selfie. Who was this planner and sudden photo enthusiast? As a wedding photographer, I had grown accustomed to being the one to beg him for a picture wherever we went, so I was shocked that it was his idea this time. We settled the dogs down and tried about 3 different locations, but none were apparently good enough for Ty. He kept looking around anxiously and finally said he had to go get something out of our car. So he left me standing alone, on a rock, in a crowded scenic lookout as he ran away. True romance.
He came back about two minutes later and said that a couple of guys had seen us struggling and had offered to take our picture for us. We decided to try a selfie one last time before giving up and asking for help, but that one didn’t turn out either because I was the only one in the frame. Tyler had dropped to one knee behind me and was asking me to spend forever with him. My heart was pounding and though I had partially seen it coming, nothing could have prepared me for that moment. I was in complete shock, but I was repeating over and over in my head “Remember this moment. Listen to what he’s saying. Remember this moment.” I was so focused on remembering what he said, that I completely forgot that I needed to respond. He stared at me expectantly as I stared back with all of my excitement clear on my face. It took me a minute to realize what he was waiting for, but when I did, I said “Yes! Of course!”
The crowd that had gathered cheered loudly, and the photographer that Tyler secretly hired came out to introduce herself. This last surprise, a hidden photographer, was the reason Tyler had been so anxious and had demanded we try three different locations for our picture. All along he was trying to spot her in the crowd and give her the “it’s go time” signal. And when he left me alone to go to the car? He was actually running up to find her and point her to the final spot he’d take me.
Little did I know, Tyler has had this proposal in the works for almost a year now. He first started chatting with Margot McNaull from Stor by Margot, a boutique in Ontario, late last fall and worked into the new year to perfect every tiny detail of our engagement ring. Tyler and I have a special way we hold hands when we’re feeling extra cheesy that we call the caboose. Long story short, it’s our way to say “I’ve got you. You can trust me. I love you, and I’ll take you wherever I go.” Without me knowing, he drew a simple sketch of this, and Margot was able to laser etch it into the inner band of the ring with the words “always, forever” on either side.
Tyler’s original sketch is on the right, and Margot’s digital rendering is on the right.
This ring, and the way Margot was able to create such a beautiful piece of art truly representative of our love story, is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. I am so lucky to marry my best friend, my adventure-seeking partner, my one true love.