Mari and Colin

colin-mari-dc-war-memorial-proposal-11How We Met: [Mari] Colin and I met the first week of September in 2009. My roommate at the time was heading out to a work happy hour at Millie & Al’s in Adams Morgan. I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to join her, but after a little convincing I decided to go. When I walked into the bar, Colin was the first person I saw. I made a comment about how cute the tall guy at the bar was, and my friend replied, “You haven’t met Colin yet??” She walked straight over and got his attention.

Turns out, Colin and I had been socializing in the same group for a year without ever crossing paths. Since I was fresh out of college and outstandingly broke, I had pulled a really classy move and brought a few beers to the bar in my purse. I didn’t realize how fast my roommate had moved to grab Colin, so his first impression of me is ridiculous – I was turned around with my hand in my bag, mid-twist on a bottle cap, and I completely froze as I heard her start to introduce us. Luckily, he thought it what I was doing was hilarious.

[Colin] I turned around from the bar to meet this friend and that’s when I first saw Mari. She had her hand in her purse and was pulling out a 16oz Miller Lite bottle (which they didn’t serve at this bar). She had me at the opening crack of that first beer. I’m a sucker for people that like deals and $0 for a beer is as good a deal as you can get.

We ended up talking the rest of the night and the conversation was so easy and effortless. The rest of the group moved on to another bar and Mari and I stopped to grab pizza from Jumbo Slice before joining them. We arrived at the bar formerly known as Tom Toms and met up with the rest of our group, who were out on the dance floor. Mari knocked me down a peg or two when my bad dancing became too much for her and she finally asked me to stop and just sit down. She gave it just as good as I did, which was exactly what I was looking for in a girl.

how they asked: [Colin] We started looking at rings in March 2015, after Mari mentioned wanting to help pick a style. We went to a few jewelry stores so she could point me in the right direction. Three jewelry stores later and I was more confused than when we started.


[Mari] After we went shopping I figured the proposal would be soon. It’s hard not to wonder when you know that something’s happening behind your back! But Colin told me that there was a lot to learn in order to make a decision, and he just wasn’t sure what kind of ring to get. He continued to play up that angle, and convinced me that it wasn’t going to happen for some time.


[Colin] I kept stressing the point that she had made me so confused on the rings that it was going to take me a while to find the right one. But while I played this up, I also traveled to New York, met with her parents, and asked for their permission. I chose a jeweler, found the perfect ring, and was told it would take 4 weeks to be ready. That gave me an early July timeframe, and the ability to plan a surprise proposal and completely mess with Mari’s head. I was also able to get both of our families and many of our friends to join in on the surprise.

[Mari] Colin told me he had been offered White House tour tickets for July 3rd, but as we headed to the tour, Colin made a side stop to the DC War Memorial, which is my favorite memorial. He led me up the stairs and to the middle of the gazebo – directly past a woman who was taking pictures of that area.

I had no clue what was going on until he stopped, got down on one knee, and asked me to marry him.


I was in so much shock; my general reaction was basically a lot of shouting and jumping up and down. After I said yes, Jennifer Gulley from Jennifer Gulley Photography came up to us, and I realized that the woman (who I assumed was taking early morning memorial shots – a very common thing), was our engagement photographer! She captured the moment perfectly, and spent the rest of the hour with us, taking beautiful photos that we are so thankful for.



Afterward, we drove up to Baltimore and spent the day at the National Aquarium (I have a big thing for aquariums and touch tanks). We then came back to DC before heading out for what I thought was going to be a romantic overnight somewhere in Virginia.


But again, Colin detoured to “pick something up” at our friends’ house, and as we walked around to the backyard, I got another surprise – an engagement party BBQ! In addition to our friends, Colin was able to have both sets of our parents come for the weekend, as well as his younger brother and cousin. The night was amazing, and ended with a fireworks display for us all to enjoy. It was the best 4th of July weekend we’ve ever had.

Photos by Jennifer Gulley