Mariah and Zachary

Image 1 of Mariah and Zachary

How We Met

I met Zack on the first day of band camp during my freshman year at Western Illinois University. I was in the color guard and he was the clarinet section leader. I instantly wanted to get to know him, but of course he was aloof! I asked him to hang out or grab meals multiple times during the week, but he picked up on NONE of the ‘not-so-subtle’ hints. It was kind of endearing. Fast forward 3 months to pep band season and he finally realized he liked me. After bonding over Disney movies, marching band, our desire to see the world, and nerding out at the Museum of Science and Industry, we began dating!

Image 2 of Mariah and Zachary

Our first year in the pep band, the WIU women’s basketball team swept the conference and the tournament! I’m just so glad he was willing to get all decked out with me!

We were just so similar that it clicked! We are both outdoorsy and love to be active we go on walks, picnics, kayak trips, etc! He also introduced me to geocaching.

He is my perfect partner! I couldn’t imagine being more in love than I am with this handsome man! I mean, who else will still kiss me after a round of Mud Volleyball?

Image 3 of Mariah and Zachary

Image 4 of Mariah and Zachary

How They Asked

Zack has wanted to take me to his family’s vacation house on Sanibel Island since we started dating. It’s a place that is so close to his heart, and I knew he wanted to share that with me. On the second day of the trip, he took me for a walk on the beach.

Image 5 of Mariah and Zachary

We stopped on a section of the beach with very few people. I was admiring the color of the water when I turned to find Zack on one knee. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a beautiful wooden ring box engraved with my name!

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He told me how much he loves me and how he has enjoyed traveling with me these past three and a half years. He asked me to be his travel partner forever by becoming his wife!

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I said YES!

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And to make matters better, he was able to merge two of our other passions into the proposal! I have always loved the ocean and he studies meteorology, so you can imagine how perfect the setting was when we noticed a storm (the growing clouds in this selfie) visible over the mainland!

Image 9 of Mariah and Zachary

My favorite detail about the proposal was the story of the ring. The center stone was actually my Great Grandmother’s diamond. When she passed, she left the diamond from her engagement ring to my mother. When Zack asked for my family’s blessing, my mom gave him the diamond to use in the ring. My Great Grandpa saved every penny he had after immigrating from Holland to buy this diamond for my Great Grandma. He bought the ring during the Great Depression and it was costly. Something interesting that the jewelers pointed out when they set the stone was that you can tell the diamond was cut from mines in Europe.

Image 10 of Mariah and Zachary