How We Met: Jared and I met because of my best friend, Karissa (who I am FOREVER grateful for connecting the two of us) in early August 2005. I was 15 and Jared had just turned 16 years old a few days prior. To this day, he still teases me that I owe him a 16th birthday present. But back to where it all started…my best friend Karissa lived next door to Jared and I would be at Karissa’s house everyday over the summer. One day as I was looking out the front window, I saw this boy mowing the neighbor’s lawn. He was so cute and just happened to be shirtless on that hot summer day…not a bad view at all. From that moment, I knew I had to make it my mission to meet this boy. Due to a week long family vacation to California, I wasn’t able to meet Jared until roughly ten days after I first saw. Luckily, Karissa was able to meet Jared (and his twin brother) while I was away and made constant remarks about me to Jared, and how he needed to meet me. After what felt like the longest week of my life, I headed home to PA and was finally able to meet the now love of my life. At first, we were both extremely shy around one another and would only talk through text messages. Typical 15 and 16 year olds! I am so thankful that Jared and I had an instant connection and were inseparable from day one. High school sweethearts who are embarking on a new journey to soon be husband and wife. One of our first pictures together…my high school Homecoming dance in September 2005.
how they asked: It was our first day in Corolla, Outer Banks, North Carolina. I had been begging Jared nonstop to go for a walk on the beach with me from the minute we arrived – it was the first time I had ever been to the Outer Banks and I instantly fell in love. I couldn’t wait to have a drink in my hand while walking down the beautiful beach with the love of my life. I started to become impatient as Jared went down to the beach without me at least three times prior to him finally saying he would take me on a walk. Around 7:30 that night, I said to Jared that he was either taking a walk with me or I was going on my own…I couldn’t sit still another minute. FINALLY, he agreed to go on a walk with me…a walk I will never forget. Before we went outside to head towards to the beach, Jared told me that he wanted to change his shorts. I didn’t think twice about it as I knew he didn’t care for the basketball shorts he had on at the time. His mom suggested that I make us each a drink to take with us…little did I know she was distracting me to give him the ring that she had been carrying around in her purse for the last two days (thank goodness she can keep a secret!).
As we started outside towards the back deck, Jared’s nerves were running wild and I was as giddy as school girl about finally getting to take that walk. From the minute we walked outside, it felt like an entirety until we got to the top of the sand dune. Jared would see something in the sand and had to pick it up for inspection, he chased a wild bunny around the sand, and walked as slow as a snail…he did all of this to stall us getting to the top of that sand dune so his Dad could make it back from the store just in time for him to ask me that special question.
Once we reached the top of the sand dune, after what felt like hours, Jared looked to the left and I looked down the beach to the right to figure out which way to walk. The sky was absolutely beautiful as the sun was beginning to set, and the ocean water was a deep, deep blue. The next thing I heard was “Marissa…” I turned to Jared and I could see he was acting a little weird and I replied…”yes?” The next thing I knew he was down on one knee asking me to marry him. I instantly started crying as I had dreamed of this moment and I replied “of course, YES!” I was in absolute shock and euphoria that the love of my life was able to surprise me with the most perfect proposal. Once I was able to finally catch my breath, the only thing I could do was stare at my ring and think about how blessed I am to have someone as wonderful as Jared in my life. After we snapped a selfie or two, we made our way back to the house all while calling my parents (who were back in PA) to share the great news. We were greeted with champagne and a heartfelt toast from my father-in-law to be! It was a night filled with love, tears of joy, and pure bliss that I get to be Mrs. Jared Steckel.
Photographer: Annie Panto
Secret Keeper/Mother-In-Law: Robin Steckel