How we met: Justin pulled me out of a river.
Well, he pulled half of my family out of the river too, but mostly me. See, Justin’s family owns Outdoor Adventure Center, and in 2009 my younger brother and sister (CJ & Jillian) went through their youth whitewater camp. That’s how the Donahoes and the Corsons first met.
CJ & Jillian stayed friends with the Corson family and their kids after that, so much so that Justin’s future sister-in-law (Erika, who was mentoring Jillian) became my roommate in the months prior to her wedding in the summer of 2012. That June, my older sister (Katherine) came to Seattle, and we all decided to go rafting with Jared (Justin’s brother and Erika’s now-husband). Justin, Rob (friend and kayak legend), and Andrew (who married Justin’s twin sister Jessica) came along as safety kayakers – thankfully. We wanted an exciting ride, and we usually don’t mind swimming in whitewater. But we came from North Carolina where the rivers are not 40 degrees. When I fell into the frigid water, I braced for the worst instead of trying to get to safety. So imagine my relief when I felt someone grab my PFD, and imagine my glee when I looked up to see that my handsome rescuer was Justin. He instructed me to grab the kayak, but I just rested there in the safety of his grip.
I wish I could say I wooed him with my eloquent speech and sharp wit, but I couldn’t even speak full sentences in front of him. Ask anyone who knows me; I’m not known for my lack of words. But this guy made my words melt before they could leave my lips.
But despite my lack of self-rescuing and my lack of words, come August he wanted to hang out with me. We went to my grandparent’s house in Gig Harbor, WA, to explore the Puget Sound on jet skis. I threw him off a few times, just to prove I really was tough and adventurous. (One time, I managed to throw myself off and not him…) Then we rescued a turtle that had discovered my aunt and uncle’s yard and took it to the Reptile Museum (Monroe, WA). Jet skis and two-headed turtles… The ingredients of the world’s best first date.
Two months later, when he was in Maui and I was in Raleigh, NC, we started dating. Two years and some change after that, I said yes through a cloud of tears to the best man I know on top of a volcano at sunrise.
how they asked: Like everyone told me to, I was trying super hard not to predict when Justin would propose. Unsuccessfully. But on January 17, 2015, that sneak got me good. We had been planning an adventure day since Christmas, and finally it came together as a birthday celebration for me. It was going to start with sunrise at Haleakala – Maui’s tallest volcano. (He had taken me up there for the sunrise two years ago when I came to visit him, but it was so cloudy we could barely see anything, so we were going back.) He told me to pack for a whole day on the other side of the island – sunrise to dinner. So, with bathing suit, dress, make-up, and hiking clothes in tow, we made our way to Haleakala at 3am. By 5:30, we were parked on top of the volcano, and I was asleep in the car. He told me when to be ready, and he went to the bathroom. He was gone a while – I figured he was scoping out where we’d watch the sunrise, and I didn’t mind because I was too tired to move.
At 6:15 we started making our way up a gravel path to a lookout. We set up the GoPro, set down our blanket, and sat down with our coffee to watch magic happen. We talked a little, but mostly watched the sky change colors and the stars twinkle. At one point, Justin leaned over and prayed for me. I figured he was doing this because my birthday was coming up, and he was super thankful that I was born.
Fifteen minutes before sunrise, something terrible happened. I realized I had to go to the bathroom. When I told Justin, he was not happy that I needed to possibly miss my Birthday Sunrise to go to the bathroom. So, I decided I was a big girl – almost 25 – and I could hold my bladder for twenty minutes until after sunrise… Five minutes later, I REALLY had to go. In comes Justin’s guilt trip – “We drove 3 hours to watch the sunrise YOU haven’t seen for YOUR birthday, and you’re just going to MISS IT? Because you have to go potty…” So I stayed. For five more minutes. Then I threw in the towel; it was do or die time. So I hopped off our rock and ran down the trail a bit until I realized I felt better standing up. I returned to Justin and said that I could make it, so long as I was standing.
Next, as the sun was just starting to come over the horizon, Justin gave me his jacket (which I didn’t want because it would just weigh me down on my impending sprint to the bathroom). And he pulled a little white box out of his pocket.
At this point, I forgot I had to use the bathroom so terribly bad. I couldn’t believe it was happening! Then he opened the box. And it was a ring pop… I used to say I wanted to be proposed to with a ring pop, but this morning I thought he was just messing with me, assuming I would be expecting him to propose. Naturally, I slapped him and called him a name. Then he switched to be between me and the sunrise and started talking about years and birthdays. He wasn’t making sense to me, so I was correcting his grammar. Then he got down on one knee, which effectively shut me up, and pulled out another box.
When he asked me to marry him, I couldn’t say anything. I just started crying. It felt like he couldn’t have stood up and hugged me any slower. Eventually I said yes.
Then this woman I didn’t know appeared behind us with a stunning camera and was taking pictures of us. Once Justin and Angie (the woman with the camera) explained that they knew each other and Angie was there to take pictures of us, I was so excited. After letting me go to the bathroom, Angie spent hours with us taking engagement photos and capturing our joy and excitement of being engaged. She also brought us hot chocolate! We got to take pictures with mugs! (I think she read my mind because I’ve always wanted to take engagement pictures with coffee mugs.) I really can’t imagine sharing such a special time with anyone more thoughtful, creative, or fun than Angie.
The whole morning was blessing upon blessing. And now we get to get married! (And we have the world’s most stunning engagement photos with which to start our life together.)
Photos by Engaged on Maui