Maryam and Nabeel

Image 1 of Maryam and Nabeel

How We Met: Friday, January the 13th, 2012. My best friend Amani and I went to Cafe Istanbul in Decatur, GA to have a girl’s night out. It was the night before she was going home in Chicago, so we wanted to make the most of it. We walked into the restaurant and were directed to a cramped area with a few seats left, next to men in the VIP area. I scanned the room looking for a place, but the area was so crowded and there weren’t enough seats to sit. I ended up sitting next these two guys. One of them, we’ll call him “v-neck”, caught my eye at first, but then I thought “ugh, he is probably a frat boy or in some dance team and is most likely full of himself”. So I thought nothing of it and shared the seat with my best friend, both of us barely sitting on the edge of the couch. V-neck saw us cramped in and asked us if we wanted him and his friend to scoot over. I declined on behalf of the both of us, I refused to speak to them. After a few minutes of being as stubborn as I am, I fell from the seat and quickly got up in embarrassment. I thought my night was over, I sat back down at the edge of the seat, and as Amani proceeded to order our food, I fell again. I looked up at the two guys next to us, v-neck got up and said, “Would you stop being independent for one second and ask me to move over?” I blushed and quietly asked him to move over. We started talking, I found out he wasn’t in a frat and that he couldn’t dance to save his life. We joked, mostly at his expense, and as the night came to a close he “asked” me for my number. I say “asked” because he was so awkward in trying to ask me, as if he had never asked a woman for her number before, so I actually just offered to exchange numbers. I didn’t think he’d ever really contact me, and I definitely didn’t think we would fall so deeply in love. And now, 3 years later, the guy in the white v-neck, Nabeel, is my fiancé.

how they asked: Nabeel had been planning to propose approximately 3 months after we met. He has always been really great at surprising me. However, this time his surprise went a little different. Nabeel and I planned a trip to Helen, GA with a few of our friends to celebrate our 3 year mark. He took an early morning flight down from NY and picked me up from my house. I sat in the car and saw what would be my first present of the day, a box of film I wanted for the vintage Polaroid camera he got me for my birthday last year. While we discussed all the potential ways we could use the film for our trip (only to realize that I didn’t bring my camera). Then we went to Anne-Marie. For the past three years every time I was going to see Nabeel, he would make me a mani/pedi appointment with her. Once we got there, he left to get us some breakfast and I just sat there and told Anne-Marie that I knew something was up, but I couldn’t put my finger on it, she just nodded and laughed. She knew it was going to happen, she was given strict instructions to paint my nails burgundy, something I told him that was a necessity for when he proposes.

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After my nails were done, we went to go visit some of my co-workers. We had a few hours to kill before we met our friends in Helen. I introduced him to my co-workers and one of them jokingly said “He’s taking you up there so he can propose! You’re going to come back engaged!” She had no idea that she was right, and Nabeel just laughed it off and changed the subject.Then we went to the same mall that we first went to on our way to Helen, for our 1 year anniversary, and we ate at the same place we ate lunch. After a few hours of hanging out and reminiscing on our early relationship, we started heading to my friend’s cabin. We listened to the same songs and pointed out the same places throughout our drive. We got to Helen and our friends still hadn’t arrived. While we were waiting, Nabeel hands me a few more presents. A black dress and a pair of black and gold earrings, the colors I told him I wanted to wear when we got engaged. This wasn’t unexpected, Nabeel always bought me a dress to wear to our dinner dates, every time he would fly down to see me. I didn’t think much of it, I got changed, greeted my friends, and we went to dinner. At dinner our friends started suggesting that we make s’mores by the fire pit. It was cold outside, but they talked us into it. We finished up dinner, grabbed some stuff to make s’mores and quickly made our way back to her cabin. Nabeel and his friend started working to start up the fire pit while the girls danced around inside to “Uptown Funk” and whatever else we could think to play.

Once we came out, I noticed that there were lights surrounding it. I thought maybe they were left up from Christmas, so I turned to Kara and told her how beautiful they were. Nabeel then asked me to sit down by the fire pit and hands me my last gift of the night. I unwrapped my present, it was a book titled “The Exceptional Experience of the Exceptional Us”. Our friends egged me on to read it aloud. I looked at him and said “Do I really have to read these? I just want some s’mores”, but before he could answer, our friends, almost in unison, yelled “YES!” I started to open the book and heard our song playing, the one I said I wanted to be playing when he proposed, “You and I” by John Legend. I immediately knew something was up, but he looked at me as if I was crazy for thinking that, “it’s just the song that came up baby, read the book.” It was a recap of so many of our experiences from the past three years, each page had a different experience and picture: The time we braved a haunted house, our first anniversary, when I conquered my fear of shooting a gun, and on the last page… the time he decided to propose to me! My heart dropped. I don’t really remember anything after that, all I know is that #HeAsked and #IsaidYes

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Photography by Greg Villarreal
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