Meghan and Andrew

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How We Met

I decided to host a tailgate my senior year homecoming at University of Northern Iowa. I invited a bunch of my friends and coworkers. One of my friends told me that his friend Andrew was hosting a tailgate too, so we should plan to park next to each other. Andrew had graduated from UNI a few years before.This also would save me from having to bring a grill andpretend I knew what I was doing, so I told everyone to bring their own meat and this Andrew guy would grill it for us. I brought everything else.

Finally, come the day of the tailgate and I am super excited to host this for my friends at our last homecoming as students. Turns out, our two tailgates basically became one. All our friends were mingling while I stood by Andrew and talked to him as his grilled my burgers. Then I decided it was time to get him to play beer pong with me. We really hit it off, but our mutual friend was not having it, so he made sure we didn’t sit together at the game. We ended up stealing his seat for half the game though and got to chat a little more. After the game, we ended all ended up at a bar, but Andrew had run into his ex girlfriend, so he was a little upset and not speaking much. I decided it wasn’t going to work out with us and went along having my own fun night with friends. The next day, thinking I had nothing to lose, I sent him a message on facebook telling him I had fun tailgating the day before and that I was looking forward to another beer pong rematch. I was not expecting anything back, and as the day passed, I forgot about it more and more until I got a message from him that evening apologizing because he couldn’t respond at work. We found out that he loves the Vikings and I love the Bears, so we made a little bet on our next rematch so the loser would wear the other team’s jersey. The rest, they say, is history!

Over a year later, we’ve survived (and thrived!) me living in India for 5 months, a Bears/Vikings game, a Twins game, my graduation, and several crazy trips. Now we’re engaged to be married in 2018. I thought 2017 was great, but this year might top it!

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how they asked

I had been student teaching in Mumbai, India for four and a half months. We were used to long distance because we lived an hour and a half away before me moving to India, but this was a whole other type of long distance. With the time difference being almost 12 hours, we basically just said, “Good morning!” and “good night!”. Before I left, Andrew decided he was going to come visit the last week I was there, when we would tour places around India. So the time had finally come and he arrived in Mumbai. I think he was a little shocked with how assertive and confident I had gotten, but that’s what you have to do in India if you don’t want to be ripped off.

Fast forward to the day we were driven from Delhi to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. I loved every moment of touring the Taj Mahal. This portion of India was covered in smog so bad that you should have been wearing a mask, but the heavens opened up and it as a sunny, clear day so we stayed for a long time to watch the sunset. I remember thinking that night, Well, if he didn’t propose today, it’s just not happening here, which I wasn’t upset about. We had been talking a lot about the future, but I still wasn’t expecting a proposal at all. That whole day, I didn’t think about getting engaged. We walked around and inside the Taj, which gleamed in the sun. We met a french couple who were feeding a baby squirrel little bits of blue jolly ranchers. I found the perfect spot to balance my phone and get a picture of us with the Taj in the back. Looking back, this would’ve been the perfect opportunity to photograph a proposal! We went back to the hotel and I called my mom all giddy because I just saw the freakin’ Taj Mahal! She wasn’t going to answer the phone but I told her it was worth it, so she answered but was being super weird. I realize now that it’s because she knew what Andrew was planning to do, she just didn’t know when.

The next morning, Andrew woke me up for the sunrise at the Taj. I really didn’t want to go but I wasn’t about to tell him that we were going to skip it because that’s one of the few things we wanted to do, so I got ready with a black dress and leggings (so to be more conservative), and thank god I did because it was 55 degrees outside. I was frozen in our rickshaw, which I would equate to a golf cart for people who don’t know what they are. Before we left the hotel, Andrew was insisting that he bring his backpack. I told him he was crazy for bringing a backpack if we weren’t going to be there for very long, but he thought the waters and my camera would be easier to carry in a backpack. I should’ve known this was a clue of what was to come that moring! We finally get to the garden across the river from the Taj and our rickshaw driver says he will come back for us in an hour and a half. I am beside myself because “we don’t need that long here!” but Andrew again tells me that it’s fine, we’ll find some things to do here. So here we are, stranded for an hour and a half. I’m leisurely taking pictures and taking in every detail of the Black Taj Mahal, which is the grounds where they were going to build a second Taj but never got to. It’s a bit foggy out but not enough to ruin my pictures of the sunrise and the Taj Mahal. I had been sharing my camera with Andrew all morning so he could also capture some better quality pictures than our phones. He points to this single tree that is not fogged over at all and tells me he wants a picture of me sitting on the bench under it. That’s when my gut goes crazy. What is happening?! Now, he is taking pictures and keeps walking towards me to take pictures. My anxiety, a good anxiety this time, is felt deep in my chest. Still, I’m yelling at him to stop moving closer or he won’t get the whole tree in the picture and it will be ruined. Somehow I tried to sabotage all ways he was trying to ruin his proposal even though I had no idea it was coming.

He says, “I have to show you why I brought the backpack.” Okay, now I’m freaking out a little bit, thinking, this is it, but he pulls out a love book he got made before he left. It is titled “77 miles to 12,943km: Love Andrew”. This represented the distance from our homes back in the states compared to his house and where I was staying in India. How cute! I thought. I start tearing up reading all the pages of why he loves me. The page before the last reads, “ Now 12,943 km later there is only one thing I want to ask” and I flip the page, where it asks me to marry him while he’s also on one knee asking me. He swears I kept turning the pages to see if there was more, but I honestly don’t remember what happened after that. I obviously say yes and we call my mother and my best friend. My mom explains why she was confused yesterday when I called. Andrew went to my mom to ask for permission to propose, as well as showing her the ring he picked out with his mom. I think I was still in shock and had no idea how he had planned that all. I’m glad he picked this morning because it was a bit more private and secluded than all the tourists inside the Taj Mahal the day before.

It was really fun to go back to Mumbai, where my teacher friends threw an engagement/going away party, complete with a cake where one of my friends had to ice on the Taj because the shop wouldn’t. It was a great ending to my five months in India.

When we got back to the states, it was fun showing all the pictures and the book. While we didn’t get my much desired photo of the proposal, we got pictures from right before and right after. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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Special Thanks

Christopher Rios
 | photographed ring once back in Mumbai