Monica and Justin
How We Met
I wasn’t looking for love or even a relationship. Focused on my career—and casually dating a lot—there was plenty of time for that…later. Then I swipe right on the boy who would sweep me off my feet. Justin and I met…on Tinder. We matched on January 22, 2017. He messaged me. I ignored him. Finally, I gave responded and gave him my number. He texted me. I ignored him. Finally, I responded and set up a date. For 30 minutes—between a rehearsal and a musical theater performance—at the Museum of Art at the university we both attended.
That 30 minute walkabout led to a second walk two days later—up and down the streets of downtown Provo—that lasted six hours. It was February in Utah, but we had so much to say to each other, we didn’t even notice.The next day we walked around the Botany Pond on campus for an hour between classes and rehearsals. The next day—our fourth date—ended with our first kiss. From there it just got better and better.
how they asked
I wasn’t the girl who sat around doodling her dream wedding dress or choosing baby names. For someone who had never spent much time thinking or planning out wedding details, however, I had a fairly specific list of things I thought would make for an incredible proposal. I never told these things to Justin, but I told them to my mom. When Justin asked her privately what I would really love, she shared my list with him. Here is what I told her and what she told him. I hoped my marriage proposal would be: Epic (whatever that means!)
Made when I was dressed up and looking nice (not right after a workout…)
Would be on film (so I could watch it a billion times over)
Would be a surprise without being a surprise (meaning that once we were both in agreement about getting married, the proposal itself would be a surprise)
In hindsight I realize that accommodating all four of these things—particularly the element of surprise—required an enormous amount of planning. It was really just my fairy tale wish list. But Justin was determined to do anything to have all the elements I had hoped for. He wanted to propose on August 3, 2017—exactly six months after our first date. He also added a requirement of his own: he didn’t want me to know it was a proposal until the moment he actually went down on one knee to ask me to be his wife! I model part time, so photoshoots are part of a typical week. Since our relationship became public, I’d been asked myriad times to bring along my “cute boyfriend,” so we’d already done shoots together. Justin decided a couple photoshoot would be the ruse that could get me dressed up and on camera without being suspicious.
First, Justin arranged to have me booked for a photo/videography shoot with two of my favorite professionals—Rebecca Hoffman as the photographer and Luke Porter as the videographer—for a special couple project. The project, titled the “For Keeps Project,” was presented to me complete with a fake website to make it legitimate. Next, Justin scouted out an incredibly gorgeous spot in the mountains up Provo Canyon. After looking at numerous possibilities, he was taken by an avid hiking friend to Buffalo Peak, where there is a wide open green meadow with a view of the valley, mountains, trees, and cliffs. Extra trips to the location allowed him to determine the perfect spot with an epic view where we could dance to his selected playlist. He learned the exact moment when the sun would rise over the mountain peak and hit the spot he had chosen. He did a walk through—at sunrise—with the photographer, so she would know what would happen and understand how she could seem to be directing us there and through the process.
This ruse disguised all sorts of things he wanted to include. The project required a photographer and videographer on set, to capture all the feels. Justin wanted to use the drive up to the location to be spent with us reminiscing about our courtship. And he wanted the actual proposal to be clearly heard on film. The “docudrama” nature of the project required us to wear mic packs so that the audio of the interview and the proposal itself could be captured. Luke told me that he had asked Justin for a playlist of songs and asked me to bring my speakers. (Luke had filmed one of my music videos and we used mood music to set the scene. So this was just another thing that seemed completely normal.)
Once Rebecca contacted me about the project, I asked Justin if he could be part of the special project that required a real, young couple for a sunrise shoot. He pretended to check his work/class schedule before confirming that he could make it. In my mind, *I* had invited *him*, so there was nothing to suspect. To ensure I would suspect anything that morning, well in advance he asked me out for a special, fancy date—after the shoot. I was sure that was going to be the proposal and told my mom, “Mom, I’m going to know when he proposes. It’s too hard to make it a surprise. I know he’s going to do it on Monday at the ‘dinner date.’ But I’m going to act surprised. It’s so nice that he’s trying so hard!”
There were so many details perfectly executed. The shoot had a “wardrobe budget,” so I picked out a new dress for me and a coordinating shirt for him. Rebecca brought on a wonderful HMUA (Sarah Lewis) to do my hair. My makeup was ready. Justin arrived and changed. Luke miked us up and we headed to the mountain site. All along the drive we talked about our relationship and how we had grown to love each other. We arrived at the location Justin had chosen with precisely enough time to walk in to his spot (our spot!), get direction from the photographer and videographer, and start the playlist he had prepared.
With filming and photographing underway, Justin and I did what we always do. We talked and laughed and kissed. We danced through the first two favorite songs: Shape of You by Ed Sheeran and Everything Has Changed by Taylor Swift. Then our song, Perfect for Me by Ron Pope, began to play. With Luke’s (preplanned) direction, Justin sang it to me while we slow danced. It was incredibly beautiful and emotional. I was sure the footage was wonderful and we were being perfect models for the project!
Just as the song ended, Justin stepped back, knelt down on one knee, and—interrupted only by the two of us sobbing—asked me to be his wife. I have never been hit with such a wave of emotion in my entire life. It was the most precious moment I’ve ever experienced. Justin’s proposal was more than I ever dreamed of. It was perfect. He is perfect for me.