Nelly and Philippe

Nelly's Proposal in Estes Park, Colorado

How We Met

We met on a Thursday night on January 5th, 2012 at a “magical” place called The Border (a bar located near University of Denver) in Denver, Colorado. The more we retell the story of how we met, the more sure we are that God was behind it all along. It’s as if the stars had aligned and the universe made it possible for Philippe and I to meet against everything that could have gone wrong that night. We owe all the credit to the people we were with that night who ended up talking to each other and eventually connected us. The moment I saw this man, my knees went weak and I couldn’t describe what I was feeling. After being shy and awkward for a good 5 minutes, he asked if I cared to dance with him. I knew he was different by the way things were unfolding. We connected right off the bat and my heart felt something that it had never felt before. By the end of the night, we exchanged phone numbers and my heart was bursting with joy. We went on a couple of dates and continued to talk continuously for a whole week. By the end of the week, he had asked me to be “exclusive” which I took as being in a relationship. He never corrected me, and the rest is history.

Nelly and Philippe's Engagement in Estes Park, Colorado

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how they asked

The proposal started the morning of February 17, 2018. Leading up to this day, I had been consumed in planning Philippe’s birthday since his birthday is on February 18th. We had planned to go to an early breakfast at the Departure in Denver. I woke up early that Saturday to my boyfriend taking out our miniature dachshund, Roxy out for a walk. When he came back from his walk, I was starting to get out of bed. Out of nowhere, he walks out of the apartment saying “see you later, check Roxy, I love you”. I was super confused since we had breakfast plans and he had literally just walked out of the apartment. I walked over to check Roxy and she had an envelope attached to her harness. The envelope carried a love letter with a picture – it was titled “Prologue – Chapter One”. The second I started reading the letter, I knew what was going on. This letter prepared me for what was to come that day. The purpose of this letter was to remind me to enjoy every moment and to reminisce about our journey. This letter instructed me to go to his parent’s house to drop off Roxy for the day. I got ready, packed Roxy, and hit the road.

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“Today is a journey, a journey into the past, present, and future. So while you do some fond reminiscing, don’t forget about the present. I want you to enjoy this day, to live in the moment, to remember every part of this day.”

Once at his parent’s house, his sister handed me the next love letter, “Chapter 1 – Year 1”. This letter focused on the importance of family and reflected on all the major events that were shared at his house (Sunday dinners, watching the Broncos win, celebrating his graduation). This card instructed me to go to Dry Bar to get my hair done.

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“It goes without saying one of our binding principles is the importance of family, and our families have played a huge part in this journey and will continue to play a vital role.”

After getting my hair washed, I was surprised by my good friend Andrea. She spent the hour with me while I was getting my hair styled. Towards the end of my appointment, she handed me the next love letter, “Chapter 2 – Year 2”. This letter talked about the importance of our friends. As I finished reading this card, I felt someone tap my shoulder. I looked up and it was my best friend Meg who lives in Chicago! To my surprise, my wonderful boyfriend had flown in my friend to take part of this special day. I was surprised, filled with joy, love, and a whole ton of emotions. After reuniting and crying together, we followed the next instruction which was to go get our nails done!

“This is a journey that goes beyond just you and I. Over these last six years, we have been lucky to have a group of special friends that have been there to share our memories with, to hear the story about how we met over a dozen times, and to make the journey even more special. It only felt right that those special people should play an important part in todays journey.”

At the nail salon, I was surprised by having my other two close friends show up, Caroline and Anna! My heart was bursting with so much happiness. As we were wrapping up at the nail salon, my friends gave me the next two letters. “Chapter 3 – Year 3” reflected on all of our trips and events we have experienced together and instructed me to go enjoy brunch at my brother’s house. The following letter, “Chapter 4 – Year 4”, focused on the addition of our dog, Roxy. The instructions for this letter were to have my friends help me get ready for the “next step”.

“This is a journey that saw us bring in a new, furry, spunky, little four-legged creature into our little family in year 4. Roxy taught us and continues to teach us, many lessons that helped our relationship evolve and further develop. More importantly, she brought a source of constant happiness and love that gives us such a great preview of what our family life will hopefully look like in a few years.”

As I was getting ready for the next step, my brother and parents joined us. There, my brother handed me the next letter “Chapter 5 – Year 5”. This letter was about our faith. Not only have we been growing in our relationship together, but also with God. We thank God every single day that we met that night at the Border and that he has been there in every single way possible. This card instructed me to enjoy a scenic drive with my family.

“This is a journey that saw us grow in faith together. The bulk of that change and journey took place in Year 5, when we started to attending Red Rocks. As our relationship with God expanded, our love for another further expanded and we came to appreciate each other and what we have even more. In particular, that relationship grew during the fall retreat, when we shared some moving passages from the scripture with each other. There, you shared a passage from 1st Corinthians Chapter 13 that left a lasting impression on my heart regarding the meaning one love. I have included it here as my promise to you for how I will love you: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of the wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.” I kindly ask that you remember that first line from 1st Corinthians above, that love is patient. You have certainly epitomized patience these last 6 years with me, and I only ask for a few more.”

My brother drove my parents and I to Estes Park. My parents handed me what I thought was the last love letter “Chapter 6 – Year 6”. This letter focused on the importance of my family and how they shaped who I am today. The letter instructed me to go into the main cabin at Dao House, where Philippe was waiting for me inside.

“This is a journey that goes full-circle, which comes back to the primary drivers that have brought us here today, our families. Without your parents and brother, you wouldn’t be the wonderful woman you are today, that same woman that I have fallen so madly in love with. I can never thank your parents enough for bringing you into this world, but also raising you the way they did, and shaping the personality that makes you one-of-a-kind. Our parents have served, and will continue to serve, as wonderful examples of what a successful and healthy relationship looks like.”

Once I met up with Philippe, he took my hand and led me outside, where a horse carriage ride was waiting for us. This ride took us up the mountain and we got to see the beauty that was surrounding us. In the middle of our ride, we stopped and Philippe took my hand and told me he wanted to show me the best view of the mountains. Once we got off, we walked up a snowy trail and he stopped, took my hand, and he started to ask me the question I have been wanting to hear for many years. In the middle of his speech, he handed me the official last love letter, “Chapter 1 – Year 1”. This letter had a picture of the exact spot where we were standing. It read, “This is where one journey ends, and a new one begins”. Once I looked up, he wrapped up his speech with the quote that helped him ask me to dance that first night we met and brought it full circle. This quote is from the movie, We Bought a Zoo. “You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” After this, he dropped down to one knee and asked me to marry him. This has to be one of the happiest moments of my life and a moment I will forever treasure. After he places the ring on my finger, we turned around and we were greeted by Nate Shepard, a photographer that Philippe had hired to not only capture this moment but also shoot our engagement pictures afterward! We made our way to Rocky Mountain National Park and we took our pictures. After a couple of hours, we drove back to Denver, where there was surprise engagement party that Philippe’s parents and sister had planned for us. Not only was I surprised to see our friends and family, but also his grandparents from Quebec that had flown in the day before! We enjoyed the night by being surrounded by those who mean the most to us and by thanking God and our families for all of the love and support they have given us.

We feel so blessed to have shared this incredible moment with everyone who was involved. You all mean the world to us, and we cannot wait to say I DO! We love you all!

Special Thanks

Nathan Shepard