Nicky and Ryan

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How We Met

Nicky’s voice: Ryan and I first met as a pair of 16-year-olds trying to get our volunteer hours in at St. John Vianney Catholic Church youth camp. Each of us were counselors. I was a counselor for a group of 10 or so kiddos and Ryan was a counselor for the “games” station with a few of his grade school buddies. As I was waiting for the camp to start I read an article in Seventeen Magazine titled something along the lines of “you’ll marry someone you’ve met before” …Well. Duh. But in the article, it said statistically speaking the average individual will marry someone they met before they turn 18 but they may not necessarily be close with. Now at this point, my immediate thought was “but wait! I don’t want to marry anyone I know” but then I started to rationalize and say that some people wouldn’t be so bad or that others were just out of the question. And that’s exactly what I did that afternoon in the games station. I rationalized the group of “games” counselors. Ryan and his buddies were standing in a line with Ryan at the end of the line. I looked at the group of guys and naively rationalized how marrying them wouldn’t be so bad but then I got to Ryan… and immediately went, “Oh Heck No.” then thought, “now look I’ll probably end up marrying him.” And here we are today! HAHAHA!

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Flash forward 10 years and Ryan was single and living on the west side of Cleveland when he saw my profile on He took a shot and messaged me (not remembering that we had met almost a decade ago). We went on our first date on March 11, 2017, and we had an interesting first date, to say the least. Ryan thought he had ruined it. We had made plans to go to brunch the next morning and when he texted me the next morning to see if we were still on, he got no response. He decided that he wanted to know me more so he told me that he would pick me up in a half hour and take me to brunch, still, without a response. I think if he had not done this, we would not be in this position today. We ended up at West End in Lakewood for brunch.

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Fast forward, again, a couple of months, and he was relaxing at home and says he just knew that someday he would ask me to marry him. Over the next couple of months, things were going great and we took a big step and he asked me to move in with him at the end of August 2017. A week after moving in with each other, though, my dad was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer and it was spreading rapidly. We had no idea he was sick until the doctors found the tumors during an exploratory surgery. The doctors said that they would do what they could to keep him comfortable but they were not sure how much time we would have with him. Ryan knew my dad was my rock and how important he was to me. Although we had only been dating 6 or so months, he says he knew he wanted to marry me and I let him know it was important to me that he get my dads permission. My dad’s birthday was September 3rd and Ryan asked my dad’s permission on the 4th while we took him up to the rooftop of the Cleveland Clinic to watch the airshow. It was truly one of my most special memories with the two men I love.

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how they asked

Ryan’s voice: One thing that she made very clear to me was that it was very important that I had gotten her parents’ blessing. I first asked Ted, Nicky’s Dad, and I’ll never forget the first thing out of his mouth was, “Are you sure?” haha. I let him know that I was and he gave me his blessing. Next thing he said was to talk to Lu, Nicky’s Mom, as well. I asked her later that day, and she had the same exact response as Ted. haha! About a month later, I decided to go ring shopping and I found the perfect ring.

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I had her friend Erica look at it before I purchased and she approved as well. We were planning for a trip to London to watch the Cleveland Browns play and I knew this was where I wanted to do it. I had been debating between a couple of places to actually propose when Nicky said that she wanted to see King’s Cross Station when we got there, and the light bulb clicked for this place to be the place I proposed since she loves Harry Potter.

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I had my parents carry the ring “across the pond” and keep it in their room so I wouldn’t have the surprise be ruined. We got to King’s Cross the day we got to London and the photographer I hired was waiting to capture the proposal. Nicky always said how she wanted someone to capture our engagement, whenever that may be. We got to the line to get by the Platform 9 3/4 spot in the actual Kings Cross Station and I told the worker that we had the “VIP Skip the Line” passes (not a real thing, just part of the plan I set up with the photographer and workers) and the worker brought us to the front of the line. But, Nicky almost unknowingly postponed the proposal because she didn’t want to cut anyone who had been waiting in line longer than us! hah. But she finally went to the platform sign and as the employee was putting a scarf on her, she got ready to jump on the cart halfway out of the wall only to find me, beside her, on one knee and holding the ring.

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It was the most nerve-racking day of my life, but also the happiest day of my life, so far. Since we were in London, she called her mom and siblings right away to let them know the good news. They were so excited. She talked to her dad later that night and told him as well. It was wonderful to know he knew she was engaged. Ted called Lu three times the next day to make sure Nicky and I were actually engaged and he was so happy.

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Terribly, that night, Ted passed away. The doctors and nurses had told her that he still had more time so that is why she went on the trip; he had also told her to not change her plans because of him and his illness. She had gone through her happiest day and her most horrific day within a 48 hour period. From that moment on, I have done my best to love her the way her dad loved her mom. Her parents were married for 50 years and I can only hope we have a marriage as strong, loving and full of amazement as they had.

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Special Thanks

Kateřina Martinova
 | Photographer