Rebekah and Malcolm

How We Met: For most, studying abroad in London consists of spending long afternoons in Hyde Park, drinking one too many pints at the local pub on a Tuesday night and skipping class to travel the rest of Europe. These things, sure enough, happened all too often but something else happened during our semester abroad that was completely unexpected (at least by my expectations.) I met the love of my life. Meeting Rebekah was certainly not on my list of things I wanted to see or do while abroad when I first set out on my semester across the pond. In fact, it took us over half of the semester to realize that we had something that could not be ignored.

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Our first two months abroad we remained friends, traveling to Holland and Poland, enjoying the in-and-outs of London and going to class but always in a group with other friends. We spent many long nights out together in smaller groups, getting to know each other really well through casual settings. It wasn’t until after spring break that our two friends, Caroline and Blake, convinced both of us that we needed to pursue a relationship that was beyond the friendship that we already had. If you know me, you know that I do not do anything spur of the moment.

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I weigh each decision meticulously and starting a relationship abroad, especially towards the latter part of the trip, seemed pointless at best and looked like a direct path to disappointment on every level. Knowing this, I still decided to ask Rebekah on our first date (after missing a perfect first-kiss opportunity on my favorite place in all of London during a walk through Chelsea.) Our first date consisted of a sushi-making class at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in Notting Hill followed by a few pints at our favorite pub in London, the Churchill Arms.

We genuinely enjoyed each other’s company, as always, but this time there was an added joy to the situation knowing that we were taking our relationship more seriously. We continued to spend quality time together, cooking meals for each other when we weren’t interning or in class and traveling together. Whether it was a group trip to Budapest and Belgium or our Easter weekend trip to Ireland and Scotland, we were inseparable and were quickly growing our relationship together.

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With the end of the semester abroad came a seemingly tough decision: Do we stay together and tough out a summer apart before fall semester starts again in Gainesville? Or should we call the whole thing a fling and realize that our fairytale was being crushed by the omnipresence of reality? It was an easy decision at the time. We were going to stick out a long summer apart, and that’s what we did. I traveled down to Sarasota, Florida as much as work would allow me but it wasn’t enough time together to keep growing the deep connection that you need to start a relationship. So after not seeing each other for 4 weeks at the end of the summer, our first meeting in Gainesville was a tough one and we decided that we should call it quits.

We stayed in contact throughout the semester meeting up occasionally for lunch or going out with our group of mutual friends from our time abroad. Every time we saw each other there was still an unbreakable connection between us and a tone in our voice that carried affection beyond what two friends have. It was during the Florida-Georgia tailgate in Jacksonville that we met up and I decided that I love this girl more than anything and could not let her go again. So I planted a big kiss on her in the middle of the Everbank field parking lot and told her that she’s not going anywhere. And the rest is history.

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The rest of the history, so to speak, is that we continued to grow our relationship throughout the next year spending time with each other’s families and spending every second possible together in Gainesville. It was during a weekend trip to Asheville (that she completely planned and surprised me with) that we knew that we were going to be together forever and had something special that very few have.

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I had been planning an engagement since the end of the spring semester and wanted to do it before I left for law school in August to make my long-term intentions known without a doubt. So on July 10th, 2015, after a couple months of planning, designing and creating the engagement ring, it was ready to be on her finger and I was ready to spend the rest of my life with her.

how they asked: 7.10.15, a day I will remember for the rest of my life. This day was absolutely perfect, not only was it the day I said yes to a lifetime of adventures with my best friend but it was also the last day of my summer internship at HSN. Naturally, I dressed up a little extra because it was my last day and wanted to look cute in photos but also because I had a feeling today was going to be THE day. All of my coworkers were so sweet and planned a special breakfast for me with cards and flowers. From start to finish I felt so loved by everyone in my life, a day truly created by God.

Many people want their proposal to be a complete surprise but anyone that knows me knows I like to be involved in every aspect of everything. The mix between my personality and my now fiancé’s inability to keep secrets (I love you babe) I knew it had to be soon. I also had a pretty good idea that it would be this particular Friday because my best friend, Hannah, planned for us to go get drinks after my last day of work two weeks prior (we are super planners but two weeks was a little too much for us). On Thursday evening I asked her what she was wearing for our big night out and she requested that we look cute, which wasn’t abnormal but I took that as a sign as well.

So 5 o’clock rolls around and I leave work to meet Hannah at Brio for happy hour. She complements me on my outfit and jokes how my mom texted her this morning that I though I was getting engaged because I dressed up so much. I immediately was bummed that I wasted my pretty dress and that I wasn’t getting engaged that day and wanted to go shopping for a new outfit (she said no). We continued to chat and sip sangria for the next hour with the subject of me getting engaged going in and out of the conversation and her insisting that it wasn’t that day. Hannah had me completely convinced, we finished our drinks and planned to go to another bar and she wanted to drive (totally normal).

There I am walking with my best friend to her car, I open the passenger car door to get in and sitting on the seat was a blindfold with my future monogram on it and a post card he bought when we were in Belgium that he had saved for an occasion like that day. The postcard was filled with loving words about how excited he is that the day is finally here and how much he loved me and wants to spend the rest of his life with me. Of course I immediately started to cry, overwhelmed because I truly believed after happy hour I wasn’t getting engaged today and preparing myself to see Mac down on one knee (it had been over 5 weeks since I had seen him).

I get in the car and read my note, Hannah blindfolds me as I am still crying and she put on rap music the whole drive so I would stop crying. It was so memorable sharing that moment with Hannah and my last moments before getting engaged, we even stopped at Taco Bell with me still blindfolded because I had to use the restroom (we got lots of interesting looks). Hannah drives all around town trying to trick me so I wouldn’t know where we are going and then she stops the car.

She plays Mac and I’s song “When I’m With You” by Ben Rector, I start crying again with my heart racing and Hannah prays over me and for Mac as we take this next step in our relationship, such a special moment. Hannah guides me out of the car still blindfolded and barefoot as I begin to feel the sand between my toes. She removes my blindfold checks my makeup and spins me around to see Mac standing there with the most beautiful sunset behind him.

I will never forget how handsome Mac looked in that moment, so full of love in his eyes for me. We took a moment to just hug as we hadn’t seen each other in over a month and then he says the most beautiful words, drops to one knee and asks me to marry him.

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I, of course, forgot to say yes between the tears and kissing him so he had to ask again, but I said YES! Malcolm pulls out the most delicate velvet box with an “M” on top and the most stunning ring was revealed underneath.

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After my parents came out to congratulate us and took some photos, Mac had set up a blanket to watch sunset on Lido beach with champagne and strawberries (he thinks of everything). After the sun went down Malcolm had arranged for our closest friends to meet us at Daiquiri Deck in St. Armends Circle to celebrate!

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Hannah had also reached out to all of my closest friends going all the way back to middle school to write me letters. Every note was so encouraging as Mac and I begin lives together.

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