Renee and Nick

How We Met

We actually met through his mom, Jen — she and I were friends for years before I met Nick! Jen and I are huge Patriots fans (she lived in Boston for 20+ years, and my dad is from Foxborough so I grew up a fan), and we met shortly after she moved to Asheville. She went to the first sports bar she could find on game day, but got there late and all the seat were full…except for one, beside me. She asked if she could sit, and I turned to her and said, “That depends on who you’re rooting for.” She timidly unzipped her jacket to reveal a Patriots jersey, and I told her she could sit. We met up for games every week after that — I was her first friend in town!

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Shortly after meeting, she said that she had two sons around my age, Nick being the oldest, and his brother Jason being only a few months older than me. They were both in the military — Jason was in the Army stationed at Fort Bragg, but Nick had just started SEAL training in the Navy in San Diego, so while I met Jason pretty early on, it took a couple years for Nick to make it out the Asheville. About two years after meeting his mom, Nick came to visit her, and she promptly introduced him to all of her friends, including me, but at the time, we were both dating other people. I remember thinking that he was quiet, nice, and definitely funny, but nothing much beyond that. When he came for Christmas six months later and we met again, I was single, but he was not. His mom had a Christmas party, and we laughed with friends and played Head’s Up and wore goofy Christmas leggings. I remember he texted me from the airport on his way back to Cali — we talked about traveling mostly, but I remember wondering if he liked me a little, but neither of us pursued anything beyond that.

Third time was the charm, though: He came back to visit his mom a few months later in the spring, and Jason came up as well, so of course she organized a weekend-long festivities. I was in my last semester of graduate school at Appalachian State, but when both she AND Nick texted me asking if I was going to be in town that weekend, I decided to make the two-hour drive to hang out with everyone. The first night we went bar hopping, and Nick and I found ourselves alone at the first brewery for a few minutes, and started really talking for the first time, only to find that we had a lot in common and the conversation flowed effortlessly. This continued on through the rest of the evening, and eventually he dropped the news that he just got a new place because he’d broken up with his girlfriend a few months ago and finally moved out. We ended the night slow dancing at a bar, and then stayed up until 5AM talking about everything under the sun. The next night we all went out again, but then Jason had to drive back to base and Jen went to bed early, so Nick and I were the only ones awake. He went for the kiss (which was ahh-mazing), and we stayed up all night talking again.

We went out separate ways, but we would text, talk, and Skype regularly. I bought a ticket to San Diego for the end of my semester in August, and he bought a ticket up to Asheville to visit for my birthday in May. By my birthday, he asked if I would make my August trip to Cali a one-way ticket, and I exuberantly agreed. I moved in with him at the end of that summer, and the rest (as they say) is history.

At the sports bar where we met watching a Pats game with friends, years before I met Nick! (above)

The night we had our first kiss! (above)

The three of us together in San Diego a few months after I moved there (above)

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Marriage Proposal Ideas in Asheville, NC

Renee's Proposal in Asheville, NC

how they asked

I asked — HE said yes!

We’re both very into the “vanlife” lifestyle — we both loved to travel, and when we moved back to Asheville from San Diego, we turned it into a month-and-a-half long road trip throughout a variety of National Parks. We knew we wanted to buy a van and build it someday, so that’s exactly what we did a year ago when we bought our Sprinter van and began her conversion (we even have our own website and Instagram where we blog about travels and post build tips!).

We attended the Asheville Van Life Rally (the ONLY van life rally on the east coast) in 2017, but we were lucky enough to help organize the 2018 rally this past September.

I always joked about proposing to him, and truthfully, he’s asked me to marry him between 5-7 times per week (i.e. “Honey, I made chili for dinner.” “You did? That’s amazing! Marry me!”) since about six months into our relationship, and I would always say yes…so we both knew where we wanted our relationship to end up.

About a month before the rally, I realized that I wasn’t joking when I said I wanted to propose…I honestly did. When someone proposes, they’re saying, “I know you, and I love you. I know your quirks. I know you at your best and your worst. I know your dreams and your fears. I know your flaws and your heart and your soul. And I want to spend the rest of my life learning and re-learning you, knowing and re-knowing you, loving and always loving you, for everything you are and everything you will become. Please spend the rest of your life adventuring with me through the joys and complexities that relationships bring, because you mean the world to me, and I want to keep you.” Or something like that.

And typically (in heterosexual relationships), it’s the guy who gets to say that. And all the girl gets to say is, “yes, you can do that,” though usually with tears and screams and excitement.

But that wasn’t enough for me.

I didn’t just want to say “yes” — I wanted to say what I said above. Nick is a gift, not only as a partner, but as a human in general. Falling in love with him wasn’t like a bolt of lightning from the sky — it was like coming home. And I needed him to know how deeply and truly I meant it when I said I wanted to spend my life with him, and “yes” wasn’t quite the word I wanted to use when I conveyed that message.

Once I realized that, the scheming began. It was a no-brainer to me to do it at the van life rally — surrounded by the community that we loved, at an event we helped to pull together, in our van that we found, bought, and build side-by-side. I told my best guy friend, and then my close girlfriends. I talked to organizer of the rally. I asked his mom, told my parents, bought a ring, and planned for everyone to “come check out the rally” (i.e. be there for the proposal) — even his dad was going to be in town from Boston!

Little did I know…he was planning the exact. Same. Thing.

Yep. That best guy friend I told? Less than 24 hours later, Nick text him saying he was starting to ring shop and needed some pointers. He told my close girlfriends. He told his mom. He talked to the organizer of the rally, too. Buuut ring shopping was more challenging than he anticipated (limited options in our small city, all astronomically priced, of course), so he decided to propose the week AFTER the rally. I proposed on a Saturday…he’d planned a trip to Charlotte to pick up a ring the following Monday. He’d planned to ask my parents to dinner that Wednesday or Thursday to talk to them. I barely beat him to it. Though on the plus side, it was an affirmation that we were very much on the same page. I hear that’s a good thing when it comes to marriage.

That Saturday at the rally, we walked around with our friends and family. I made up some excuse for the two of us to go back to the van (no idea what that excuse was…pretty sure my brain momentarily shut off). When we got to the van, we sat down on the bed and I told him how grateful I was that I’d met him and that’s he’d introduced me to the adventure of “van life.” I told him just how many good things he’d brought into my life just by being himself. I told him how kind and generous and loving he was, and how unbelievably lucky I was to have such an incredible person as a partner. Then I said, “I know I joke about it a lot, but…” *pulls ring box out of purse* “will you marry me?”

Of course, he said yes!

It was a totally magical day. Our friends and family filled us in on how we were simultaneously scheming to propose to one another, and how it was the most complex secret they’ve ever had to keep (and how they put bets on who would win, and yes I was the favorite, thank youuuu). We were lucky enough to be parked by Alice Martin Arthur (@exposuresbyalice), who (without even realizing she was witnessing a proposal!) took pictures of us in our van as it happened. Nick sported his new tungsten & rose gold ring, and I sported my grandmother’s wedding band that she left to me many years ago. Champagne and merriment and happy tears continued throughout the night. The Universe was ALL about it that night — everything went perfectly, and we were filled with and surrounded by so much love, we could have burst.

We went together to Charlotte that Monday and picked out a ring together. It had to be custom made and was delivered four weeks later. A few days after it arrived, Nick and I went for a hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and on the top of a mountain with a spectacular view of the autumnal Smoky Mountains, Nick asked me if I’d marry him, too.

I said I had to think about it. ;)

Nick’s mountain proposal a few weeks later (above)

Our whole celebration crew of friends and family!

Literally RIGHT after I asked and he said yes! The photographer had no idea! (above)

Special Thanks

Alice Martin Arthur
 | Photographer