Erin and Ryan

How We Met

About two months after moving to Arizona some random guy named ryan_windauer messaged me on Instagram…

“Hey I’ve never done this before and this is super random, but would you want to grab coffee or dinner some time?”

I died a little bit on the inside. The night before I had decided I did not move to Arizona for guys. I had devoted myself to digging deeper in my relationship with Christ and becoming the woman God had made me be. I immediately screenshotted it, his page too, and sent it to my mom. She thought he was cute & if not anything else, just a good friend to have out here in AZ! So I gave him options when I was free… either the next day or two weeks from then HAHA.


We were obviously both a little nervous but we hit it off and had random mutual friends that tied us together so it gave us a lot to talk about. The best part that I will never forget was the goodbye. It. Was. So. Awkward. He tried to shake my hand goodbye but I swerved and went for the Christian side hug. Yikes.

How They Asked

Early on we both knew we wanted to marry each other. Once that was out in the open we had been talking about the timeline of things. This summer he had told me he wanted to take me shopping for a special outfit (dress & shoes) but I couldn’t have it until a special day. I obviously knew what he meant. We had a couple of trips planned for this summer, specifically for weddings. The first week of the trip was in Montana for his brother’s wedding. I had assumed he would propose sometime during our travel, I just had no idea when. While in Montana he told me he had a fun date day planned. I was excited but I really only thought it was going to be a date day because it was two days before his brother’s wedding!

He told me to be up and ready to go at like 8 am. I wasn’t sure what we were doing but I am good with just going with the flow. Our first stop was at a private airport. I immediately thought it could happen because a running joke had been how will he top the hot air balloon, take me in an airplane?! I talked myself out of it because I wasn’t wearing the dress and again, it was two days before the wedding and I didn’t think he would do it before. We flew in a 4 seater airplane over the snowcapped mountains and he got to show me where he grew up. We landed on a grass airstrip in the middle of nowhere and the pilot took us on a random hike to overlook a gorgeous river in the woods!

When we got back to the airport he told me his brother had to take the car for some reason and so a family friend was there to pick us up. She was the sweetest and told us to sit in the back to let her chauffer us, I thought nothing of it besides they are probably really close. She dropped us off downtown at a cute coffee shop that Ryan had never been to before (again throwing me off because it wasn’t sentimental to him). After coffee and breakfast, we walked around downtown and he showed me his dad’s office. The car was dropped back off downtown for us so we could head back to his house. Once we were back at his house he told me to put on a swimsuit & meet him outside on the dock. Come to find his dad fixing up a kayak and his mom put together a picnic basket. Once again, this guy is forcing me out of my comfort zone. There was a perfectly good jet ski next to the kayak but Ryan insisted we take the kayak.

We climbed in and set out on the lake that just so happened to be wavy and rough because of the wind. I was legit scared we were going to tip. We made it out to a little island for our picnic. It was the cutest, we sipped on lemon sanpellegrinos and snacked on crackers & hummus. When we decided to head back out Ryan noticed the kayak was gone! He gave me a heart attack!! Neither of us had our phones; I thought we were stranded on this island. When I walked over Ryan points at a jet ski and said we should take it. I’m thinking he is crazy, we can’t just take someone’s jet ski… then he just gave me that look. He played it off so well, it was all planned. So we left everything there and took the Jet Ski out for over an hour; it was so much fun! We docked it at their friend’s house, the same lady who had picked us up earlier that morning. They had another car waiting for us to take back to his house. Once we got back to his house I figured that was the end of the date day because we just chilled on the dock for a couple of hours.

This is where the day took a serious unfortunate turn. My worst nightmare became reality. Prepare yourself for one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I went inside to take a shower and noticed my head was itchy. After shampooing I found a teeny tiny bug under my nail… I immediately got out and called out for Ryan to get his mom, Jodi. This was honestly one of the most embarrassing moments of my life and his mom searched my head in the bathroom while I sat on the toilet and cried all while being in a towel. She didn’t find anything, so she calls in Mike, Ryan’s dad. Again, he finds nothing. She told me not to worry it was probably from the lake. I am about to get dressed and then itch my head to find another one. I walk out in my towel and run into Jodi’s best friend and ask her to search my head in the light. We walk out to his front yard, yes I’m still in a towel, and she sits me down to search my head. She found nits in my hair, (which are lice eggs aka my worst nightmare). His dad walks out and comes over to look too. Ryan walks out to his parents & mom’s best friend digging through my hair while I’m in a bath towel sitting in the grass… “WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON?”

They sent Ryan to get head lice shampoo so we could treat my hair before a big family dinner. As I’m getting dressed in the bathroom I hear a knock on the door. I open it to find Jodi standing there holding the dress Ryan & I had picked out for a special day and she says, “Ryan would like you to wear this tonight.”

… I was shaken, to say the least…

I had a mini heart attack at that moment… His dad and brother were standing behind her and they all thought I hated the dress because I’m sure my facial expression showed I was horrified! I had lice & Ryan wanted to propose!? LORD WHY?! I had to give myself a pep talk in the bathroom. Once he got back his parents treated my head and they all went through my hair to get everything out, we literally cut out hair!

(Honestly looking back at this I am so thankful it happened. It humbled me. It also allowed me to bond with his family on a different level than before considering his mom was wiping my tears and counseling me while in a bath towel…)

So I threw makeup on, put my hair up in a pony, put on the dress, and let go of my pride. Ryan told me we had a separate ride. I walked outside to find an old 1950’s red pick up truck. We met everyone at dinner and I was so nervous. I had no appetite. I’m not sure if anyone knew that I knew what was going to happen but I could hardly contain my excitement. I literally couldn’t stop fidgeting. After dinner, he told me we had one more stop to make. He was driving like a wild man and I honestly thought we were going to die before he proposed, he was flying down back roads and the truck didn’t have the best breaks or steering! We parked in front of a house we hadn’t been to yet and walked around the corner. There was a beautiful setting on a dock with lights and candles, and my favorite flowers (which ended up disappearing and we think fell into the lake.) He took me in front of the arbor covered in lights and began to tell me why and how much he loved me.

My mind was racing and I hardly remember anything he said. It was so overwhelming. I have waited 21 years for this; to find my husband, my best friend, my partner for life. It all came down to that moment on the dock where he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. Once I said yes, fireworks went off the photographer’s flash was going off and I was living in a fairytale. His family and friends came around the corner to congratulate us. I was in awe. After a few photos, Ryan grabbed an envelope with a red heart on it and told me to open it. He stood next to me as I read the explanation of the entire day we had. He also told me that the ring box actually belonged to his parents. His dad made it and proposed to his mom with it and they passed it down. This boy had everything planned out perfectly (all besides the fact I had lice LOL).

Our Video

Special Thanks

Chad Mallow
 | Photographer