Sally and SMJ

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How We Met

Sally and SMJ met in her Freshman year of college and their Sophomore year. They were in the same Acting program but were able to get to know each other through theatre department functions and sitting at the theatre department table for lunch each day. Sally noticed in them right away how kind they are to their peers and friends and how quickly they are able to mentor and inspire others. SMJ quickly noticed her confidence, her fearlessness, and her incredibly huge heart. Kindness, in particular, was something they both were missing in their lives and they realized right away that was a quality they would want for their future children to have.

They also noticed each other’s intellect, sense of humor, openness, and love for The Office. They first held hands and went for a walk in a -10 degree F snowstorm and that’s a perfect metaphor for their whole lives. They have pulled each other through years of long-distance, broken family dynamics, deaths in the family, stressful rehearsals, career changes, a gender identity transition, constant moving, a homeless spell, and general growing pains of growing up. With each other, they have found partners who have stood by their side with no questions asked and family bonds that continue to grow stronger.

SMJ and Sally are thankful for each and every day they get with their best friend and can’t wait for the rest of their lives together.

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How They Asked

They proposed at the outdoor concert stage close to the neighborhood where I grew up in Memphis, TN. It’s one of the places I love in my hometown. Knowing it was one of my favorite spots, my best friend, Katie Ayres, included it in a gorgeous painting she did for my birthday a few years ago, and the painting now hangs over the sofa in the apartment SMJ and I share in Manhattan. She also included my church (which was also my elementary and middle school) in the painting, which is where we will have our ceremony. The fact that SMJ was able to make art come to life was incredible and I’m still feeling goosebumps. I started that afternoon thinking I was just going on a walk with my brother, and since SMJ was supposedly in New York, I didn’t suspect anything. Unknown to me, my brother was following the path SMJ had planned through the park, with members of my family, SMJ’s family, and friends from Memphis and Ohio stationed along the way to surprise me. After encountering the second group of friends and family, I knew what was happening, but I didn’t know exactly how. Tears and all, I felt so joyful to be experiencing this moment with these special people in my life. When I got to the stage area a friend of ours, Henri Sudy, played a slide show for me of photos SMJ and I have taken over the years set to one of our favorite songs — “Can’t Help Falling in Love.“The artist who originally sang that song was Elvis Presley and the first venue Elvis ever played was, yup you guessed it, the Levitt Shell where SMJ was about to propose to me. After the slide show, I got a facetime call from SMJ that said to turn around, and there they were standing on the stage! With friends and family looking on, I walked down the hill to meet them and say “yes.”

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The Ring:

Not only was the proposal incredible, but the history of the ring itself also made it even more meaningful. (If you know me you know I love a story!)

My grandmother GJ always told me that when she passes away she wanted me to have the diamond from the engagement ring Papa had given her. But a few years ago, after SMJ and I had been dating for some time, she told me she wanted to give it to me for my engagement ring instead of waiting.(She knew it would be SMJ proposing to me—She likes to say we “are a match made in heaven.”)When that time came this past fall, GJ sent the diamond to SMJ, and my mom and SMJ went to work designing a ring that I would love. Needless to say, I am so grateful SMJ and my family put so much thought into the proposal and into the ring. I look forward to sharing this story for the rest of my life. That’s exactly how I’ve always wanted it.

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Special Thanks

Jackie McGinnis
 | Photographer