how we met
Our story began many years ago. Christina and I are both from the same hometown and grew up in the same church. I am several years older than she is, so although we were around each other probably quite often, we did not meet one another until we were older. Neither one of us remember a specific moment when we met each other for the first time, but I would say both of us clearly recall when we began to get to know one another better. We both had a heart for Jesus, which lead us to serving in a hand puppet ministry through our church. Once a week after school, our intimate group of puppeteers would meet up to practice songs and skits so that we would be prepared to perform in front of audiences at other churches, nursing homes, and even on our annual mission trip.
We were of course friendly to one another, but we did not really get to know one another until our first mission trip together in Guatemala. I knew about her, but I wanted to make an initiative to get to know her better. I intentionally made efforts to sit next to her on bus rides, during meals, and found ways to hang out with her during down times in order to learn more about who she was. Well to say the least, this infatuation with Christina quickly developed into a crush, and I knew right away there was something special about her heart. After our trip, I felt like there was enough flirtatious banter going back and forth that there was a true connection we shared. I somehow came into possession of her phone number, and over the next 6 months, we began talking more and hanging out together outside of church developing a friendship.
At this point, it was clear to me that Christina was a woman of God with a beautiful and carefree spirit that knew how to enjoy life, which made her exactly the woman I wanted to date. Luckily for myself, she felt similarly about me as well, and there began our dating relationship. I have to say that being with Christina was such a wonderful part of my life. I truly felt as though she cared for me and liked me for exactly who I was and I never felt as though I needed to compromise who I was in order to maintain her acceptance. Of course, for all of the amazing days that I would not have traded for anything, we still have had our moments of doubt and uncertainty. However, when you, as a couple, are able to get through the storm of issues and are still able to look an one another with an exuberant smile exclaiming your love for one another not only through words but through action, you know you have found a person worth it all!
Christina is a woman that knows my heart better than anyone else I have ever known, including my parents. She is loving and encouraging and exceptionally patient and understanding. I love that Christina and I can enjoy each other’s company, whether we are exploring a new hiking trail, rocking out at a Needtobreathe concert, or wasting a Saturday away watching movies. When I realized that I never wanted to live another day without experiencing all that I have with Christina, that is when I decided I wanted to ask for her hand in marriage…
how they asked
It started off as a solo mission, but I quickly realized that if I wanted this moment to be as special for Christina as I had hoped, I was going to need to recruit some help. I called up Christina’s best friend to ask for help with nailing down the perfect engagement ring for Christina, whom, without hesitation, gladly offered her assistance. I traveled to her best friend’s city, where we shared brunch and planned out our jewelry store visit itinerary. This was an exhausting full day excursion, and although it did not end with the purchase of a ring, I knew exactly what style I wanted to get for Christina. I continued shopping around and finally found the perfect ring: solitaire round diamond on a yellow gold micropavé band.
Once I had this checked off the list of must do’s before proposing, I proceeded to ask Christina’s father out for lunch for the meal that I had extremely high anxiety levels about, but knew it would be an overall humbling experience. After our man to man conversation, Christina’s father told me that he gave me his blessing and also told me something that I will never forget. He told me that no matter when we go through rough patches, do not think of them (Christina’s parents) as them and Christina against me. He wanted me to know that they will be there to not only support us as a couple, but they will be there to support me individually as well. It was such a welcoming and inviting moment that I shared with him that went above and beyond the expectations I had for this conversation. Ring: check. Father’s blessing: check. Now I just needed to plan out the proposal.
I had planned to propose on a Saturday afternoon, followed by an engagement party with all of our family and closest friends. There was so much planning that went into this day, and am so thankful for all of my friends, Christina’s friends, and our families that made it such a success. After talking with Christina’s best friend about the debate between hiring a professional photographer vs. having a friend “hide in the bushes” to capture the moment of the proposal, I decided to go with hiring a professional. I am more than ecstatic that I went with that option! To prepare for Christina being unprepared to be the star of an engagement photoshoot, I had asked one of her close friends to ask Christina if she would go get her nails done with her earlier in the week. Christina was all about it, and her nails turned out beautifully.
The whole surprise photoshoot also raised the thought in my head that she may or may not be wearing what she ideally would want to have on for this moment. To address this concern, I had asked one of Christina’s roommates to go into Christina’s closet and essentially grab a duffle bag of a variety of outfits, shoes, and jewelry and have it nearby the proposal site incase Christina decided she would like to change into something else after the proposal for the remaining pictures that would be taken by the photographer. As far as the actual engagement party was concerned, I had the help of many people whom offered their help to make the day perfect. My parents graciously offered to have the party catered by a local BBQ joint and had friends to show up early to help decorate and set up the party, which was going to be across a pedestrian bridge from the proposal site in a city park by the Tennessee River.
The day of the proposal, I told Christina that we were going to meet my parents for lunch at a nice restaurant downtown, so that we would be dressed up for the proposal. There was a beautiful overlook of downtown and the Tennessee River that I had planned to take Christina to for the actual proposal, so strategically found a parking spot where the overlook was on the way to where I said we were going to eat. I had hidden the ring in my back pocket, but it was still inside the box so I strategically left my shirt untucked to cover us the bulge of the box in my back pocket until we began walking towards “the restaurant”. I then pretended to get a text from my mother stating that they would be a few minutes late to buy us a few minutes for the proposal. Christina was then the one to immediately suggest that we head out onto the overlook to check out the view since we “had time to kill.” I could not have planned this to flow any smoother because my photographer was already in place at the overlook, and since Christina had never met her, she was able to stand out in the open pretending to take pictures of the scenic view and not worry about being detected by Christina.
The overlook had an abnormally large crowd on top of an unusually blustering wind, which added up for unfavorable conditions for Christina. She wanted to immediately leave, so instead of having an abundance of time to converse with Christina at this stunningly beautiful overlook, I had to think on my toes and had a kind lady nearby take a picture of us together. After the lady handed my phone back to me I knew it was now or never. I quickly made sure I had Christina’s undivided attention. As I was reaching for the ring box in my back pocket, I stated to Christina, “I know our love hasn’t always been a fairytale, but I wanted to keep writing this story with you forever.” I proceeded to get down on one knee and ask, “Christina Marie Martin, will you marry me?”
With all of the emotions rushing through me, I can hardly remember her even saying yes, but when she put her hand out for me to place the ring on her finger, I felt confident what her answer was. She was shocked and admitted that she had no idea this was coming.
A few moments later, I introduced her to the photographer that had helped me capture the special moment. We then took several posed shots on the overlook, where the proposal took place. During this time, I had a friend of mine and Christina’s same roommate as before covertly sneak up to an outdoor table near the overlook and set it up for another surprise I had in store for Christina. After we finished shooting pictures at this location, I had told her that our next photoshoot location was going to be the pedestrian bridge. So as we made our way back around the overlook towards the pedestrian bridge, we came across the table that had been decorated by my accomplices. There was a burlap table cloth with a yellow table runner, a blue mason jar filled with fresh sunflowers, a record player opened up ready to play a custom vinyl I had made for Christina with 6 of “our” songs, and a prayer box that Christina had crafted for me this past Christmas. We took a seat at the table next to one another, as I spun the record and placed the needle on the first track “Hung the Moon” by Ellie Holcomb. The prayer box was setting in front of us, and as I opened it she took out two 4”x6” photos of us.
I told her that I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the enormous step we both just took together and each write down a prayer for each other and our future as soon to be husband and wife on the back of the pictures. After enjoying the tranquil moment together as the remainder of songs played, we continued on over to the majestic pedestrian bridge to conclude our engagement photoshoot.
The day was perfect for a photoshoot, and every one of our pictures we received back from the photographer were priceless and evoked emotions that allowed all of our friends and family to feel as though they were actual spectators able to relive the moment of our engagement. After our photo session had ended, we were both really hungry. We started to walk across the bridge to the other side when she asks, “So are we really not meeting you parents at that restaurant?” I laughed because she was 1) in disbelief that I pulled this off without her detection 2) she was actually wanting to go eat. As I ensured her that we were going to eat, we kept walking along the pedestrian bridge to the other side. I had told her parents and my parents to be at the end of the bridge so that they could be the first ones to congratulate us.
She first saw her dad, and ran up and gave her the biggest hug which was reciprocated by him. All of our parents were so happy for us! It was such a wonderful feeling knowing the love and support our families had for us and our relationship and we moved forward together. We make it to the park that was at the other side of the bridge, where I had told her we were going to have a picnic. Little did she know, our family and closest friends were going to be there as well. We had friends and family that had come from all over, some driving hours and others flying hours to make sure they were there to share in the celebrations. I had pictures of us displayed around from when we first met and started dating to some of our most recent adventures. The food was delicious, and the fellowship was unforgettable. I could not have asked for a better day, and could not have pulled it off without the help of many of my friends and family. I am still on cloud nine thinking about how I get to spend the rest of my days with the love of my life.