Shelagh and Brian

Image 1 of Shelagh and Brian

How We Met

Brian and I met in June 2012 at a lobster bake/Shabbat dinner I hosted with my roommates in Brookline, MA. Lobster was cheap that summer and we were clearly not kosher in our 7-bedroom freshly-post-college apartment. Admittedly, Brian and I did not hit it off that night because 1) there were too many people at the get-together and 2) he said he did not like seafood. I wasn’t totally sure about this Midwestern guy.

Despite his culinary proclivities, Brian and I became fast friends. We spent weeknights playing bar trivia and weekends watching football and eating bad pizza. One night, my sister, Stephanie, went out with us and talked to Brian the whole time, while I focused on his single friend. My sister was so smitten with him and so convinced that our relationship would change in the future, she contended: “You and Brian are going to get married one day. Mark my words.”

Despite my sister’s proclamation, Brian remained a platonic friend. He was even one of the last people I saw before leaving the United States in January 2013 to teach English for a year in Costa Rica. We kept in touch sporadically through 2013, while he moved to Washington DC and I moved back to Boston. When our mutual friend, Christine (who introduced us), went to visit him in March of 2014, he spilled the beans that he had developed a huge crush on me. Christine told him that I cherished our friendship so much- probably too much to pursue a romantic relationship. Despite the warning, Brian decided to forge ahead in pursuing me. Christine relayed the message to me, swearing me to secrecy.

Well… once he made his confession, I realized that I liked him too and so, we embarked on a 2-month text, gchat, phone, and skype dance to not tell each other we had real, mutual romantic feelings. One night, I was making cookies for work when Brian said “I would absolutely love you if you sent me a batch.” So, I packaged up a dozen and sent them to him the next day. Finally, in April, I went to down to DC to see Brian, after being apart for 1.5 years. His wit and charm were just as real in person as they were virtually, and we started an 8-month long-distance relationship until I found a job in Washington DC and moved in January 2015.

Image 2 of Shelagh and Brian

how they asked

A few years after we made it official, I found myself traveling to northern New England, where my entire family lives once a month for work. I extended one Thursday-Friday trip to Sunday afternoon and asked my sister, Stacey, if she could host a pool party at her house for my 3 sisters, 6 nieces and nephews, and parents. We had done this before, so although it was a “party,” it was not exactly an event.

On the morning of the get-together, 45 minutes before we were to leave, my sister Shannon told me that my stepmom wanted to re-do our Christmas family photo. “Did we just decide this?” I asked. I was pretty perturbed. I was awoken at 7am by a dog, a 1 year-old, and a 3-year old, and listened to SHINY (the best Moana song) about 300 times since that wakeup call- I would have had a lot of time to get ready had I known we were taking a picture! My hair looked like a mad scientist’s and I had no makeup on. “I’ll get ready there,” I said. My brother-in-law leveled with me to do my hair and a bit of makeup before we left because I would not want to do it once I got to my sister’s. Somehow I was convinced.

Soon after we arrived to Stacey’s, everyone started to mobilize to take the family picture. 5/6 of the children were awake, so this urgency was perfectly normal. I was going to change out of my t-shirt and leggings, but everyone said there was no time since the kids were in generally good spirits. My brother-in-law lined us up and told me I was in charge of 3 of the nieces, so I was very focused on keeping them in the photo frame and, if possible, smiling. As we were taking pictures, I suddenly felt a hand on my right shoulder. I looked at the hand, then at the person and was SHOCKED to see that it was Brian. I screamed! “What are you doing?” I asked suspiciously. “Surprising you” he said, his voice shaking as he got down on one knee.

Image 3 of Shelagh and Brian

Image 4 of Shelagh and Brian

Image 5 of Shelagh and Brian

My family crooned and awed. Brian told me how much he loved me and that he wanted to work to make me happy every day for the rest of our lives, then asked me to marry him. I have heard about proposals where the person never actually says “yes!”, so (somehow I was in the right state of mind to remember this) I used my best articulation to say “YES!”. My brother-in-law pulled champagne out of nowhere and I finally looked at the ring. I could not believe how beautiful and SHINY it was (hello, Moana foreshadowing). I proceeded to call family and friends, all of whom had known about the plan for nearly a month.

The surprises didn’t stop there. Although I was supposed to stay with my sister Stephanie that night, Brian had other plans. He had brought my favorite jewelry and shoes from home and took me to the mall to buy a new dress to take me to Strega in Boston, where we had our first official date as a couple back in June 2014. When we went out for drinks, some of my closest friends who live in NYC showed up at the bar to surprise me and toast our engagement with (MORE!) champagne.

Image 6 of Shelagh and Brian

Brian pulled off the most thoughtful, perfect, surprise and included my whole family in it, even my nieces and nephews. Brian has always been precious to me – since that first summer we met in 2012– and now we get to keep hanging out, going to trivia, and eating bad pizza for the rest of our lives! I am so grateful for our unique and winding story of friendship and love.

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Special Thanks

James Allen
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