Shelby and Riley

How We Met

Riley and I met when I was only fourteen years old, and Riley was sixteen years old. According to Riley, he saw me from afar at Studebaker Middle School on the last week of school when he went to pick up his friends’ brother. A month or so later, Riley decided to message me on Myspace and asked if I had a boyfriend. The very first thing he actually said to me was “Hey, you’re Cole’s girlfriend, right?” Cole was just a friend of mine, and Riley said he knew that already, he just wanted to start the conversation off with a bang. That was in July of 2008. Little did I know, that Myspace message was the beginning of my forever love story.

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We started dating at the beginning of August 2008 when everyone went back to school. I was a Freshman, and Riley was now a Junior. We both attended Wayne High School, where we would one day graduate from. Myself and Riley dated my entire Freshman year of high school, going into my Sophomore year. Towards the middle of what was Riley’s now Senior year of high school, we ended up splitting up. Little did I know that about 4 years later Riley would make a new appearance in my life.

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On June 24, 2015, I received a rather unusual FaceTime call. My number had never changed, so I knew exactly who was calling when that name popped up. I actually ignored the first call, and then picked up the second one after he texted me saying he “had a question” to ask. After 4 years of silence, growth, and becoming two completely new and different people, Riley grew the courage to ask me to a wedding that was only about two weeks away. With a lot of hesitation, a couple of “no’s” and a lot of convincing, I eventually said yes, and attended this wedding with Riley. This was the start of Riley and I’s rekindled love story.

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From that day forward, Riley and I slowly grew back together. I was now a Junior at the University of Cincinnati, and Riley was in the Army. I was very sad when I had to say goodbye to Riley for 6 months after just beginning a new relationship again. We kept in touch through those 6 months and had the most amazing “Welcome Home” reuniting in Fayetteville, NC on January 20, 2016.

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From that moment on, we were inseparable. Even with Riley living 8 1/2 hours away, and having to deploy for an additional 6 months after only being home for 8 months, Riley and I did not let anything stand in the way of our love for one another. No amount of miles, time without seeing each other, could keep us from being close at heart.

On September 10, 2017, Riley was finally home, and out of the military, for good. We moved in together, got a dog that we named Natti (after Cincinnati/Natty light), and lived the best year of our lives together.

Shelby's Proposal in Dayton, OH

Shelby and Riley's Engagement in Dayton, OH

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How They Asked

About a year later, on August 11, 2018, Riley finally popped “the question.” Surrounded by all of our friends and families, we got to live what was the best day of our lives, thus far. Riley put about 6 months of planning into the proposal, and would not settle for anything less than perfection.

Riley had all of my close friends, family, and family friends make a short video (5-10 seconds) of them saying what they “love about Shelby.” Riley’s cousin, Aaron, was able to put this all together in a 17-minute long video where Riley also had multiple funny skits, slide shows of the two of us from over the last 10 years, and video clips of us from the last 3 years.

Riley and I went to Cincinnati that Friday night for a Reds game with Aaron and Natalie (Riley’s cousin and his cousin’s wife.) The real reason for this was to get me out of Dayton that way my parents could fly in my best friend, Abbey, from Arkansas that night for what would be the proposal the next day.

That Saturday morning, I already had pre-arranged plans with my best friend, Brooke, to do some things for Brooke’s wedding. We had nail appointments for what Brooke said was a bridesmaid gift from her mom. Myself, Brooke, Maggie, Jenna and Taylor all got our nails done and then went to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. We decided to have a barn night afterward, which we did all the time in the summer.

When my friends and I arrived at the barn, things seemed rather unusual. There were easily 30 different vehicles there, lights and candles all over the pavilion where we always hung out, and a large crowd of people seated in front of a large screen. My friends walked me down to the pavilion, and sat me down in a chair that was waiting for me in the very front of all of the people. A heart shape of candles sitting in front of me.

Immediately once sitting down, the video that Riley had worked so hard on began. There were laughs from the crowd of people, tears, and absolute silence as well. Such a mix of emotions in what was the most moving 17-minute long video I had ever seen.

At the completion of the video, my parents greeted me and hugged me while everyone else arranged behind in two lines on both sides of a walkway that led up to a pretty little gazebo with lights everywhere. There, at the end of the aisle under the little wooden gazebo, stood Riley.. waiting for me.

With tears rolling down my face, and everyone else’s, I walked down the aisle for what would be the first of two times walking down an aisle to Riley. In front of all of Riley and I’s friends and family, Riley said “are you ready to do this?” and then my memory pretty much went black from there as Riley began to take a knee. Word on the street is that Riley then asked me to marry him, and I said yes.. with absolutely no hesitation… just tears, laughs, and love.

Following this amazing engagement, we immediately went right into what was our engagement party at the barn. Everyone was there for us, and it truly was the best night of our lives.

August 10, 2019, will be the next best day of our lives when we say “I do” in front of all of our loved ones. This rekindled love was definitely one for the books, and Riley and I will always hold our “story” near and dear to our hearts. To be continued… at the altar.

Our Video

Special Thanks

Aaron Van Auken
 | Videographer
Lindsey Wilson
 | Photographer
Christina Joy
 | Photographer
Blue Nile
 | Ring