Shelby and Will

how we met

Shelby: In 2009 I was a senior at Midland Lee High School and Will was a sophomore at Midland Community College and had a job at a car wash. A week after my 18th birthday (I remember because I had just gotten my first smartphone- a blackberry) I got a text about a party in Lubbock. I figured there was absolutely no chance that my mom would let me go, but I asked anyway. She thought about it and said, “Sure why not?” I was confused. Was this a trap?! To be fair to her parenting skills I was always home by curfew, rarely asked to go anywhere, and generally did what I was told because she’s half detective and I didn’t want to get on the bad side of Mark (my step dad) because I was fairly certain he would end my life. Regardless, she said yes so that Friday I got in my truck and jammed out to “I Love College” during the two hour drive. Will was very close friends with the people throwing the party, so he had received the same text that I had. He asked his boss if he could go to Lubbock for the weekend and his boss, who I guess wasn’t drinking the same Kool-aid my mom was, said no. So Will, being the responsible 19 year old he was, did it anyway.

That Friday night I remember passing a room Will was in and hearing him tell a joke. I thought it was hilarious and walked back in to tell him. We started talking and, according to Will, I forced him to give me his phone number. He put himself in my phone as Weezy Will and I put myself in his phone as Shelby is the Awesomest. We sort of passed each other throughout the remainder of the night but didn’t talk much. The next day the group went to eat lunch and see a movie. I was still dying laughing at everything that came out of his mouth. After the movie, I was supposed to go home but it was a WAY longer movie than I’d expected. So, I called my mom and she let me stay another night. Will asked if I wanted to grab CiCi’s with him and a couple of other people. By a couple of other people. I mean the other people were a couple and it felt like a really awkward double date. Sunday we all went home and Will and I would text back and forth and talk on the phone quite a bit. I thought Will was really funny and liked him a lot so, obviously, thought we would be a disaster of a couple.

He didn’t give up though, and by May 1st I was his girlfriend. We had a great summer and spent almost every day together. Will had been fired for the Lubbock stunt (oops) so he didn’t have a job. According to him we went through all of his savings that summer eating Bush’s Chicken. In July the conversation finally came up about August and where we were going to college. Turns out we had both already decided to go to Texas Tech, so we soldiered on! And on and on and on. It’s funny, because I remember the first time my mom met Will. She said I really like that guy. It’s too bad you didn’t meet him a few years down the road because he’s the kind of guy you marry. Well, 4.5 years later Will had a masters and I had a bachelors degree and we were still going strong. We moved to Houston, started working, and moved in together in January of 2015! He doesn’t treat me to CiCi’s as much as he used to, but he still makes me laugh so I keep him around.

how they asked

Will: I want to preface this recounting of Shelby and my engagement by saying that I now know more about diamond shapes, cuts, and settings than I ever wanted to know. I could also moonlight as a Dallas Arboretum tour guide now. As cheesy and clich´┐Ż as this may sound I knew that I wanted to marry Shelby after the first few months and that feeling was strengthened every single day over the six years we dated. Once we graduated and moved to Houston to begin our careers I was finally able to start planning the engagement. There was an understanding, or perhaps a running joke, between Shelby and I that we would get engaged sometime mid-year 2015, a rough date where we felt we would be financially independent and able to take our relationship to the next level. By rough date I mean she said, “eeeh, April 2015 sounds good.” She’s kind of bossy.

I wanted the engagement to be a surprise but I’ve also heard you should do whatever your wife says, so I decided to go with EARLY April. She never saw it coming. I selflessly moved the date to April 7th which allowed me to surprise Shelby with the engagement, but also afforded me the perfect excuse to get her to Dallas under the guise of celebrating my birthday with my family. I had my mom call me in early February while both Shelby and I were in the car and out her on speaker; we got on the subject of my birthday and my mom asked me if Shelby would be accompanying me on my trip to Dallas for my birthday since the family would love to see her. Shelby, who loves to be complimented and is never one to disappoint her Dallas admirers, agreed. The stage had been set.

Early February is also the time I began the engagement ring creation process. Through unrelenting Pinterest stalking, nonchalant conversations, and a few engagement ring store visits during our relationship I had the exact specifications of Shelby’s desired engagement ring. I kept a secret, locked note in my phone and constantly updated it throughout the few months leading up to February. My family had recommended a jeweler in Houston that many of them had used in the past for engagements and by sheer luck he lived only two miles away from my apartment. I set up a time to meet with him in secret on a Sunday. I told Shelby I was getting an oil change, but I think she was a little suspicious that I was out of bed before her. I arrived and read him off my list of carefully crafted and recorded specifications and we discussed the dreaded four C’s (color, cut, clarity, carat) for about three hours. Once I had my crash course of diamond economics and vernacular he disappeared into the back of his shop and reappeared with seven diamonds matching my criteria. I carefully held, examined, and scrutinized each diamond but none of them wowed me. The jeweler sensed this and started to flip through his inventory book; I was beginning to lose hope and was already feeling the pressure of the April engagement. As I was internally cursing, the jeweler shot up from his chair and loudly exclaimed “the Italian celebration cut!” and ran into the back of the store. I was extremely confused but when he returned he handed me a singular diamond and explained that it was a celebration cut diamond matching all of my requirements and then some.

I held the diamond up to the light and it seemed to radiate. I was mesmerized and asked him why this diamond was so different than the others he had shown me and he explained that celebration diamonds are cut to have additional angles on the diamond to reflect light. He had personally purchased this diamond in Italy with a few other stones a few weeks ago and had not even put it into inventory. I bought the diamond that day. Every Sunday in the month of February I went back to the jeweler to check on the ring’s progress and assist in its creation. I was even afforded the opportunity to handpick the diamonds that went into the ring band, which was created on-site by a master smelter. By the end of February, I was the proud/terrified owner Shelby’s engagement ring, which was promptly locked up and hidden in my closet.

One of the benefits of dating someone for six years is knowing exactly how they want to be proposed to. Shelby wanted it to be intimate, just me and her, but she also wanted all of her family and friends there afterwards. In her words “If you could just propose and then after I said Yes my family and friends walked in to a huge party that would be perfect.” So with this scenario in mind I began planning. I decided that my best course of action would be to start with calling all of Shelby’s friends and family to let them know the plan. I couldn’t do any of this at home, so I started staying after work for an hour to make calls. I got some interesting reactions. Shelby’s dad said, “Don’t put it in a cupcake, she’ll eat it.” Shelby’s step-dad said, “You sure, it ain’t too late to run now!” Shelby’s sister screamed. They are a very affectionate family. Once everyone had been invited and I had been warned by her best friend REPEATEDLY not to let her be proposed to in nike shorts, I felt confident that the plan was perfect.

The Thursday morning that we planned on going to Dallas, Shelby sent me an IM from her desk. “I think I’m getting sick.” I think I had 6 heart attacks. I pulled up Web MD and started asking her every medical question I could find. When did the symptoms start? What feels the worst? Point to the face that best describes your pain level. Frowny face? AWESOME. I made her leave work at 2 to go to the doctor. They thought she had a throat virus, gave her a prescription, and she said she felt fine enough to go to Dallas. We arrived late, grabbed dinner, and went to bed. Friday I checked the weather to ensure that the Arboretum was still going to work. There was an 80% chance of rain. MORE AWESOME. I had a spreadsheet of this entire event and under ‘Back up’ plan there was a blank space. I also needed to figure out how to get Shelby in jeans because she really hates wearing long pants. The only thing I could think of was to tell her it was going to be freezing the next day when we went to my cousin’s lacrosse game.

She said, “So I shouldn’t wear shorts like I was planning to?” Nice call Amber. I told her no and she said, “Ok but I’m not confident I even packed jeans.” I asked her what percent sure was she that she had. 60%. My entire proposal was now hovering between a 60 and 80 percent chance of failure. With all of that in mind I had one more major roadblock. Shelby is not a wander in the gardens type of girl, so I wasn’t sure how to get her to the arboretum. My mom mentioned that she had gotten some tickets to the arboretum that were pretty expensive and she couldn’t make it anymore because she would be setting up for my birthday party. Could we please go in her place so they wouldn’t be wasted?? She said yes, so we decided we would go right after the lacrosse game ended on Saturday. The box that the ring came in was HUGE, so my mom had let me borrow a case another piece of jewelry she owned had come in. I got in the car Saturday morning and told Shelby I forgot my wallet and ran back in to get the ring. My mom handed it to me and I put it in my pocket. I turned towards the door, stopped, turned back around and dropped to one knee. “Which hand?!” My mom stuck out her left and said, “Trust me, she’ll hand it to you.”

We went through the day and finally it was time to go to the arboretum. Shelby’s friends Amber and Alyssa had driven up earlier in the day and picked a scenic spot for me to propose in. When we walked in I grabbed a map (which had to be highly suspicious to Shelby) and we started walking around. We took some pictures together, saw most of the arboretum, and starting getting hot so Shelby asked if we could leave soon. I told her I just wanted to see one more part of the arboretum and then we could go home. Finding this part of the arboretum was challenging and Shelby was not being cooperative because we had already been to that section. Finally I pointed to a random structure in the distance and said, “Well I really just want to see that thing and we can go!” As we walked up to the structure an employee with a camera stopped us and asked to take our picture for the website. Shelby agreed and we went to an area a few feet away from the crowds. We took about 3-4 pictures. I started to say that I needed to tie my shoes, but then I realized I was wearing boots. I panicked and just dropped to the ground. Shelby said, “What are you doing? Are you taking your wallet out for the picture?” She looked up to tell the photographer (who was not actually an employee) and when she turned around I had the ring out. (I broke the box in half I was so nervous). I don’t remember what I said and I don’t remember what she said, but it must have been yes!

When we got back to the house I think Shelby was expecting a huge party (because she had asked for one). We pulled up and my step dad was blowing leaves out of the front driveway and my mom was cleaning. I was still supposed to have a birthday party that night with my family and our friends Katie and Garrett were in town, so we went to meet them beforehand to get celebratory drinks for an hour. While we were gone all of our friends and family were rushing to the house to get ready to surprise Shelby. When we walked into the house she was 100% shocked. Not just by the fact that there were people but by whom. We had aunts, uncles, friends, siblings, friends that had flown hours to be there- everyone came to this party. I had spent countless nights at the office calling, inviting, telling everyone they must keep this party a secret. It totally paid off and Shelby was over the moon that her family was there to experience the engagement with her.

Special Thanks

Adria Lea Photography
engagement photographer