Taryn and Ryan

Image 1 of Taryn and Ryan

How We Met

I was born and raised in Flagstaff, AZ. I went to Boise State on a running scholarship. I ran on the cross country and track teams and studied elementary education for four years. I returned to Flagstaff after an injury opened up a door to take a fifth year with the Northern Arizona track team. I began my Master’s Degree studies in Special Education in 2014 while training and enjoying my hometown.

Ryan was born in Prescott, AZ where they lived until the age of 2, after which his family moved to Tulsa, OK for 6 years before moving back to his home town of Prescott. When he turned 18 he started his EMT training at Yavapai Community College while still attending high school. After graduation he moved up to Flagstaff where he lived on his own with his German Shepherd named Zeke and immediately after receiving his EMT began working in the Emergency Room. He took classes at the community college and worked towards an Associates degree. He then began classes to be a paramedic, biology classes, and decided that neither of those suited him. I met Ryan right after he decided to look into nursing.

Ryan has been a “part” of my family for a very long time. His family would often vacation with parts of my family. We actually have photos together when we were toddlers! However, Ryan and I had never really had the chance to meet, until one warm July night at this country dance bar. When he came over to me for the “first” time, dressed to the nines in wranglers, a hat, and boots, my response was bubble bursting. I simply shrugged him off and said, “I know you, you’re practically family.” As I went home that night, and the longer I thought about it, I realized that I kept thinking about this cowboy and regretting my sudden and emotionless response. Luckily, (even if I didn’t know it yet then) Ryan doesn’t give in too easily. After our run-in that night, my family took a vacation to Alaska. I remember the day vividly, when my phone lit up with a message from that tall country boy. I was standing in an antique store in Ketchikan, AK, with butterflies in my stomach. We agreed to meet up for ice cream sometime. After some struggle to meet, we finally settled on a movie date. We hit it off instantly. We began adventuring around Arizona and spent most of our time in local coffee shops. I even converted Ryan into a (semi) runner. We were complete opposites from each other. He rode motorcycles, I ran 95 miles a week. He has three brothers and a sister, I am an only child. Despite our differences, we fit perfectly together. The next two and a half years were filled with wonderful and crazy memories.

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how they asked

Ryan and I knew that we were meant to end up together. We had been planning our future wedding long before he popped the big question. We were ready, but we knew that it was important to both of us that we had our own individual paths planned out. I became a first grade teacher one year into our relationship. Ryan took a bit longer to decide which path he wanted to take. After Ryan was admitted into the Northern Arizona University Nursing Program, we knew that it was all about timing. Ryan wants to be close to graduating before we are married. I want to make sure I am financially stable before that commitment. We essentially decided to casually plan for October of 2018. It seemed to fit both of our ideas and leave room for our individual dreams. Our relationship had reached the point where we were very serious, but couldn’t publicly share our plans because we were just dating. I had a feeling that we would make the next step soon, but I had no clue how soon.

The night before the big question, I was out to a fancy dinner with my mother for our annual Christmas date. Out of the blue I looked at her and told her that it has always been a dream of mine to get engaged around Christmas. I then expressed how upset I was that it probably wouldn’t work out with our tentative schedule that Ryan and I had set for ourselves. She slyly glanced at me and simply answered, “You can’t have everything, honey” (My mom has known about this engagement for months). I shook it off and moved on, knowing that my thoughts of a snowy engagement was probably a pipe dream.

Ryan and I had been planning a date day for weeks. We had both spent Thanksgiving with our own families and with my teaching schedule and his school schedule, we hadn’t had much quality time together. I am very passionate about photos. I suggested that we go up on our little town mountain and take some wintery pictures. Little did I know that I had just suggested the foundation to my own surprise engagement. After spit-balling some more ideas, Ryan came back with the idea that we get his cousin, who happens to be a talented professional photographer, to come with us and make the photo shoot really fun. Of course, I was all in! The morning of the engagement arrived. My mother called me and asked if I wanted to get my nails done because she was wanting to. This was out of the ordinary for my mom, but I agreed to it because it was the holiday season. After I left the nail salon, my mom hugged me and told me to enjoy my day! I met Ryan and he seemed a bit nervous. I brushed it off just thinking that we were both antsy because we hadn’t seen each other in a while. I had butterflies in my stomach the entire time we picked out our tree and met up with his cousin. I am typically pretty shy, so I thought it was just nerves for having to pose for a camera.

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We drove to forest road 151, a road that was snow packed and had a breath taking view of the San Fransisco Peaks. Ryan and I began posing with our Christmas tree, and working to capture the perfect candid. I started thinking about how many photos Ryan’s cousin was taking and how I would explain to people why we had these professional pictures taken. “A fun and random photo-shoot” just didn’t seem to justify them. Caitlin (Ryan’s cousin) then asked me to act as if I was walking away from Ryan. I did this for several pictures. Her next suggestion was to turn to face him so she could take a picture of us nose-to-nose. When I turned around Ryan was on his knee.

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I was so shocked and flooded with happiness (and the cold winter air) that I began shaking uncontrollably. He simply said, “Taryn, I love you. Will you marry me?” My first response was, “Do my parents know?” followed by, “Do your parents know?” Followed by, “Does Caitlin know?” Finally when he answered yes to all three questions and I had grasped that this wasn’t a dream, I answered with the obvious YES. Caitlin captured the entire thing on camera. We called both of our families and warmed our hands in my truck before heading back out to take some more photos with Ryan less nervous, and myself elated with utter joy.

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I have no idea how Ryan, Caitlin, and our parents pulled off such a complete surprise. The engagement was one out of a fairy-tale, and the best part is yet to come.

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Special Thanks

Ryan W Wallace
 | Photographer
Caitlin Buchanan
 | Photographer