Tressa and CJ

How We Met

CJ and I *officially* met at Creekfest Music Festival in Cherokee, Iowa on August 9, 2014. We may have crossed paths in years prior due to his high school friends being my college friends and each of us telling stories about parties that we both had to have attended! I had bought tickets for Creekfest just two days before it started, as a last-minute celebration gift to myself for passing nursing school a few weeks earlier. As I left the house for this event, I jokingly told my mom, “I’m off to find a husband!”, which was funny because I’d been single for a while and my singleness had become the butt of many jokes. On the Saturday night of that Creekfest weekend, a friend of ours was going around pairing people up, for whatever reason saying these pairings were now “engaged”, and CJ and I were paired since CJ was the tallest guy and I was the shortest girl. The engaged part is important to add, because having just met this guy, I jokingly asked CJ where my ring was!? With that he dropped to a knee and tied a piece of grass around my finger, totally slaughtering my name as he had just learned it and it is kinda different! CJ and I stuck with our friend group for the rest of the night but it was noticeable that we were sticking closer together.

Where to Propose in Dunning's Spring Park

We skipped the concert, attended a sandbar party instead, danced the night away but ended up sitting on the creek bank under the stars (surrounded by our drunk friends) and talked about every topic in the book til 3 AM. We discovered we had a great deal of similarities, the most unique one being that both of our parents’ wedding anniversaries are August 15! He got my number because my phone was dead and I wanted the “engagement” pictures we had taken. That night, he walked me back to my campsite and being nowhere left to sleep, we shared a pillow and blanket on a wooden deck built off the back of an old school bus turned into camper-ish bus. It got cold and dewy that night, but CJ was still a “stranger” to me and to even sleep next to him was SO unlike my usual character, so I froze all night rather than cuddle up to him! The sun rose Sunday morning, a male friend of mine pointed out how awful I looked with my wet-from-dew messy bun and smeared makeup, but despite my looks, CJ still helped me pack up the tent Ir didn’t even get to sleep in and told me “I’ll text you later!”. I said “okay” but knew there was no way a guy as cute as him texts back a girl like me. But he did, our first date was that Monday, and the rest is history! He asked me to officially be his girlfriend on September 13, 2014.

Tressa's Proposal in Dunning's Spring Park

How They Asked

My aunt and uncle across the state of Iowa had their barn fall down this summer and CJ and I were wanting some of the Barnwood to decorate our home and use for other projects. We decided the weekend before that we could go that following weekend but knew it would have to be a drive there Friday, come back Saturday quick trip. Knowing we’d probably eat at CJ’s favorite restaurant on the way back on Saturday, I wanted to do find something new to see or do on Friday before spending the night at my aunt and uncle’s near Postville, Iowa. I found Dunning’s Spring Park in Decorah, Iowa and thought it would be a neat stop for us and our pup, Waylon.

I texted CJ a picture of the waterfall at the park the Tuesday prior to leaving, asking if we could stop there on the way out and he replied “sure”. Unbeknownst to me, this got the ball rolling for CJ to (last minute) arrange a photographer in Decorah, ask my parents for their blessing and have a coworker of mine get me to a nail salon, under the disguise of “her bridal shower was that weekend, she wanted her nails done and she didn’t wanna go get them done alone”. Normally, my “proposal radar” would have caught onto something and I would have had an inkling, but we had just gotten our quote back on a new septic system for our acerage, and seeing that price tag meant no ring in the near future for me, so my radar was “off”.

We arrived in Decorah around evening and found the park. While walking up the path to the falls, I noticed a photographer taking pictures of someone by the construction porta-potty. I mentioned to CJ how odd it was but brushed it off. When we rounded the corner from the path to the waterfall, the photographer crossed in front of us and joined a family, so CJ, Waylon and I continued to the waterfall. Waylon loves water so I tried coaxing him to get into the creek flowing from the falls ahead. I turned back to CJ on one knee!! Shock and surprise came over me and before the box was opened I asked “is this for real?” He opened the box and it most definitely was FOR REAL!

CJ said a short and sweet, yet meaningful message, I obviously said YES and he put the most GORGEOUS ring on my finger! While this was all happening I had noticed out of the corner of my eye the photographer from before taking our pictures. After the ring was on my finger I went over to her, thanking her for catching our special moment and wanting to provide my email so she could send us the pictures. She then explained that CJ had hired her and the family was her own, used a decoy! She then explained her porta-potty pictures were actually her shooting over the person’s shoulder to catch us walking up the path! I felt SO silly for not catching onto any of this, but that just goes to show how well CJ pulled it all off!

We spent a little more time taking pictures with the photographer and when she left, CJ and I noticed that we were the only ones left at the park. We took the time alone at the top of the falls to soak in what had just happened and that forever meant together.

Special Thanks

Photography by Brittany
 | Photographer
Denver S.
 | Co-worker who arranged my nails to be done