Wesley and Hayden

Image 1 of Wesley Gray and Hayden

How We Met

My fiance and I met at Camp Kanuga in Hendersonville, NC in 2008. I was only 13! It was a big deal for a girl to have a “campie” or camp crush but I thought that Hayden and I had something that would last more than the 10 day camp session. When camp was over, Hayden went back to his hometown, Atlantic Beach, Florida, and I went back to Shelby, North Carolina. I could not get over how amazing this guy was. We kept in touch via Facebook messenger and eventually (after a lot of nerves) we got each others phone number so we could text/call. In November 2008, Hayden came back to North Carolina with his father to complete his Eagle Scout project. I HAD to see him again and asked my mom if she’d be willing to drive me to Hendersonville to help him with his project. We had the most perfect day ever. My mom met his dad, we had lunch, and went on a hike to Eagle Rock.

I got back in the car and told my 2 friends that had come along for the day that I was definitely going to marry that guy. During high school, we took turns traveling between Florida and North Carolina during long weekends and holidays. Distance became even more difficult when Hayden went to the United States Merchant Marine Academy in New York and spent many months training on a ship around the world. He graduated in June 2015 but still travels on a 3 month rotating schedule. I currently attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Our long distance love has certainly withstood many years and thousands of miles!

how they asked

On Saturday morning, right after sunrise, Hayden and I went back to Camp Kanuga. We reminisced with every step we took. We went in the cabins where we formed bonds of Christian fellowship with people who changed our lives forever. We talked about the happiness in getting a package of cookies and the sadness of hearing “Carolina In My Mind” by James Taylor over the loud speaker on the last day of camp. We talked about the camp director, and our desire as kids to be able to love everyone like he did. We talked about our favorite counselors/leaders. We laughed and sang the “Baby Shark” song and wished deeply we had all the lyrics to “This Old Place is a Part of Me.” At the end of our camp tour, we went to the chapel. I don’t know how to put into words how much the chapel at Kanuga means to us. The Lord is present in our everyday lives but the chapel holds this magical sense of closeness to heaven.

We sat on the front pew looking at the lake and talking about the opening and closing ceremonies at camp. On our way out of the chapel, Hayden got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I (the most intense planner of all time) was so surprised with his loving words and carefully thought out plan. Oh and I said yes!

Image 2 of Wesley Gray and Hayden

I think….the moment was so surreal I had a hard time recapping all of it when we were back at the car. I am so thankful to marry a man who works daily to love Christ and pour that love into our relationship and the people around him. I am especially thankful for the place and people that showed us this love first, Camp Kanuga. On Sunday, we went to Shelby to tell our family and friends.

Image 3 of Wesley Gray and Hayden

We can’t say enough about how much everyone’s excitement and support means to us. We kept saying over and over that we feel so loved and so blessed. A huge thank you to my dad, my mom, Trish Roberts and Chad Roberts for the support over the past DECADE. Thank you to my best friends (you know who you are) for believing in us. Our prayer last night was a wish that we can continue to pour as much love into the people around us as possible.

Image 4 of Wesley Gray and Hayden

Special Thanks

Jen Burrell
 | Photography