A Very Purple Proposal by Katelyn James

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Looking back, I laugh at how we met. But, every college student can relate. It was the spring semester of Sophomore year at Penn State. I was living off campus, next door to two of my best friends at the time. Lauren and I were the first ones back for the semester, so we were getting ready to head out for a girls night out. As we were preparing to leave; during the usual loud music, ridiculous dancing, and shot taking… Lauren got a phone call from a fellow cheerleader friend. His name is Mike. Mike is single handedly responsible for our relationship – or maybe I should say Mike’s obsession with Lauren is single handedly responsible. But, I guess six of one, half dozen of the other, right?

Mike was one of the male cheerleaders on campus, and Lauren’s stunt partner. Yes, it is cool to be a male cheerleader at Penn State – so he won’t mind that I have “exposed” him. Mike had a HUGE crush on Lauren – that he might be mad that I just posted all over the internet. That night, Mike was determined to hang out with Lauren. Lauren told him that she had plans with me, and we were heading out girls only. But, Mike is quite persistent. The conversation ended with Mike deciding he would invite himself out with us anyway, and bring along his roommate to “occupy Lauren’s friend,” aka – ME. Needless to say, Mike’s roommate was Kevin. I don’t know if it is accurate to say that we “met” outside of University Towers doorway – or possibly on the Blue Loop that took us to West Campus to frequent Phi Delta Beta’s party. But, I am happy to say we have come far from the hallways of that dingy, crowded frat house where our relationship started.

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The proposal; I think this story best starts a little over a year and a half ago when Kevin made the big decision to purchase a home. During the home buying process, I was told that “my ring budget” had to be used for a down payment, if he was going to purchase a home. While no girl wants to hear that, I also hated the dingy little apartment he shared with Mike. So, I opted for the nice house over maintaining the ring budget. So to say that I didn’t anticipate a proposal anytime soon was an understatement.

It was a complete and total surprise, and perfect for me. Although I am an attorney, I am an aspiring photographer at heart. I was introduced to the work of Katelyn James over two years ago when one of my best friends from law school, and future bridesmaid, was planning her wedding. She had hired Katelyn and suggested I start following her blog because of my interest in photography. I instantly fell in love. I started following her work and was thrilled when she announced her coaching sessions. I could not wait for the day when I felt legitimate enough as a photographer to book a coaching session with her.

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Luckily, I didn’t have to wait until I felt legitimate enough – because I might have been waiting for forever. After talking to Lauren, Kevin emailed Katelyn and asked her if she would add a coaching date to her spring schedule. Lucky for him, he was convincing when he told me a few weeks prior not to book a coaching session yet because my website wasn’t live – and I should focus on that. In the email he explained to Katelyn, rather embarrassingly, that I loved her and her work, had always wanted to have a coaching session with her, and would die to have images of his proposal taken by her. For those of you that aren’t familiar, coaching sessions have a headshot portion to them. So before he emailed her, he already had the plan all laid out. Pretty genius to disguise his plan to propose with an awesome surprise (my coaching session), while also lining up the opportunity to have Katelyn front and center for the proposal – without giving it away, right?

Katelyn, in her usual sweetness, found a date that worked for her busy schedule and added a private coaching session just for him. Well, for ME I guess. I found out about my coaching session on a Thursday night. We had to be in Virginia first thing Saturday morning. I Obviousy needed an OUTFIT, because everyone that does coaching sessions always looks to adorable! AND I was going to be on the KATELYN’s blog! See, he totally through me off with this surprise. So, Friday morning started with a lovely day at the spa, with my mom. We got a massage and a facial, got our nails done, and then headed to the mall. I found a dress at my favorite store (White house black market), with my favorite pattern (polka dots). I was sold! Side note, I was wearing polka dots when we met, so while I didn’t realize it at the time, I picked the perfect dress for the occasion.

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After my little shopping spree, complete with new fancy purple shoes, we headed to Virginia. I could barely control myself when we arrived at Katelyn’s house Saturday morning. She is the quintessential southern girl, with an accent to die for, and a spunk about her that is just infectious. I sat in Katelyn’s office and picked her brain all morning. From my logo, to a business name change, to talking about when or if I would ever go full time – we talked about it all. She asked if I was excited for the headshot portion of the day, and I of course was, but couldn’t help but think WAIT, there is so much more I need to learn from you! Little did I know that Katelyn and Michael were keeping a HUGE secret from me!

We left their adorable cottage home to head into the city for lunch. We had a delicious lunch where I learned that Michael – like Kevin – DOESN’T EAT SALAD. I think they might be the only two people I know that will refuse a salad. We joked about how long they dated before they got engaged, and I laughed and said we would probably beat them out! Oh, how silly I must have sounded to them!

After lunch we went to a lovely little spot overlooking the city. Katelyn posed us and was fiddling with her camera settings. Kevin kept telling me to move over, that he was going to fall off the hill. True to my character, I told him not to move because Katelyn told us to stand right here and you should follow Katelyn’s instructions! Katelyn must have heard, because she had us move over a tad off the hillside before she started shooting. As Katelyn was finalizing her camera settings, Michael came over and took a quick shot with his iphone and said, “I am going to instagram this.” I thought it was a normal coaching session thing, and to be honest I was super excited to be on their instagram page. So I didn’t care if it was normal or not!

Katelyn looked up at us and said, “Okay, I am all set.” I am not sure that I can tell the rest of the story accurately. I know that Kevin turned to me and said, “before we get started I wanted to tell you how much you mean to me.” I remember seeing his hand reach down into his pocket, and that was when I knew. I have no idea what else he said – except the words, “will you marry me.”

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Photography by Katelyn James