Alanna and Zach

How We Met

It took a few years time, but my cousin Lauren introduced me to Zach. In the Summer of 2011, Lauren hired Zach to be her intern at Modell’s Sporting Goods Corporate in NYC. On his first day, she asked him if he was single! HA! And with his answer being yes, she told each of us she wanted to set us up. We heard about each other all summer long but Lauren never made a date/time for us to get together. That summer passed and we each went back to college in the fall. Zach graduated the end of that school year and Lauren actually hooked Zach up with a job when he graduated in June 2012. (He doesn’t just have the good looks, but he is smart too!).

So Zach and Lauren began working together and sometime as Summer 2012 was drifting along, Lauren decided to leave this position at Modell’s. BUT, before she left, she wanted us to meet. I was headed into the city on the evening of July 27, 2012 to meet up with one of my best friends for dinner and the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics, so Lauren and I made plans for that afternoon. My cousin was so excited- bringing my hair from the back to the front, telling me she knows while she is leaving, Zach will always be in her life as her “future cousin-in-law.” I laughed it off unknowingly and just went along with her plan. I walked behind her in route to Zach’s desk, where we met for this brief moment in their workspace (where we pretended we did not know anything about the other, but each found the other attractive). Zach recommended a few bars for my friend and I to check out later for Summer Olympics opening ceremonies- maybe he was looking for an invite too, but he didn’t say.

So, now another year goes by and it’s Summer 2013. Zach has been working full-time for a year; I just graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. Lauren decides after a year in her new company that she was looking for a change again and was going to move to Portland, Oregon. She throws a “Farewell NYC” event and Zach sees on the online evite list that I am invited. Zach admits he dressed to impress that night, hopeful he would get to see me again this night. However, I was out of town visiting other family members in Maryland. So finally Zach declared to Lauren “enough is enough” and forwardly asked Lauren for my number. He got nervous that we would never met with her now moving across the coast. That night at the party, Zach texted me. It was really sweet.

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We got acquainted via text for about two weeks while I was in Maryland, and when I returned, Zach set up our first official date at the High Line. That day June 14, 2013 also happened to be the first time Lauren decided to reach out via text to Zach for a quick hello since her farewell party. Timidly, neither of us told Lauren prior to our first date that it was happening. So we took a quick selfie (our first photo! See photo attached) and elatedly sent it her way. She called obviously and we were all just so excited that this was finally happening. Zach and I were living the best summer of our lives. On July 27, 2013, Zach asked me to be his girlfriend. Unintentionally, but actually one year after my cousin Lauren had briefly introduced us at their work. As athletes, avid sports fans, and USA/Summer Olympic fans, I know tell him all the time “I won the gold medal the day I met you!”

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How He Asked

There was always something special to me about the fireworks and the fourth of July. It could definitely be because I love the USA like I said, but I believe too because it always felt like the start of summer! I could look back on all my hard work from a school year and look ahead to a season of new hopes and dreams. The longer days and warm nights always made me feel like life was at my fingertips and I could do anything. This all felt infinity greater when Zach and I watched the Fireworks our first summer together. Our love ignited and I knew I wanted to shine forever with him. At some point in our four- year relationship before he proposed, I know I told him maybe more than one July 4th that we should have fireworks at our wedding. Each time I know he squeezed me tight to acknowledge my fantasies but also to let me know I was maybe a little crazy. In our relationship, I am definitely the dreamer and he is usually the practical one, but 100% of the time he is still Mr. Romantic.

It was a regular Friday, July 7, 2017. Except the day before, Zach’s boss told him that he would have to travel to New Jersey for work this day, and because we share a car, he dropped me off at work this Friday morning. I brought a change of clothes, as we discussed, we would go to Long Beach after work.

I never thought I would be getting ready for our proposal in a bathroom stall after a workday! But Zach also never expected he would be traveling to and from New Jersey hours preceding his long awaited proposal.

Zach carefully planned this whole day around an annual firework show that occurs the Friday evening after Fourth of July in Long Beach. With the event being sensitive to the inclement weather, Zach also didn’t think he would be practicing how well he could remain cool, calm, and collected, as I watched the heavy thunderstorms from the floor to ceiling glass hospital windows this day.

However, when Zach met and picked me up after work, the sky was beginning to look clear and he kissed me. I noticed his hands were unusually sweaty. I thought maybe he was just hungry! True to his typical loving nature, Zach told me he packed us a picnic for the beach of all our favorite things- sandwiches, cheese, crackers, guacamole, and fruit!

When we arrived in Long Beach, while food and craft vendors lined the boardwalk, there was live music coming from a band on the beach stage, and tons of people spread out on the beach with family and friends, laughing and having a good time, all because of the anticipated firework show over the glistening ocean. Zach picked the spot and we sat down, enjoyed each other’s company over a delicious picnic and fun beach vibes.

Afterwards, and not unusual, Zach encouraged that we should go for a walk along the water. Sounds good when you are at the beach! I put on my rain jacket. Zach confirmed – “You want to wear that?” I said, “Yes of course, I am cold.” So here is my shout out to my all girls’ high school for empowering me to be the strong independent woman I am today who is confident in making her own decisions, even when her guy might be trying to send her secret signals.

Zach had requested the band to play one of “our songs” ‘Safe and Sound’ as his cue to start our stroll. As I was taking a picture along our walk, Zach said that I should put my phone away and “just be in the moment.” I was confused, but still agreeable and oblivious. The rainfall from the day painted the sky beautiful hues of soft pink and yellow that I could not stop admiring. A few moments later into our walk, Zach began talking about how much he loved me. I expressed how much he meant to me and that I loved him very much too. But, then Zach kept repeating to me how much he loved me that I believe my gut processed it before my brain and with a little bit of sass, I said, “I know, why do you keep telling me this?” He didn’t answer my ridiculous question, and instead got down on one knee and left me speechless. After covering my face in disbelief, I opened my eyes, kissed him and said “ absolutely yes” a million times. Zach placed this beautiful gold ring on the fourth finger of my left hand, which was specially made by my one and only dad and engraved inside “made with love.” Zach literally had asked my dad for my hand in marriage.

We got to enjoy this special moment together briefly and then Zach pointed far into the distance to the boardwalk, where I could see our closest family and friends walking from and towards us with their arms wide open with hugs, flowers, and balloons. For the next hour we took pictures with everyone, toasted, drank champagne, laughed and cried. I couldn’t get over all the meticulous details that Zach had managed and planned to make all this happen. It was all such a dream! As the beautiful sky got darker, the firework show began, I leaned on Zach’s shoulder, and it finally hit me. The waterworks began. I thanked him for always putting his whole heart into everything, always taking care of mine. And I told him- “I will love you forever and always, until our grand finale!” While I love all firework shows, this one was definitely something special. The Long Beach Firework show is always a place we can come back to each year to reminisce and enjoy. In true Zach fashion, being practical but Mr. Romantic, this public firework show will always be around but feel like our own.

I was also excited to learn when hugging and kissing everyone goodbye, my parents were graciously hosing a fun casual backyard BBQ party the next day to extend the celebrations with everyone! Surprise proposal AND now a surprise party! It was so nice to have a continued “engagement party” without all the presents and formalities; it was about the basics- family, friends, love and happiness. I can’t wait to marry this guy!

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Special Thanks

Janelle Brooke
Photographer