Alexia and Alex

How We Met

Alex and I first met in an 8th-grade history class back in 2008. By the time we were in 10th grade, I was definitely crushing on him in the classic early-teenage-girl way—namely, by devising clever ways to “accidentally” run into him during passing period and by referring to him almost exclusively by his stealthy code name: “Striped Shirt.”

As to the origin of that name, its creation is credited to one of my best friends, Sonja, who came up with it because, as you could probably guess, he happened to be wearing a striped shirt the first time she saw him in person. But boy did that name stick. The remainder of our high school years was filled with my attempts to become better friends with him and my best friends’ lengthy yearbook entries that always mentioned this “Striped Shirt.” The main issue was a combination of the fact that Alex was rather shy (which was even more endearing considering how handsome he was, and definitely still is) and I certainly was not going to be aggressively forward. However, not only were Alex’s friends impressed that he talked to me even as much as he did (WIN), but also that he left his phone number in my senior year yearbook (the epitome of high school WIN). I knew we were going to different universities and our paths probably would never cross again, but it was still fun to talk about the possibility. So, we left high school as slightly-more-than acquaintances, despite the fact that seemingly everyone except for Alex knew about “Striped Shirt.”

Well, I (fortunately) was wrong. We seemed to pop into each other’s lives just enough to never forget. December 2013 marked my first Christmas break of college. As a native Californian, I was tired of freezing in the Utah snow, and I wanted to go home to see my family. To make matters worse, the shuttle company my mom had booked to take me to the airport had lost my reservation, and I went into a full panic that I was not going to make it home for Christmas. I quickly scheduled a cab, and before I knew it, I was safely at the airport with plenty of time to spare; however, I was still quite distraught from the stressful events of the morning. But that all disappeared the instant I saw Alex standing in the terminal on a connecting flight from his out-of-state university. I called out his name and he blushed so hard. (Sorry, but I had to include that, Alex!) I could not wipe the smile off my face. We happened to be on the same flight home, so we spent the rest of time talking at the gate. On the return flight, we ran into each other once again. My mom later told me that as Alex and I were walking through security, she and his mom got to talking. His mom had known of me through mutual friends and had told my mom that she thought very highly of me. She also thought it was serendipity that Alex’s flight had been delayed, and she wished that he was not so shy with me.

In late 2014, Alex left on a two-year mission for his church, but we stayed in contact through hand-written letters that were just friendly in nature. (We recently realized that both of us have kept each other’s letters over all these years!) When he came back home, we went back to crossing each other’s paths in the same subtle manner as before: a “Happy Birthday” text here and a social media “like” there. The biggest surprise came three years after that serendipitous airport meeting when he asked me out on a date in December of 2016 because we were once again both home for the holidays. The funny part of it was that I happened to be catching up with a group of my high school girlfriends when one of them asked if I had talked to Alex since our date. Before I could answer, my phone vibrated with that text message from Alex. We went out to frozen yogurt and I was pleasantly surprised that he was not quite so shy anymore. We finished the date with a promise to get together again over summer, and that was pretty much that. I had finally got my date with “Striped Shirt.” Beyond a text conversation once or twice, I did not really hear from Alex again until July of 2017 (He says that he was worried I was not interested and did not want to be pushy…if only he knew). Much to my elated surprise, Alex asked if I wanted to go on another date to an Oakland A’s baseball game. And that was the beginning of our own rom-com movie montage of a summer in which we spent most of our time together and realized very quickly that we had something special. After a month of hanging out, and approximately five days before we moved back to our separate, out-of-state universities, Alex asked me to be his girlfriend… and I hesitated. I know, crazy. This was the moment I had hoped for throughout my high school years after all. In my defense, I wanted to make absolutely certain that we both understood that becoming official was about to mean diving straight into a potentially long-term, long-distance relationship. After a little thought, and some encouragement from my mother, I made the decision that would eventually lead me to my future husband: I said yes.

Although we would have loved to be together in person, we both agree that the long-distance beginning of our relationship set the strong foundation for our future. Despite being time zones apart, we talked for hours every day. We learned so much more about each other and grew closer and closer with every skype and phone call. On a visit to Utah about a month after we started dating, he told me he loved me, and I was a goner from that point on. At the end of that semester, Alex was accepted to my university! That second semester actually together was better than we could have ever imagined, so, without a doubt in our minds, we decided that this was it—we were each other’s forever.

How He Asked

The proposal was more than I could have ever dreamed of—it was absolutely perfect.

We had already talked about getting married, and I knew he had asked my parents for their blessing when they were in Utah for my graduation, so I had a feeling that the proposal was likely going to happen over summer break. When he asked me about my dream proposal, I told him that the most important elements to me—besides him, of course—were that I wanted to be surprised, that we would be dressed up, there would be fairy lights, and there would be a photographer to capture the moment forever. Alex is not the best with surprises, but I knew he was up to the challenge!

He told me that in order to keep the surprise element, we would have to be proposal-ready dressed up every date night. I love dressing up (and seeing him dressed up), so I had no objections. And that’s what we did. The day before the proposal, we did our “casual” date and played tennis at our fitness club. He asked me if I wanted to do dinner the next night because we had not gone out to eat in a while. He suggested a steakhouse, so I was immediately on high alert because that would be a nice dinner—the kind of dinner you would eat on the night of your engagement. But just when I thought I had him, he threw me off the trail by acting nonchalant about our schedule for the evening. He said he did not really know his plans for the day, so he would just get back to me about what time we would go. He also asked if I would be wearing my new dress, and when I told him I was planning on it, he said that that meant he would have to be just as fancy, so we would not be mismatched. He was surprisingly good at throwing me off—I thought it may happen that night, but he said just enough to make me rethink and not get my hopes up.

Alex picked me up at 7:45 the next evening in his freshly cleaned car, and he was wearing my favorite outfit of his: a white Ralph Lauren oxford, navy dress pants, and coordinating brown dress shoes and belt. I just melted when I saw him, and I could not help but think how lucky I was to have a man who was not only genuinely loving, but also devastatingly handsome. I kept trying to read him, but he seemed so normal! We laughed and talked like usual, and he showed no signs of nervousness—and I started to think that maybe I was wrong about it being that night. After we finished dinner, he said that his parents wanted us over for dessert because I had not been able to have dinner with them during the week, and they wanted to see us dressed up. I was not suspicious because his parents are always so kind and inviting. Uncharacteristic of my usual hungry self, I actually had leftovers. When we got back to his house out in the country, my main priority was getting my leftover salad into the fridge and out of the heat. But Alex had other plans. Alex grabbed my hand saying that he wanted to show me something out back, so I, salad in hand and mildly confused, followed. Before we reached the back patio, I heard the music. Once I recognized the song, I immediately started crying, and so did he.

Almost 8 years ago, at the height of the pre-teen Twilight craze, I was obsessed with the song Flightless Bird, American Mouth. And almost 8 years ago, Alex and I had been at a dance, when that song came on, and we slow danced together for the very first time. And now, 8 years later, I was standing outside, holding his hand, and listening to that same song once more. I dropped my purse and my salad on the outdoor café table and followed him to the back patio. Along the patio, leading to the dance floor that had been installed in his backyard, was two parallel rows of beautifully lit, flickering candles with red rose petals in between. At the center of the dance floor was a stunning four-post gazebo covered in fairy lights, leafy vines, and red roses. It was a scene I could have only dreamed of. Alex looked at me, smiled, and said, “Let’s dance.”

He led me to the gazebo, hesitating slightly at the small table at the edge of the patio to grab the ring box that was sitting next to a dozen red roses, but I hardly noticed—I was absolutely mesmerized by the magical gazebo standing directly in front of me. We slow danced for the rest of the song, talking and laughing. Alex kept telling me how much he loved me and how beautiful I was, and I just kept smiling and crying. When the song ended, he held me close, told me how excited he was to spend the rest of our lives together, along with a few other personal, loving messages, and then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

That was the easiest “yes” of my life. The ring is perfect—a platinum pavé rounded-cushion halo with a princess cut center stone. Even more meaningful is that the center stone is a gift from my mother’s anniversary ring. She coordinated with Alex to have her three-stone ring deconstructed for my own wedding ring and two pendants—one for me and one for her. We kept dancing and laughing and kissing under that beautiful gazebo on a perfect summer night in the countryside.

Shortly after, both sets of parents came running out of the house to congratulate us. It was so special to me that he had included them in our moment. In fact, he told me that he had been working with my mom, and one of my best friends, Kimberly, to plan the proposal. Our hidden photographer also came out of the shadows and we had our little photo shoot. We all filed into the kitchen to celebrate with cranberry Martinelli—which my mom had selected because it matched my blush dress—and a delicious fruit tart. It was there I learned just how much thought and loving care Alex had put into the evening. He hand-selected the playlist we had just been dancing to to include some of our favorite songs and the love songs that reminded him of us. Our parents also told me that Alex had built the gazebo! They had all been searching for the perfect location, but to no avail. Alex wanted it to be absolutely perfect, with all the little intimate details, so he decided to build it himself. That is exactly the kind of man Alex is. He is one of the most thoughtful, loving, and heartfelt people I have ever met. He always makes sure I know just how much he cares about me.

I loved the entire evening, but one of my very favorite parts was after everyone had left, Alex and I went back out to the gazebo to just talk. The feeling of staring up at the lights, watching my ring sparkle, all while being in his arms, is a feeling I will never forget. It was the happiest night of my life so far, and I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with Alex by my side.

After all these years, Alex and Alexia are finally going to be together forever.

Special Thanks

Abigail Loryn
Photographer