Ali and Ryan

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How We Met

Ryan and I actually met in college. However, we weren’t really even friends! We ran in the same circles, had a lot of the same friends, and saw each other frequently. He worked at the local coffee shop on campus, and since I’m a coffee addict, I’m SURE he even served me coffee on the daily. Fast forward a couple of years outside of college, and we both found ourselves working and settled in the Dayton, Ohio area.

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Since we had similar friends, the ones left in the area would all regularly get together and hang out in a big group. We had a “Friendsgiving” last November, which I would say was really the first time we actually hung out.

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This friend group hung out more and more, had Christmas parties and game nights, and naturally, Ryan and I got to know each other. Then, in early February, this group took a “ski trip” to his hometown in western New York.

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I got to know his family well and spent a lot of time with him. It was that weekend that I honestly started seeing him in a different light. He has the most amazing family, and seeing him interact with his parents and sisters was a game changer.

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We started texting more and hanging out regularly until he asked me to be his wedding date to an upcoming wedding of a friend. We had a 3 hour drive together, and I’ve never felt more connected to someone on the first date. I don’t even think we turned on the radio. It was the most natural conversation I’ve ever had. Ryan is the type of guy to make anyone feel comfortable and welcome. He’s so funny, positive, and so thoughtful and sweet, I fell for him in no time. Saying yes to that wedding ultimately led me to saying yes to being his future wife:)

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How He Asked

Ryan and I had been talking about getting engaged for a while, but I honestly wasn’t expecting it until around Christmas time. He even had me browse some rings online the night before he proposed! That definitely threw me off.

I woke up on Friday earlier than normal, got ready, had some breakfast, and headed off to work. I walked into my office, and my boss and coworkers were all sitting near my desk (come to find out they had video’d me coming in). I said good morning, but they all had weird smiles on their faces. I thought nothing of it and turned around. Side note: one thing you need to know about me is that I LOVE One Direction. They are my favorite band, and I actually got to design a t-shirt for their album release of FOUR. I was flown down to Florida to meet them. Anyway, I turned around, and there was a HUGE cardboard cutout of one of the members, Niall Horan, sitting on my chair. It really freaked me out.

Turning around and seeing a 6 foot man standing on your chair is probably the most startling thing to happen to me ever before 9 a.m. I asked my boss and coworkers “why is this here?!” It was pretty hilarious since they all know I love 1D. I mean, my mouse pad is my selfie of me and Niall:) They played dumb and acted like they knew nothing was up. Honestly, I knew it must be from Ryan, but I thought he was just being his silly self and playing a fun joke on me. Then, I moved the cutout out of the way and saw two letters sitting on my desk. One that said “open first” and another that said “open at 11 a.m.” My heart immediately sped up because I had a feeling that I knew what this was.

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I opened the first letter, and it said “Ali, Niall and I wanted to surprise you by giving you the day off. After reading this, you are to turn around and leave work for the day – don’t worry, your boss knows. From here, I want you to go to your apartment, workout if you want, shower, watch Netflix, relax and get ready. Also, use this gift card to get yourself some coffee on the way home. Then, at 11, you can open up the next envelope. Love you, Ryan.”

At the point, I immediately knew what was happening. I was buzzing! Somehow, I made it home and managed to focus enough to work out and shower. I even texted my sister, Aubrey, who lives in Iowa, “UMM I think I’m getting engaged today!” She, of course, pretended to know nothing.

I managed to wait to open the next letter right at 11. It gave me instructions to meet my oldest sister, Amber, at First Watch for lunch at noon. I was so excited! My sister is expecting, and with our schedules, I hadn’t seen her in a couple of weeks. I arrive at noon and go to find her table only to come around the corner and see my sister, Aubrey, sitting there, too! I couldn’t believe he managed to get her here! It was such a special moment as I’ve always dreamed of having both my sisters near when I got engaged.

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We finished lunch, and Amber handed me two more letters. Inside the first was Ryan’s credit card and instructions for me to go get my nails done. Thank God! I had just told him the other day that I needed to get them done this weekend. The fact that he remembered that really warmed my heart. And anyone who gets their nails done and is reading this totally understands the relief of that! After taking a year to choose the right color, I finished my nail appt. and opened the second letter. It said to go find him at Wegerzyn Gardens Metropark in Dayton. Let me tell you, trying to drive perfectly safe when you know you’re getting engaged in a half hour is way harder than it would seem!

I finally arrived at these beautiful gardens at around 3:30. It was an AMAZING fall day. Leaves turning, about 60 degrees, and perfectly sunny. I walked around a bit until I found Ryan. I had been so jittery and anxious all day long, but the moment I got to him, that all just went away. It felt like coming home after a long day. That’s one of the things I love most about Ryan. I’ve felt like I’ve known him my whole life, like I truly am not me anymore without him. I don’t remember anything happening around us. It felt like that cliche storybook moment where you are the only two people on earth. We chatted for a minute, and he walked me through this archway where he got down on one knee, told me everything he loved about me and how he would always pursue me, and asked me to spend his life with him.

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It had been a long anticipated moment. I was so excited, I think I yelled yes more than once! It was the most special, romantic day. I could not have planned it better. Secretly, his cousin, Adam, had been hiding in the bushes taking pictures. I can’t tell you how happy I am that we have a picture to remember that moment.

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We had the best afternoon just spending time together and me mostly STARING at my ring. It’s the most gorgeous piece of jewelry I’ve ever seen or worn.

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He later surprised me with an engagement party with both of our families catered from our favorite pizza place. It was so meaningful and so special. And to top it off, my sisters and mom surprised me with a dress appointment the next morning! I can honestly say it was the best weekend of my life so far, and I so look forward to life with this man. I couldn’t have dreamed or asked for a better engagement or a more amazing person to spend my life with.

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Special Thanks

Adam Brandt
Adam H. Brandt Photography