Allie and Mike

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How We Met: We met for the first time in the dining hall of our freshmen dorms at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mike’s best friend, Evan, and I went to high school together, and I asked about Mike when they came to eat with us. We spent our first two and a half years of college as best friends. Our junior year, all of our friends knew he wanted something more to happen, but I was in denial. We held hands every night on our way to the bars, danced with one another, and talked constantly. Our friends told him he should give up, that he didn’t have a chance, and my best friend even yelled at me one night to stop leading him on. Over Thanksgiving break that year, we each went home to our families, but talked non-stop. We both knew something was changing. When we got back to school after that weekend, things were incredibly awkward between us. We both knew we were no longer “just friends”. We wound up getting together at one of our friend’s birthday parties and were inseparable from that point forward. Unfortunately, I was moving to Madrid that January for the spring semester to study abroad. While I was there, we video-chatted everyday, and over his spring break he came to visit me. We traveled to Rome together, where we agreed to finally make it official, and have fallen more in love everyday since. After we graduated, he spent an extra year doing his Master’s at Wisconsin while I started my life in NYC.  Luckily, we saw each other often and got closer and closer regardless of the distance. After that year, he moved to New York, where we had two amazing years with our friends before deciding to get an apartment of our own. This past year we have built a home together and have loved every second of it.

Months ago, Mike told me that his brother was coming to town the weekend after his birthday, and that we were all going to go out to dinner together to celebrate. His dad had also mentioned inviting my parents, which I thought was really thoughtful. I really thought nothing of it, as we are part of each other’s families at this point. Since it was Mike’s birthday, I decided to invite all of our friends over after dinner before going out. Little did I know everyone had a different plan for the night.

The day before the big proposal, I got a call to schedule an interview for the next day for a job I really wanted. It was scheduled for 4pm on Friday, and I was really excited. Unfortunately, the elaborate plan for the next day interfered. Mike frantically got in touch with the supervisor, explained the situation, and had it rescheduled for earlier in the day. I clearly had no idea anything was going on. So, on Friday morning I went on my interview (which went great!) and then went home and hung out with my old roommate, Natalie, which I normally do on Friday’s because neither of us have class or work (I’m in graduate school). Natalie put me through an extremely strenuous workout in the gym in my building, and then cooked me lunch in my apartment. While we were eating lunch, she stopped mid-conversation and said, “I have something for you”.

She handed me an envelope with my name on it, where I found a letter that told me that I was about to relive the last 5 years of our relationship, one step at a time. The letter said to get dressed and ready, and to be downstairs at 4. I was shaking and laughing and generally just freaking out, but I had to get ready. Natalie thankfully helped me get dressed and do my hair and my makeup and then she brought me downstairs where a stretch limo was waiting. I had an idea about what was happening but really had no idea what was in store.

She handed me a letter that said “Year 1”, which talked all about how our relationship started and how we got incredibly close while I was living in Spain. At this point, I was hysterically crying and already so touched by the thought that went into this. Then I got in the limo and the driver took me to a Paella bar to symbolize when we made our relationship official when he came to visit me in Spain that first year. My best friend, Erica was waiting for me. We had some champagne and she showed me a video my friend Michelle made for me (who also studied abroad with us) and I was obviously balling my eyes out the whole way through.

Next, Erica made a beautiful speech to me and handed me the next letter that said “Year 2”. This letter was all about being at Wisconsin together and the amazing year we spent growing closer with all of our friends. The limo took me to Murray’s Cheese Bar, since Wisconsin is the cheese state, and my best friend from Chicago, Ashley, was standing there, wearing a Wisconsin jersey. She flew in and I had no idea she was even in New York. She then showed me pre-recorded videos from each of my Wisconsin friends talking about why they love the two of us.

Then, Ashley gave me the next letter, entitled “Year 3” which was all about the year Mike and I spent apart. He talked about how much time he spent at my first apartment and how even though that year was difficult, it made us grow even stronger. The limo took me to that apartment building, where my old roommate was waiting. She showed me videos from my parents, his parents, and my aunt and uncle, which were all so sweet and emotional.

Then she gave me, “Year 4”. This letter talked about his old apartment, which was where we spent all of our time with his roommates. We became a little family that year, and it meant a lot to us. I even lived there for three months before we got our own place. The limo took me to the building and our best friend, Evan (the one who introduced us), was waiting there. He showed me a video of the other roommate, Matt and then made the most heartfelt speech, leaving me with tears streaming down my face. Then he gave me what I had been waiting for the entire day, the letter that said “Year 5”. This letter was the very best, as it spoke about both of our favorite years; the year we started a home. He told me to hurry back to our apartment so we can begin our lives together, and the next 10 minutes in the limo were the longest of my life. I finally arrived back back at my building where Mike’s dad was waiting. He told me to go to the roof. When I arrived on the roof, Mike was waiting on one knee. I was shaking and crying and exhausted as he spoke the words I had waited so long to hear. I said YES and we shared one of the most perfect moments in the world.  There was a photographer capturing the entire thing, o we did a little photo shoot on the roof and in Madison Square Park. When we got back to our apartment, our families were waiting for us to take us to a beautiful dinner on the HudsonRiver. Thinking the day couldn’t get any better, we came back to our apartment after dinner, where all of our friends were waiting to surprise me and we celebrated all night!

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Photography by Upsana Mainali Photography