Amber and Andrew

How we met

August 25th has always held significance in my life, as it was my beloved great-grandfathers birthday. It took on more meaning in 2012, exactly seven days into my freshman year of college, when I met Andrew. How ironic is it that two of the greatest men I’ve ever known came into the world and into my life on the same day?

Andrew and I had just begun our collegiate career at Christopher Newport University, a small, liberal arts school tucked along the James River, in Newport News, Virginia. The night we met, I had just competed in CNU’s Got Talent, a freshman tradition. Friends from my residence hall convinced me to rap Whiz Khalifa’s part in “Payphone” by Maroon 5. Being on stage in front of the entire freshman class was so crazy! I didn’t know it at the time, but Andrew was sitting right in the middle of the front row, admiring the girl performing as one of his favorite rappers. We met later that night, exploring campus with friends, and discovered we only lived three doors down from each other.

I quickly found my home both in CNU and in Andrew. On March 28th, 2013, sitting outside of the residence hall where our friendship began, Andrew officially asked me to be his girlfriend. Of course, I could not have said “yes” fast enough!

Little did I know, five years later Andrew would ask me another important question on that very same campus.

How He Asked

The day started out with Andrew letting me sleep in while he went to get Starbucks for our breakfast. After we ate, I went upstairs to get ready and he followed. All of a sudden, he had this HUGE smile on his face, and then started giggling, actually GIGGLING! He looked me in the eyes, still trying to hold back his excited laughter, and said he loved me and could not wait to spend the rest of his life with me.

In that moment, I knew something big was about to happen.

Then he totally threw me off by saying he had to leave. I was stunned! He followed up by saying, “Don’t worry, you won’t be alone. When I leave, look under your pillow. I love you – I have to go!” and then he ran out of my house faster than I could blink.

Still in a daze, I followed his instructions and looked under my pillow. It was a letter. The best letter I’ve ever received. The kind of love letter from the movies and books; the kind that you always hoped someone would give you.

Andrew wrote that he wanted this day to be all about me, and he wanted me to soak in every moment and be completely present to enjoy all the surprises he arranged for me. These words stuck with me throughout the day, and I really did my best to savor each and every second.

The final sentence of this letter instructed me to go find the Fossil backpack he had given me before I moved to Florida. The backpack was nowhere in sight, so I went downstairs. I found it sitting on the middle of the couch, with a note in front of it. I opened the note and it was my first clue. It read, “Your best friend got married in the cutest little shed on the cutest little beach. Where am I?”

It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out this clue (I actually thought someone was in our shed out back… yikes). At this point, I’m still basically in pajamas. So as I’m thinking about the clue, I go upstairs to get ready. I was about to walk up the stairs, when I saw two of my very best friends round the corner! Erin and I have been best friends since first grade, and then when we met Morgan in middle school, the three of us became inseparable. We live in different cities, so it’s rare for all three of us to be together. Andrew knows how much I love and miss them, so he made it a priority to include them in the proposal.

I lost it when I saw them. I knew as soon as Andrew started giggling that he was going to propose that day, but having Erin and Morgan there actually made it feel REAL.

They told me to get ready quickly, because we had to leave in twenty minutes. It’s a good thing I had already done my hair! As I was getting ready, they both read me a letter that they had written for me with their favorite memories, reasons they loved me, etc. It was so sweet!

Andrew packed the backpack with all the necessities for the day – water bottles, tissues, and a GoPro. After dumping leftover Halloween candy into a Tupperware container for a snack, the three of us were out the door and en route to the Yorktown Freight Shed.

When we arrived, my mom and stepdad were waiting for me where their wedding was a year and a half ago. They both read me their letters and gave me my next clue, leading me to a spot on the beach where we went on one of our first dates. Andrew’s parents were waiting for me there, with another amazing letter! Their clue led us to Christopher Newport University where Andrew and I met five years ago.

Here is the order of my clue stops!

#1: My parents, Keri and Ryan, at the Yorktown Freight Shed.

#2: His parents, Charlotte and Dave, on Yorktown Beach.

#3: My sorority sister and college roommate, Kate and her boyfriend Trevor, in the courtyard of our Junior and Senior year dorm.

#4: My sorority twin, Rachel, and my Little Angel, Harley, at the Alpha Phi chapter house.

#5: My grandparents, Jeri and Mike, outside of Santoro Hall where Andrew and I met and lived Freshman year.

#6: His fraternity little brother, Weston, in the David Student Union.

#7: One of my best friends (since 2nd grade!), LeAnne, in Einstein’s, the coffee shop inside the library.

Each person had a sweet letter they had written to me and a clue to get me to the next stop.

My 8th and final stop was to Andrew, standing in the courtyard of the building that we both worked in and graduated in front of. With the help of our moms and my grandma, he had set up a beautiful table with gold and white pumpkins, flowers, candles, pictures of us, and even champagne. It was MAGICAL!

Our family and friends were watching us from the balcony above and they clapped and cheered after I said “yes!”. It was amazing to be surrounded by so much love.

I thought that the surprises were over, but I was so wrong! We walked around to the front of the building for more pictures, and then suddenly Andrew started singing to me! Andrew’s fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, has a tradition called “Sigma Date Night”. They ask out their date by singing “You’ve Lost the Lovin’ Feelin’” from Top Gun. The guys will start the song off, then all of the brothers will circle around the couple and finish the song. Andrew sang to me twice in college, once when he was a new member and again when he was the new member coordinator. Those were two of my favorite collegiate memories, and Andrew knew how much I loved the tradition so he incorporated it in his proposal! His little brother, Weston, organized this for us and was leading the pack of brothers running up!

Again, I thought the surprises were over. And again, I was wrong! Andrew had more up his sleeve. He had arranged for our family and friends to meet us at Waterside in Norfolk for dinner and drinks. We are truly so thankful for everyone that was there to celebrate us!

Special Thanks

Lindsay Collette
Photographer