Ashley and Luke

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How We Met

Luke and I met the first week of our freshman year of college in 2011. It was the night of the square dance event on campus and I was decked out in a very flattering plaid shirt. Luke, however, was “too cool” for the event so we met later that evening back in the dorms when we were introduced by a mutual friend. After that we repeatedly bumped into each other at the dessert table (obviously) in the dining hall. Our mutual addiction to sweets led to pretty frequent interactions and in December 2011 Luke invited me to a concert. The concert was amazing and Luke and I had so much fun. I remember feeling so safe and comfortable and happy as he was a total gentleman and constantly made me laugh. However, neither of us did anything to take the relationship to the next level as we both viewed the other as “a little too wild” to be relationship ready (ironic).

I ended up in another relationship part-way through freshman year so we interacted less and less but managed to stay friends. On the last day of sophomore year we reconnected at a Starbucks and ended up running back to campus in the rain (so romantic!). When junior year started, I found myself thinking of Luke and how much fun I always had with him. We lived near each other on campus so we saw each other frequently and began planning concert adventures for the semester and getting meals together pretty regularly. As we hung out more that semester I started to see how he had changed over the past few years. I was drawn to his loyalty and selflessness that was displayed not only in his relationship with me, but in all of his friendships.

Everyone knew that Luke could be counted on. We had also both grown a lot spiritually throughout college and as he opened up more about his faith and his family, I started to see more of his heart for the Lord and his heart for people. This was no longer just a fun friendship; I was slowly falling in love with one of my best friends. However, I was too afraid of what would happen if we dated and it didn’t work out. I couldn’t handle losing him as a friend so when he asked me to go into Chicago alone with him, I said no. And when he brought back chocolates for me I sat him down and explained that I just wanted to be friends. Luke, however, continued to be an amazing person I could go to with anything and was always down for an adventure, a concert or a trip to Cold Stone.

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By November I knew that even if it didn’t work out, it would be worth the risk because I was falling for Luke. In December he invited me and some friends to the Nutcracker ballet in Chicago (which his sister and brother-in-law were in – so much talent!!!) and I spent the entire evening trying to get his attention. We were friends, we had been friends for over two years and as the kind, respectable man he is, he continued to treat me as a friend. I had sent too many “just friends” messages and now that I knew I wanted to get to know him on another level he was content being just friends.

I must have been pretty overt in my flirting because eventually he asked me to go into Chicago with him alone and this time I said yes. We had a delicious dinner in the city and then ran in and out of stores while it snowed. While walking out of a Macy’s we ended up holding hands. Neither one of us will admit to initiating so it must have just been meant to be. I’ll never forget the way it felt to be hand in hand for the first time with this man I had grown so close to. I was basically giddy and neither once of us could believe that something we had both thought about at different times over the last few years was finally happening. That night we decided that we would have to wait until senior year to potentially date since I was going to Spain for the semester and it would be unrealistic to date long distance. We lasted about a month and a half before he sent flowers to my flat in Madrid and asked me to be his girlfriend.

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How He Asked

The first week of September 2016 Luke and I went on a vacation with his immediate family (mom, dad, brother, sister, brother-in-law and 6 month old nephew) to Kiawah Island in South Carolina. We stayed at a huge, beautiful beach house on the island where we rode bikes to the nature center, swam in the ocean, bought Kiawah Island t-shirts at the nearby shops and searched the waters for alligators. We spent a week laughing, tanning, swimming, biking and especially smiling. The entire vacation felt like we were in paradise.

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Near the end of the trip, we all got dressed up and went out to the beach at dusk to take family photos. We waited until the sun was in the perfect spot and then snapped tons of pictures. Pictures of him with his siblings, his sister and brother-in-law with their new baby, his parents with their new grandchild, etc. The pictures were all stunning and we took a few photos of just the two of us as well.

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Near the end of the photo shoot, Luke reached for both of my hands and gently turned me toward him. He began telling me how special it was to have me with him on this trip and how special he knew the rest of his life would be with me in it as his family members all stepped to the side and began taking photos of us. He pulled a ring box out of his pocket and got down on one knee in the sand with the sun setting in the background.

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He told me he loved me and asked me to marry him and of course I said yes! I could not breathe or think or do anything but hug and kiss him and hold him as close as possible. I wanted to stay there with him forever and then I realized that’s what we were going to do – be together forever. He held me on the beach as his family cheered and clapped and snapped photos.

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His parents then announced that we needed a real family photo since I would now officially be part of the family! We took a group photo and then ended up at a beautiful resort (The Sanctuary) toasting to our engagement with champagne. The entire evening was so special because the entire week had already felt magical and the proposal was truly a dream come true. I am so excited to spend the rest of my life with Luke loving and serving the Lord, each other and those around us.