Ashli and Jonathan
How We Met
Johnny and I met the summer of 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. I had been working at a vineyard vines for two months, when he was hired on to help for the summer. I went to VCU and he went to Virginia Tech, while his family is from Richmond and mine is from Northern Virginia, so had he not gotten hired it’s likely we would have never met! I was actually the associate lucky enough to train him on the job. This was June, so when July 4th came around we made plans to watch the fireworks together at the river; unfortunately, our plans didn’t follow through, but he made it up to me a few days later with a different trip to the river. We met all of each other’s friends and were nearly inseparable that summer.
When school reconvened, we both went back to our universities and remained close. We dated other people and never felt like we were really in the right place with the right people; despite it all, we were best friends. In 2013, he graduated from Tech and moved back to Richmond. We saw each other out sometimes, but I was pretty busy finishing up school so our run-ins were scarce. The next year I graduated and got a job out of state. By this point, it was getting pretty hard to deny our connection, and when my job ended and I moved back to Richmond, the inevitable became a reality. Soon thereafter we started dating and yet again, we were inseparable.
This is actually one of the very first photos of us together. Before he left to go back to school after that first summer, he’d framed it and delivered it with pink roses. Somehow it got misplaced and neither of us could find the digital copy, until four years later I magically found it in the download folder of his family’s computer! If that wasn’t meant to be, I don’t know what is. I cherish this picture so much, and to this day, he still buys me pink roses.
How He Asked
Every month on the sixth, which is the day we started officially dating, Johnny and I always try to do something “couplely,” whether we grab dinner or drinks, or just take a walk somewhere. It’s always the best day of the month. So this past August, when Johnny wanted to go on a date on the sixth, I didn’t think anything of it. We had some family coming in town and his brother’s house warming party, so I’d bought a new dress and gotten my nails done with friends. Still, I was totally unassuming — just thought it was going to be a fun family weekend! Saturday arrives and we get ready and head to vineyard vines (the one where we met) (also, hence his t-shirt below), because Johnny says he wants to get his younger brother a gift since he’d moved out of Richmond and was back in town. I admit, I thought this was strange because they’re not exactly the kind of brothers who swap gifts. Anyhow, we went to the store and saw our old crew that we had worked with together and went about buying Kevin a shirt. (One of the ladies almost spilled the beans but she realized I wasn’t wearing a ring yet!) From vv we drove to lunch at the first place we’d got to dinner together.
It’s called Conch Republic and it overlooks the river that runs through Richmond. Little did I know this river would always be important to me. In hind sight, Johnny seemed really eager at lunch and kept looking at me with these puppy dog eyes, but I just thought I was really lucky to have the best lunch date in the restaurant. After lunch I thought we were going back home, but what was supposed to be a rainy and cloudy day had ended up being a gorgeous, sunny day and Johnny insisted we go to Libby Hill Park, which happens to be my favorite place in the city. We walked to a bench that overlooks the whole city and part of the river, and then he told me to stand up. I got nervous and thought this can’t be happening, but in Johnny-style he starts to kneel down and tie his shoe. I didn’t even realize he was wearing loafers that have no laces! I just laughed and pushed him a little, but then he hugged me from behind and then spun me around, at which point he really was down on one knee holding up the most gorgeous ring I’d ever seen.
I was so nervous and he was crying and I awkwardly quoted Parks and Rec! I then start ugly crying (obviously) and accidentally said “Is this real?!” He thought I meant the ring but I was referring to the moment! I couldn’t have been less graceful, but to match my funny responses he forgot to stand back up, so finally I met him down on my knee.
He later told me that he’d forgotten to look up the protocol on proposing, which still makes me giggle. (I’ve also typed this with the biggest smile on my face because I can’t believe I get to actually marry this goober!) In what was the single greatest moment of my life, this stranger who had become my best friend became my fiance! What an unbelievable sensation. As if that wasn’t enough, he’d gotten all of our family together at his parent’s house in town, and we were greeted with an engagement party! I was shocked because I thought my parents were out of town. Sharing that day with the people we love the most was the cherry on top. I couldn’t have hoped for anything more.
It turns out that the spot where Johnny proposed is actually where the founder of Richmond stood and named the city! This was the coolest thing to realize, considering we’d already booked our venue, which happens to be that same man’s house; Westover Plantation was pivotal during colonial times, and William Byrd II called it home. I love history, so connecting all these dots for this city that has come to mean the world to me, couldn’t be more special.
Here are some amazing pictures my best friend (who’s now engaged to Johnny’s brother!) was able to capture for us. (Bryan was actually hiding behind the tree with Hannah, and as we walked through Libby Hill I spotted a dog near their hiding tree, and simultaneously Bryan popped out from behind to apparently check if we were coming yet.
I didn’t know it was him and asked Johnny if he’d seen the creepy guy in the orange shirt peeping out haha!)