Beth and Brandon

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How we met, Beth’s side: I met Brandon about 4 years ago, and it only took me a few months to realize that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. People always use that cliché about “falling in love with their best friend,” but it’s absolutely true: Brandon is not only the most genuinely wonderful person I’ve ever known, he’s also my complete partner and best friend in every sense of the word. Since day 1, I have loved doing everything (and nothing) with Brandon by my side. Simply put, Brandon and I enjoy each other and life is better when we can go through it together.  After spending our grad school years in separate states, I was excited when we made the decision in the summer of 2013 to leave our home of South Carolina and start “our” life in Maryland—I couldn’t wait to begin a new adventure as “just the two of us.” We spent our first few months in Baltimore exploring our neighborhood, finding new favorite places, meeting awesome people, and learning more about each other by the day.

How we met, Brandon’s side: I think there’s a multitude of qualities and circumstances that initially bring couples together—whether it be sports, working together, or just a fateful night of rubbing shoulders with alcohol.  For Beth and I, though, we bonded over three things—a love of good food, scars from us both losing close family members, and an affinity for nineties alternative music.  So later, it was important to me that these initial bonds be represented in the way that I proposed.

How he asked, Beth’s side: On one of our strolls around Hampden, I fell in love with a beautiful building at the corner of 34th Street—I remember admiring this “castle” and the gorgeous gowns in the studio window, and wondering what it would look like when the street was lit up with Christmas lights.

On December 6th, 2013, Brandon asked me to go to a food truck gathering with him to try Korean barbecue (food trucks were totally foreign to me). I remember feeling totally at peace, walking hand-in-hand down Keswick as it started to rain lightly around us: Brandon mentioned that we could see the lights on 34th on our way to the food truck gathering, and I gladly complied. They were incredible, and we had the street pretty much to ourselves due to the rain.

When we got to the “castle” at the end of 34th, my ideas of how beautiful it would be in the glow of a million Christmas lights were made real, and it truly was stunning. A sign greeted us at the entrance saying that the gathering had been moved inside due to inclement weather. I didn’t suspect a thing until we got into the vestibule and I heard my favorite song playing—“More Than Words” by Extreme.  Imagine every fairytale vision you’ve ever had of an engagement, and that’s what I saw when I looked up: rose petals, candles, twinkling lights—the whole deal. I realized that this was all for ME, and started sobbing almost immediately.

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As Brandon ushered me into the room, I remember my head spinning as I tried to take everything in and get some semblance of a coherent thought out of my mouth. Fortunately, Brandon had hired the amazing Lindsay Hite to stealthily hide behind some dress forms and catch my completely genuine shock as I looked around the studio: the pictures speak for themselves. Nobody has ever looked more thrilled or shocked in a picture, I guarantee it. The moment it became “real” for me was when Brandon held up a custom made ring box that had “Two Peas…You and Me” engraved in it, and I saw his late mother’s solitaire—I lost my breath for a minute, and then couldn’t stop smiling. I feel like there are so few “perfect” moments in a person’s life, but this was definitely the best of mine. After barely hearing Brandon’s proposal over my own ugly cries, and accepting the ring without fully articulating a “yes” (I got there eventually,  I got to hold my fiancé for the first time…I’m so glad that I have photographic evidence of that moment. Lindsay later took us outside to do some beautiful shots in the rain and in the alley behind the studio, but those first shots are my absolute favorite, because they say so much about our relationship. Brandon looks protective and “calmly happy,” and I so clearly adore him.

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After an amazing dinner from The Food Market and some very emotional phone calls to our family members, Brandon and I walked home the same way we had come, but in a totally different state: this time, we walked with the knowledge that we weren’t only going to be one another’s best friend, we were going to be each other’s family.

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How he asked, Brandon’s side: I had probably thought of a thousand ways to propose to Beth, but with us just recently moving to Baltimore and seeing photos of the coming Christmas lights at 34th Street, I knew I was on to something truly special.   My idea was to plan a private proposal and dinner next to 34th Street at Jill Andrews Studio.  From the outset of the proposal planning, I knew that I wanted to have remarkable photographs to capture every nuance of the night and moment.  Jill Andrews and Elisabeth Roskos from Jill Andrews Studio highly recommended Lindsay Hite from ReadyLuck Photography, and I’ve never been so grateful for a recommendation in my entire life.

With the venue and photographer planned, I went to work with Elan Kost from the Food Market to plan a special dinner for the night with all of Beth’s favorite foods.  They could not have been more accommodating and attentive to my requests.

With the planning behind me, we worked together to get everything ready the day of the proposal.  I was an absolute wreck of emotions, anxiety, and planning, but the team kept me focused and ready for everything yet to come that night.
As it tends to go with big life events—it began to rain just a couple of hours before the proposal, but I baited Beth out of the house by saying that I wanted to go to a local Baltimore Food Truck Gathering for dinner.  So with my left hand discreetly clamming up in my coat pocket, and my right hand holding up an umbrella, I led Beth out of our house for the last time as boyfriend and girlfriend.

We first walked to 34th Street and were awestruck by the lights.  I could see the Jill’s studio in the distance and smiled at what I knew was to come.    I slowly led Beth into the studio and succumbed to my rehearsed proposal muscle memory.  The room was filled with hardwoods, high ceilings, dozens of candles, wedding trinkets, yellow roses (symbolizing Beth’s late sister), and with Lindsay Hite hiding behind dress mannequins to capture the moment.   Beth’s favorite song from the nineties, Extreme’s “More than Words” was playing in the background.

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From closing my umbrella, to dropping to one knee, laughing, crying, beaming smiles, and proposing were the most momentous of blurs.   Beth and I made of night of enjoying our specially prepared meal from The Food Market, calling family, making plans, laughing, crying, smiling, crying, eating, then crying some more.  After four courses of the most amazing food, and probably 30 phone calls, we decided to bring our night to an end.

It was such a perfect moment, made possible by the most talented and thoughtful people, and it is something that I will never, ever forget.

Photographer: Lindsay for  READYLUCK  |  Catering: The Food Market  |  Venue: Jill Andrews Gowns | Florals by Crimson & Clover