Brianne and Justin

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On Thursday, September 1, 2011, I said, “Yes!” to marrying my best friend!

Earlier in the week, the Heape family (my in-laws), Justin (my husband), Chris (my brother-in-law), along with Trae & Carolyn Cannon (cousins), Meme (his grandmother), and Kaylee Fitzgibbons (my brother-in-laws girlfriend) set out on a summer trip to Grayton Beach. It was the annual Heape Family vacation. Due to starting a new job, I couldn’t go down until later in the week.
On Tuesday night, when I rolled in at 2 AM – I never anticipated how drastically my life was about to change. The days passed by quickly, as time flies when you’re having fun. We enjoyed family dinners, girl talk on the beach, and games of ping pong in the game room.

On Thursday morning, the plan went into action. We spent the day being lazy on the beach and planned an oyster shucking afternoon, with “family photos” and dinner later in the evening. Mid-afternoon, the guys headed out to pick up oysters, while the ladies fancied up for pictures on the beach. After a while, the ladies were ready – but, the guys had picked up a game of ping pong and were insisting that family pictures were lame. In fact, when I tried to encourage the guys to be nice and participate – I was told I was holding up their game. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. I marched upstairs and told Carolyn, Kaylee, Meme, and Teresa that they were mean to me. It wasn’t until later that I would find out that this ping pong game was nothing but a scheme to stall.

After 8 minutes of waiting on the guys (yep, I counted – only because they told me they’d be 10 minutes), they finally made it upstairs. But… Trae “had to shower!” All of the women were irritated with the guys – so I thought, but in reality… it was just me. All of these sneaky people were part of the plan.

01Kaylee (Chris’ girlfriend) suggested us four going on down to the beach to take some pictures while we “waited” on Trae. Reluctantly, I agreed. When we got down near the water, Kaylee and I posed for a few photos together. Then Justin began taking pictures of Chris and Kaylee. At one point, Christopher got down on one knee (for Kaylee to sit down) and I shrieked, “Stop. What’re you doing? Wait. I think your family would want to be here.” Only to be looked at by the three of them like I was insane! Literally, no one said a word. I had to explain that because Chris got down on one knee, I thought he was proposing. (Not so funny to Justin then, but super funny now!)

Moments later, Kaylee suggested she take some pictures of Justin and me. As we walked towards the water, I stopped and said, “Wait – get on one knee.” (What can I say? I’m a bit forward.) Again, everyone stopped and stared at me. Instantly laughing, “I was kidding! I was just saying it because Chris just got down on one knee, don’t actually do it. You’ll get your pants dirty.” They all thought I knew – Justin said, “Chris, did you hear her? She told me to get on one knee.”

After making light of the situation, we relaxed and took some silly pictures. Then, in the midst of my silliness – I closed my eyes and began to meditate. (I am still unsure of why I would ever do this.) When I opened my eyes, Justin was down on one knee. Justin, “Brianne, will you marry me?” — “Are you joking? Wait, are you serious? This is not a funny joke. I’m not saying yes until you promise. Oh my gosh, do you promise? Do you pinky promise?” — “Brianne, I am down on one knee. I promise! Will you marry me?” And… I said, “Yes!”

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Yes, for a wee second I wasn’t sure it was real. No, I really had no idea he was going to propose. Yes, I made him pinky promise. And yes, I said, “Yes!”

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After saying yes and lots of hugs, kisses, and tears – Justin said he had one more surprise, “I think your family is here.” As we turned towards the house, a crowd of family came rushing down the stairway. More tears.

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Barry and Teresa (his parents), Meme (his grandmother), Chris (his brother), Kaylee (Chris’ girlfriend), Trae and Carolyn (cousins), and… my Daddy, my Mama, Bethany (my sister), and Brian Ray (my brother) – all of them were here! Not only had Justin pulled of the biggest surprise ever, he’d somehow managed to include both of our families. I could not be happier!

We spent the next few hours celebrating and enjoying the time with my family. We made phone calls to let our extended family and friends know our news. I asked a lot of questions.

When did you ask my Daddy? Is this why y’all were playing ping pong? How long have you been planning this? When did my family get here? When did you get the ring? Was everyone in on this? Did everyone know all week? Who else did you tell? Is my family leaving, or can they stay? Tell me about the ring. Wait, how long have you had the ring? Were you nervous?

As it turned out, everyone at the beach thought I knew. Justin had even text my family earlier in the day and said, “She knows.” The truth – I was completely, positively, 100% surprised!

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Brianne blogs at A Heap of Love // Engagement photography by K&R Photography // Engagement Ring: Harlin Diamonds (Atlanta)