Chelsea and Joel
How We Met
I met Joel when I was 14 in the Woodstock High School band room in Woodstock, Georgia. We were friends throughout high school and began dating when we were 18. We both ended up at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, him pursing a degree in music education and me pursing a nursing degree (he graduates this December and I graduate next May). Through our college years, Joel showed me more about love, forgiveness, and patience than I could’ve ever learned on my own. One thing we always shared was a love for all things Disney. When he found out I’d never visited Disney World, he and his brother, Brady, surprised me with a trip there for my 20th birthday in December of 2013. They also invited my best friend, Emily, to tag along. I had the time of my life, and it was there that Joel insisted that we return as soon and as often as possible. In December of 2014, we couldn’t make the trip again, but Joel did get me a Cinderella glass slipper Christmas ornament with the promise that he would get me “a real glass slipper” someday.
How He Asked
Joel and I had planned another trip to Disney World with our friends (including Joel’s brother, Brady, and my brother, Austin), in December of 2015. We were approaching four years of dating, so I had a hunch about this trip, but my friends did a great job of throwing me off. By the second night of the trip, I was convinced a proposal was not happening.
We had lunch reservations at the Be Our Guest restaurant on the third day of the trip, so we all decided to dress a little nicer for the first part of the day. Upon entry to the park, everyone insisted on stopping for a bathroom break–we had just gotten there! Evidently, I was the only one who was smart and went before we left the hotel, so I waited outside. However I was eventually coaxed into going in to take my friend some sunscreen. As soon as I got into the bathroom, all of my girl friends ran out and left me behind. Confused, I followed them out and was immediately stopped by my friend Lauren, accompanied by a Disney photographer. Lauren handed me a parchment scroll with a huge smile on her face, and I burst into tears. On the scroll was the first clue on my scavenger hunt to meet Joel.
The friends who came with us on the trip were stationed at different spots at the Magic Kingdom. The spots were places where Joel and I had made special memories on our previous trips, from my first roller coaster to Joel’s favorite ride. Each friend handed me a new scroll with a clue that led me to a new spot. As expected, I was a blubbering mess to begin with, and it didn’t get any better as the clues continued. The last few scrolls led me to Joel’s family, who had driven up from Port Orange to be there that day, and then to my friend Lynsey, who had come down from Georgia, and finally, to my mother, who had made the 7-hour drive to come hand me my last clue.
The final clue informed me that we actually weren’t eating lunch at Be Our Guest, but something “a little more romantic” instead. With a crowd of friends and family in tow, I headed to the last location, Cinderella’s castle.
Joel was waiting at the castle outside the entrance to the Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant. He just smiled and escorted me inside the castle and upstairs to the restaurant that overlooked the park. We ate lunch and ordered dessert, and for the first time in our entire relationship, we had awkward conversation. We had always talked about everything, and we were both very clearly avoiding one burning discussion topic. Finally, the waiter brought out a covered platter and sat it in front of me. He said something about it being a special gift “from the princess” and removed the lid to reveal a glass slipper on a bed of rose petals. When the waiter backed away, Joel got down on one knee, holding the ring that I had picked out a few months prior at the jewelry store. I said yes, the restaurant applauded, and we ate our dessert as quickly as we could to get outside to our friends and family. They were waiting with bubble guns and cameras and bride/groom Mickey ears. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect day or a more perfect man if I tried.
Now I know what Joel meant when he promised to get me a real glass slipper someday.
THANK YOU to Brady, Austin, Lauren, Emily, Carlee, Lynsey, Hope (my sweet mother), Peggy, Keith, Kaiti, Justin, Josh, and Richie for being there on that wonderful day!