Cierra and Nicholas

How We Met

I met my FIANCÉ my Sophomore year of college back in 2011 at Kent State University. My roommates and I had decided we wanted to live off campus in the middle of the woods and somehow ended up living next door to some of the college wrestlers. On move-in day I was out of the country celebrating my cousin’s wedding, while all my roommates were back in Kent moving in our belongings. I remember it plain as day, they Facetimed me to tell me that our new neighbors were a part of the wrestling team & were HOT. However a few had girlfriends (my now fiancé being one of them with a girlfriend). When I finally returned from my cousin’s wedding I began moving into the new place. Throughout the school year, Nic and I randomly bumped into each other going in and out of the house but did not talk a whole lot, as we both were seeing other people & I was SO NOT interested in my wild next door neighbor. By the spring semester, the two of us were both single and Nics wrestling career had come to an end so I started to see him around the house more often, grilling out and having bonfires. One night the neighbors invited me over to join the guys since I was home alone most of the time for the summer.

Wedding Proposal Ideas in Philadelphia Museum of Art

We all talked and had a great time and a few days later Nic invited me over again to join. We wanted to sneak up on my roommate through the window and scare her, so we walked around the house together to peep in the back window, and Nic suddenly kissed me! I was shocked but didn’t dislike it. Nic soon asked to take me on a date, I, of course, said YES. We both grew up in small farm towns, so my favorite restaurant at the time was Outback, so that is where he took me ( in my hometown ). We had a great time, laughing and telling each other all about our lives. The waitress came with the check and Nic, of course, said it was on him. A few moments later she came over to let us know his credit card was declined, as it was expired. Nic was SO embarrassed, he had to call his mom about it and I could hear her laughing on the other line telling him “NIC I TOLD YOU YOUR CARD WAS EXPIRING YOU NEEDED TO ACTIVATE THE NEW ONE”. He apologized a million times and asked if I could pay and he would give me money back later. I couldn’t keep a straight face and laughed so hard about it.

Where to Propose in Philadelphia Museum of Art

Needless to say, that day was the start of our love story! We sadly broke things off in 2014 due to long distance struggles, but always stayed in touch and visited one another on occasion. In the summer of 2015, I moved to Chicago for a new job and Nic came to visit me with my sisters ( they LOVED Nic like he was their brother even when we were apart). We had tried after his visit to make the distance work again as he lived in New Jersey, but it really took a toll on the both of us. Again, staying in touch, we would both go our separate ways, but ensuring we saw one another any chance we were in the same place or had some free time to make a trip to visit each other. This went on for quite some time , until we realized distance could not keep us apart for good. I made the decision I was going to move back to New Jersey with Nic so we could finally start our lives together. Nic told me 2 weeks into dating me that he loved me and told my mother he was going to marry me, I thought he was nuts, but he fought for us through the distance for years and I knew deep down he sure did mean what he said from the beginning 6 years ago!

How He Asked

Our engagement happened on April 28th, the most perfect sunny, Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. It just so happened to be that Nics work banquet was being held that evening and we were set to meet up with his colleagues and their wives for brunch prior to the banquet. That day we headed to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and of course, since we are both always late, we showed up 15 minutes later than we were supposed to meet our friends at the museum. When we got to the top of the museum hill, we were walking around a beautiful gazebo that overlooked the river when we were approached by a young man who kindly asked if he could take a few photos of us overlooking the water for a school project (mind you he only had a cell phone, so I thought nothing of it and agreed). There were TONS of people around and the young man asked if they could please step out of the way for a quick moment so he could capture us, everyone kindly moved. Next, he told us to gaze out into the water and he would snap our picture, next thing I knew, Nic tapped me and got down on one knee!

Nic is always making me laugh, so I thought he was trying to be funny for this young guys school project ( photos of different couples around the city), so I said “what are you doing? get up!” , but he did not get up, he replied “No, I’m serious, Cierra, I love you more than anything, will you marry me?” and took a box out of his pocket, I was so in shock I asked what is going on! Are you serious? and didn’t answer him for a solid minute. Once I realized he was not joking, I said “YES!! I love you” accompanied by a lot of ugly crying. The crowd around us started cheering and clapping and I still thought this photo was just the icing on the cake to capturing Nic asking me to marry him, but that was not the biggest surprise. When I looked up through the crowd I saw my family walking down the hill carrying flowers and balloons and gifts, I instantly started crying MORE!

My mother, father, sister, her husband and 2 children all drove 12 plus hours to surprise me and watch us from afar get engaged, all planned by my amazing Fiancé, Nic. My family was in on it all, they asked a young man to be on the lookout for us and approach the two of us and snap pictures on my mothers cell phone, they knew a legit photographer would make me suspicious, there was no brunch planned with our friends, the brunch was planned by my mother with my entire family at the cutest restaurant downtown. Nic still had to go onto his work banquet later that day, but he had planned an entire day for my family & I to go to my grandfather’s house a few hours away, as he had been ill. I was overwhelmed with joy at the proposal, but the most special part of the day was celebrating with my family

Special Thanks

Heather Palecek
Photographer