Courtney and Mark

How We Met

Mark and I met in college at Eastern University in Pennsylvania, while he was Junior and I was a Sophomore. We met for the first time at a Model UN meeting October of 2013. We were both Political Science majors, and Model UN is a great program that ends with a trip to Boston to participate in a mock UN conference. The funny part of the whole thing, is the first meeting, the one we met at, was the only meeting either of us wound up going to. I had to drop one class due to having too many, and the Model UN schedule conflicted with his lacrosse schedule. After meeting that night we didn’t see each other again for a week or so, and then I ran into him while meeting with a professor on campus. After we talked for a while then, he found out that I worked at the coffee shop on campus and spent the next semester and a half routinely visiting during my shifts. He found ways to have little conversations that built a friendship for the remainder of that first semester of knowing each other. The following semester we had a class together, and of course he just had to sit next to me. After that class was my only break in my schedule for the day, so I would go get lunch. Typically I would go have lunch by myself (it was my only quiet time during the day), and he would leave class with the other two lacrosse players that were in our class. About halfway through the semester, he began to invite himself to my lunches. As much as I enjoyed the quiet of eating by myself, for some reason having lunch with him was even better. After a full semester of these little moments spent flirting with each other, he finally asked me on a date, 3 days before the end of the semester. That would have been a great tactic if it wasn’t going to workout between us. The problem was, it was the best date either of us had ever been on, and it was just dinner at Chilis. We saw each other one more time before the end of the semester, and that was the first time he kissed me. But with the semester being over, I was headed back home to California for the 3 months between semesters. Over the summer, some of my family and I flew out to Philadelphia to visit. My mom and stepdad, and my sisters wanted to go sight-seeing around the city that had become my home. We had spent a few days exploring, when I wanted to catch up with a friend in the afternoon, so I volunteered to stay at the hotel that morning. That friend was Mark. My family went exploring Philly, and Mark took his silly California-girl out ice skating and for a walk through Valley Forge National Park. I didn’t know how to find my way around the park, and neither did Mark, so we just started driving and walking around. By the time we left, we had found Washington Memorial Chapel and fell in love with the church, and the park, and each other. It definitely could have ended there. It could have been a happy ending to a short story. It wasn’t. 3,000 miles away, he woke up every morning to text me “good morning,” he spent all day texting with me. We talked about everything from what we want out of life, and when we ran out of things to say for a few minutes, he’d still make sure he said something, just to keep talking to me. After 3 months of texting non stop, I arrived back in PA, and we FINALLY became a couple.

Wedding Proposal Ideas in Valley Forge National Park

The first time I took him home to meet my family, in California (2015)

How He Asked

After just over 3 years of dating, Mark knows that I typically avoid celebrating my birthday. My birthday happens to be on Memorial Day Weekend, and everyone is always out of town, so if there’s a celebration, it’s almost never for my birthday. The day before my birthday, we woke up (we had moved in together after about 2 and a half years of dating) and got ready for work. He left before I did, so I was still trying to get dressed when he left. I went to get my purse and leave, and on top of my purse was a cute little note, telling me to meet him at Washington Memorial Chapel. He said he wanted to recreate one of his favorite dates we had ever had as part of celebrating my birthday. He had NEVER left me handwritten note before, and he really wasn’t one to recreate dates. He’s really cute, and does cute things all the time, but recreating dates hadn’t been one of his cute things. I was a little suspicious, but had no idea what he had planned. I went to work, expecting him to work until 4 and me to work until 5. That day in our office was slow, so I was told at 3:45 that I could leave at 4. I texted him this, and he just sounded all excited and said he’d see me at Valley Forge. So I did. I got off work and drove over to Valley Forge, got lost trying to find the church that we were lost the last time we found, and showed up about 4:30. I got out of my car, and here comes Mark, stuffed puppy in hand. He hands me this puppy and says, this is my promise to you that as soon as we can get a puppy we will. This was probably the most exciting thing he could have said, since I’ve ALWAYS wanted a puppy. Little did I know that wasn’t it. He took my hand and walked me around to the side of the chapel where it was quiet and turned around and looked at me. He took both of m hands, and told me that he loves me and couldn’t imagine spending his life with anyone else. I looked at him and asked him what he was doing. I thought this was crazy! He answered with telling me he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. At this point he took out a little box and got down on one knee, and said those four little words, “will you marry me?” Obviously I said yes! He put the ring on my finger and wrapped me in his arms, at which point I could hear a camera clicking behind me. He had planned this so well, he had his mom and sister drive an hour up from Lincoln University to take pictures for him!

Courtney's Proposal in Valley Forge National Park

This was right after he put the ring on my finger!

We revisited the proposal site for our engagement pictures about two months later!

Special Thanks

Alex Schon
Photographer