Hayley and Nathan

How We Met

Nathan and I met in September of 2015 during our freshman year at Geneva College. There was a picnic before the football season kickoff and being a freshman, I didn’t really know anybody. I found my best friend (and soon-to-be-MOH) Rachel sitting under a tree by the library and I sat down with her and a few other friends. Nathan was sitting across from me on the grass and he seemed pretty quiet and shy, but when the topic of conversation shifted to musicals, we discovered that we both shared a love for Les Misérables. Nathan and I barely watched the football game as we were too busy talking about our favorite books, authors, musicals. . .anything NOT related to football. I also discovered that Nathan was originally from Canada, but had lived in New Zealand with his parents and 7 younger siblings for the last several years. (Since Lord of the Rings was one of my favorite books/movies I immediately was jealous!) We would get together regularly and play board games, watch movies, and I found myself doing the one thing that I swore not to do when I went into college: falling in love. Soon, I found out the feelings were mutual. When we returned from Christmas break, we began praying together about the possibility of starting a relationship. We were both a little nervous, as it would be our first serious relationships.

Where to Propose in Sea of Galilee, Israel

Hayley's Proposal in Sea of Galilee, Israel

But we were willing to follow what God wanted for us, and I told him that if I dated someone, marriage was the goal; so if our goals didn’t line up, don’t waste my time and I wouldn’t waste his. Slowly, I began to realize that I couldn’t see my life without him. I ultimately knew that I wanted to be with him after I ended up in the hospital after injuring my shoulder and Nathan stayed with me late into the night. I felt really bad because we had an 8 a.m. class, but he insisted on going with me and assured me that he didn’t mind. I remember (in my drugged-up-haze) him offering to walk me up to my room and I refused to let him since it was after “Open Hours” and I didn’t want him to get in trouble. (My RA had to help me as I made it as far as the couch. . .) On January 30, he revealed that he had sought my parents’ blessing and asked me out. As my luck would have it, I got super sick the day before our first date. Once again, Nathan was super accommodating and we readjusted, despite me trying to get him to reschedule entirely. We went to a local coffee shop, rented a movie (Phantom of the Opera, one of my favorite musicals!) and went out to dinner. It was such an amazing evening and it felt like a dream. When summer came, I returned home to Ligonier and he stayed in Beaver Falls. We would video chat every night when I got home from work and pray together before saying goodnight. Moving forward, we began talking about our future plans. We began asking the “What if we get married?” questions and as he began looking at Grad schools, I began searching for jobs and apartment in those cities. The “What if’s” turned into “when” and in my heart, I knew that he was the one I had been praying for my entire life.

Engagement Proposal Ideas in Sea of Galilee, Israel

How He Asked

Every other year, Geneva offers a trip over Christmas break to Israel for 10 days of touring the country. Nathan and I both went, believing this to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. We left on December 27 from JFK and flew overnight into Istanbul, then to Tel Aviv. We arrived at the Ma’agan Kibbutz right on the Sea of Galilee on December 28, completely exhausted from more than 24 hours of travel. Our Tour Guide told us that the sunrise over the Sea was a beautiful sight. I, as a photographer, was excited about taking the chance to get photos, especially since sunrise is my favorite time of day. I told Nathan that I was planning on going to the shore, but I understood if he wasn’t up for joining me.

The next morning, I went down to the beach to find Nathan waiting for me with one of our professors. It was really cloudy so we couldn’t actually see the sunrise. I decided to take photos anyway because. . .well. . .we’re in Israel!

I had just taken a photo of some shells and turned around to show Nathan when . . .

He got down on one knee and pulled out the most GORGEOUS rose gold ring I think I have ever seen! I immediately started crying and I felt like the wind got knocked out of me. He looked up at me and asked me to marry him. I remember saying something along the lines of, “Yes! Yes! A million times, yes!” before kissing him.

He got up, brushed himself off, and just hugged me. We didn’t know what else to do, so we took a moment to thank God for our relationship to this point and to bless our upcoming marriage. We went to breakfast and announced our engagement to our group, and then video chatted with our families to share the news. Our parents were super excited!

I can say that Nathan’s proposal was, without a doubt, so much more than I could’ve ever wanted. Not a bad way to begin a trip!

Special Thanks

Ben Kennedy | 
Photographer