Ian and Stephanie

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How we met – ian

I was a sophomore at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC and my fraternity was having a Halloween party. I was standing in line to get a drink and I looked up to see a beautiful girl dressed up as Tom Cruise from Risky Business. I had to talk to her, so I introduced myself and we immediately hit it off. We spent hours at the party talking and dancing, but eventually said goodnight. There was an immediate connection between the two of us and I knew she was different from all of the other girls I’d met. I remember sitting at my kitchen table with my mom over fall break and telling her that I “couldn’t put my finger on it, but there is something special about that girl Stephanie.” We hung out a few times in the next few weeks, but never ended up seriously dating. We remained friends, but I thought I’d missed my chance as we both moved on with our lives.

I joined the Army after graduating and after completing my officer training, found out I was being stationed in Hawaii. On my 25th birthday I was checking Facebook and reading through various “Happy Birthday” messages when one stood out. Stephanie sent me a simple message wishing me a happy birthday. I debated whether or not to reply to her, but boy am I glad that I did! I sent her a message and we managed to reconnect. We started talking every day on the phone and one evening (after a few drinks) I invited her to come visit, never thinking that she would actually come. To sweeten the deal, I offered to split the ticket with her. I clearly underestimated her boldness, because she started looking at flights. Lucky for me, it was February in Chicago (where Stephanie had moved after college), so being on a tropical island helped a lot. She was hesitant to come visit a guy she hadn’t seen in years, but looked for a ticket anyway. Miraculously, the day she looked, tickets from Chicago to Honolulu were only $450- we have never seen them that inexpensive ever again! She snatched up the ticket, and it was like no time had passed when she finally arrived. We dated long-distance for almost a year when I found out I was being deployed to Afghanistan. It was a very hard time for us, but Stephanie was my rock and constant source of calm and inspiration throughout the year I was gone. She was the most supportive person I could have hoped for and we managed to talk almost every day, despite the 14.5 hour time difference.

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When I got back to the US, we decided that we were tired of being a long-distance couple. We talked about it a lot and we decided that it made sense for me to move to her, so I left Active Duty and moved to Chicago. We moved in together and a year later, we bought a condo and added a furry member to our family; Miss Ginny the hound dog! I decided that I wanted to ask her to marry me and asked her father’s permission while we were visiting her family over Christmas. I bought the ring in January and had it hidden in my dresser until May when I proposed.

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How he asked – steph

We both went to College of Charleston, and there is a huge Alumni event every year called A Charleston Affair. It’s a fun fancy event, and Ian kept talking about going. We ended up getting tickets and flying down to Charleston to attend. We were a little bummed that a tropical storm was looming that weekend, but Ian made sure that we got dressed to the nines anyway. I was frustrated with Ian because he spent the whole day on his phone “with his mom.” I later learned that he was secretly coordinating timing to dodge the storm with our photography ninjas, so we headed out early to “grab a drink” before the event. As we walked along Waterfront Park, there was not a cloud in the sky.

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Ian was squeezing my hand really hard as we walked and just sort of acting funny. Finally, he stopped and turned to me. He told me that he loved me and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He said Charleston was his favorite place, but not because of the food and the beach and the memories it held. He said it was his favorite place because it is where he met me.

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He got down on one knee, and (using my full name!) asked me to marry him. Through more than a few tears I said yes (to congratulatory applause from some very nice strangers). Honestly, I was looking at nothing but him, so after we hugged and he went to put the ring on my finger I was blown away with the most gorgeous ring I have ever seen!

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Photographers came out of the woodwork, and I learned that we were not going to A Charleston Affair, but were having an engagement photo session! In addition to the photographers, Ian made sure to invite my best friend and her husband, who showed up with a bottle of champagne to celebrate the big moment!

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Special Thanks