Jaclyn and Ryan

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How We Met

There is an old synchronicity belief that you cross paths with your soul mate 3 times before you actually meet. Oddly enough, this is in fact what happened with Ryan and I. It started in high school. Although we grew up 75 miles apart, we were both involved in our high schools’ student leadership organizations and attended the same conferences, more than once. During college, Ryan and my best friend, Laura, both attended Temple University, were the same major, and had various classes together. In 2012, I ended my adventurous 3 years in the Midwest and moved home to Philadelphia. Ryan on the other hand, had just finished up law school and was getting ready to begin his yearlong clerkship. And, yes, you guessed it, we worked in the same town during the same year, before taking new jobs a year later, 4 blocks apart in Philadelphia.

Fast forward a year, and we were both with a group of friends at the Cambridge, in Philadelphia. We spent the whole night talking; and, considering I was tied up at the time, all I could think was that this guy would be great for one my friends. So began the months long quest to get Ryan set up with one of my friends. We kept passing each other on the subway, at coffee shops and restaurants. I began to realize how strange it was that I kept seeing him ALL THE TIME; and how we had crossed paths so many times before.

After a few months, a couple of unexpected life changes and constantly passing each other, I figured it was time to give this wonderful guy a chance. Fast forward a year, add a puppy and a house, we were getting ready to celebrate his 30th Birthday in Ireland.

How He Asked

Ryan and I are exactly 6 months apart, and with our 30th birthdays on the horizon, we wanted to celebrate in a way we would always remember. We both grew up in big Irish families and have a special appreciation for our roots – so we decided on a trip to Ireland and Scotland. I had been to the Emerald Isle twice before, to study, so I wasn’t able to venture out and visit the towns my family is from. When we began planning our trip, I began digging into our ancestry. I was able to find a couple of churches and address where members of our family lived and worshiped, and we planned stops accordingly.

After two full days of navigating the left side of the road, taking in the gorgeous scenery (and many a Guinness), we started our third day of travel by visiting a town when were my father’s family is from, Kenmare. Kenmare is a small bayside town in the south of County Kerry, along the Ring of Kerry. Many members of my family were born and raised in this small town by the bay, and my great-great grandparents were married at the local catholic parish, Holy Cross Church, in March of 1878. They moved to the United States in 1882, and settled in Pennsylvania, where my family still lives.

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One of the things I was most looking forward to leading up to our trip was visiting Kenmare. I was so excited to see the town and the church that are a part of my family history. When we arrived, I was so excited that I ran into the church and lost track of Ryan. All I can remember is being mesmerized by the beautiful stained-glass windows and hand carved mahogany arches. At some point during my gazing, Ryan suggested we light prayer candles. As two people who were not raised in the Catholic Church, and not privy to such practices, I found this rather odd. So, we went into a small room and lit four prayer candles, one for my family, one for Ryan’s family, one for our friends, and a fourth one that Ryan wouldn’t tell me. Not thinking much of it, I went on my way and went outside to snap pictures of the outside architecture.

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As I made my way around the building, I noticed that Ryan was right my heel, and every so often he would mumble, “I love you.” And I would reply, “I love you too,“ and thought, “He is being very strange.” This went on the whole way around the building, until we got to a 4000 year old piece of bog wood from the original plot of land that was on display. As I was reading the plaque, Ryan grabbed my hand and I turned, he lowered down to one knee, and without theatrics or a long drawn out soliloquy asked me, “Jaclyn, will you marry me.” I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more, and without any hesitation said yes, we hugged, and I just kept thinking about how perfect, thoughtful and just how “us” the moment was.

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We spent the rest of the morning enjoying the sights of Kenmare, and made our way up to Killarney later that day, where our room had lanterns, fresh peonies (my favorite flowers), and champagne waiting upon our arrival. It was perfect. I later found out the fourth prayer candle was his hope that I would say, “yes”.