Jacqui and Ryan
How We Met
Ryan and I met in high school. He remembers the first time he saw me at a local swimming pool. I however, first remember seeing him at our high school orientation (he was the cute boy with brown hair that I gushed to my Mom about on the way home from orientation). We struck up a friendship in high school but didn’t start dating until our sophomore year of college when we realized via phone calls and skype sessions that we were perfect for each other. He was at school on a soccer scholarship at Hampton-Sydney in VA and I was in South Carolina at USC. We started up a long distance relationship that ended up spanning across 5 years, 3 states, 3 countries, and 7 cities. And we are finally living in the same city together as of last winter!
How He Asked
Ryan and I always go to the beach on Memorial Day, it’s one of many traditions that we love to do together. This year was no different, we planned a trip to one of our favorite coastal cities, Beaufort, NC (or so I thought!). I had just started a new job two weeks earlier so I did not take any additional time off for the holiday. I spent a normal day at work then headed home to grab my bags with Ryan and hit the road. Little did I know that he had taken the entire day off of work and drove to Emerald Isle, NC already that day! Where he set up all the details for his proposal, and had driven back home (a 3 hour drive each way!) to casually act like he’d just got off work too. I had absolutely no idea what he was up to all day! Then he hopped back in the car with me and drove another 3 hours back to the beach. Ryan drove the entire way and was so cool and collected that I didn’t suspect a thing. As we got to the coast, I noticed that we were taking a different road than usual and I even mentioned this to Ryan. He coolly explained that we were taking back roads to avoid the holiday traffic. Made sense to me!
We started driving through the cutest beach town I’d ever seen and I realized we were in Emerald Isle, NC. It was a city I’d heard of but had never been to. I mentioned to Ryan that we should plan our next beach trip to Emerald Isle because it was adorable, so down to earth and non-commercialized. To which he just smiled at me and took a quick right turn into the driveway of a gorgeous house that was seated right on the ocean front.
Now I was confused. We were going to a hotel in Beaufort for the weekend, so why was he parked at a house in Ocean Isle? He smiled at me again and told me to follow him upstairs.
With my hand in his, we turned the corner to the front steps that led up to the front door of the beach house, and my heart stopped. Up the wooden front steps were tiny candles all lit up and a huge picture frame with memories from our 1st year together. I quickly realized what was going on and I was so excited I could hardly wait!
Ryan led me through the adorable beach house (it was the best decorated beach house I had ever seen), through the dining room and living room, to the back porch. In each room along the way were more candles and four more ginormous picture frames filled with pictures from years 2,3,4 and 5 together. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love taking pictures so seeing all of our favorite memories together lined up in chronological order was such an amazing gift! When we got outside to the back porch, that over looked the ocean, Ryan stopped…and I was floored by the scenery. It was sun set and the sky was lit up like cotton candy, the contrast of pinks and oranges against the deep blues of the ocean was breathtaking.
Ryan had wooden letters spelling out the word “forever” lined up on the balcony, overlooking the ocean.
Each letter was painted differently. Two letters had the Spanish and Italian flags painted on them (for our semesters spent studying abroad in those countries and for our love of travel), one letter was painted like the beach (for our multiple get-aways each year to the coast), and my favorite letter had dog paws painted on it (for the sweet little puppy we had just adopted together). There were also roses on a wooden table in the corner of the porch along with a laptop and bottle of champagne.
He took my hand, and said “I have something I want to ask you, but first, I asked everyone that you love for permission”. Then he opened the laptop and a video started playing of all my friends and family members.
The first person on the screen was a dear friend who had moved to California the previous year, and that I hadn’t seen for quite a few months.
He grinned at me and said, “Say yes, Jacqui”. Next up were girl friends from college, from our hometown, from my semester abroad, and then came the family members. My little cousins, my Grandparents, my Aunts and Uncles, my brother, and my parents lit up the screen. Each person told me to “say yes!”. I was laughing and crying at the same time as I watched all their happy faces and looked at Ryan at the same time.
Then he got down on one knee and told me all the qualities that he loved about me and why he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.
I almost forgot to say yes out loud because I was so overcome with the love from him and from all of our loved ones who had sent us messages.
As soon as I sad yes, he put the most beautiful ring I’d ever seen on my finger while a professional photographer snapped pictures of the happiest moment of our lives from the corner of the porch.
It was, hands down, the best day of my life!