Jess and Santi

How We Met

Santi & I met as kids 15 years ago in our church. We were always friends but it grew to more in the summer of 2011. Our first real date & kiss was the day after my high school graduation when he invited me out to celebrate after days of texting & flirting.

How He Asked

My family & I alternate where we spend the holidays each year. We’ll be in NY/NJ one year & then North Carolina the next. This past holiday season, 2017, we were due to travel to North Carolina. I prefer when they’re spent in NY/NJ because it means I can spend them with Santi but because my family & I were traveling to NC, we exchanged gifts and said goodbye on Dec 22nd. We had regularly talked about taking the next step in our relationship for about a year at this point & I thought it was a safe guess that a proposal was in our near future but when we said goodbye that Friday I simply thought “next year”.

Before the holidays, my family & I had made plans to go to Nashville, TN for two days, between Christmas & New Years. Santi knew about the plans & had asked for details but I never thought anything of it. On our second night in Nashville, we had reservations for dinner at Capitol Grille at The Hermitage Hotel in Downtown Nashville. There’s always a reason to celebrate & we used my dad’s birthday, which was earlier that month, & my grandparent’s anniversary as the perfect excuses to try one of the best restaurants in town. Before dinner started I got up from our table to use the bathroom & my dad met me in the middle of the restaurant by the stairs & asked me to “help him with something really quick”.This usually means type out a long text or email because I type much faster than he does. We went up the stairs from the restaurant into the hotel lobby making small talk.

Everything was beautifully decorated for Christmas & we walked through the lobby to the fireplace & my dad pointed out that we should take pictures with everyone after dinner. The small talk continued & I didn’t realize he had never asked me for the favor he said he needed & he turned around to go back downstairs. I turned around to follow him & Santi was standing right in front of me. He had literally been walking behind us & I hadn’t heard a thing. He had a beautiful bouquet of flowers & I just remember being SO shocked & saying “Babe what are you doing here?!”. We hugged & I was, of course, crying at this point. He said he had come to surprise me & we kept hugging – giving time for my entire family to come upstairs from the restaurant & witness the moment.

Once he saw everyone in the place he told me to look at the flowers & the note he had written out. It read “5,481 days later & my dream has come true… Got a question for you…”. It was the exact number of days we’d known each other after meeting on Dec 21st 15 years ago. I looked up & he was getting on one knee saying “Will you marry me”?. I almost didn’t get “yes!” out through the beginning stages of my ugly cry, LOL. My dad gave me a diamond ring to wear on my ring finger when I was 19 with the intentions of it being replaced by my future husband & I was wearing it that night. I remember giving him my hand & shaking it saying “take it off, take it off!!” referring to the ring I was wearing that my dad had given me for this exact moment to be replaced. He got it off & put on the ring of my dreams.

We hugged & kissed as everyone clapped & he said that his parents & sister were there too. It was more than I could’ve imagined. I wanted a moment all to ourselves but still witnessed by our families. I couldn’t believe they had driven all the way to Nashville from NJ! He had been planning it for a couple of weeks with my parents & sister & everything came together perfectly. He put so much effort into the most beautiful proposal & surprise. It was sooo special & am so thankful that he made every wish come true & made such a special memory for us & our families. The birthday/anniversary dinner immediately turned into our engagement dinner full of love & the perfect ending of 2017.

Special Thanks

Nolan Knight
Photographer