Jessie and Chas

How we met

Chas and I met our sophomore year of college at Florida State University (go Noles!). I was in need of a date for a sorority function when my roommate/one of my best friends said she wanted to set me up with someone who would be “perfect.” He was in the same fraternity and close friends with her boyfriend (now husband) and she knew he was a great guy. She mentioned he was creative and a musician. I was an art major, so she thought we would hit it off.

She couldn’t have been more right on both accounts. While our friends danced, and mingled with each other, Chas and I stood in a corner and talked the entire night. We shared a love of the same music and interests and I thought he was adorable in every way. We continued to stay in contact and remained friends until the beginning of our senior year when I realized I’d never really gotten over the crush that started that night, and apparently, Chas felt the same way. The rest is history and we’ve been together ever since.

How he asked

Every year for our anniversary, Chas and I have gone to “our beach,” Pass-A-Grille Beach, near St. Pete Beach in Florida. We’re big beach bums and it’s our favorite place to go relax, listen to music, and talk for hours. On our first anniversary, we sat on a bench on the beach and watched the sunset together. I figured for our fifth anniversary, the tradition had to continue.

I asked him a month ahead of time if he’d be interested in booking a hotel on the beach, as we recently had moved to Tampa from St Petersburg, so the drive is a little farther. He said yes, and told me to go ahead and book the hotel. I did that, and being the take-charge planner I am, I also looked into a reservation for a nice restaurant in the area. I decided on the restaurant in the Don Cesar Hotel, as it was a short beach walk away from our hotel. Strategically, Chas let me think I was doing all the planning for this trip.

The day arrived and we spent our time on the beach as we normally would. We listened to music, talked, enjoyed the day together. Then, we headed up to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We finished getting ready just in time for the sun to set. I was in a rush, thinking we were going to be late for dinner when we headed to the beach to start our walk.

Chas, on the other hand, started telling me we should find the bench we sat on during our first anniversary to watch the remainder of the sunset. We walked around, looking for the bench. He pointed at one and said, “Is that the bench right there?” I looked curiously at the bench, and said “No, I don’t think so… Maybe?”

When I turned back to him, Chas had pulled a box out of his shoe. He dropped to one knee and told me that he first realized that he wanted to marry me when we sat on that bench together and watched the sunset on our first anniversary. He then popped the question.

I said “yes,” but only after he snapped me out of my shock. I was speechless after seeing the most gorgeous ring ever. Just then, the whole beach erupted in applause. Hundreds were gathered to watch the sunset, but they watched us get engaged instead.

I thought it couldn’t get more magical until I looked over Chas’s shoulder to see our dear friend, and incredible wedding photographer, Jessi Caparella standing there with her boyfriend, Max (one of Chas’ best friends from FSU). They were lugging huge cameras and they had huge smiles on their faces. They had been secretly following us, taking photos of the proposal as it happened.

After she captured some of the most stunning pictures I’ve ever seen, the four of us stood together and watched the rest of the amazing sunset. The surprises didn’t stop from there.

We made our way to a rooftop restaurant close by, where both of our families had been watching the whole time, screaming and applauding like the beachgoers below. The rest of the surprises included a brunch with our closest Tampa friends and family the next morning, and even a surprise night at a suite in the Vinoy Hotel in Downtown St Petersburg to close out the weekend. The whole weekend was absolutely perfect from start to finish and beyond anything in my wildest dreams. Chas truly outdid himself and made it the most memorable night of our lives.

Special Thanks

Jessi Caparella
photographer