Julia and Cooper

How We Met

Cooper and I met in the most bizarre way. He was living in Auburn, Alabama for college and I was in Nashville, Tennessee. Even though we were in different states, Cooper was originally from the Nashville area and was home for his freshman summer. That summer, he started a bible study with one of his old high school friends and opened it up to anyone who was in town that wanted to be a part of it. One of my girl friends got invited and invited me too. I was busy the first couple of times they met but when I was finally free, I offered to host the bible study at my house. I made everyone a little appetizer dish and they came over. That first night, Cooper and I didn’t really flirt that much but I was definitely attracted to him. He led the bible study with such authority and was absolutely the most handsome guy I had ever seen. And I found out later that he was super impressed with the food I made and thought I was cute.

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So the second time we all met as a bible study, he suggested going to bowl afterwards. We all grabbed socks and went to the nearest bowling alley. That’s where our romance really began. Cooper and I flirted on and off and when this one song came on, he randomly started swing dancing with me. The boy literally swept me off my feet as he flipped me over his shoulder! It was the most romantic thing, swing dancing with me in the middle of the bowling alley. From that point on, we were very flirty and he even asked me on a date. Having started our relationship in a bible study, I knew he was intentional. But I didn’t realize just how intentional he was until our first all-day date. Cooper and I had been getting to know each other, both through bible study and through one-on-one time. And as we were getting to know each other, I would say things in passing that I never expected him to remember.

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But when we went on our first date, all he said was, “wear a swimsuit under something comfy and be prepared to have fun all day.” He picked me up on a Saturday morning and took me out to breakfast (which is my absolute favorite meal of the day). Then he drove me to this beautiful hiking spot about an hour out from Nashville. He had packed lunch for us in a cooler and had made homemade brownies for the first time in his life, because he remembered me saying they were my favorite. So we hiked along some waterfalls and ate our picnic lunch once we got to the top. When we were done picnicking and hiking, Cooper drove us back to Nashville where we picked up Maggiano’s to go (once again, because he remembered me saying Italian was my favorite). He took me back to my house to change and drove me to Nashville’s Big Band Dance, where they were having swing dancing with a live band. We ate Maggiano’s as a picnic and swing danced the night away.

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It was the most romantic night of my life up to that point and I was blown away with how intentional he was with me. He had created the most personal, perfect date. And I could already tell how we were meant to be. When the summer was over, Cooper went back to Auburn for school and I stayed in Nashville, where I was in school at Lipscomb University. It was so sad having to leave each other but he made me feel confident in our relationship and I wasn’t scared, just sad we wouldn’t be able to see each other every day like we had been. We did the long distance thing for two years and made it work by driving the 5 hours to see each other nearly every weekend. It was so worth it every time. But the long distance was getting old so I got a job in a hospital down in Auburn and planned to move there in August to be closer to him.

How He Asked

Of course I was hoping he would propose some day, there is no one else I’d rather spend my life adventuring with. But I thought for SURE it would be in Auburn. Little did I know. So this is how it happened: My family is originally from California and we have our family reunion there every year. This year, it was at Yosemite and we had invited him to come with us. One day while we were at the camp, he got a “call” from his brother-in-law, Jordan, asking if Cooper and I would be able to celebrate his sister, Rachel’s, birthday when we got home. Cooper turned to me SO NONCHALANTLY and asked if I was free the following Friday night. I said I didn’t think I had anything going on so Cooper told Jordan to go ahead and make the reservations. And Cooper didn’t bring it up again.

When we got back to Nashville, we were over at his parents’ for dinner. While we were eating, his mom was like, “so you guys are going to Rachel’s birthday dinner on Friday, right?” And we were both like, “oh yeah. of course we are!” So later that night I asked Cooper what I should wear, knowing the restaurant they had supposedly gotten reservations at was a fancy restaurant. Cooper said he was dressing nice and I should wear a dress. So I planned to wear a dress. The next day, my mom and sister said they were going to get their nails done and invited me to come with them. But I said no since I was going to the lake that weekend and thought it would be pointless to get my nails done just to go to the lake. They tried to convince me to get gel but I don’t like how gel rips part of your nail off when you take it off, so I still said no. Haha. Whoops. But luckily, I was hanging out with my best friend later that day and hadn’t seen her in a while. The plan was just to get lunch but she said we should get our nails done too so we could keep hanging out.

I felt like a hypocrite but went anyways since I wanted to keep spending time with her. And thank goodness I did, the next day was Rachel’s “birthday dinner!” On Friday morning, I confirmed the time with Cooper: 8:00 PM. But he said I could come over early if I wanted and we could just hang out till dinner. And of course I wanted to come over early, so I got to his house around 6, in my favorite dress and with my nails freshly done. We just hung out and watched TV until it was time to go, but we kind of lost track of time (which I found out later he was doing on purpose) and wound up leaving late. In fact, we didn’t even get to his sister’s apartment until 8. I felt so bad since it was her birthday dinner but when we got there, she “wasn’t ready” yet either. Her husband had come down to let us in and warned us to be nice about the time since it was her birthday. Cooper and I didn’t care, we were just happy that we weren’t the ones making everyone late.

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So we all went up to their apartment while Rachel “got ready.” But little did I know, she was stalling on purpose because the photographer was waiting for the perfect lighting. Rachel had her dress on under her robe and her hair already curled, just up in a towel to make it look like she wasn’t ready. So we all waited in their living room. While we were waiting, Jordan asked Cooper to come up to the roof with him so they could talk about something. The boys asked if it was okay and Rachel said, “Sure! We’ll just text you when we’re ready to go.” So they went up to the rooftop and “talked.” About 10 minutes later, Cooper texted me, “Gorgeous sunset! Come up and see it whenever Rachel’s ready!” At this point, it was pretty late but Rachel didn’t seem to care. And miraculously, she was all of the sudden ready! So we went upstairs and as soon as the elevator opened, my heart melted. I saw Cooper standing under twinkling lights, in the middle of a bunch of rose petals, with candles all around and I instantly knew what was happening.

Julia and Cooper's Engagement in Nashville, Tennessee

I looked back at Rachel in disbelief and she was grinning from ear to ear. So I stepped out of the elevator and followed the rose petal path. It was the dreamiest moment of my life. It was a whirlwind and the next thing I knew, Cooper was down on a knee, asking me to spend the rest of my life with him!

And wow oh wow! It was the easiest question I’ve ever answered.

After we hugged each other and laughed and enjoyed the craziness of being engaged for a minute, I noticed our families were both there, along with some of our dearest friends.

He even made sure my grandma was there! It was the sweetest thing to see all of our loved ones there to celebrate with us! And we had a little engagement-party right there on the roof. They had Mexican catered and everyone gave us sweet presents. It was amazing and I am SO excited to become Mrs. Cooper Elkins next May!!!

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Special Thanks

Janelle Sutton
Photographer