Julia and Joey

How We Met

We’ve been writing our story for ten years plus, so here goes an attempt to capture the highlights:

Joey and I technically met in Mr. Brewer’s seventh grade Social Studies class. We were both assigned to research Martin van Buren, the eighth President of the United States. During that unit, I was assigned to sit next to my crush (not Joey) in the computer lab. The day I was getting up the courage to say hello to this cutie boy, my seat was moved to work with Joey. I was SO upset that my chance to talk with THE boy I liked was gone — I clearly did not know that the “other” boy was the boy I was going to marry. It wasn’t until three years later when we reconnected with the assistance of MySpace, a high school dance, Mr. Friend’s Honors US History course and a couple of nosy friends. We started dating March 16 2008. I was smitten. I cheered him on at all of his varsity basketball and varsity baseball games, bringing cupcakes that looked like either basketballs or baseballs for the respective teams. He continually surprised me with [mischievously] sweet little gestures, like taking my car keys out of my locker and putting a dozen roses on my front seat just to make me smile.

Julia M.'s Proposal in Taughannock Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY

Graduation came and we headed to separate colleges three and a half hours apart. It was unspoken but obvious to us both that we were staying together; breaking up because of college wasn’t in our cards. For the next seven years of undergraduate and graduate school, we took many trips to visit one another: him back to our hometown where I went to college and me to Buffalo, NY where he went to school. If you had asked me during that time about the long distance, I would have said that it was super difficult, but we were making it work. In retrospect, it was imperative to allow us both to grow as individuals but also as a couple. I graduated from my studies in May 2016 and Joey the year after in May 2017. We moved in together in June 2017 and six months later he proposed [which makes me think I’m not that terrible to live with :)].

Where to Propose in Taughannock Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY

How He Asked

It was December 2, 2017, and upstate New York was surprisingly still pretty warm. Joey suggested we go up the road to Taughannock Falls State Park to take advantage of being outside before the bitter cold set in. We headed to Ithaca, NY for the day with the intention of grabbing a nice dinner somewhere in town. We walked the trail up to the base of the waterfall and I sat down on the rock wall in the viewing area to take in the sights. Joey sat down for about 30 seconds, stood up, looked at me and said: “I’m going to to go check things out…” He proceeded to walk the relatively small viewing area looking around, over the retaining wall, up at the waterfall, and I thought to myself: “maybe he doesn’t feel good and he just needs some air?” He came back over and said he wanted to take a photo of the waterfall from back near the bridge, so we headed that way. We stood there for a bit and he wasn’t taking the picture so I asked “are you going to take the photo?” and he looked at me, smiled, and got down on one knee. I’m pretty sure I kept asking in disbelief and utter excitement “Are you serious?! Oh my goodness. Really?!”

Not shortly after this guy came over to us and said: “did you just get engaged?” Still riding the adrenaline rush I think we both shouted “yes!!” and he said: “I’m an amateur photographer — would you want me to take some photos?” This was 100% unplanned. Benny was in town with his friend Alexis visiting the Finger Lakes Region of New York to take some photos of the waterfalls and happened to be in the right place at the right time. He took a few beautiful photos, grabbed Joey’s email and said he would send them along in a couple days (which he did and we were thrilled!! — thank you @bennyyzheng). Good thing, because Joey and I literally took zero photos of our own the entire day. As we were walking back to our car Joey said “It’s not over yet. We have dinner reservations in downtown Ithaca and we’re staying at bed and breakfast right up the road.” I was in complete shock and the most genuine state of joy. Joey packed a bag for us both (mainly packing his clothes for me because he was nervous that I would notice if my clothes were missing) and we stayed the night. He pulled off THE sweetest and biggest surprise incorporating so many aspects of things that we love as a couple.

Special Thanks

Benny Zheng | 
Photographer