Karyn and Ben
How We Met
It all started in a parking lot. With an old, beat up, dirty car. When I first met Ben in 2009, we had just been placed as Young Life Leaders on the same team, serving Dreher High School. My heart was beating fast as I climbed in this handsome boy’s tiny white car, and I smiled when his cheeks turned red from embarrassment at how dirty it was. It took that one car ride for me to fall for Ben. It was a cold day in January, and he lent me his jacket because I didn’t wear one. I thought it would ruin my outfit. He was kind and a little shy, and so so handsome. I was smitten. We became fast friends and I continued to fall hard for him. The next three years were full of happy and sad moments. A happy moment when he kissed me for the very first time on a blanket underneath the stars at Owens Field. A sad moment when he told me that he didn’t think we should see each other any more and that we shouldn’t be friends. We fell out of touch. I went to grad school, spent a summer in Indiana, and then moved to Raleigh for my first job. Ben finished school, stayed in Columbia, and worked toward his dream of one day opening his own business. We owe our fate to a couch. Just before the start of my senior year of college, I was moving into a house in Columbia with 3 of my best girl friends. We had all the furniture we needed, except for a couch. I told Ben this, and he and his brother showed up on our porch one night just after we moved in with a couch in the back of Ben’s truck.
I kept this couch through grad school. When I was packing up my life in SC for my new start in Raleigh, I typed and retyped a text to Ben, with my heart pounding, asking if he wanted the couch back or if I should sell/donate it. He said that he wanted it, and he came with his friend Garrett (one of his groomsmen in our wedding!) to pick it up from my apartment one night in December just before my graduation. This was the first time we had seen each other in 1.5 years. He was just as handsome as he ever was, and I was looking good too, because I obviously had changed my outfit 3 times and redone my makeup before he arrived. After seeing each other again, we kept in touch even though I had moved to NC. We would see each other occasionally, but it took almost two more years for us to become official. The last 1.5 years of our relationship have been sweet and hard and filled with joy and laughter. We have grown personally and together, and it has been the best gift to love him and be loved by him. He still gets annoyed when I ask the girl at Chipotle to re-wrap my burrito [every time], and I will never understand why he believes the floor is the largest shelf in his house. But when it comes to this life, there is no one else I would rather share it with than Ben Parker.
How He Asked
Ben and I were planning a trip to Savannah in February to attend the gender reveal party for our dear friends, Allie and Matt (they’re having a boy!). We decided to celebrate a belated Valentine’s Day with dinner on Saturday night in downtown Savannah. Naturally, I immediately try to plan the entire date, but this time Ben insists that I loosen my grip on the reigns of our relationship and let him plan a date for once. It had been a rough week at work- traveling, meetings, and working late nights. I was annoyed that I didn’t have time to buy a new outfit for our date. I was grumpy that I had to wake up early on a Saturday and drive several hours after I had already traveled so much that week. But I was SO excited to see Ben.
In a long distance relationship, I’ve learned to cherish every precious moment that I get to spend with him. We spent Saturday morning drinking coffee and wandering through the farmer’s market, wishing Scout (Ben’s sweet pup) was with us to play in the park. For February, the weather was beautiful (I can only hope for the same on January 13- fingers crossed!). We spent the afternoon celebrating Allie and Matt and their sweet boy. When I told my friends that Ben was taking me on a date that night, they asked if I thought this was the night that I would get engaged. I just laughed and told them not to get their hopes up. I was giddy for our date, because rarely do we have an occasion to get dressed up.
Our idea of a date is dinner at Chipotle and dessert in the ice cream section at Publix. I got dressed in my pretty dress, and then Ben tells me that he doesn’t like it, which upset me even though I actually don’t really like my dress either, but I’m annoyed that he doesn’t like it. [I suppose this is what he has to look forward to for the next 50 years]. He convinces me to wear what I have been wearing all day, which I appreciate so much now, because my dress was hot pink and had a big bow on it and is just in general a little ugly. But at the time I couldn’t understand why he didn’t tell me how beautiful I looked, even though I looked like a clown. Once we had overcome the outfit crisis, Ben and I went to Forsyth Park for a walk until our dinner reservation. He asked if I wanted to take a picture by the fountain at sunset.
This should have been my first clue that something was up because there was no sunset that day. I almost told him that but I have been trying not to be such a know-it-all so I bit my tongue. I’ll never turn down a photo op with with my main squeeze. We walk up to the fountain, and Ben takes two pennies out of his pocket and suggests we toss them in the fountain and make a wish. I’ll give you one guess what I wished for. I didn’t notice yet, but a trumpet player was playing “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis Presley. We toss our pennies into the fountain and Ben asks what I wished for. Obviously I couldn’t tell him or the night would have turned out much differently. Then he takes my hand and gets down on one knee and tells me that he wished that we would spend a long and happy life together as husband and wife.
Cue the tears. Ben had asked his friend, Wes Lyle, to take photos, and a sweet stranger captured the entire proposal on video and sent it to us. The photos are stunning and the video is incredible. I don’t really remember much of what happened after I said yes. I know that my heart didn’t stop hammering all night, and my cheeks hurt from smiling so much.
We celebrated with champagne at the rooftop bar of the Bohemian Hotel, and ate a delicious celebratory dinner at Vic’s on the River. I count myself so lucky to get to marry this wonderful man. I knew I wanted to marry him when I was 20 years old. How funny and beautiful is God’s timing and his plans for us. I love him so much more than I did then, but I know I love him less than I will tomorrow. I am so honored that Ben would choose to walk through life with me, and I can’t wait to grow old with him as Mrs. Parker!