Maddie and Payton

How We Met

Payton and I first met during our freshman year of high school. I saw him for the first time standing in my front yard as he began mowing my grass at 15 years old. He went to a different school, but he ended up in my yard through a guy that went to school with me who had been begging my dad to let him cut our lawn. I am so thankful he brought Payton to help him! Over the next few months, we gradually began talking more whenever Payton would come over to mow the grass and I would find an excuse to run out and talk to him, bringing water and Flavor-Ice popsicles. Then, our sophomore year– Payton transferred to the same high school as me. Eventually, the other guy stopped coming, but Payton continued on.

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We got closer as time went on and started officially dating the summer after our sophomore year. We fell in love and became inseparable. We went to countless school dances, took road trips to nearby towns, met each other’s extended families and spent every minute we could together. All the while, he was becoming the son my dad never had and continued mowing our grass and helping with extra household projects. Though we were both staying in the same city for college, we were going to different schools. He loved to hunt and fish and would often prioritize those over school, whereas I was always the bookworm and one for extra curriculars… going on to become the Editor-In-Chief of my college newspaper and landing an internship at a news station and job at the local newspaper. We realized soon that we had different goals at that time, so we stayed friends for the next few years. We went on to work together for two years and saw other people semi-seriously. However, the amount of love that we had for each other definitely stood the test of time.

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After I graduated college and he was settled into his steady career (turns out college wasn’t for him after all), we reunited happier than ever. Payton and I knew that it was crucial that we take that time to discover who we were as emerging adults. So often we would hear the stories of friends that forced the high school sweetheart relationship, only to discover that they broke up or even divorced a few years later. So for us, it was so important to take the time we needed to develop who we were and see if the love was still there years later. And it truly has been. We’ve taken some amazing trips together (usually fishing!) We have two beautiful rescue pups Lilly and Avery and we had the time of our lives dating for another year and a half before he proposed.

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How He Asked

On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2017, my 25th birthday, the man of my dreams asked me to be his wife. For the few months prior, Payton had been unusually sneaky. As well as we know each other, it was pretty easy to guess why. We had a financial plan to pay off a little bit of debt and to save up for house. August was our goal. However, we had found the house of our dreams in January and put in an offer. By February, everything was good to go with inspections and appraisals taken care of. We found out on his birthday, March 10, that everything was official and we would be homeowners on March 31. Needless to say, without an engagement, it was already the biggest month of our lives. We had both turned a quarter-century and we were closing on a beautiful home on Lake Corpus Christi with gorgeous views. With the expedited timeline (as it was important to both of us for us to be engaged before we bought a house together), the proposal was pulled off impeccably.

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That Friday morning started like any other day: me waking up for work, taking our two dogs outside to the bathroom, and headed off on my 30 minute commute. He texted me a happy birthday that was very sweet, but still a little underwhelming considering how great he usually is with these sorts of occasions. By 10 a.m., he had asked me three times how work was going. This struck me as suspicious, but I brushed it off since I was busy at work. I was running around between my CEO’s and CFO’s offices, so I must have missed the receptionist’s phone call to my desk. This caused them to page me over the intercom “Madeline, please come up to the lobby.” I turn to look at my coworker thinking that was the weirdest thing. They hardly ever use the intercom, and it is certainly never for me. She turns and says “It must be flowers! For your birthday!” to which I retort “No, it’s definitely not that.” I don’t typically enjoy being wrong, but these were beautiful. They came with a note: “Happy Birthday, Maddie! Please be ready for a nautical adventure and dinner no later than 6:15 p.m. I will pick you up. Dress code: dressy casual. Love, Payton”

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Swoon. I am a meticulous planner, and he is the exact opposite, so to see him be so specific and thoughtful was an incredible feeling! I spent the rest of my day anxious and group texting my girlfriends about how I thought this was going to be it. One by one they each told me I was romanticizing it a little too much and that it’s completely normal for him to send me birthday flowers, take me on a boat ride (since fishing is his favorite thing), and the dinner on my birthday was already our plan. For a few hours, I convinced myself that they were right and I got some more work done. But by 3 p.m. I decided that they were wrong and that just in case I’m going to duck out of work early and go get my makeup done. I figure, you’ve got to look your best! And hell, even if I am wrong… it’s my birthday! #treatyoself

Somehow between work and the MAC store, I break out into tears on the phone with my best friend Jackie thinking that tonight could be the night. She tells me to pull it together. So I do. I get my makeup done and head home to change. He comes to the door TEN minutes early. Swoon again. (It’s the little things in life.) He tells me I look beautiful and he is as handsome as ever. But I ask about my shoes, I wasn’t sure that my dressy sandals were right for a nautical adventure. So he has me change into Sperry’s (which I admittedly look a little ridiculous in) and we head on our way. He opens my car door and we head to Padre Island, only about 15 minutes away. We come to an area just below the bridge with a couple of popular restaurants on the water. He tells me that we are getting dessert first and we head to get ice cream overlooking the water. It becomes clear that he is buying time for something as he walks me around the restaurant and down a private dock.

A boat is tied up–his best friend’s, which somehow doesn’t register with me. “Oh, look. A boat,” he says “We should take it for a spin.” I laugh because I truly just thought he was kidding, but he climbs in and then helps me down. He pulls out a blue-tooth speaker, a bottle of wine and two stainless steel wine glasses (that I had received as a birthday gift from my boss that afternoon, he really is sneaky!). It all feels a little surreal and we take the boat around the Laguna Madre and down the canals with beautiful homes. Knowing me as well as he does, Payton has Cody Johnson playing through the speakers and we were having quite the romantic time.

The sun begins setting, which is beautiful, but makes it a little chilly in March. I ask to head back in as he keeps sneaking glances at his phone. I knew he was up to something, but I was a little too agitated at not knowing what was going to think of what it might be! We pull up to Doc’s, a nice restaurant with a huge deck over the water. We pulled our boat up to the restaurant and tied it off to the dock. As we are getting off the boat, I notice an entire Friday-night full restaurant staring at us. Which I also think is strange, but again brush off as that it must be that it is pretty cool that we just rode our boat there to dinner and they must think so too. As we walk through the gate, I am hungry and begin to beeline for the hostess stand, but he gently grabs my arm and asks me to stay with him at the rail to watch the sunset.

In a typical Maddie fashion, I say “We can do that after we put our name down for a table,” because I’m all about logic. But he insists, so we stand there. After about thirty seconds, he switches from my right side to my left and I truly look at him like he has lost his mind.

“Maddie, I love you so much. And I am so excited for us to spend the rest of our lives together,” he says and then bends down on one knee. I begin to freak out and notice that everyone in the restaurant is still staring at us. “So, Madeline Chalk… will you do me the great pleasure of marrying me?”

I lose it. Cue the tears. I choke out a “yes” and applause erupts from the strangers around us. But then I look out to see my best friends, cameras in hand coming out from behind the support beams. One after another, our closest friends and family surround us and it is the most exciting moment of my life. I was so grateful for him to coordinate the dozen or so people that he had there, many from out of town, to witness this awesome moment.

After sobs and hugs, one of my best friends, Brandalyn acting as the shining star of the night for her wonderful photography, got some great photos of all of us. My parents live 1,200 miles away and weren’t able to make it (as I had a trip there already booked for just a couple weeks later) and two of my best girlfriends had their trips to Ireland booked for that week and missed it as well. I would have loved to have them there, but I am so incredibly grateful for Payton to pull off such a fantastic PLAN! The king of never planning pulled off the best one yet.

And I’ll tell you, that’s just one of the many reasons that I love him. And being the planner that I am, I am so grateful that he is on board with giving me lots of times to plan! You can catch the future Mr. & Mrs. Sienkiewicz on April 19, 2019.

Special Thanks

Brandalyn Haggerty | 
Photographer