Mariah and Aaron

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How We Met

We met on June 17, 2015 at a Bible Study at a mutual friend’s house in Burlington, NC. For Mariah that is where the story began. For me it started nearly 4 years earlier. In September of 2011, I started my senior year at Elon University. I played Club Baseball and decided to invite the team to join me for a Bible Study. On a roster of 33 guys, 2 joined me. We met weekly for the next year and got to know each other pretty well.

Fast forward to June 2015. I had graduated and was working at Elon University as a videographer. I found myself in a place of loneliness, really missing my friends who had graduated and of course my family who I was apart from. I grew up in Connecticut but my immediate family had spread out a lot to Boston, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis, while I was in North Carolina.  Overall I just felt a loneliness in my circumstances.  Well my older brother just so happened to be getting married on the second weekend in June in Rhode Island so I made plans to travel up a week early and spend time with family.  It just so happened that I was also invited to the wedding of one of the 2 guys from the baseball team Bible study which was in Maryland the weekend before my brother’s wedding. The timing was perfect and I was able to attend that wedding while traveling north.

I arrived at the wedding in Maryland and only knew 2 people there…the groom, and one of his groomsmen (the other guy from the baseball Bible study). They introduced me to a few other Elon grads at the wedding and one of them actually lived back in North Carolina and was a graduate student at Elon. We got to talking about how we knew the groom and about life in general and when I told him about a general lack of community in Elon he invited me to join yet another Bible study back in North Carolina. Well I continued north to Rhode Island for the week of my brother’s wedding where I had a wonderful time with my family. When the week came to an end I got in the car to drive back down to North Carolina and found myself in continuous tears for the first 2.5 hours of the trip. It was just so hard to leave loved ones to go to a place where I felt alone.

After 2 rough days to start the week, Wednesday rolled around and the guy I had met at the Maryland wedding texted me to remind me about their Bible study. I expected to walk into a room of about 4-5 guys who would get together and enjoy one another’s company and fellowship…instead I walked into a mixture of about 15 guys and girls where I probably immediately turned the shade of a ripe tomato and quietly stayed in the corner. Fortunately Mariah was not nearly as shy as I was and she walked right up to me and we had a 5ish minute conversation about my dog and the fact that I was moving across town.

For the next few weeks we chatted briefly and got to know each other at group and while playing pick-up tennis, volleyball, and basketball.  Finally in July she had an exam week (she was studying to get her doctorate in physical therapy) and I thought I was quite smooth offering her “study breaks” (aka dates) consisting of coffee, putt-putt, and walking my dog around a park. She headed for Michigan for 10 days during a break from school and then upon her return I took her on our first official date where we drove around for about an hour looking for a nice restaurant. A few weeks of dating went by and finally her birthday rolled around and we went with a group of friends to Asheville, NC to go ziplining in the mountains. At the end of the day I asked her to be my girlfriend. Nearly one year later on my birthday I would ask her to be my bride.

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How He Asked

Before we started dating Mariah knew that PT school would send her to Italy for 2 months for a clinical in July/Aug of 2016. We’d discussed for a while the possibility of me visiting her there but ultimately decided it wouldn’t work with timing and finances so instead we would visit her grandparents in Charlevoix, Michigan…her favorite place in the world.

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We had a wonderful weekend there then she went off to Italy with the expectation that she’d see me in 10 weeks back in the States.

Little did Mariah know I had already begun planning the surprise of a lifetime. I’d been researched flights, Italian cities, rental cars, hotels, and all sorts of things. Mariah was in Italy for about 4 days before she unknowingly confirmed that August 13-15 she’d have a 3 day weekend. The next day I bought my plane ticket to Rome.

As the weekend drew nearer Mariah decided she wanted to go to Sicily for her 3 day weekend and she decided to invite her friend Kristin who wanted to come visit her in Italy to come with her. Little did she know Kristin and I were in cahoots and I’d been working with Kristin to help pull organize the surprise.

About a week before the trip Mariah booked a tour of Mount Etna — the largest active volcano in Europe — for Kristin and herself. After hearing that, I reached out to the tour company and got the name and cell number of their tour guide so I could text her that day to arrange a surprise at the top of their tour at Mount Etna.

So I took a 9.5 hour flight to Rome, 8 hour drive down the coast, 30 minute ferry ride to Sicily, another 2 hours in the car and finally I arrived in Catania on Friday Aug 12. I stayed out late and got up early to make sure not to bump into Mariah in the hotel lobby So Saturday morning I was off to Mt. Etna. I arrived mid morning at highest point you could go without a guide and waited for Mariah while texting Kristin and their tour guide for updates. You’ll have to watch the video to see the surprise on Mariah’s face when I popped out from behind a wooden hut. She was surprised just to see me, she was bewildered and overjoyed when I took a knee.

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But as if that surprise wasn’t quite enough…I also brought a few guests with me to Italy. Two of my best friends in the world were there to help document the whole thing. My friend Philip took pictures while my friend Clinton shot the video. I also brought Mariah’s best friend in the world as the final icing on the cake.

After Mariah said yes, Olivia popped out from behind the hut and the surprise element was back again!

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We got engaged on August 13, 2016. I was born on August 13, 1990. Talk about the best birthday ever.

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Our Video

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