Mariah and Grady
How We Met
Grady and I actually went to the same high school together! He was two grades younger than me. When we met for the very first time I was a Senior and he was a Sophomore. A friend of mine from school had invited me to an event that her church was holding. Grady, being a family friend, was tagging along with us because he also went to that church. Basically this event was called a night of worship. Which is just everyone getting together to listen to music, sing, and praise Jesus. Sort of like a Christian music mini concert.
I had never been to anything like it before. I remember that whole evening so vividly. There was a moment during one of the songs where I looked over at Grady and I saw him with his hands up, arms opened wide, singing his heart out and completely surrendering all of himself to Jesus. He was unashamed and ‘all in’ when it came to loving God. At least thats what I saw. It stood out to me SO much for some reason. I just remember thinking to myself… “I want to love Jesus like that.” From that point on we just became acquaintances and once I graduated I didn’t really think much about him or that moment.
Fast forward 4 years later:
I had just gotten back from my first mission trip to Cambodia where my life completely changed. I went through a church that I had been attending here and there but wasn’t really committed to. Once I came back from my trip a couple months had passed and I started getting really involved with the young adults ministry there. One night after service was over, there was a huge crowd of people trying to exit and through the crowd I randomly saw Grady! I smiled so big and said to myself “Omg is that Grady?” I yelled his name like three times out across all these people to get his attention.
He just looked confused until he saw my face and realized it was me. As we said our hello’s we were both just in shock because we hadn’t seen each other in such a long time. I went on to tell him that he really impacted my trip in Cambodia. He just looked at me funny and said “Me, how?” I reminded him of that night back when we were in high school, the only night we ever hung out. I continued to tell him how when I was out in Cambodia my mind kept bringing me back to that moment and back to him. How I wanted that relationship and that love for Jesus for myself.
I explained to him that being constantly reminded of that moment pushed me to be more like him. To pursue God without holding back. I went on to tell him I did exactly that in Cambodia because of that moment 4 years ago, because of him. From that point on we started getting to know each other as friends and it turned into something I would have never seen coming! Its crazy how a little moment like that can have such a HUGE impact on your life later on.
How He Asked
One of my very close friends, Alyssa, is a wedding photographer! For a while she had known that I wanted to get back into being a second shooter for weddings. There were many times she asked me if I wanted to come and second shoot for her during engagement sessions, but I never was able to make it! She asked me this time, along with offering to pay because she really needed the help apparently. So I moved some things around in my schedule to make it work! All I knew was the engagement photoshoot was being held somewhere in Laguna Beach, CA.
Alyssa lives in Dana Point, which is only around 15 minutes away, so I drove down early to hang out with her before the shoot. The plan was to meet up with the couple at 6 but Alyssa kept telling me they were pushing it back later and later. Alyssa had this entire back story on this “couple” telling me they were always late to everything and they were really difficult clients. We finally get to this beach called Crystal Cove where there is a camp ground on some bluffs along the ocean. It’s now around 7:45pm, the sun is almost completely gone and this couple is still not there. I start freaking out thinking that this couple is going to miss there entire photoshoot.
As we are walking along the bluff of this campground I was talking to Grady back and forth through text, telling him how awesome this place was. He was saying how we needed to go check it out. Sidenote: We go camping all the time and its just one of our things we love doing together. This past year Grady worked really hard on fixing up an old van to be our camping van. It even has a bed in it! Anyway, as we are walking along the bluffs I’m telling him how amazing this place would be for our next trip! Alyssa is in front of me so I’m following behind her, she tells me to follow her up these stairs that lead up to the first set of camping spots.
I was really confused because I didn’t know where she was going. So I started following her up these stairs with my head down fidgeting with my camera. I look up and all I see is the top of Grady’s head and the van with string lights set up on it. I literally stopped mid step and said “Grady?! What are you doing here!?!?”
My heart just dropped. Grady stood there with a huge smile on his face while it took me a second to figure out that I wasn’t there to photograph an engagement session, he was proposing!!!
As I started making my way to Grady I said to him “You look nervous.” He said “I AM!” and laughed. He had the cutest look on his face, I started to giggle. He began to tell me how much he cared for me and in the middle of him speaking he just froze. I could tell he had so much more planned out to say but he just wanted to ask the question lol.
When he started to say my name I threw my hands over my face from thinking how crazy that this was actually happening.
After a few seconds, I uncovered my eyes and he was standing there saying, “Are you going to say yes?” and I said “Oh my gosh I’m so sorry, yes, yes, yes, a million times yes!” I totally forgot to answer him! As he started putting on the ring I was like, “Aren’t you going to get down on one knee?” and he said, “I already did.” We started laughing because apparently I blacked out for a few seconds.
Poor guy was just sitting there on his knee with no answer because I was in total shock.
He had set everything up so perfectly. With one of my closest friends to capture every moment.
That wasn’t all either.
He made dinner for us, set the table up with my favorite flowers and a bottle of wine.
We spent the rest of the night doing what we love, camping. It was more than I could have ever imagined.