Melody and Ryan

How We Met

Ryan and I met our sophomore year of college, after the craziest summer of my life. I’d spent a year at school when my family decided to move to the same town. As we were packing up the house I’d lived in since I was five, I found out I had skin cancer on my leg and had to have surgery immediately. To top it all off, I was supposed to leave the country in a week. I ended up still being able to go on my trip, but family made the move while I was gone. I came back to my hometown to have my surgery and stayed with a friend, waiting until I was recovered enough to make the drive to my new home.

School was starting up again in just a few weeks. I asked to move into on-campus housing early, as I didn’t want to fight the usual crowds with my bandaged leg. They said no. The only people allowed in early were students leading freshman welcome groups. Well, I saw on Facebook that a friend of mine had a roommate who was one of those lucky people, and had gotten himself into his room in the apartment by picking the lock with some credit cards. One of my roommates was one of those as well, but I’m not a lock picking expert so I called my friend to see if he could do the same for me (not my proudest moment).

He came downstairs and brought his two roommates. I opened the door to Ryan instead of my friend. I believe first impressions are crucial – and boy was I impressed. After successfully breaking me into my room, they invited me to dinner with them. My friends all insist that we looked at no one else the entire night. We both learned pretty quick that we were coming off of recent relationships and did not want to rebound. I was bummed, but didn’t give up.

In a completely uncharacteristic move for me, I asked him a week after we’d met if he was interested in me, because I was interested in him. He was so taken aback, he stumbled over his yes and we both just stood there, grinning stupidly.

It was the best of-the-moment decision I’ve ever made. Four years later, I was about to make another best decision – to marry my best friend.

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How He Asked

In late October, my best friend Cate asked me if we could spend a girls weekend away together. I had just been her Maid of Honor in her September wedding, and she proposed the trip as a thank you gift for all I had done over the past year. We excitedly booked a hotel in Carmel and plotted our days of shopping, relaxing, and adventuring along the coast.

The weekend arrived and we drove South, chattering about all the fun we were going to have. Cate happens to be a photographer, so she brought her camera along, of course. We stopped at every opportunity to take lots of photos. We wandered the scenic streets of Carmel, drank lots of coffee, and hit up Anthropologie for some shopping before Cate suggested we make our way into Big Sur.

I was ecstatic! Big Sur is my favorite place in possibly the whole world (Peru is a close second.) It also holds a special place in my heart as a getaway for my boyfriend of four years, Ryan, and I – we would often drive the whole coastline talking for hours and stopping to hammock in the most picturesque places.

Cate and I rolled the windows down and let our hair blow around. It was perfectly sunny and warm for so late in November. I told her about some of my favorite memories in Big Sur with Ryan, not noticing that she was quietly avoiding eye contact and not responding too much.

About an hour in, she suggested we go to Julia Pfeiffer State beach. “Sure!” I replied. We pulled onto the narrow road that leads to the beach, but to our dismay, park rangers were turning cars away. “The lot is full”, an elderly man explained. Luckily I couldn’t see Cate’s face – she later told me just about had a heart attack! What she knew, and I didn’t, was that Ryan was waiting for us at the bottom of that hill.

Just then, a young park ranger came running around our car. “There’s a spot, go through!!” he said, almost too excitedly. Cate didn’t hesitate and sped down the path. We parked in the lot and got out. She was quieter than she’d been all day. She grabbed her whole bag of camera gear, which I thought was odd.

We walked out onto the sand. She told me to go stand by the cliffs so she could photograph me. I turned around to hand her my hat, and in shock I watched Ryan walking towards me. The first photos she took are of the complete surprise, fear, confusion, and then joy that crossed my face.

He held my hands and told me he forgot everything he wanted to say. I knew what was happening so I replied that I probably already knew. Then he was on his knee, asking me to spend the rest of my life with him. When I said yes, everyone on the beach was cheering – but neither of us heard. We were lost in that moment.

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Special Thanks

Cate Beth
Photography