Paula and Chase

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How We Met

One faithful Margarita Monday in Waco, TX, my roommate and I head to Lake Brazos Steakhouse for $1 Mason Jar Mondays. While patiently awaiting our turn to sing the best rendition of Destiny’s Child- Say My Name on karaoke, we ran into our ex co-worker. He came over for a quick chat and invited us to his house party later that night. My roommate aka my ride, immediately agreed but I have a final the next day! I reluctantly agree to head to this “house party” after she assures me that we are just stopping by. When we pull up, I notice that this “house party” has almost no cars and walk in to two guys playing Xbox… this was not a house party!

My roommate convinces me to stay, so we decided to play some “board” games. My roommate paired up with our ex co-worker, so I was forced to pair up with the random guy. We had “awkward” small talk but I was definitely glad my roommate was there. No sooner had I thought that, she said she had to step out. I continued my conversation, entertaining our ex co-worker and this random guy for what seemed like an eternity until our ex co-worker excused himself and left. This was my nightmare. Now I was alone in the room being FORCED to talk to this random guy when all I could think about was my final that was looming closer and closer.

Luckily, the random guy was really easy to talk to. We talked about our families and growing up, our careers, life, etc etc. When we talked, I felt instant chemistry and apparently so could the random guy since he asked for my number to take me to dinner. I felt a little guilty that my charm made this guy fall in love with me, but I politely mentioned that I was just not looking for a relationship. I was about to graduate in 4 months and move back to Houston- so I politely declined his offer to dinner. He said he understood but would ask me again. We continued talking and I was so enthralled in the conversation that I lost track of time and hadn’t noticed my roommate still missing! I looked down at my phone and it was 3:30 in the morning!! After the 15th call to my roommate, I gave up and started heading towards the door. The random guy offered to drive me home but I insisted on walking. He took this as an open invitation and started walking me home…

During our walk, he monologued about how nice it had been to get to know me and asked me for my number for the second time! As much as I admired his persistence, I rejected him once again. (Secretly, I was hoping that he would show up the next day on a white horse with a huge bouquet of flowers and sweep me off my feet while we rode off into the sunset!).

I was a little sad that the night was coming to an end so I asked him if he wanted to swing on a tire swing outside of my apartment (it reminded me of being a kid again!). He lied and said yes and talked about how sad it was when he had to retire the phone number he had as a kid. I told him I would never do that because mine was so easy to remember! He asked me what made it so special and I went on to say that my phone number only had two numbers in it and “8” and a “5” “It’s 858-88..”, I said. As I looked down, I saw that he was writing it down…. This guy was so clever! I finally gave in and gave him the rest of my number, his wit outplayed my stubbornness! He smiled and wished me well on my test, gave me an awkward side hug and left. I was prepared to never hear from him again since I acted like an uninterested buffoon, but 15 minutes later, I received a long text that detailed what a great night he had and how he hoped he could see me the following day after my final. I was so smitten by this guy!

Needless to say, God has definitely been the center of our “happenstance” meeting- everything just played out too perfectly! The following day, I woke up for my 9 a.m. final and made an A in the class and got mentally prepared for my last first date. I was so nervous to go on our first date that I ate before! Our conversation over sushi was just as easy as the night before. He was very honest and charming and SUCH a gentleman (to this day, he holds every door open for me!).

Over the next month, we went on dates a few times a week and talked every single day. The next month I became his girlfriend and right before my December graduation, he accepted a job in Houston and we continued to date. Two years after we both moved to Houston, I said yes to marrying him at 12,998 ft in Breckenridge, CO (more on that later) ! This was no longer a random guy but the man of my dreams. I thank God every day for that one faithful Margarita Monday that changed our course of history.

How He Asked

I’ve been fascinated with mountains and snow for as long as I can remember, and my first ski trip in the 6th grade confirmed that the picture in my head was nowhere close to reality. The scenery and peace found and viewed from 14,000 ft can’t be described…it is very, VERY addicting. So it goes without saying, I’ve been dead set on proposing on top of a mountain for as long as I can remember. Before I ever took Paula to Tahoe on our first ski trip together, she always talked about being soooo good on the slopes. It was not until we got there that she confessed to have only skied once back when she was 13!!! However, her skills improved the more we went, and now she supposedly (so she claims) loves going.

Fast forward to the summer of 2014 when the planning began. My proposal idea popped into my head when we started to shop around for vacation rentals for the December/January ski trip I’ve taken every year since I was a freshman college (it’s now turned into our trip). I knew I wanted to propose, but I was struggling to figure out the how, when, and where. As we started the rental search, it hit me…what better place and time to do it than the upcoming ski trip? I decided that the January 2015 trip was the perfect time to propose. Initially, it was extremely hard to figure out how to make the trip work and still give her what she wanted (family to be involved somehow), but I soon thought of an ingenious compromise that would become a part of the surprise! I found an amazing professional photographer in the area and decided that a storyboard of professional pictures could be relived by her family, as well as the two of us, for the rest of time.

For the entire time we had been dating, Paula never provided any input or hints as to what kind of engagement ring she wanted. The only four “hints” I got over a span of two and a half years were (1) big, (2) diamonds all around, (3) no halo, and (4) big…I wasn’t getting out of that one apparently. With my Mom’s help, we were off to market in Dallas to find a custom jeweler who could design the ring I had in mind. All of it, picking out the ring and meetings with the jeweler, was executed like a covert ops mission. What’s funny is the first weekend we were supposed to go to Dallas, Paula threw a wrench in the plans and came back to Waco with me!! My Mom and I had to tell Paula we needed to take care of some will related stuff for my Godfather for her to stay behind and go to the Baylor game that weekend! After a couple of trips to Dallas, I had everything picked out and let the jeweler do his work. The week before the trip, I even had to tell her I was at “the rig” all day just to be able to drive to Dallas and pick it up without her thinking anything about some random trip I was taking!

Anyways, there were two instances that almost halted the plan right in its tracks. The first close call was leaked information, and after a couple months of pondering, I decided not to let everything ruin what I was starting to get very excited about. The second time was when Paula told me she could no longer come on the trip!!! She had something come up with work, and she had to stay behind to work on this project. You have no idea how frustrated I was…6 months of planning to be told three weeks prior to the trip that she had to stay…She was always asking if I was OK with it or that she’d come if I really wanted her to…If I said anything at all, I could jeopardized ruining the surprise! She finally said she’d fly in halfway during our trip; a Wednesday night to be exact. It was happening the next day, and for the longest time, I didn’t believe she was actually going to be able to leave work until she was there at the doorstep Wednesday night.

I met with the photographer in Breckenridge one afternoon so we could formulate a plan. After discussing several scenarios, we determined that Chris (the photographer) should role play as a reporter for the local paper. Vail Resorts personnel are constantly asking people to take surveys, pictures, and all kinds of stuff so it’s pretty normal up there to have a bunch of random people start asking you questions. What’s ironic is that we actually had someone come up to us asking to do just that when I was meeting with Chris! Anyways, the plan was set in stone and all we were waiting on was for her to show up!

So on Thursday, January 15th 2015, Andrea, Carlo, and Brian all left lunch 15 minutes early to “get an extra run in”. Once everyone else finished eating, we were off to catch the same lift. To Paula’s surprise, there was Andrea, Carlo, Brian, and two women with cameras flagging us down right as we got off the lift. Chris started talking to our group and told everyone she was a reporter for the paper doing a story on the large influx of out of state travelers the past couple of years. Chris told everyone who just showed up that she had enough for the story except for some pictures, and she asked us if she could take some of our group. We took a couple of group pictures, and then Lane and Megan asked Chris to take a picture of them – to not make it so obvious.

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Chris then asked if there were any more couples and Paula raised her hand and asked for a picture of us -then it came time for 6 months of planning to pay off. Chris put Paula and I next to each other but she took one look at us and said, “Paula…he looks like a giant next to you and this mountain background would look awesome if y’all were a little bit more “even”. So I’m going to have Chase get down on one knee like this [gestures like she’s getting on one knee] and Paula you can sit on his knee and let’s see how that looks.” I got down on one knee, Paula sat in my lap, and we posed for a couple of pics.

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When Chris said “OK Guys that was awesome- thank you so much!!”, and Paula started to get up, I grabbed her hand, pulled out the box, and she said yes (I blacked out and can’t remember what I said at all!!).

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Another funny thing was that it took Paula almost 20 minutes to realize it was all planned out! All along she thought I was proposing then because it was random! It wasn’t until I said “you see why I was so stressed the past couple weeks about you staying back for work?” Did she realize what was actually happening.

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Not to mention, the last part of the surprise was getting to go back, clean up, and have a mini-engagement session set in the best place on Earth!!! And as the saying goes…the rest is history!!!

-C

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Special Thanks

Chris Loring
Photographer