They say one thing leads to another. In our case, many things lead us to each other. Tom is originally from California, and I am from Florida. In the fall of 2006, I moved to Chicago, IL for college and sometime in between 2008 – 2009, I started to attend a small church in the South Loop. During the early summer of 2009, Tommy went on a missions trip to Ukraine and met a brother and sister who lived in Chicago, so when he trusted God with a job in Chicago, he reconnected with his new friends there and attended their father’s church in the South Loop. If it isn’t clear by now, we ended up at the same church. In the few months that he lived there, Tom and I also attended the same bible study and that was about the extent of our relationship. Sure he was cute, but I had a steady boyfriend and well, that was that.
About two years later Tommy and I briefly reconnect via facebook and my now single self couldn’t stop thinking about him. He later told me he would be visiting Chicago and would like to hang out. I took it as a date, even though I wouldn’t confess to thinking that until a couple months later. The day we hung out in Chicago, was not wasted. From the time we met up at church until it was time to say goodnight, we were at each others side – and what Tom had planned to be a group dinner, ended up being the date I wanted when nobody else showed up! When he dropped me off at home that night, neither of us wanted to say goodbye, but with the distance between us, we parted unsure of what would happen next. Thankfully, Tom didn’t give up easily. That night is the night our relationship truly began, with one simple text, we haven’t stopped talking since.
Fast forward 9 months, 6 round-trip flights, and 1,258+ skype calls later, it was time for us to live in the same state! I packed my bags and found myself living within 15 minutes of the love of my life! We had already had very serious talks about getting married, all we needed was to prove that we could survive “close-distance”, and that we did. I gave him permission to propose as soon as a month after I moved if we both still felt confident in what we had, and though we both knew we were ready, Tom wanted to talk to and ask for permission from the other man in my life, my dad. Once he got the okay when my dad was in town on a visit, and the ring was paid for, he started making the arrangements. Tom had always talked about designing the ring himself, so I gave him a general direction, and he ran with it and created something perfect for us. Thankfully, he found a ring designer that helped him create exactly what he had been envisioning, and it couldn’t have been more perfect!
For the actual proposal, Tommy went with an idea that was true to him – someone who valued the art and significance of capturing life’s most important moments. In the months before and even after I moved out to California, Tommy had admired the work of Vis Photography. Every time they did a shoot and would blog about it, he would show me their work and say that one day, we would have to have our pictures taken by them. One day, they featured a particularly remarkable shoot, and he just had to compliment them. Little did I know, he was orchestrating something! They e-mailed him back saying they were so honored by his kind words and were looking to build their portfolio and thought it would be fun to use us as their subjects – free of charge! Tommy included me in all of their correspondence, except for the ones where he was telling them what to say and was actually planning our proposal – which Leah and Rob would capture beautifully on camera. We went shopping for our shoot and I kept insisting that since it was for their portfolio there was no way we could just wear whatever we wanted but that they would have something in mind instead. Again, as a part of Tom’s plan, she let us know that if we just brought a few options, she would pick out whatever she thought best – Tommy’s pre-selected choices.
The day comes, and I’ll be honest, I suspected, but like many girls, I was doing everything I could to not get my hopes up in case this was really just a random photoshoot. We meet Leah and Rob, who by the way are just the sweetest couple ever – with an amazing talent – and got straight into the picking of our first outfit. I brought along an outfit to represent the beginning of our relationship – Chicago Cubs gear.
I really thought she wasn’t going to go for it, because again, thinking it was for their portfolio, a sports get-up would never be a first choice. However, since it was Tommy’s choice, it made the cut. I was beyond thrilled. Then the outfit we went shopping for was picked. If I didn’t get engaged in this outfit, I definitely needed to cool my thoughts because why would we go shopping for this outfit and not make it THE outfit? And he didn’t propose. Outfit 3. This time we put on a casual yet cute look, and headed into a more secluded area. We took a couple pictures and they had us walk to a specific area – a clearing between trees. “Tom, why don’t you squat down next to her?” My thoughts started to race. “Are they posing him on purpose? Does he know what I’m thinking? Should I squat too? ?????” I smile, and give him a look that he later described as one that communicated “it better be now”. What he said next was a blur. “I love you. So much. You’re the only thing that’s ever made sense.
I want nothing more than for you to be my wife. Marry me???” Hand on my heart, serious as ever, I managed to let out a soft “yes”. Even though I was expecting it, the moment took my breath away. We hugged and I made sure to tell him how happy I was, and then the tears came. Actually, it was more like happy sobbing, but you get it. I was the future Mrs. Thomas Coppers (!!!!), The luckiest girl in the world.
The memory of that day still makes my heart race, the anticipation and nerves that come with the question. So many emotions, emotions I still feel now as I write out our story. Just as happy as I am that I can recount my story, I am that much happier I have the pictures to tell my story – that show my exact emotion. That fills in the blanks of our story – the looks exchanged, the joy in our kisses, the future we look forward to, and the past that has brought us to where we are. It’s there in those pictures. I’m so glad those moments were captured, and that the moment I said yes was amongst it.
Photos by Vis Photography