Kaitlyn and Michael's Proposal in the Blue Ridge Mountains

2How We Met: It all started one fateful evening in March of 2013. I had decided to visit my friend Amy in Gainesville, Florida over my spring break. Amy picked me up and, as we were driving, she casually mentioned that one of her husband’s friends might stay for dinner that night. Little did I know that Amy and Ben had been planning this “casual” night for quite some time. Turns out that they conveniently provided an opportunity for us to meet, but that’s a story for another time. I met Michael when we arrived, we had dinner, and then the four of us went to get frozen yogurt/Starbucks. It was nice to chat with him that night, but after I left Florida I honestly did not give him a second thought. I was not looking for a boyfriend and he was not really my type (read: he wore flannel and had a beard…my, how things have changed). Blissfully unaware, I returned to Virginia and began the home stretch of the last semester of my MBA.

Fast forward to the end of April, I was sitting outside of Starbucks on a gorgeous spring day when I got a Facebook message out of the blue. After about a month and a half of radio silence, Michael had sent me a message that asked if I remembered him and if I did, he had several reasons why I should give him my number. I obliged and spent a few phone conversations getting to know him. During one of these conversations, he mentioned that he was coming to Virginia and would like to take me out on a date. I kept telling myself and others that this was not going to go anywhere (because he was not my type, remember), but I might as well go out on a date with him since he was so persistent.

A few weeks later, Michael drove approximately 10 hours from Gainesville, FL to Lynchburg, VA to take me out to dinner. After our five hour long first date, I said goodnight to Michael and had the first of innumerable conversations with Rebekah about Michael. Although I really enjoyed my time with him, I was confused. I told her that even though we spent hours talking and I was completely myself around him, I just did not feel that elusive “spark” I imagined one was supposed to feel. In my head, my story looked like me falling head-over-heels for a guy the moment I met him. However, since I did not feel like I had a good reason to tell him no, I agreed to continue to get to know him. Being the determined man that he is, Michael made the trip from Gainesville to Northern Virginia (and then to Charlotte, after I moved) for three months to win over my heart.

I have no idea why it took me so long to see the type of catch he was (and is), but I have come to realize that the reason I did not feel a “spark” on our first date is because, from the moment I met Michael, the feeling I experienced that first night was the feeling of home. Every time I was with him, I was able to speak freely and felt as though he understood me, even though he barely knew me. I did not know then that I would marry him, but I realized I had never met anyone like him.

One thing that initially impacted me about Michael was how patiently determined this man was to win my heart. Even when I asked for space and expressed my confusion, Michael respectfully and gently waited. He beautifully balanced patience and pursual. Throughout all of my uncertainty, Michael waited. I can imagine it is a difficult balance waiting for a woman to make up her mind, but Michael did it brilliantly and without pressuring me. For three months Michael patiently pursued me and waited for me. Finally, on August 1st, I became his girlfriend.

For about nine months, Michael made the long drive from Gainesville to Charlotte every few weeks. I think he put about 20,000 miles on his car between all of the trips. It was not until May of 2014 that he was able to move to Charlotte. Throughout the year of long distance we struggled through what the future looked like and how to make things work hundreds of miles apart. However, through all of the highs and lows, the one thing that never wavered was Michael’s commitment to know me better and love me well. Consistently he seeks to understand my heart, desires, and fears. He has loved me through my failures and imperfections and given me much grace. I can’t imagine being with anyone else!

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How He Asked: Michael had decided to take me to a beautiful apple orchard on the top of one of the Blue Ridge Mountains with a panoramic view of the valley on one side and a magnificent view of the mountain range on the other. I had been to the orchard when I was in college and during conversation one day I mentioned how gorgeous it was to Michael. Michael filed that comment away in his mind and when the time came to propose, he knew exactly where he wanted to do it. The only question was how to get me all the way from Charlotte to Virginia without arousing my suspicions.

Rewind to August 2014, for our one year anniversary Michael had given me the gift of twelve envelopes. He told me that there was one for each month of the next year together and that he had planned out a special date for each month. I was honestly quite impressed with how thoughtful the gift was but I did not expect that it would involve a proposal! When I opened the envelope for October, the card said that we would be taking a road trip to an undisclosed location for a fall photo shoot with some professional photographers. It was perfect because, for the past few months, I had been asking Michael if we could go get some fall pictures taken so it didn’t take me by surprise.

On the way up to Virginia, Michael was calm, cool, and collected. I did not suspect anything! I had heard from my friends that guys usually give themselves away before they propose because they are so nervous, but Michael was completely normal. We arrived at the orchard and met up with our friends, Ben and Amy (who not only are professional photographers, but also happen to be the people who set us up). We started our photo adventure, even though it was extremely blustery and cold. We took photos at a few different spots until we got to the specified location where the question would be asked. Unbeknownst to me, Michael had arranged for Benjamin to say a key phrase when he felt it was the best location for the proposal shot. As they were setting up for the next photo, Ben said “Michael, grab your woman!”. With that, Michael turned towards me and started speaking.

At first I was very confused because I didn’t understand why he was facing me and talking. I honestly was thinking “What are you doing? You’re going to ruin the pictures!” I couldn’t process what was happening. I finally caught on in the middle of his speech and still couldn’t believe what was going on.

When we first started dating, Michael told me that he did not want to say “I love you” until he proposed because he did not want to say that to anyone other than his wife. So, at the end of the proposal, when Michael said “I can finally say I love you”, I proceeded to respond with “Are you serious?!”.  Not the best response, I obviously do not deal with shock well, but I could not believe that it was actually happening! After that, he got down on one knee and asked the question that would change the rest of our lives, to which I said “Of course!” Which, in my opinion, is way better than just a “yes”.

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After we were officially engaged, we took a few more photos and then made our way up to the top of the mountain where Michael had arranged for a party to celebrate with some of our closest friends and family. The night ended with all of us drinking hot apple cider and watching the sun set over the mountains. It truly was the perfect day!

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Photos by Anchor Images