Renee and Stephen

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How We Met

Steve and I both broke our own cardinal rule – never date anyone at work. But that’s exactly how we met. I had passed Steve a few times in the hallways and thought, the guy with the beard is cute. Fate decided that one day both of us needed coffee at the same time in the break room. I saw him and decided, why not try to meet the guy with the beard? But I didn’t talk to Steve. Instead, I asked a coworker who I knew was a mutual friend of his to tell me about him.

I’ve always considered myself a take-it-by-the-reins sort of gal and used that attitude to introduce myself. So what did I do? I sent Steve a bogus work email. I was on the Marketing team and needed stats for a new brochure from his department. Steve’s reply was cordial and professional, but he let me know he wasn’t the right person to ask and forwarded the appropriate contact.

Before we knew it, our conspiring coworkers and friends set up a happy hour for us to actually meet and speak in person, and we did for a couple of hours. Two months later after daily instant messaging and planned coffee breaks, he finally asked me to go on our first date. Six months after we first met, we outed ourselves as a couple at the Holiday Christmas Party. Two and a half years later he proposed, and we’re getting married on October 29th!

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How He Asked

In addition to being a full-time Solution Engineer, Steve was in a bluegrass-rock band. Weekends were typically spent on the road which meant personal time was limited. The band decided to take a break meaning the 2015 holiday season was ours for the taking. We wanted to do something special for New Years since it would be the first time Steve wasn’t playing a show (yesssssss).

Steve had the idea to GO BIG, so we did and booked our trip to London to lite rally ring in the New Year – I just didn’t know it at the time. I had given some thought to the idea that we could, possibly, maybe get engaged during this trip, but I distracted myself with work on my app, Wiithyu. Little did I know that soon, I too, would be one of the brides using Wiithyu to plan my wedding.

We arrived in London jet-lagged and exhausted, but so excited to be there. New Year’s Eve was here and we had an amazing dinner with friends at one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants. Finally we were getting ready for the counted own. 3…2…1… Happy New Year! I kissed Steve, who was still my boyfriend, and saw the other faces in the crowd glowing from the fireworks above. This was by far our coolest New Year celebration.

The next day, we decided riding the London Eye would be a fun way to see a lot of the city all at once, and afterwards, we would take a stroll around Victoria Tower Gardens. I’d never been there, and it was a place Steve really wanted to go to, so I happily agreed. Steve wanted to stop at Westminster Abbey along the way, and I remember thinking to myself, this is where Kate & William got married – this is magical. Hindsight… gotta love it. As we wormed our way through the crowds, we finally made it to the garden. The garden is right on the Thames River and was extremely quiet. In fact, I don’t think either of us remember anyone being in there. As we approached the wall by the water, Steve started to fumble with his scarf. This wouldn’t have been odd to me, except for the fact he threw it on the ground and then started to fumble with his shoe. Steve knows me too well, because obviously I was going to pick up his scarf and and dust it off – I can’t leave anything on the floor.

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I thought he was trying to tie his shoe lace which is what caused the scarf to drop. As I bent over to pick it up he asked, “Will you help me?”

“Help you with what?” I replied, still trying to shake the gravel off, to which he looked up, presented a box and said, “To be the luckiest man in the world. Will you marry me?”

I couldn’t stop saying, “Are you serious?” and was having one of those out of body experiences. After the fifth “are you serious,” Steve asked me, “Are you saying yes?” And with all of the excitement I could muster, I shouted an exhilarating “YES!”

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My hand was shaking uncontrollably and adrenaline filled the rest of my body. Steve took our picture with his cell phone shortly after my YES! But I’m pretty sure this is where I blacked out because I don’t remember this at all.

I remember leaving the garden and getting on the Tube to go back to our hotel for a celebratory (and calming) glass of champagne. Before we reached the hotel I shouted “WE’RE GETTING MARRIED!” Steve just laughed and we knew the next couple of months would be a an amazing ride, but the rest of our lives would be an awesome adventure.

At the hotel, I wanted to know all of the details of this master plan, because I had absolutely no idea how he got the ring, brought the ring, told my family… The whole kitten-caboodle. The first time I cried was when he told me how he asked both my mother and father for their blessing.

Steve spoke to my dad when we were home with my family during Thanksgiving. I was completely oblivious because I just hung out all day in the kitchen with my mom. And although she knew, Steve flew back up to Washington, DC (where I’m from) to meet with my mom a week before our London trip. That day, he let me know that he would be in meetings and conference calls, which is why he’d be unavailable to talk, but would be home in time for dinner. He was. I had no idea he flew from Atlanta to DC and back. The amount of effort he made to make sure my family was included as much as possible means more to me than he’ll ever know and is the greatest display of love I’ve ever experienced to this day.

London will forever have a special meaning to us, and we’re so thankful for the amazing memories there. We’re also thankful that we both decided to break the rules and trust our hearts because in two weeks we’ll be able to say… I married my best friend and the love of my life – from work.