Rhiannon and Bryson

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Bryson and I actually went to high school together our senior year at Williams Field High in Arizona. I was a cheerleader and he was on the football and basketball team. Although we were both seeing other people at the time, we had mutual friends, so our paths crossed frequently.  I went out of state for my freshman year to Kansas, so we only saw each other on random occasions when I visited home. Coming from a small town, everyone seems to know everyone in Gilbert. So our paths intersected a few more times that first year after high school.

Ending my freshman year in Kansas, I got really sick with a lung tumor and had to be hospitalized for a while and required surgery to remove a small portion of my lung. I had to take a medical absence from school and dropped almost all my classes because I had missed too much in lecture material from my time in recovery.  I was very weak for a few months and could barely lift anything. Obviously being a petite girl living alone in a far off state, my parents decided at this time it would be best for me to come home and finish college in state. Through my recovery and the stress of moving back to Arizona, Bryson was right by my side. Whether it was texts/calls checking in on me in the hospital, or my first day back at work. He even bought a one-way plane ticket to Kansas, so he could help drive my car back. My parents both work in the schools, so he didn’t want them to stress about taking more time off.  With the timing and minor issues transferring credits, I ended up taking another semester off. I was really bummed about suddenly being behind on my “plan” to finish college and apply for graduate school.  I’m one of those girls who has their entire life managed and planned out perfectly. I’m learning adulthood doesn’t quite work out this way ;)

Finally, I got back into the grind of school and work, and healed fully from my tumor. I was accepted at northern Arizona university’s extended campus for their speech pathology program. I always knew I wanted to work with special needs children and this was my perfect calling. I’m pretty sure Bryson wanted to marry me forever ago, but according to my “plan” he had to wait until after I graduated.

Getting an education and starting a career has always been one of my biggest dreams, and he accepted that. Bryson didn’t wait very long after I crossed that stage and received my diploma to propose. After my commencement ceremony in Flagstaff he proposed in front of our closest family and friends at my graduation party. My parents had set up a greeting line for my friends and family to snag a picture with me and my diploma to commemorate my accomplishments. Bryson was the last in line to take a picture with me. As I was fixing my hair and getting ready to smile for the photo he got down on one knee and finally popped the question.

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Special Thanks

Michaela Mangum
photographer