Riley and Austin

Riley and Austin's Engagement in Provin Trails Park Grand Rapids, Michigan

How We Met

Not many people get to meet the love of their life when they’re 14 years old, except for Austin and I, we got pretty lucky. We met in middle school in Grandville, Michigan in our 8th grade English class. He’d steal my school ID card almost everyday and sometimes he’d even keep it for a few days just so I’d have something to bug him about. Our love story started out as the awkward “I like you, you like me” type of deal, which in my opinion is the best type. We dated throughout high school and hit a few bumps along the way, but we were always just drawn back towards each other. There was just something so special about him I knew that I would never find in anyone else. About a year after we graduated high school he decided he was going to join the military, the Navy to be more specific. At first I was kinda shocked, mainly because never in a million years would I have thought he’d join the military.

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I’m a huge worry wart so I was of course very scared and nervous for him. But I knew that if this was what he was deciding to do with his life, it was the right one for him and I was going to stand beside him every step of the way. Now don’t get me wrong long distance (especially military ones) are not easy to any fathom of your imagination. They’re nothing like those cute sappy love stories you see in the movies. We have lived hundreds and even thousands of miles apart depending on where he’s stationed, we spend and have spent a lot of time alone and wishing that whatever we were doing, the other person was there with us. It hasn’t all been bad though. I feel like I know Austin better now than I ever would have if he had never joined the Navy.

When you spend so much time away from the person you love, you appreciate all small moments and things about that person, and you listen and communicate so much more effectively. Being in a long distance military relationship has taught me so much about myself and about Austin, that even when some days are so difficult without him, I know that eventually all the sacrifices we’ve made will be worth it in the end. I have gotten to travel all of the U.S. to go visit him, I never would have had those opportunities to jump on that plane or drive 16 hours straight to go visit for a long weekend where ever he was. If it weren’t for the Navy, we would have probably never gotten to experience those things, and I am so thankful that we have.

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How He Asked

Austin was supposed to come home on leave sometime in February, I didn’t know when because he doesn’t like to tell me, he’s more of a surprise kinda guy. So since I knew he was coming home I wanted my brother’s girlfriend Madi to take pictures of us since we’ve never had any done and since we don’t get to see each other often. Madi is just starting up her own photography business so I thought it would be awesome to go out with her and let her do what she had planned for a fun photo shoot.

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So I made plans for her to take pictures of us one of the weekends I knew Austin would be home, but my brother flew him home a week early to surprise me and his mom. Also I should probably mention Austin wasn’t exactly enthused to take pictures so the thought of him proposing never really crossed my mind since he didn’t seem too interested in my fun plans. So Saturday rolls around and we get ready and head to the trails park where Madi suggested we take the photos which is a park that I had in mind because of all the awesome trees we could have in the background.Anyways we get there and get started taking pictures, nothing really out of the ordinary we were just trying not to be too goofy for the pictures but Madi was doing a great job of making us look good.

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We had finally gone deeper into the woods where all the tress stood really tall and they looked fantastic. Madi had us standing face to face looking at each other and my hand were on his chest. I noticed his heart was racing, and I didn’t really get why so I just brushed it away. We were about to wrap up but then Austin said he wanted to do that same pose again one more time. I was thinking “alright the person that didn’t want pictures in the first place wants to take more” but I just went a long with it. I walked back to him and put my hands on his chest again and looked up at him and noticed his eyes were starting to get watery and I looked and him and said “what?” then it kinda sorta hit me that “holy crap this is actually happening”.

He looked down at me and whispered I love you and he got down on one knee and asked me if I’d marry him.

I instantly started to bawl I was so shocked and thrilled at the same time I couldn’t even comprehend how I was feeling, just an overwhelming sense of joy came over me.I was too busy crying, kissing him and hugging him that he had to ask me if I wanted to put my ring on. I had to keep asking him if it was real because it just felt so perfect in those minutes I couldn’t believe what had just happened. Of course my brother and Madi were there and they were in on the whole thing, and I don’t think that it could have happened in a more perfect way. Madi got every single ounce of emotion captured perfectly in our pictures and now Austin and I will have those memories for the rest of our lives thanks to her.

If loving Austin has taught me anything about life it’s that you always have to persevere, and fight for what you want out of life, it’s not just going to hand you what you want. Relationships aren’t easy, they take a lot of work and a lot of love. But if two people truly love each other and they want to build and grow together and become better people than they were yesterday, then that’s all you can ask for. I will never be able to thank the universe enough for placing Austin in my life. He is selfless, kind, and the most hard working man, and loves me in all of my forms, no matter what is happening in our lives I know I can count on him to always be there by my side ready to take on whatever the world throws at us. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with my best friend, building the rest of our lives together.

Special Thanks

Madison Baker
Helped plan and execute the whole thing!