Roger and Kaylyn

How We Met

KAYLYN: Roger and I had been family friends for years. Since he is six years older than I am, he was a teenager and I was an awkward pre-teen. He often hung out with our family, and I remember really looking up to him and having a lot of fun when he was around. As we both “grew up,” we went our separate ways, living parallel lives that intersected occasionally. Roger married and started a family, and I started a career and entered a long term relationship of my own. We socialized at holiday parties and his girls’ birthdays and things like that, so we were in touch in that way.

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ROGER: I was always fond of Kaylyn, but just more like a big brother or something. She was so young, I never saw her in the context of a romantic interest early on. Since I am a police officer, Kaylyn and her siblings would text me or message me on Facebook whenever there was a police shooting or something like that to show their support for me. It was one of these texts that brought us in touch again after several years of not really having any contact. We decided to get together to catch up with each other. I was 35 years old, my marriage had ended, and Kaylyn was in the process of ending her long-term relationship, so circumstances had changed. But I was just planning on spending time with an old friend, right?

KAYLYN: As the day approached to meet with Roger, I was puzzled by my feelings. “Why am I so nervous,” I would wonder, “It’s just Roger Houston!” I just kept thinking that I couldn’t show him that I was nervous, so my plan was to just be fun and silly — laid back, and thereby, hopefully, not awkward.

ROGER: I was getting more and more nervous as the day approached. I looked in my closet and thought, “Crap! I need something to wear!” I actually went out and bought new clothes, all the while wondering things like, “Why do I feel this way? Am I looking at this like a DATE? What is going on!?”

KAYLYN: I actually bought new clothes, too — Old Navy! On the day of our get-together, I changed three times! I was so nervous, but kept thinking I just needed to be fun and laid back so things wouldn’t be weird. When Roger arrived, I answered the door, he said hi, then went straight to my dog — without giving me a hug, which is how we had always greeted each other in the past. I said, “So you’re not going to give me a hug?”

Roger and Kaylyn's Engagement in Covington, KY

ROGER: OK, so this is where all of my nervousness leading up to this day finally made sense, and it was overwhelming. When Kaylyn answered the door, I saw her, not as the childhood friend I’d known, but as a beautiful woman I wanted to pursue. I knew I was in trouble, so I went over and paid attention to her dog to give myself a minute to process what the heck was going on! When she asked for her hug and I put my arms around her, I knew I was screwed!

KAYLYN: When he finally hugged me, it felt so different, so wonderful! I realized that I was actually not a little kid with him anymore, that we were both adults, and oh my gosh, this could be something! We went to the Hofbräuhaus to get a drink before going to an FCC soccer game, and things were not awkward at all. Our conversation was so easy, and yet I still felt self conscious, like I was acting weird.

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ROGER: Our conversation was totally effortless–we talked the entire time; there were no awkward pauses or silences. I honestly think neither of us knew exactly what was going on — we didn’t know how to label it. But we both knew it was something good.

KAYLYN: Throughout the evening, Roger was such a gentleman. He maneuvered me through the crowd, with his hand gently on my back in a protective way. It felt wonderful and confusing, all at the same time! We made plans to get together for a drink the following Tuesday. On that day, I broke down on the freeway. My car was totally dead, I couldn’t open the windows, traffic was rushing by on either side of me, so I could only crack the door open a little bit for air. I was literally sweating through my dress! I was a mess! I knew this was going to take a big chunk of time, so I texted Roger and let him know what was going on and that getting together was not going to happen that night.

ROGER: When I got that text, I thought, “The hell it isn’t! I gotta go get her!” I knew I wanted to see her that night, but more importantly, I knew she needed help, and I was going to make sure she got it. I rushed to where she was and got her safely in my car to cool her off, then went and gathered the things she needed from her vehicle. I took her home and we sat and talked for a little while, and then I went home. I was glad she was safe, but I was also really glad I got to see her again.

KAYLYN: When Roger got me into his car and was retrieving all my things, I felt so important and wondered, “Why is he caring so much?” It was a pretty wonderful feeling. We were in contact with each other pretty regularly by text and phone from that point on, but it was about a month and half after this that we had our actual first date. As our friends and family spent time with us, it seemed like those around us could see we were meant for each other. We spent a lot of time together, had incredibly meaningful conversations, and grew closer very fast. I had never pictured myself with a divorced man with two children, but it was ROGER and his two beautiful girls, who I have always adored.

ROGER: My family members loved her — felt like we just went together well. Early on, we both realized this could be an important relationship, so we had those hard conversations right away — our feelings on marriage, children, step-children, etc. Since we were both in the stage of life and frame of mind that we each knew what we wanted in life and in a partner, we didn’t want to risk wasting time on a relationship that wasn’t going to head in the direction we wanted. We honestly didn’t want to “waste” emotional investment in someone that wasn’t going to reciprocate the investment. So having these conversations was pretty important to both of us. My daughters already knew Kaylyn, but we were not doing anything with them, and I had not yet introduced Kaylyn to them as someone I was having a relationship with. I wanted to be very careful about this, because I love my girls and wouldn’t want to put them through any emotional roller coaster. So “introducing” Kaylyn to the girls was very important. I needed to see how they would interact with Kaylyn in this role in my life. Happily, it was easy; they loved her, and it was clear to see that Kaylyn genuinely loved them. This was the final confirmation for me that this was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

How He Asked

KAYLYN: We talked about getting married, looked at rings, did all the things people planning for the future do. So I knew the proposal would come, but when? We had planned a trip for October 2017, and since my birthday is in October, this seemed like an obvious choice. Even my friends felt like that would be the time. It made sense.

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ROGER: After I bought the ring, I spoke with Kaylyn’s friend, and she tipped me off that Kaylyn was thinking I was going to propose in October. Kaylyn and I both knew we were heading toward marriage, but I wanted the proposal to have an element of surprise for her. I knew that Kaylyn would want a proposal with us alone, but at the same time, she would want it documented and would want her family there to share it with her. How would I accomplish all of this in one proposal? Well, I came up with a plan — I just needed a little help from a friend….

KAYLYN: One morning Roger and I were looking at Facebook together. As he was scrolling down the page, he paused briefly on a post by Amanda Donaho, another long-time friend of ours. She is a photographer, and her post indicated that she was looking for a “cute couple” to photograph as a training session for her intern. Roger started scrolling on, and I said, “Wait! Go back! That would be so fun! Free pictures, too! We should totally do it!” Roger laughed it off, but I insisted we should do it, so he finally said to go ahead and message her. Within minutes, Amanda announced on her post that she had found her couple, (us!) and thanked everyone who had volunteered.

ROGER: Amanda was amazing, and she was instrumental in helping me to execute the plan I had formulated. I realized, however, the ring box was too big for me to carry around in my pocket during the whole photo shoot, so I took it to her house the day before. We devised a plan for her to slip the box to me at some point near the end of the shoot. Actually, we also came up with a “false ending” to the shoot, just to keep throwing Kaylyn off.

KAYLYN: Leading up to the shoot, everyone threw me off just enough for me to come to the conclusion that Roger probably wouldn’t propose during the shoot. But any shred of a thought to that end was soundly dismissed when we met with Amanda and her “intern.” Amanda was totally focused on her intern, and they were talking technical photography stuff… I was totally convinced that my thoughts of a possible proposal were silly — this was definitely a training session! She explained EVERYTHING to the other photographer: why she posed us a certain way, why she had us looking at each other, where the light was hitting us, etc. etc.

ROGER: Halfway through the shoot, listening to Amanda’s long explanations of every shot, I thought, “Man, she’s really selling this!” She was so convincing! When we rounded the corner to the “Proposal Spot,” I really started to sweat. Our families were in hiding near this location, but the way we were walking, there was a good chance Kaylyn would see them if we walked straight ahead. Amanda had us do an “action shot” with us looking at each other as we turned the corner and walked ahead, just to keep Kaylyn from possibly seeing our family members! Amanda wrapped up the shoot, thanked us, but then the “intern” asked a question about differing heights.

Amanda got her camera out again, and began talking about how to shoot to accommodate for different heights, positioning us so that Kaylyn was standing in front of me facing away from me. This was the big hand off — I had to get the ring box out of the photographer bag on Amanda’s shoulder while she was positioning Kaylyn. A couple of shots later, and Amanda told us to face each other and move in real close and talk to each other. I had the box in my hand, and when I wrapped my arms around Kaylyn, I bumped her back with the corner of the box, and was sure she felt it! I kind of looked around, wondering if this was the moment I was supposed to do it, wondering if our families were ready….

KAYLYN: When Amanda asked us to come in close and talk to each other, Roger said, “You’re so cute.” Just then Amanda said, “Tell her how cute she is,” and Roger repeated again, “Ahh… You’re so cute,” but was looking around, not at me. I laughed and asked him what he was looking at, and then he started talking again: “Kaylyn, you know how I’ve always said I can’t wait to take you off the market…?” Because I was so in shock, I smiled and said “Stop it!”

ROGER: When I made that comment, Kaylyn’s face went from a big smile to a real serious look. But I went on…”Well, I can’t wait any longer….I had so much more that I wanted to say, but I just got down on one knee and held out the ring and asked her if she would be my wife. Kaylyn responded with, “Oh my god, yes!” I stood up and she threw her arms around my neck and we hugged each other. I finally said, “Do you want to put on the ring?” I held the ring out to put it on her finger, and my hand was shaking so bad!

KAYLYN: Things were happening so fast! I was totally surprised by this, and was absolutely elated! I thought it was so cute that his hand was shaking so bad, but then when I held out my hand for him to put the ring on, my hand was shaking just as much! All of a sudden, we heard clapping and cheers, and here was all of our family members coming out of their hiding places behind trees and benches to celebrate with us!

This proposal was absolutely perfect — Roger and I alone for that very special moment when he “popped the question,” but then all of our family there to be with us! I loved it! It was an ideal beginning to our lives together.

ROGER: It couldn’t have worked out better. Amanda Donaho is not only a great friend and a great photographer, but also an incredibly good actor as well! This proposal would not have been possible without her help in planning it and in pulling it off! The private moment for Kaylyn and me, our families there to share it with us, and all of the incredible photos we will have to remember this momentous occasion in our lives — it really was, as they say, “picture perfect”!

Our wonderful friend and photographer, Amanda Donaho, wrote about this amazing day on her blog. The link is here, please check it out as well! Roger couldn’t have made this all happen without her help!

Special Thanks

Amanda Donaho
Photographer