Sam and Haley

How We Met

Sam and I have dated on and off (but mostly on) for the last 11 years. We met in middle school, where we sat in the back row of our Spanish class together. Sam and his friends were the class clowns, usually teasing me, but I vividly remember the butterflies I would get in my stomach when Sam would flirt with me. We were so innocent but little did I know, he’d be my first and only love.

We grew up together, through high school – attending almost every school dance together, college – from Badger football games to studying in the library together, and now living in a brand new city – Seattle – we are both originally from a suburb of Chicago. We have had many crazy adventures, traveled all around the world, cried through hard times together, and watched each other grow into our adult selves. I’ve known for a couple of years that I would be over the moon to marry Sam.

How He Asked

Sam had told me he was taking me on a vacation for my birthday this year (early December), but wouldn’t tell me where. This wasn’t unusual, we liked to surprise each other as often as possible. So I packed my bags for “75 degree and sunny weather” like he had told me to do. On the way to the airport, he handed me my ticket which read “Dallas, TX”. I had never been to Dallas before, but I was very confused. I didn’t know what he had planned in Dallas but was excited to just get away for the weekend regardless.

Once we landed in Dallas we started heading to baggage claim, he stopped me and handed me another ticket, this time for Sanibel, Florida. Sanibel Island was my second home growing up, my grandma had owned a condo down there since I was born. My grandma, (also known as “Googoo”) passed away almost 6 years ago, she was my best friend and I still miss her so much every single day.

I have many childhood memories of walking the beach in Sanibel with her, watching sunsets, swimming in the pool, and infinite more. When he showed me the second ticket I burst into tears, it was near the holidays, which is a hard time for our family since she was such a bright spirit around Christmas time, and I was really missing her. We arrived in Florida and the next morning Sam woke me up to tell me he got an emergency conference call from work and would be busy midday for a couple of hours. To make it up to me he was sending me to the spa. I spent the day in the spa (all a ploy to get me out of the condo and get my atrocious nails done), and for some reason, I didn’t think anything of it. When I got back to the condo he had told me about birthday dinner reservations and his plan for us to grab a drink at the bar down the beach beforehand. He came out of our room wearing a completely styled, too nice for a walk on the beach, outfit.

I remember thinking Woah… something is going on, but in fear of disappointment, I didn’t get my hopes up. We walked along the beach, the same walk I had taken with Googoo a hundred times before, with the most perfect sunset. I remember stopping for a moment and really feeling my grandma’s presence as I saw the sunset glow through the overcast. The last thing I remember was him saying ” You know how much you mean to me” and I began to cry as he pulled me in close. He got down on one knee I could hardly breathe, but it truly was the best moment of my life.

Hidden in the bushes was a local photographer which resulted in photos that I look back at often and smile. Since my adrenaline was so high and I don’t remember every detail, the pictures help me relive the moment whenever I want. After I said yes we celebrated, laughed, cried, and walked back along the beach enjoying a quick photo shoot and some moments just the two of us, while I asked him a million questions about who knew this was happening and how long he had been planning this.

He played it cool, saying he only asked my dad for permission and kept the rest a secret for me to tell our loved ones. I panicked, knowing that our friends and family would be a little beside themselves not having any heads up at all. As we were walking on the little bridge from the beach to the pool, he asked me who I was going to tell first, and as I stumbled for an answer he whispered: “maybe you can tell everyone at once”. I looked up and 40 of my closest friends and family yelled “SURPRISE!”. That is when I really turned to ugly crying status.

My mom, dad, brother, future in-laws, cousins, best friends, goddaughter, everyone was there waiting for me and crying with me. They had set up a whole party in the condo and we celebrated together the entire weekend. I think I cried for 72 hours straight. Since the engagement its been amazing hearing about how every detail fell into place.

How he created my ring, reading the email chain he sent my friends to get the proposal plans going, how he asked my parents (and brothers!!) for permission, how he called each guest personally to invite them for our big day, and how excited he was just to make me happy. I truly don’t know if I could’ve ever imagined a more thoughtful, personal, and loving engagement, and I feel so lucky to have Sam as my fiance and future husband.

Special Thanks

Hunter Ryan Photo
Photographer