Sarah Grace and Brandon

Proposal Ideas Orlando FL

How We Met

Both my fiance Brandon and I had been single for over 4 years when we met – and both came to our first date with low expectations after so many “clear no’s” in the past. On my healthy lifestyle IG account @freshfitnhealthy, I had talked about contentment during the season of singleness before, how I had been single for 4 years before meeting this one, how I was trying to trust God despite my heart longing to find my person to walk life with, and how hard it would be for me to ever trust a man with my heart after many things in my past. I thought it’d be years before walls would come down.

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But one very random Tuesday, I reluctantly agreed to my roommates to get on Bumble after always being so against dating apps because of “wanting to meet someone the natural way”. I didn’t swipe through anyone but paid the little fee to see who liked my profile. As I browsed through them all, only one stood out because of substance in his bio: “God.Family.Football. in that order” along with saying something about loving Disney. I thought, well what do I have to lose! At least it seems it will be a fun night no matter what. I messaged him (see photos below). After just a couple of exchanges, we decided to meet the next night at a local wine loft.

Sarah Grace and Brandon's Engagement in Orlando FL

That Wednesday night, I walked in with extremely low expectations, and out with unexpected happiness and butterflies.

I met the amazing man who renewed my hope in finding that person for my life. Despite his first line out of his mouth after me saying I’m a red wine girl being, “well I just whitened my teeth so can we drink white?” (Typical dentist move, I thought to myself). Yet crazy enough to find out later, both of us left that night texting our moms saying we think he/she is the one.

Each of our first 4 dates, we lost track of time, talking for hours about what’s important to us, stories of our pasts that have shaped us, and what we’re looking for in someone. I wasn’t one to waste time as an extremely driven entrepreneur with big goals, and I wanted to make sure we aligned on the important things before investing time and energy (physically and emotionally) into a guy after so many disappointments in the past.

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I think along with us aligning on the important things – was to see just how supportive he was of my own (big) dreams, goals and ambitions as an entrepreneur. He not only was OK with me taking photos and videos constantly, spending time writing my newest long IG caption, or anything else — but wanted to be a part of it. I remember him saying he’d love to be a part of my next photo shoot for social media graphics – and it put such a huge smile on my face. He not only supported me as the months went on, but believed in me and encouraged me even on the days I didn’t believe in myself.

I always thought people were crazy for saying they knew within the first few dates they wanted to marry someone, but that has become part of both of our stories. We laugh as we look back and both have texts to our families, saying “I think she/he is the one”, before even officially dating (see photo).

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I remember the words (that I’m extremely cautious to use), “I love you”, almost slipping out of my mouth on our 4th date when he came over for wine and cheese to meet my roommates, and having to hold myself back from saying it because helllllo that’s crazy. Little did I know, he felt the same. And asked me to be his girlfriend on that 4th night of seeing each other. It’s now just under 6 months of dating, yet it seems like we’ve known each other for years. Each month as I look back, we have not only had an awesome trip together, but we’ve grown drastically day by day, closer and closer. We met mid-January, when after he asked me to be his girlfriend on date 4, I left for 2 weeks on business trips, yet we Facetimed almost every day.

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February, we drove down to Tampa to meet my family (still within the first month), where they fell in love with him and as they said, “knew we would be together by the way we looked at each other”. March, we had a fun Easter in New Orleans, where I got to meet his family. (photo of the first dinner with his sister) April, we went to Wisconsin for his friend’s wedding, where I met so many of his close friends. May, we went to Miami for a blog partnership on my end! And then to Turks and Caicos for my family trip together. Seeing his seamlessly fit in with my family, made me so certain he was the one.

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We talked about marriage straight from month one crazy enough, but at first put timelines of at least 1.5 years of dating. In May, we realized the only reason we were waiting that long, was because of what others thought and what was “socially acceptable”. But we were never ones to do what everyone else is doing. And when you know, you know.

When @brandonmeck asked me to marry him this weekend, there wasn’t a single doubt in my mind that he was and will always be, my person. Not because I think our marriage one day will be perfect, or because our relationship is perfect now, but because I know he is the one I want to forever fight for and fight within this crazy thing we call life. Despite having so many walls up and such a lack of trust in men until meeting him, I am fully confident he feels the same way. #FutureMrsMeckelberg

God is incredibly faithful, and I can only smile as I see how He has used all my broken pieces, shortcomings, valleys, and tough seasons, to lead me straight to this man of my dreams.

How He Asked

I never thought I’d find my person. The one who would fit my incredibly high standards or support my crazy dreams and drive. But everything changed the night I decided to meet this guy for a glass of wine on a random Wednesday night back in January. I walked in with extremely low expectations, but out with unexpected excitement and hope. Within 2 dates, we knew this was something real. Within 4, we were dating. Within a month, we were (semi-jokingly) talking about wedding colors we loved. We felt compelled to date for a long time at first simply because of what others may think – but when you know you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. And we have never been known to do things the “normal way”.

We had talked about marriage – and I knew we wanted to be engaged sooner than later; but I knew the last he said was: “when I want something, I don’t just wait around. Just trust me on that – and you’ll have a ring by the end of the year”. So I was expecting holiday time-wise and was totally caught on guard this past weekend (in July).

I was asked months ago to speak in Orlando on the weekend of July 6-8, and told Brandon (knowing he was a HUGE fan of Disney), that he should come down with me and we could make a weekend of it! He knew they had booked a hotel for Friday night for all the speakers – so he nonchalantly mentioned he found a great deal on Hotwire (his go to for finding cheap hotels), and booked a room for us on Saturday. I didn’t think twice about it.

As the week came up, I told him I had an extra ticket for a +1, that it was a nice lunch, and that I’d love for him to come with me. He responded with, “baby you know I support you and if it were anywhere other than Orlando I would..but I’d love to go to the parks (Disney) during that time!”. As much as I was slightly disappointed, if there was any location I’d be understanding for him to miss my event, it’d be the city that Disney was in. He’d go do what he loved (Disney), as I went and did what I loved (speaking), and then we’d come back together for a fun weekend! But I can’t say I wasn’t feeling a little down, especially as all the speakers’ boyfriends even mentioned that day, “you aren’t mad?! That would totally end in a fight for us if I didn’t come”.

But he dropped me off that morning in his Hawaiian Mickey Mouse shirt, wished me good luck, and said he’d pick me up when I was done around 3pm. Part of me wanted to believe that maybe he was doing some kind of sweet surprise (not proposal though) and NOT actually missing my talk for Disney, but after seeing him post a photo of Disney Springs on his IG story, I realized that wasn’t the case. Or at least I thought. Little did I know he stopped by there quickly just to be able to post something since he knew I’d see it.

Really what he was doing during my whole talk, was running over to the Ritz Carlton to meet up with both his family who had flown in from Wisconsin, and my family who had come from SW Florida, to set up everything for that night. As he left the Ritz to pick me up, he made sure every employee there knew not to acknowledge him as someone they had seen before when coming back through with me to “check in”.

He picked me up, which at this point I hadn’t even thought to ask where we were staying. He just kept driving, as he slowly pulled into the Ritz Carlton. I shouted, “babe! you did NOT have to get this nice of a place”. But he went on to say how he found SUCH a good deal (which was a lie), and to not worry about it – that I deserved the best.

We proceeded to check in, relax for an hour in the room, and then get ready for dinner that night. He had told me he made reservations at the downstairs upscale restaurant, Norman’s, earlier that week, so to bring a nice dress. I didn’t think anything weird about it because he is a BIG planner. And for every trip we had taken in the past, had created an itinerary for, making reservations for each meal.

We got down to dinner, where we looked out at a beautiful lake and pathway around it. He mentioned (again nonchalantly), how beautiful it was, and I said, “let’s take a walk after dinner!” (which he will now tell me he was casually directing me in the way he wanted me to go). It was an early dinner at 6, so we knew we could catch the sunset after dinner if going out there, so that was the plan. After an incredible dinner, we began making our way outside, only to see it had started drizzling. To my surprise looking back, not one part of me questioned if we still wanted to go (I’m also not your typical girly girl). There were umbrellas by the door, and we just grabbed one and started walking!

After walking a good while down this path, he stopped and said: “wow this is beautiful, let me take a photo!”. Little did I know he was turning his audio recording on so he could capture the rest of our conversation.

We kept walking and saw this beautiful white gazebo structure up ahead. He went on to direct us up that way after making some kind of little comment of how cool it was. As we got under it, we talked for a little, and then he asked me to hold the umbrella. He then went on to turn me around to where our families were a short distance away and said: “see those people over there? That’s our families”.

I got emotional the second he said those words, because it’s the moment I realized what was happening. I turned back around to him, as he grabbed the box out of his pocket and proposed.

Our families came out, my sister came out of the bushes, the Ritz Carlton photographer and planner walked out of other bushes, and I was just stunned and totally overwhelmed with joy. He knew family was the most important thing to me after God, and that I’d want them to be here on this special day. He did make a note later on that he DID have a long speech prepared, but lost all words as I began crying :)

Oh, and when we finally did get back up to the room — he had bought and brought the exact bottle of wine we had drank on our first date. Yes, he had gone up to the waiter ON our first date at the end of the night and asked what the name was again, and put it in the notes app of his phone. He knew he’d want to remember that for the future, as he proceeded to call his mom at 1am upon leaving to tell her in the middle of the night of his great date.

It’s crazy. We met January 17th, 2018. Less than 6 months later, on July 7th, we got engaged. Yet not one part of me doubts he is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. Not because we have a perfect relationship, but because we have good communication, talking through any frustrations that arise inside, and I am certain he is the one I want to fight FOR and WITH, for the rest of my life.

Cheers to God being so faithful and bringing the two of us together in this small town of Tallahassee FL!

As a side note just to show His faithfulness: On New Year’s Eve, I separated from our huge friend group to go into a private room with my friend to pray and decree things over our lives for 2018. My major focus was that he would be the man I would one day marry into my life. He is so so good.

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Special Thanks

Gary Blake
Photographer