Shannon and Andrew

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how we met

So the least exciting part of our story is that we met online, (thanks match.com) but that’s where the lack of excitement ends or it at least gets a little more interesting. So let’s be realistic for a minute; our initial contacts in online dating stemmed from the fact that we each respectively fancied the other’s photos that went along with the profile. Add in a few generic emails and a few weeks later we decide to meet for lunch on a cold December Sunday. Like many a great internet love story I catfished my now fiance. Despite a trend of male baldness in my family, I somehow have a pretty good head of hair despite my genetics and said hair was proudly displayed in my profile. The only problem was that on that very day I was two weeks into my second police academy in as many years and police academies aren’t too fond of hair so I was sporting a fresh buzz cut, length 0.

Needless to say Shannon was a little surprised and I quickly apologized for the misunderstanding. I’m not sure if most online couples do this, but early on in our relationship we thought of ways that we could have met naturally and outside from the normal chance of us meeting in passing we soon learned that for a short while we took the same subway line to work. But long before either of us ever set foot on the 2 train we soon realized that Shannon’s cousin and my brother worked on the same Ladder Company in the FDNY.

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how he asked

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment that I knew I was going to marry Shannon, but I knew very early on, so I’ve been planning this engagement almost as long as we’ve been together. For the past seven years or so I’ve been doing photography as a hobby and it turns out that I’m half decent at it. One thing that I started doing a few years back was anytime I was out shooting somewhere and the scenery was cool or the lighting was exceptionally nice I’d throw my camera up on a tripod, put it on a timer and pose for a self portrait. A little conceited maybe, but I knew that many years from now I’d enjoy looking back on the pictures of myself when I was in my prime. So in comes Shannon into my life and into my self portraits, only what to her seems like just nice pictures of us doing nice things in nice places or on vacations is actually a huge conditioning experiment, preparing her to be used to being in front of a camera, my camera with me. My logic was that if she’s in front of the camera with me enough times and she isn’t proposed to, she won’t ever expect it, even when I actually do propose; my own “Pavlov’s Dog” experiment if you will.

So for a little over the past year once or twice a month we capture a nice shot together and everything’s going smoothly.One day I’m out shooting some landscapes with my buddy Jesse who just happens to be a world renowned wedding photographer, and when I tell him that I’ve been looking at rings he offers to capture the proposal for us. That was an amazing offer because he’d be able to capture the moment a million times better than I would with my camera on a timer but it also complicated my plan somewhat.

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At this point in time I wasn’t sure where I was going to propose, but I knew it wasn’t going to be just anywhere and I knew the only way I would get Shannon to go somewhere other than just anywhere would be under the guise that I was going to do a portrait of us. About a month before I was planning to propose I made arrangements with Shannon’s father to ask for his permission for Shannon’s hand in marriage. I was trying to think of the perfect place to propose and a few days before that meetup with dad I had a revelation as to where I was going to do it; there is a small museum in my town that is made up of an old railroad station and an old train car. I grew up going to that place and Shannon’s father is retired from the railroad; a place that we both could share some sentiment with. Shannon is a speech language pathologist in a school and I decided I wanted to propose to her after her last day of school which coincidentally was 18 months to the day since our first date. A few days beforehand, Jesse and I met at the spot to set up the shot he planned to take and so we could speculate what the lighting would be like. Part of the plan had me setting up my camera as a decoy but I figured it’s best not to waste something that has HD video capabilities so I set my camera up for video and Jesse took care of the stills. I picked up the ring the morning of and I was surprisingly not all that nervous, more excited than anything.

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So Shannon gets home and she is a little suspicious because I am so adamant about taking a picture this particular evening. Anyway we get ready and Jesse lets me know that he is at the spot and that there are a few people there but he told them what was about to go down and they agreed to leave. A few minutes later Jesse texts me that there is an event going on at 7:00PM and to hurry.

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Now I start getting nervous because I never see anyone at this place but all of a sudden the historical society is having their meeting there. We had a plan B, only it was for rain, not for a historical society meeting, but it still ended up going pretty smoothly. Maybe the best surprise was that about fifty yards across the street I had Shannon’s family waiting and watching the entire thing. That’s the story of how I asked.

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