Shannon and Lennart

Shannon's Proposal in Giethoorn, The Netherlands

How We Met

Lennart and I were introduced to one another at an otherwise uneventful Sunday evening church service in a small town in South Africa. He was originally from The Netherlands and had flown to South Africa that very day to complete a year-long internship at the church. I, on the other hand, had just moved across the country two months prior and was still trying to settle into my new surroundings. Was it love at first site? Nope… I thought he was attractive, but didn’t catch his name the first three times (this made any potential Facebook stalking slightly difficult). Initially, he thought I was pretty, but very serious. Over the next 4 months we ran into one another on a weekly basis. We served on the same youth team together and occasionally attended the same gatherings organised by mutual friends. One of these mutual friends mentioned to Lennart in a casual and somewhat joking manner that he’d had a dream about who Lennart was going to marry. When Lennart asked who the bride was in the dream, the friend said “Shannon… But don’t worry bro, you’ll never get her.” Lennart’s response was a simple “You have no idea how high I can fly.” I remained completely unaware of this dream for months. One evening, I stopped him and told him I liked his Nikes. He told me he liked my latest Instagram post. After a few weeks of talking constantly and intentionally getting to know one another better, he arrived at my front door to pick me up for our first date. Instead of arriving with a bunch of flowers, he arrived with a bag of coffee beans and I knew right then and there that he was my soul mate! For the next couple of months, life was perfect. We were spending our days falling in love hard and fast and we felt as though nothing could get us down – not even a move back to The Netherlands for Lennart just 10 weeks after our first date. Lennart moved back to The Netherlands while I stayed in South Africa and so began our long distance relationship. What followed was 3 and a half months of FaceTime calls and counting down the days until we were together again. I’ve never known such a deep longing to be with someone before. I missed him fiercely and it was in those few moments of saying goodbye at the airport that we both knew that we simply didn’t want to spend our lives being away from one another. We booked me a ticket to The Netherlands and 3 and a half months after that teary goodbye, I jumped on a plane and began my first international flight back to the love of my life. He picked me up from the airport, handed me my favourite flowers, took my hand in his and made it feel as though finally, everything was right in the world again.

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How He Asked

I had been in The Netherlands for a week, spending time with his family and seeing as much of The Netherlands as we could. On a Fr

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iday morning over a breakfast of Dutch bread and chocolate sprinkles, Lennart announced that he’d changed our plans for the day and that he was taking me to a place he’d love for me to see. I had no idea where we were going, but I happily went along with his new plans. He packed a picnic basket filled with freshly squeezed orange juice and our favourite croissants and we set off in his little red car. We arrived in the most beautiful Dutch village of Giethoorn – the “little Venice of Holland” – a place with no roads, only canals, a few farm houses and a beautiful old stone chapel. We rented a little red boat and spent the morning sailing through the village’s stunning canals and feeding the ducks that made their way past our boat. We decided that the chapel gardens would be an ideal place to have our picnic and so we jumped out of our boat, set up the blanket and settled down for a yummy lunch. We then noticed that there was a wedding going on at that very moment in the chapel and I excitedly exclaimed “Lennart, how beautiful would it be if we were tog et married here?” He barely had a chance to respond before a sweet little Dutch lady kindly told us that we were on private property and that we would have to finish our croissants elsewhere. Giggling, we set sail off to another beautiful spot along the canal, under a bridge. It was here that we finished our picnic and spent a few moments taking everything in. I was overwhelmed by how good life was in that very moment.

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Just then, Lennart asked me to stand with him and I knew something was up. He took my hands in his, reminded me that he loved me with his whole heart and told me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life loving me, protecting me and providing for me as my husband. With tears in both of our eyes, he dropped to one knee and asked me to spend forever with him. It was without a doubt the easiest “yes” I’d ever uttered.

Special Thanks

Petra Bekebrede
Photographer