Shannon and T.J.

photoHow we met: T.J. and I both went to the the same college for undergrad but we really didn’t know each other then. We had a lot of mutual friends and he was really close friends with my roommate but we never hung out together though he is in some group shots of several old photos of mine. Almost three years after graduation I was living in D.C and went to visit my old roommate in Charleston, SC where T.J. was also living and attending med school. The two of them were still  good friends and he ended up meeting up with us my first night in town and we ended up talking for most of the night. Seeing him then felt like meeting him for the first time. We hung out with him several times more throughout the weekend and I found myself starting to hope maybe there was something more here. Suddenly this boy I hadn’t really noticed before was all I could think about.

A couple weeks later I flew back to South Carolina to join him and some  of the same friends at his lake house. There we had our first kiss. Another couple weeks passed with daily hour long phone calls and then he surprised me by driving up for my birthday weekend. Two weeks after that we said I love you’s.

How he asked: Thursday started simply like any other day. TJ was in town visiting and we had plans to go into Old Town, Alexandria that night to meet one of his med school friends, Dan, and his parents for dinner. With that in mind I got dressed, TJ dropped me off at the metro like he does every other time he’s in town, and I headed to work.

TJ arrived  at my office around 5:15 to pick me up so we could metro to Alexandria together like we’d planned. But at 5:30 I was still typing away, sending emails and trying to put out fires before I could leave. In hindsight he seemed a little impatient to get out the door but I thought he was just bored and I really didn’t think anything of it. On the ride there I asked TJ about the people we were meeting, how to pronounce their last name, what they did for work, what TJ knew about them from past visits.

When we arrived at our stop we just missed the trolley into town and the next one wasn’t for another 15 minutes. He told me their house was by the waterfront, which was too far to walk, so TJ quickly made the decision to jump into one of the waiting cabs. In the cab his friend  called and said they were running late, that his parents were picking him up from the airport, and they would be meet us at their house soon. I was then concerned that we would be interrupting family time as he was just getting in to town but TJ assured me that would not be the case.

We arrived at Founders Park and walked to a bench near the water to wait. It happened to be a beautiful, sunny, crisp, cool evening and I insisted on taking a picture of the view and one of the two of us for the blog, of course.

After a minute or so TJ began saying that he had kind of lied to me a bit today but that he would never lie to me again. Huh, I thought? He said we were not there at that spot to wait for Dan or his family, in fact Dan was not even in town (although his parents do live by the waterfront). He then started saying the sweetest things and I was still completely clueless. I was just nodding and smiling along, but then suddenly I realized what his words were leading to. And before I knew what was what, he moved off the bench, got down on one knee, my heart pounded out of my chest, and I started to feel the tears welling up. He pulled a box out of his pocket, asked me to marry him and I said yes!

I can’t even remember what exactly he said just then because the excitement of that moment has overwhelmed my memory. But I know it felt unreal and like a daze. And then a ring was on my finger and I was stunned.  Literally the most surprised I have ever been. I did not see it coming one bit. I  was not expecting it that night, or this weekend at all. Oh it was the best, most perfect surprise of my life!

We kissed and hugged and I couldn’t believe we were engaged!! I exclaimed over the beautiful new ring on my hand. And then he pointed out the photographer lurking off to the side. He had arranged, with the help of my roommate, for her friend to take photos of the whole thing and I hadn’t even noticed her standing there! I love that she captured my reaction, my shock!

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When I say TJ had thought of everything, I mean everything.  After jumping up and down a few more times and allowing me to attempt to catch my breath, we walked over to the photographer. I got to show off my ring for the first time and then I got to take the first photos with my new fiancé! We walked around the park with her for a few minutes and kissed for the camera, not that we needed to be told to kiss.

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After our photo session, the night was far from over. Little by little more of TJ’s planning secrets came out. I learned that everyone was in on it, that he had asked my dad months ago, met with sister way back in January, and had the ring picked out and in his possession since February. He had also driven my car into town earlier in the day so we wouldn’t have to deal with the cold or the hassle of the metro on our way home. He had planned out the perfect spot and mapped out where to park and everything. So we hoped in the car and moved it closer to the restaurant,Vermillion, where TJ had made reservations. We were shown to our table where flowers and champagne, also arranged by TJ, were waiting.

We clinked glasses, and toasted to the best night ever and I was beaming from ear to ear the whole time. I was sure people could tell I had just gotten engaged, surely I had to look noticeably different.  When we left the restaurant we started calling everyone. I never thought I had a very big family until I had to call everyone in it. First on the list obviously was my parents and my sister who were anxiously awaiting my call all together, because of course they already had known tonight was the night.

It was so fun to say the words “I’m engaged!” and to relay the story over and over. We called grandparents and a couple aunts and uncles in the car before we got back to the house. When we pulled into our parking spot I was little disappointed to see that the house looked dark, which meant my roommates were either out or already asleep. But when we walked inside, flipped on the lights, they jumped out, popped champagne and I screamed in excitement! It was so fun to celebrate with my closest friends. The night couldn’t have been more perfect!

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Photos by: Angelina Photography

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