Stephanie and Bryan

How We Met

In 2011 I worked at a local chiropractors office in NJ as a front desk manager while I was still in college. I had a select few favorite patients that came in to the office, and it was usually because they constantly made me laugh or kept me laughing in the waiting room. One of those people was Bryan’s father.  Paired with his kind spirit and positive outlook on life, he always gave the best advice for college and life plans.  He also would occasionally sneak in his ‘advice’ about the benefits of dating one of his sons.

Well what do you know, a few weeks go by, and Mr. D’Ottavi gets in a car accident with both of his sons.This caused Bryan, his older son, to have to come into the chiropractor’s office for regular treatments.

I was well aware that I was meeting Mr. D’Ottavi’s son, but never did I think that he was so accurate about how great his son actually was.  Bryan was so sweet, funny, polite, smart and handsome. We had some really great conversations over the next several weeks of getting to know each other in the chiropractors office, but was disappointed when he told me he was moving down to Charleston in the upcoming weeks.

So he moved to Charleston later that year, and I didn’t see him again.  We kept in touch for two years, texting here and there.  Finally, one day in August of 2013, he sent me text suggesting I make a visit to Charleston, and so my friend, Jill, and I decided to make a road trip down to visit the South! We had never been before, but were really excited!

Bryan and I immediately hit it off, as if those hidden feelings over the years finally came to life, and we had the most incredible weekend!  Jill and I talked about him the ENTIRE drive back to NJ.  Ever since that trip I knew I wanted to move to Charleston and be with Bryan.  We dated long distance for about 9 months, and then I officially made Charleston my new home in May of 2014. I was in a new state, with new friends, and the love of my life!

Since then, everything has been perfect! We built a house together in 2015, and have every intention on staying in Charleston long term as we begin the next chapter in our lives!

How He Asked

Three years ago for my father’s anniversary (he passed away suddenly 15 years ago), I wanted to go somewhere by the water where I could fill balloons with notes to my Dad and then send them off into the air to heaven.  So Bryan took me to Pitt Street Bridge in Mount Pleasant, SC.  With the Ravenel bridge views, palm trees, and happy people jogging with their pets, I was SO happy he took me to that spot! So we’re writing the notes and blowing up the balloons, but didn’t think through the fact that you need helium to allow balloons to float. Well, it was the thought that counted.  Either way, Bryan promised to take me back there one day to relive that moment and do it right the next time.

Fast forward to March 25, 2017 where Bryan wants to surprise me with a special night out together and tells me to keep my plans open. He sounds super excited about it, so naturally I’m super excited about it! So we drive to the Mount Pleasant area, still clueless about the details of what’s going on, but really eager for the night to begin!  We arrive at Pitt Street Bridge, and I am thrilled!  Perfect weather and perfect time of the night (right before sunset).  We walk down Pitt Street Bridge almost to the end and set up a picnic blanket.  Bryan says he forgot the wine opener and left it in the car, but that he would be right back. Despite my attempt at trying to convince him to stay, he was insistent upon walking back to the car to get it. He walked back to the car to get the wine opener while I sat on the picnic blanket soaking in the beautiful views all around me.  After about 15 minutes, I could see him in the distance carrying balloons in addition to a wine opener.  I immediately think he is recreating this moment that we tried to make happen three years ago.

As he arrives at the picnic blanket, he hands me a balloon, puts down the wine opener, and looks at me.  I face him and he starts to tear up.  We both let go of the balloons together, and watched as they flew higher and higher. He turned to me and got down on one knee and proposed.  We both were so happy, and I was so shocked at what just happened! We sat for a while on the blanket crying happy tears with one another.

Bryan hired a photographer to capture the moment behind a rock, and so we did a quick little photo shoot shortly after the proposal. Later, we sat by ourselves watching the sunset and enjoying the unforgettable moment. Bryan explained to me that in those balloons was a letter to my Dad asking for his blessing to marry me.  He read me the letter after the sun had set, and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever read.  He never met my Dad, so for him to have gone so above and beyond to make sure he was included in that moment made my heart so happy.

This story is a true testament of how amazing and thoughtful Bryan is as a person. I consider myself the luckiest girl, and cannot wait to marry him on December 1, 2018!!!!

Special Thanks

Leah Judway
Photographer