Taylor and Mark

How We Met

Taylor’s Version: I have never been more thankful for March Madness than I am now, but I’m getting ahead of myself… Let’s rewind a bit.

Our friend, Karch Schreiner was having people over to watch the madness one night last March. I was at dinner with some girl friends before and we decided to stop by and watch a little bit of the game. A few minutes in, Mark came over and introduced himself. I had never seen the tattoo-rocking, muscular, dark and handsome guy before. I thought to myself, “he’s cute.” He found out I was from San Diego and proceeded to ask where I went to high school. I said “a small private Christian school, you won’t recognize it”, to which he said “Oh Santa Fe Christian?”. At this point I’m thinking “I’m sorry, where are you from?”. We soon found out that we had several connections ranging from San Diego all the way to NYC. We had a great connection, but for some reason I simply walked out of the kitchen. (Ladies, don’t ever do that).

Fast forward 7 months later. I had only seen Mark maybe 3 times since we first met, and I never thought anything would ever happen. Then, one Sunday night, I get a call from a number I didn’t recognize, and it left a voicemail. Me, being the really responsible woman that I am, didn’t listen to that voicemail until Thursday. (I now check my voicemail 3 times a day). On the other end of the message, was Mark asking if he could take me out that week. Just to paint the picture for you, I was sitting in my office kitchen eating lunch while listening to this. Apparently my face went so white that my co-worker (Jen Abohosh) listened along with me. After freaking out for a few minutes, I texted him back (apologizing profusely) saying that I would call him on my way home from work. I called, we talked for awhile, and we set a date. That following Wednesday he took me to this funky, cool, beer-loving restaurant – Meddlesome Moth (highly recommend).

Fast forward another 6 months. I’m walking on a bridge, rose petals all around me, and Mark is down on one knee. *Cue the tears*. What once was a good conversation in a kitchen had turned into one of the sweetest stories that only the Lord could have orchestrated. Only by His mercy and grace, I get to marry my best friend and the greatest man I’ve ever known. How do you win anymore than that? I love you babe!

So… if you ever have a voicemail from a number that you don’t recognize, listen to it. You never know what could be on the other end of it.

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Mark’s Version: It’s a tale as old as time, right? Guy living in Brooklyn and working on Wall Street meets the tall blonde from Southern California that consults for non-profits. Your traditional love story.

I’m a finance guy. If there was one thing that I always understood, it was numbers. How great are they?! They are black or white. They are either right or wrong. They guide you, they inform you, they educate you. That being said, I never dreamed of having a wife that could underwrite cash flows to appropriately value an asset. I’m attracted to, among other things, creativity. Because after all, that’s what makes numbers come alive. I guess it comes as no surprise that I am marrying a woman who loves photography, music, and the creative arts.

However, I’m skipping another important part of the creative story. Before I detail how I fell in love with Taylor and began enjoying her creativity, we must first look at God’s sovereign hand and His ultimate creativity. Let’s rewind to 2011 and start following the pieces that came together:

Step One: One of my best friends/college roommate/brother and now my best man (Ben Davis) was leaving Wake Forest University and moving to a random city where he had no family, really no friends, and no ties – Dallas, Texas. Because of that, he moved into a house with four random guys.

Step Two: Serendipitously, one of those guys just happened to be a Santa Fe Christian alumnus (a school I had heretofore never heard of) and over the years became one of my closest friends. For lack of a better term, let’s call him Brendon Marks.

Step Three: One of Brendon’s football buddies and a fellow Santa Fe alum (and now one of my groomsmen: Josh O’Brien) moved to New York. Since that was my home at the time, Brendon made the connection and Josh soon became, and still is, my best friend in NYC.

Step Four: Due to these connections, and a career switch from investment management to commercial real estate investment, a guy who lived his whole life in the northeast was moving to a city where he had no family, and no ties – Dallas, Texas.

Step Five: Within weeks of moving to Dallas, I was invited to a house party by a new friend Karch Schreiner. I was there a little on the earlier side (I’m obviously not from California), but not too long afterwards, about ten girls walked in. There was this one blonde that really caught my eye. Not too long afterwards, I just “happened” to be in the kitchen with her and introduced myself. I found out that her name was Taylor and that she was from San Diego. Oh that’s great, I thought, some of my best friends are from San Diego. I asked her where she went to school. “Oh a small private Christian school a little north of the city.” I’m thinking, this is too easy. I shocked her with asking if it was SFC and went on to name many people that were people she had known for decades. We had established a great connection. At this point I knew that I was in. And so I looked back up….and she was gone. She had simply walked out of the kitchen. I guess that connection wasn’t as strong as I had thought.

INTERMISSION

Step Six: Fast forward seven months. I’ve only ran into Taylor maybe two or three times since I moved to Dallas. But for some reason, I couldn’t get her off my mind and I really want to ask her out. I hadn’t seen her in probably two months, but I had to get her number. She didn’t answer my call, but I left a voicemail saying that I wanted to take her out and get to know her better. Why not? If she said no, and walked out of the kitchen again, I would be in the same spot as before. Nothing to lose. I had to wait a couple of days to get a response, but I got a yes (the first of two – stay tuned). Looking back, that five day pause would be indicative of her normal decision making process time line.

Step Seven: It was 2:30 AM and I was sitting with Tay in two recliners at her parent’s home in San Diego. The final guests of Pete’s 60th birthday party were finally making their way to their cars and quiet returned to the home. The two of us recapped the night, discussed how many people we got to talk to, and reflected on how much fun we had. And it was at that moment that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I would be doing this, with her, for the rest of my life. And there was nothing more exciting than that.

Step Eight: With the help of her family, my family, and all of our closest friends I surprised Tay with another question. This question was not like the first question I ever asked her, which focused on where she was from. But this second question focused on where we would be going. I asked her to spend the rest of her life with me. Me, the numbers guy. And Taylor, in all of her unique creativity came up with the following answer: “Yes.”

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How He Asked

It started with a change of shoes. Given the fact that I am only 5’11”, it was obviously from her wedges to her flats. But I think that was the only hiccup of the day.

Surprises are stressful. Especially when you are trying to coordinate three different surprises at three different times with fifty people. But it was all worth it.

May 7th started the way all Saturday’s do: with laziness…and then the subsequent big cup of coffee. However, this Saturday, the grogginess was removed more during the shoe change than the caffeine intake.

May 7th was a day circled in my calendar for four weeks. Ever since I talked with Pete and Wendy about wanting the honor of marrying and providing for their oldest cub. Flights were purchased, reservations were made, and everything was coming together. Then, on April 30th, Taylor ruined everything. During the exact same hours that I had our special day planned together, Taylor informed me that she had forgot to tell me about a wedding that she would be attending. That wasn’t going to work.

Under the guise of running an errand in Highland Park (before dropping her off at the wedding), Alexandra was able to get Taylor to Lakeside Drive park without her suspecting a thing. When AJ parked and Tay saw me walk up to the curb, Tay realized her greatest fear and nightmare: she was wearing wedges. Cue her shoe change.

If any of you know Tay, you know that her engagement story would need to be described as “something special, but not stereotypical and cliche. Sweet and simple, but memorable.” Figure out that maze and it’s that easy! Furthermore, if you know Tay, you know that she loves quality time. That was my road map: this is how I navigated it.

So, where was I? Oh…with flats now on her feet. I walked her to an antique wooden bridge running over a beautiful lake near where we live in Dallas. With the help of my parents and sister Allison (and the beautiful documentation of Chelsea Shay), we were able to spread rose petals down the bridge and add a few vases as well. With Taylor in the center of the rose petals, I handed her a written note telling her how much I loved her and exactly why. After she was done reading, I was only able to get out one sentence before getting down on one knee. We were engaged at noon.

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Given the fact that Tay thought that I hadn’t talked to her parents, hadn’t gotten a ring, and hadn’t planned a proposal, we had some catching up to do. I also had to inform her that she wouldn’t be attending that wedding that she had on her calendar. Afterwards, we changed into some casual clothes and went to Deep Ellum to rent some bikes. We found a great trail that took us all through the country side and had a blast being outside on a perfect day, laughing and riding. After our mini workout, however, it was time to give Tay the only thing on earth that she enjoys more than her ring: coffee.

At Mudsmith we had a very sweet time of conversation. After the craziness and fun of riding bikes, we were able to sit down across from each other and start to talk about our future life together. This was one of my highlights of the day, but really, the day was only getting started. And we were only getting more hungry.

As we went back to Tay’s apartment for her to clean up for dinner, AJ and Wendy surprised her with an assortment of dresses laid out on her bed. They had to make sure that she looked good for our special dinner that was going to be “just for the two of us”. After trying on each dress multiple times, a decision was made. Wait, she tried on one more. Okay, now the decision was made.

The Capital Grille held some very special memories for the two of us. And so De La Torre, party of two, it was. However, remember when I said quality time was important to Taylor? The quality time for just the two of us had ended for the day. Now it was time to add our family to the circle. To Taylor’s great surprise, her whole family, my family, and our closest friends in the world, had flown in from around the country for dinner. My mom and dad orchestrated a flawless evening at the Capital Grille that was intimately special and memorable in countless ways.

But the party couldn’t stop just yet. And neither could the surprises. Every great dinner cannot be successfully completed until a night cap is enjoyed. And so the intimate party moved to HG Sply Co and the quality time circle got a little larger. At the rooftop bar of a place that Tay and I frequent were all of our closest friends. The next couple hours held much laughter, great conversations, and a Moscow Mule or two. Spending time with friends was the perfect ending for a busy day.

Eventually the coffee wore off and it was time for bed. May 7th was coming to a close. It was the best day of both of our lives, however it was only the beginning of our lives together. But as Justin Timberlake told the world on May 6th, Can’t Stop The Feeling!

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Special Thanks

Chelsea-Shay Laning | 
Photography