Jennifer and Will

How We Met

Will and I met through our mutual friend, Brigette. I had met Brigette when I was a student at St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she worked at the time. Fast forward to after I graduated, she was working part-time in the office at Will’s apartment complex. She got to know him over his first summer living there and sent me an email in early October saying she wanted to set me up with her friend. She suggested this to him as well and we both had very different reactions, something we still laugh about five years later. He was all for it. I, on the other hand, was VERY against it. I wanted nothing to do with being set up and had recently come to the conclusion that guys in their mid-twenties were awful. I replied to her email stating that I was hesitant but acknowledging in the five years that I had known her she had not tried to set me up before. I trusted her judgment and ultimately gave her the go ahead. She introduced us via Facebook (classy!), and we figured out we both worked downtown Minneapolis. We decided to meet up a local bar for happy hour after work one evening. This allowed us to keep this casual and light, while also giving me an easy way to escape if it was awkward. We met up, I shook his hand (he still gives me grief about this), and we ended up talking for close to three hours. We hugged before parting ways and as soon as I hugged him I knew this was going to more than I was expecting. (You know how you sometimes hug people and it can be awkward and just weird, am I right?!).

How He Asked

If I had to give our proposal story a headline, it would say: A proposal, a Vizsla and a naked Italian man.

Fast forward to last September when we took our first big trip together to Italy. We had been on multiple family vacations when we were dating, but this felt like a make or break trip. I was just starting to feel like myself again after experiencing some previous health issues during the last two years, so we were ecstatic to jet set to Italy, starting in Venice. Will and I had only a handful of nice (read: decent) photos of us throughout our relationship (we’re just not that Instagram couple), so I pre-arranged and hired a photographer so we could *finally* have some frameable photos with the gorgeous waterways as the perfect backdrop. Lo and behold, Will covertly had been messaging our photographer and the two of them had been planning the ideal spot for him to propose in Venice. They agreed upon a little bridge (Palazzetto da Schio Bridge) on a quiet side canal that we would walk by during the photoshoot. This spot would be private, yet provide that classic Venice shot.

Not suspecting a thing, we got up early that morning to meet our photographer before the giant cruises ship came in and chaos from thousands of tourists ensued. We were having a fabulous time as our photographer was giving us a mini tour of Venice, stopping to point out historical landmarks while simultaneously taking our photos. Will was so good-natured about being in front of the camera and I distinctly remember being grateful for how good of a sport he was being. As we walked on the bridge, he got close to me and asked me if I was happy. Now this would have seemed out of the blue, but this is something we talked about frequently and often asked each other as a check in – are you having a good day, are you happy in this relationship. I giggled a little and said yes, I am very happy. He then asked if he could make me happy for the rest of my life and proceeded to get down on one knee. I laughed and ugly cried all at the same time and felt like my heart might burst. I said yes, of course, and stuck out my wrong hand. Ha!

As we were celebrating and hugging, this sweet Vizsla wandered onto the bridge. It was like she was tiptoeing and investigating what the commotion was all about. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m OBSESSED with dogs. I’m such a huge dog lover and will pet and play with anyone’s dog, and probably creep you out by how happy they make me. (Also, Italians do not put their dogs on leashes because they are insanely well behaved.) So naturally, I was thrilled to see this sweet girl and she decided she wanted it on, the celebratory party. Our photographer was quick to get a few snaps of me playing with her and receiving a few Italian kisses.

After coming down from that emotional high, we finished the session and said ciao to our photographer. An hour or so later, she texted us a photo of the proposal that her husband had taken on his phone since he had tagged along. I was so thankful to have something to immediately to share with our parents back home. As I’m scanning the photo still trying to absorb everything that happened, I notice a person in the third story window of the apartment building behind me. It’s an Italian man who looks…shirtless. I immediately turn to Will and ask him about the shirtless man, as I point at the photo. He confirms that there indeed was a shirtless man who he made eye contact with several times just before he proposed and that he watched the entire proposal!! We named him Marco. Side note: we prefer to think of him as just shirtless in order to not feel grossed out about the whole thing.

Our Italian proposal was everything I could have hoped for and more. It was genuine, sweet and full of love. It was a celebration of our new beginning.

Special Thanks

Siza Padovan
Photographer