Zelle and Stephen

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How We Met

Stephen and I met in college – some of my best friends grew up with him, and one in particular had mentioned him a couple of times before. It just happened that we were all at the same beach music concert and were introduced, and we eventually started dating our sophomore year. We both graduated in 2013, moved to the Charlotte area (but in separate towns) after moved twice after that before finally ending up both in Wilmington in January of 2016 – finally in the same zip code again after 3 years!

How He Asked

Stephen and I have been together for almost six years and had of course discussed marriage – and I’d shown him a few too many rings I’m sure – but he definitely kept a big secret from me. On Friday night, we talked about planning a date night out for Sunday, which is not unusual, especially on a weekend. We talked about a few different restaurant options before he suggested we take dinner over to the beach house and just have a little picnic. This didn’t raise any flags because we’ve talked about doing this before but never did, so I was thinking we were just going to head over for a couple of drinks and something to eat. I was also happy to take Soph with us since we’d been gone for the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon, when we were on the way home from an engagement party for friends out of town, it started pouring! Stephen even suggested we do something different because it was storming so badly. We both decided to play it by ear and thankfully it ended up clearing out enough to continue with our plans.

Stephen picked me up, we stopped by our favorite Italian restaurant for our take-out, and we headed to the beach. We had both packed some picnic supplies, but it’s safe to say Stephen did better than I did. I had thrown paper plates and plastic cutlery in a bag while he’d brought the nice stuff – which again, I just thought was a sweet gesture. We talked and ate dinner while watching some boaters out on the water and the most perfect sunset (despite the weather, the sunset really showed off!) and after we were through, he hopped out of his chair and just wandered around the dock a little bit and after a few minutes, I got up to play with Sophie. Before I knew it, Stephen had pulled me into a hug, said the sweetest things, and as I realized what was happening, I immediately started crying. Next thing I knew, he was down on one knee asking me to marry him, and of course, I said yes!

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Little did I know that my mom and sister were on the top deck taking photos of this special moment. Mom even asked me once they got down to the dock what photos I wanted, but I was in such shock that I couldn’t even process what to do next. I slept maybe 3 hours that night because I kept waking up thinking I was in a dream.

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It was probably the most surreal moment I’ve ever had. I loved it was just the two of us with our dog, on the dock at my grandmother’s beach house where she and I spent so much precious time together. We were incredibly close, so having Stephen choose such a special place means so much to me.

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I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with my favorite person. Stephen is my best friend, and I am beyond blessed that he loves me for who I am and has never once asked me to be someone that I’m not. I still cannot believe how lucky I am. Cheers to being engaged – I’m beyond ready for August 5th!

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Special Thanks

Zelle Brown