Oh the memories - how they flood back around this time each year. We had been dating for over 2 years & yes, I was the persistent girlfriend that asked ALL the time, "So, have you talked to my dad yet?" & out right, "When are you going to propose?". You see, we had already set our date, picked our venue, & been ring shopping together months before Ryland proposed. I guess you could say we are planners? :) But the real reasoning is so that Ryland's family, who lives basically all over the world, needed to buy plan their plane tickets & travel for our wedding. Therefore, we were stuck in this weird limbo of semi-engaged but still not officially engaged. Many of you know what this feels like!
Ryland did what all guys do - he played it EXTREMELY cool. Seriously, I never once thought "Oh this could be the weekend!" or "Finally, he is about to ask!". To this day, he is still so hard to read when he is trying to keep a secret. Me on the other hand? I HATE secrets. I can't keep one & I especially hate it when something exciting is happening & I can't share it with Ryland.
Two days before, Ryland texted me & said, "Looks like it is going to be a beautiful weekend. Would you be up for spending it in Chattanooga?" Because it was so last minute, I thought, "There is no way that he would ask this late - this can't be the weekend."
"Sure! I am excited!" I replied. We spent Friday evening with Ryland's brother - so normal - nothing out of the ordinary! We had coffee with friends the next morning, lunch with another dear family, & then Ryland suggested that we take a picnic before sunset so we could have some time to enjoy the fall evening together. We went to the grocery store, got a few things, all the while, friends were setting up an after party, my family is driving in town, & my best friend from Michigan is en route!
We drove out to our favorite stretch of property - where a year later, we would say our vows to one another! - set up our picnic & enjoyed a lovely evening together. Never once did I suspect that this boy was about to ask me to be his wife! It happened so fast, I can barely remember it all - but as soon as I could process it all, Ryland was down on one knee - telling me he loved me & couldn't wait to spend the rest of his life pursuing the Lord together as husband & wife. I was IN SHOCK. Of course I said "YES!" Ryland pulled it all off SEAMLESSLY!
Once we settled in, Ryland suggested that we pack up & head out. It was getting dark after all! On the way to the car, I called my best friend Bethany "You will never guess what just happened! We are engaged!" She acted completely shocked, asked all sorts of questions, & celebrated with us. Meanwhile, friends & family gathered at our church, just a bit up the road from where we had our picnic. I was TOO in shock to put it all together. Ryland led us to the door & of course - surprise! Everyone was there - including Bethany who I had just spoken with on the phone!
These photos feel like a family album to me - raw, in the moment, not fully focused. But that's just it - they are in the moment & capturing the deepest of joy! We are wearing our hiking shoes, for goodness sake - what is that flower headband that I have in my hair, & all the while - but our smiles are SO big!
Oh friends - what a gift to look back & see the Lord's faithfulness in our lives! As always, thank you for following along on our love story & adventures!