“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird.
And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love.”
— Robert Fulghum, “True Love”
Justin and I are weird.
OK, perhaps weird is a strong word to use to describe us. But, we do like to think of ourselves as not average and different from the majority of couples our age in that we have done life a little backward and out-of-order.
And our engagement story is representative of our weird life together.
When you become engaged and make it “Facebook official,” the first thing everyone wants to know is “how he did it.”
Well, I love telling our engagement story because it is so different from the wildly romantic and well-executed proposals you see splashed across on the internet.
Ours is far from perfect, but it is perfect for us.
We began planning our wedding several months before there was a ring on my finger — which is not that uncommon I have since learned.
Let’s be real, after six years together, we of course had been talking about marriage. But, it was always a we’ll-get-there-one-day thing.
It never seemed like the exact right time to take on such a large expense.
Then, one night as we sat on the couch watching TV in the living room of the little home we’ve made together over the last couple of years, I turned to Justin and said “Let’s get married. If we keep waiting for the right time, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives. Let’s just do it.”
And that was beginning of our beginning.
Everything just fell into place after that.
I began researching possible venues in our area of Lake Norman and Charlotte but didn’t love any of them.
Then, we thought a destination wedding would be a better fit for our lifestyle.
I found a beautiful, all-inclusive venue outside of Charleston and was ready to sign the contract when, one Sunday night as we ventured out for an evening drive (like the 80-year-old couple that we are), we passed a beautiful old plantation home.
I thought to myself that it would make a beautiful spot for a wedding. So, I went home and Googled the name that was on the sign out front of the property.
Sure enough, this place hosts weddings.
I was sold on it from that moment, but we still needed to schedule an official tour before we could say yes.
We did that, and I fell even deeper in love with the magnolia-lined property.
I knew I would not find a better location that exudes the simple yet elegant Southern charm we were seeking.
And to top it off, it was in our price range.
We set our wedding date, paid the deposit, and signed the contract.
And just like that, we were officially planning a wedding.
Because we did things a little backward and Justin didn’t propose first, I obviously knew an engagement ring was coming eventually. I just didn’t know when or how. I was perfectly happy to wear my mom’s ring until I had mine, though.
A couple of months went by and we were in full-force planning mode. I hadn’t even stopped long enough to think about a ring.
That was until one late-September day last year when Justin and I were out and about running errands in our new truck.
We’d had the Tacoma for about two weeks at this point and were still adapting to the fancy Bluetooth feature for making and receiving phone calls.
As we were traveling down the road, Justin’s cellphone rang and he answered it (through Bluetooth). It was his mom calling to see what we were doing on that Saturday afternoon — her voice ringing through the truck.
Then, all of a sudden her voice raised in pitch and she exclaimed in a tone that only an excited and proud mama could muster: “So, did you give it to her yet?”
Silence fell across the cab of the truck. Justin looked at me, I looked at him. Still, only silence.
As the smile began to stretch across my face, Justin’s mom — still on Bluetooth — said “Oh, I’m on speakerphone aren’t I.”
All Justin could manage to say was “Yeah, mom, you are.”
At that point, I knew my ring was coming. I begged for Justin to turn the truck around and head back to our house so I could have it. I wanted so badly to see what he had picked out for me.
He refused to take me home, though. As a firm believer in anticipation being half the fun, he made me wait it out.
Those five hours that we spent grocery shopping and running errands all over town were brutal. I don’t think I have ever been so excited to leave a Target in my entire life.
Finally, we made it home, and naturally I thought I would just hold out my hands and Justin would place a ring box in my palms.
Once again, I was wrong. That would have been the basic way to do things.
Standing in our kitchen, Justin told me that it was hidden somewhere in the house and I had to find it myself.
“A scavenger hunt? Seriously?” I exclaimed. I secretly loved it, though.
As I began opening drawers and checking cabinets, I heard Justin saying “cold” if I strayed too far from his hiding spot.
It was when he began shouting “on fire, on fire” that I realized I needed a chair to climb up on the kitchen counter to reach the top of the cabinets.
So, I dragged one in from the dining room, hoisted myself up, and reached into the ceramic bowl on display just above my head.
Suddenly, still standing on top of the counter, I was holding the box with my engagement ring inside, and I was terrified to open it.
I jumped down and handed the box back to Justin. I wanted him to open it. As he lifted the lid and I saw my ring for the first time, a shriek of pure joy escaped from my mouth.
Justin then got down on one knee and slid my ring onto my finger — right there in our kitchen with dirty dishes in the sink and the groceries we still hadn’t put away lining the countertops.
I would not change a single thing about our engagement. Not the order of events and certainly not the way I received my ring. It is so different from anything I could have ever imagined — it was raw and real — and that is what makes it beautiful to me.
Engagement photography by Alisha Rudd Photography ///
Shoot location: Jetton Park on Lake Norman, Cornelius, North Carolina