Words by Julia
We joke that we have been together for nine years; however, we have officially been dating for a little over two years. We met a private Christian university in a small, one-stoplight town in North Carolina.
I still remember seeing her in the hallways. She always wore her basketball shorts, a hoodie [and because she is always cold high socks], and a crazy cool pair of sneakers. I fell in love from the beginning.
Our ‘friendship’ sparked pretty quickly where we laugh that our first date consisted of blasting Justin Bieber’s Christmas album and driving 45 minutes just to get frozen yogurt, having never spent that much time together just the two of us.
Tell us about the planning process for the proposal.
Since Helen’s family doesn’t know that we are together, even to this day, we had discussed our plan for the future. I didn’t want to put pressure on her telling them because we all know everyone’s story is their own, and she has to tell it in her timing.
With that, we agreed that we would get engaged without them knowing if that’s what we felt we wanted to do, but we will wait to get married.
This being said, I knew I wanted to marry her from the day she said yes to be my girlfriend.
Our first big solo trip together was an island-hopping adventure in Hawaii. It was magical, and we knew we had to make our way back to the islands one day. Fast forward, this had to be where I proposed to Helen.
I planned this proposal for about a year – I knew Helen didn’t want a crowd witnessing our proposal, but I wanted to be able to celebrate with people that we loved. We invited two of our best friends, arranged our Airbnb, planned excursions over a ten day period, and somehow I convinced Helen that I wanted to get professional photos of us done since we didn’t have any AND on top of that, was able to convince her to do it on our anniversary.
One of the harder parts of the proposal was ensuring we had a great photographer. I, of course, had to find someone local and coming all the way from North Carolina – this meant I had to find someone I trusted but knew nothing about.
I searched for various photographers in the area to stumble across one that had some amazing photos. Due to the world we live in, I wanted to make sure they were LGBTQ+ friendly. Some may think – oh, this isn’t a big deal because they are just pictures.
I corresponded with these individuals a couple of times before asking this question, where they then referred me to a friend of theirs, stating, “they are better at taking photos for same-sex couples.” To me, I know they weren’t malicious, and honestly, you have to laugh at that! Love is love, people!
Needless to say, I was in a bind again and thankfully found Marie on Instagram, and she was amazing!
We had been to Maui before, and this was one of our favorite islands to visit from our previous travel to Hawaii. But we had never been to the area of our proposal. This really was thanks to our awesome photographer.
She gave us a few great suggestions and with the beautiful rocks, sunset, etc.. we knew Makena Cove was it!
Tell us about the engagement ring.
We knew we didn’t want your traditional diamonds and glitz, so we decided early on that we wanted a more natural and simple touch to our rings. What better place to find something so unique than Etsy!
I found the shop SPIRITworkshop on Etsy, where all of his rings are handmade and made out of recycled skateboard. Additionally, I wanted an added touch and had a custom box made to place the ring in for proposal and found ButtonsandPearl on Etsy.
What does your engagement mean to you both, has anything changed?
Honestly, when the world is telling you, you are wrong for who you love, engagement and marriage becomes so much more of a sacred thing for you. We don’t take it lightly. This is a commitment to one another, to love deeply and boldly even when people think we shouldn’t. We will hold each other through our darkest of days and lift each other up higher in some of our best.
We both agree not much has changed except for the fact, we love each other more and more every day. Once you get to this phase in your life, it immediately starts opening those doors to even more big things such as the wedding of course or starting a family together. It is all just exciting.
How is wedding planning going? What do you hope for your wedding to be?
Our answer to all are… its going. We are still on our journey to living our truth, and that means telling Helen’s family. It has been a long road filled with many tears. We are excited about the planning, and all that will come with it. Right now, we are saving in the meantime and planning to go all out. We have stood beside our ‘out’ friends and celebrated big, and we are looking forward to having our big moment – displaying our love in a big way to all the people we love.
Our wedding inspiration is going to be Hawaii. It has stolen our hearts and now super intertwined into our story. We originally thought we would want to get married in Hawaii, but we want to make it feasible for all of our loved ones. Our goal is to have a taste of Hawaii at our wedding.
Captured by Marylane Studios