We certainly live up to the timeless saying, “opposites attract,” so much so, it’s comical. Lianna is a Ph.D. student nearly done with her doctorate in Molecular Genetics, and I’m a Humanities major who works at a Non-Profit, managing a grants portfolio and planning fundraising events. While our professional interest diverges, we share a love for soccer, traveling the world, and community service!
We’ve been together for nearly seven years, engaged for three of them! The first time I met Lianna, we were freshmen in college. We had a mutual friend, and the first time I saw her, she was sitting outside a dormitory and writing a piece of creative non-fiction. I’ll never forget that the first time I talked to her. She asked me to read over what she wrote. This struck me as odd and profoundly bold because writing is deeply personal. Even though I identify as a writer, that takes so much bravery and vulnerability to let a stranger just read a piece of your life.
We didn’t talk again until the beginning of school the following year.
The weekend before the start of sophomore year, I invited that same mutual friend to come swimming, and Lianna happened to tag along. The rest of the night was an intoxicating blur though what we can remember, we made friends at the pool and continued to drink on the town! As the night went on, we ended up on the patio of a new and strange house, assumingly belonging to the friends we made that night.
I distinctively remember thinking in my head, “Just do it! Put your arm around her or place your hand on her thigh—you have to let her know you like her!” I eventually mustered up the courage to do that very thing, and Lianna reciprocated. As we kept drinking and laughing through the night with strangers and friends at what became a small party, the morning was coming soon, and we needed to go home. We dropped Lianna off at her dorm room and we made sure she got into bed okay. I remember watching Lianna clumsily climb into the top bunk of her college dorm bunk bed, still fully dressed in her party clothes. I felt myself losing my nerve every second longer we drew out the goodbye. I remember Lianna slunk over the railing of the bed and smiled, looking down at me.
At that moment, I knew I had to make one last move, something salient enough so I would have a reason to call her the next day.
Boldly and uncharacteristically, I stood up on my tippy toes and kissed her quickly upon our last goodbye! The rest is history.
The entire proposal was planned by Lianna—was it a night to die for! I’ve never been so surprised in my whole life.
For years in our relationship, Lianna and I were the couple who hosted elaborate and over the top dinner parties and events. In November of that year, I was told that Lianna’s older sister and mutual friends were throwing another murder mystery party on Saturday, November 18th, 2017. The affair was black tie, and the red wine was generously flowing. At the end of any murder mystery, the final round of accusations reveals the murderer and ends the game.
As we approached the end, Lianna’s character pipped up and shouted, “Aright! I did it!” as she theatrically confessed to murder! She looked around the room and finished the scene looking directly at me as she said, “I did it because I loved you, and I always will. Will you marry me, Sarah?” Lianna got down on one knee. The character was broken, I started ugly crying, and it was the easiest question I was ever asked.
I really had no clue this elaborate scheme was in the works though it was one of the most beautiful nights of my life. Only a handful of guests at the party knew what was going to happen, which I think made it more romantic and fun. I laugh thinking back on the affair because I always told her I wanted to be engaged around the people we love, and I wanted to be dressed up and fancy. I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that would actually happen and that I would have been surprised!
I still can’t believe I actually got engaged in front of all of my best friends and in a floor-length gala gown!
My ring is a beautiful and shiny halo ring from Sartor Hamann, a local Nebraska jeweler! Lianna has told me that selecting my engagement ring was one of the most nerve-wracking things she’s ever had to do! “You’re a sparkly over the top person, Sarah! I needed to find something that symbolized those very things,” Lianna tells me.
Shortly after the proposal, I wanted to make sure Lianna has an engagement ring! The staff at Sartor Hamann was so patient and warm and helped make our ring shopping experience perfect. Our styles are pretty different, but we wanted matching white gold rings.
For Lianna’s ring, we found a simple yet elegant wrap-knot style engagement ring that she loves. There is a little more sentimentality tied into Lianna’s ring: the center stone we used came from her late grandmother, Virginia Walker’s, wedding ring. Lianna was given her grandma’s ring when she passed away and we are honored to repurpose her stone as a constant memory of the women who profoundly shaped our lives.
We love being engaged, and this feels like the natural, next step in our life together. I’ve known since I was 19 years old I wanted to marry Lianna. Even though we’ve been together so long, we never felt the pressure to jump into a marriage, which explains our long engagement. I truly believe that we know ourselves better, we are more independent and stable in our careers, and we are finally ready to be the very best wives to one another! I wouldn’t have changed the timing at all.
We’ve genuinely spent our entire adult life as lovers, so we both agreed, we needed to be sure we were also growing as individuals before we tied the knot. Marriage is certainly our next big adventure that we couldn’t imagine doing with any other person than one another!
Captured by Nathanial Jensen Photography
A note about the photographer, Nathaniel Jensen, from the couple
Every person has the power to carve inclusivity into the spaces they occupy though it’s powerful when you meet someone who demonstrates inclusivity automatically.
Nathaniel is such a genuine and kind human; he makes every person feel like the happiest bride in the world because he’s unapologetic about making sure his craft leads with love, joy, and inclusion.
The quality of his photography is clearly fantastic, but he’s doing way more than just taking pretty, high-quality pictures. Photographers like Nathaniel are boldly leading the Nebraska wedding-scape and photography culture in a direction that makes as much space for queer couples as all others!
Thinking of how Nathaniel treated Lianna and I make me emotional because we met many folks before him that had no interest in accommodating a queer photo session.
He’s as beautiful as his pictures!