HOW WE MET
“I met Braydon when I was 16 in the parking lot of a shopping center where a lot of teenagers used to hang out. Before we were introduced, my best friend had shown me a picture of him and I remember thinking he was the cutest guy ever. When we finally met, he was busy talking to some other girl and hardly paid any attention to me (I still like to tease him about this). After that day, we would all hang out from time to time and I started developing a huge crush on him. Braydon was funny, witty, and had this humility about him that was so endearing. He was also a year older than me, so eventually he went off to college a state away and I went on with my life.
“It wasn't long before Braydon was back home for Thanksgiving break. After a party one night, Braydon offered to walk me to my car and before I drove off, he leaned in through the window and tried to kiss me. I didn't let him. A big part of me wanted him to know how I felt before our first kiss. I was sure he hated me for backing away from him that night, but that wasn't the case. Before I knew it, a year had passed and it was the winter break before I was leaving to San Diego for college. I couldn't hide my feelings for this guy any longer and I finally told Braydon how I felt and it turned out the feelings were mutual.
“After our first kiss (don't worry - I leaned in this time!), I knew I wanted to be with Braydon, but we both knew it was unrealistic to start a relationship living hundreds of miles away. But that didn't stop us from talking every day and Skyping every night. We spent every school break together and eventually decided we would go the distance and make it work.
“It’s been six years since then and that's exactly what we've done - we’ve made it work. Our long distance relationship was never easy, but it was always worth it. Being with Braydon has strengthened my patience, trust…and my love for sushi and the LA Dodgers. He’s my biggest supporter, my confidant and best friend. I couldn't think of anyone else I would want to spend the rest of my life with.” - Ryan
GETTING THE RING
“It was sort of funny how it happened. We had plans to go see Ryan’s mom and baby sister later on that day in the city we had both grown up in. We hit the road around noon. We were about an hour away from our destination with a little over three hours to spare before we planned to visit her mom. At this point, the idea of going to look at engagement rings was a few weeks old.
“While I cannot remember if we had planned to go into a ring store that day or not, I do remember being about halfway to our destination, seeing a Jared jewelry store and immediately pulling off the highway. When I say I cannot oversell the excitement in Ryan’s voice when she figured out my scheme, I mean it. It goes without saying that her giddy smile was an instant hit of joy straight to the heart.
“‘Now, let’s just look at them to see what we like - no reason to jump the gun,’ I said. What was meant to be a quick trip was anything but. As we walked in, we were greeted with smiles and salutations. With no attempt to hide our inexperience, we let the clerk know of our plan. Forty-five minutes later, I knew more about princess cuts, round cuts, clarity and color (or lack thereof) than I ever dreamed. The excitement had turned our ‘quick trip’ into a full-on diamond educational session with all the bells and whistles. Finally, we sat down to look at rings. There were plenty to choose from, but that only made it more overwhelming. After another hour and a half spent trying on countless rings, finding many we both liked, it was about time to take off. Mission accomplished! Yes, it took about two hours longer than we had planned, but so what?
“Just as we were about to leave, a ring suddenly stood out. Sitting in its little white velvet holder under that big clear case, it seemed to call our name. Of course, Ryan tried it on. WOW. I kept my mouth shut, but immediately I loved it. I wanted her to make up her own mind, but I knew instantly that it was the one. It didn’t take her long to reach the same conclusion. After another twenty minutes of oohs and ahs, it really was time to go.
“I told Ryan to go to the bathroom, so the salesman and I could ‘talk business.’ I wanted to put a down payment on the ring to lock that baby up, but I did not want Ryan to see me do it. He quickly took down my information. She was gone two minutes and he was almost done. If only technology was faster! Just as he finished swiping my card, out came Ryan. We were so close, too.
“As smooth as possible, I got back my card, thanked the salesman for his help and off we went. When Ryan asked what I was doing, I said I had to run my card to check my financing options. She bought it...or at least she acted like she did. We drove to her mom’s house, now an hour late because without realizing it, we had spent three hours at that jeweler. The rest of the day was fairly normal. We talked about our experience and how we found an AMAZING ring. All the while I knew that ring was already mine - locked up and ready to be placed on her finger.” - Braydon
HOW HE ASKED
“I've dreamt of travelling to London since I was a little girl. I'm sure it had a lot to do with my love for the Spice Girls and my obsession with British accents. Either way, you could imagine how excited I was when I found out I was invited to go along with my guy and his family on their summer trip to England.
“A few months before the trip, I started to get that creeping thought in the back of my mind that maybe Braydon was going to pop the question across the pond. My girlfriends were quick to tell me I needed to stop thinking about it, so I wouldn't feel any disappointment if it didn't happen. I mean, a girl can dream! Not only that, but my guy knows how to keep a secret. He steered me in so many directions that it wasn't long before I was absolutely convinced it wasn't happening in London.
“Braydon's mom had planned a casual family photo shoot in Kensington Gardens for our second day in London. However, the night before our flights, she sent us an email explaining that she decided to change the casual shoot into a classier one. Before I could even stress about not having anything to wear for the photos, Braydon told me we could go shopping for outfits our first day out there. After checking into the beautiful SoHo Hotel, we took off to Oxford Street which happens to be one of Europe’s best (and probably busiest) streets to shop. I don’t think Braydon and I had ever had so much fun shopping with each other. After shopping around for a while, I eventually found a gorgeous dress and fabulous shoes to match! The next day, Braydon asked if I would be up for heading to the gardens early before the pictures so that we could walk around and enjoy the scenery. I agreed, so we got dressed up and headed to the Italian Gardens located in Kensington Gardens. As we got on the tube, I noticed Braydon seemed oddly excited and tense at the same time. I started to get that thought in my head again and a part of me started feeling really nervous. I didn’t want to ask him any questions. I just wanted to get there and let whatever was going to happen happen.
“Walking up to the entrance was like a fairytale. The ponds and beautiful visions of green were unreal. I had never seen ponds with real lily pads - I was so taken aback by it all. Braydon took a few pictures of me on his phone near the ponds and then pointed out a fountain nearby with an even better view. We headed that way and we took a selfie in front of the fountain. Then, he said, ‘Let me get one of just you.’ He took a step back and as I posed for the picture, I realized Braydon was on one knee holding a beautiful diamond ring in his hand.
“I immediately broke down in tears as Braydon began to tell me how much he loved me and how happy I made him. It all happened so fast and the whole time I couldn't believe what was going on. He put the ring on my finger and it fit perfectly - it was the most incredible feeling. I hugged him so tight, thinking of everything we went through to get to this point. The thousands of miles driven, the phone calls, the ‘I miss you’s,’ transferring schools, the graduations, the breakdowns, the breakups, fighting with each other, fighting for each other, the hoping, the praying, the forgiving, the encouraging, the laughing, the unconditional loving. We learned so much by being together. We learned how to be better individuals and from that, we learned how to be a better couple.
“I kissed my new fiancé and shortly after, a woman walked up to us holding a camera. She introduced herself as Jackie, our Flytographer. It turned out she was blending in among tourists the whole time and captured the moments of the proposal. The selfie we took in front of the fountain was the cue that Braydon was about to propose. Braydon let me know that Jackie and he had been emailing and Skyping to plan this all, along with his mom sending that last-minute email for a change in fancier attire. All this planning that he put into the proposal made me fall in love with him all over again.
“Jackie brought out some Prosecco for us and began to take some awesome engagement photos. As we were walking to another spot in the gardens, Braydon’s family arrived and I was so overwhelmed and overjoyed to see their faces, knowing I was going to be a part of such an amazing family that I’ve loved for so long. For the next few hours, we had a blast getting our photos taken as a family. When we were finally wrapped up, I called my parents and they were so happy, and completely unsurprised, but the waterworks still came. As much as I couldn’t wait to see them back home, I was so excited for the whole week we still had ahead of us in London. We all went to dinner and had the best sushi and some delicious cocktails that were perfect for toasting. We ended the night the best way we knew how, popping champagne and having a dance party in the hotel room. It was a day I could relive over and over, it was an absolute dream come true.” - Ryan