Our Engagement Stories

Monday, October 19, 2015

These days, there's a lot of pressure put on a single moment—the wedding proposal.

With so many meticulously planned and filmed proposals destined to go viral, it raises a lot of questions. Does he really love her if there isn't a flashmob? Did the moment actually happen if it wasn't captured on video? Or at least photographed? Does the number of "likes" on a Facebook engagement announcement increase their chances at everlasting love?

All this to say...Stephen and I got engaged yesterday! And, surprisingly, no flashmobs were involved. I want to tell you the wedding proposal story—I do—but reducing our five and a half year relationship to one moment seems impossible, like reducing your life to a single piece of paper. I couldn't pick just one. Here are a few of our engagement stories:

When I was a junior in college, in the middle of the worst basketball season of my life, Stephen and I started dating. We're talking a single-digit win season. Stephen came to every home game. Even if you're one of the few who considers women's basketball extraordinarily exciting, these games were not that. They were often downright painful. But Stephen came, cheered, waited (and waited) (and waited) after the game for me to be done in the locker room. Stephen was my fan, from day one. His enthusiasm has never wavered, all these years later.

The first picture taken of us together. Photo by Cosi!

Only a month or so into my relationship, my aunt died unexpectedly. I got the terrible news, then went to basketball practice. After practice, I knew Stephen had been looking forward to playing poker with a group of guys. Instead, he was at my apartment holding my favorite Dairy Queen blizzard, and refused to leave.

Stephen's graduation weekend. Before the wine and cheese thing at Bucknell.
I started this blog one year into our relationship. I was terrified to let anyone read it. Stephen would patiently proof every post, reassuring me it was good. His belief in me has caused me to more deeply believe in myself, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Somewhere on some trail in Arkansas.
Stephen and I dated long distance for over two years. Most of that time, he was in Little Rock, Arkansas, and I was in Madison, Wisconsin. Nearly every time I flew down, he'd text me after I landed something like: "Got held up at work. Can you take a cab to my place?" or "Sorry, not there yet." He was always there. He was always waiting. (And often hiding behind something so I had to look extra hard for him.) Despite all the miserable things about long distance dating, I'll never forget the joy of reuniting in airports.

Getting in touch with our artistic sides in Arkansas.
Since I had a job in Wisconsin, Stephen moved here. A little over a year after he moved here, I decided to quit that job. He was unquestionably supportive. Even though I wouldn't have an income. Even though we now lived in Wisconsin, away from all of our families, because of me and now I was quitting the job that brought me here. Stephen never stopped supporting me.

Stephen's first weekend living in Madison! (At the terrace)
Over the weekend, we flew to my home in Pittsburgh for my friend, Nicole's, beautiful wedding on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, Stephen asked if I wanted to go for a walk and, since we go for walks all the time, I agreed without thinking anything of it. We walked down to Hopewell Park and started going on a trail through the woods. The air was crisp, but not cold. The leaves on the trees shimmered in the sunlight—all shades of yellow, red, and orange—and the leaves on the ground crunched beneath our feet.

Once we neared the top of a hill, he suggested we sit on a bench for a bit, and that's when he got on one knee and asked me to marry him! Upon our return home, my entire family was there along with cake, flowers, champagne, and cute decorations. We had a big family brunch together. I couldn't stop smiling.
This picture snapped by Grace after showers were taken post-walk :)
If I had one wish, it would be that every person in the world has someone who loves them the way Stephen loves me. I look forward to making many more stories with him for years to come. 

I love you, Stephen!


  1. Yay!! Congratulations Joyce and Stephen! This was a beautiful testament to the importance of the relationship and not the engagement. May you have a beautiful marriage (and not just a beautiful wedding!)

    1. Thank you, Tara! I totally agree. I might need to pick your brain for wedding planning tips!

  2. Awwwwww this is beautiful. I look forward to making my own such stories some day.... :) Congrats!

    1. Aww, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it, Celine! Thank you :)

  3. This was beautiful, Joyce, thanks for sharing!

  4. I read this last week but I just read it again--awesome!