I am so lucky to have gotten a message from this bride last July. This couple has been a joy to work with, so I urge you to continue reading to learn a little about them! They are just truly humble people and I feel blessed to be a part of their day.
Jen is a teacher working with young children in high-needs schools. She grew up on Long Island, loves to play Scrabble, and get together with her girlfriends. Joe is from a small town in Iowa, which only has one stop light! Joe loves dogs, basketball, golf, and pretty much anything sports related. He apparently makes the world's best grilled chicken and is just an incredible chef altogether. He also LOVES Dairy Queen!
These two adore their friends and family, and they really do have the biggest hearts.
1. How did you two meet?
After randomly meeting and swapping contact information in November of 2013, Joe and I spent the next month or so engaging in back and forth small talk ...thanks to social media! I have to say I wondered if he was ever going to formally ask me out on a date! When he invited me out for sushi at Jade, a place that I absolutely love... I was excited...even if it was for nothing more than good sushi! I have to admit I had no idea at that moment that it would be my last first date ever!
2. Tell me more about that first date!
Our Infamous first date was on December 14th a Thursday night, just a few days before I was going home to NY for Christmas break! It proved to be a night neither one of us would ever forget! We were supposed to meet at 7 pm. As everyone knows I am always running a little bit late, and if you know Joe you'd be surprised that he wasn't waiting for me at 6:45 (which is true proof that Opposites attract). Well, we both wound up sitting in the same exact traffic on 485 and our date that was supposed to start at 7 begin promptly at 7:30 when we both walked up to the door at the same exact time!
He looked cute, the timing worked out perfectly, we laughed about both being late... I knew it was going to be easy from the moment we met. This may sound like a strange word to describe a date but truth be told, not everybody that you meet and try to have a conversation with (especially while eating sushi) is easy! To me that's one of the most important parts of a relationship! We ordered our drinks, started chatting and when I admitted that I don't use chopsticks to eat sushi because the pieces are usually too big, he just laughed and said "oh, that's fine." There was no judgement and to this day he is just as easy going and understanding...and no, I still do not use chopsticks! While chatting about things that we like to do for fun of course the first thing I brought up was my love for Scrabble. At this point I am still not sure that he had ever played Scrabble before that night, but I am almost 100% positive that he went home and immediately started reading the dictionary because four years later he definitely holds the title for the most Scrabble wins. Even though he says I cheat... I will deny it to my grave. I mean sometimes I peek at the letters before I pull them out of the bag and put them back if they're not good.. but don't tell him that. Needless to say his willingness to learn a game I loved was a great sign. I learned about his family, his friends, his graduating class of about 25, some of the details of his home town in Iowa (with literally one stoplight). I shared some of the details about my hometown on Long Island, my friends and family, what brought me to Charlotte, etc. As you can imagine, I was thinking we couldn't be more different... But he was interesting and fun, he asked questions and more importantly, listened to the answers! We had a lovely time learning about each other!
Part two of the first date: Dinner went great, the conversation was flowing, as was the wine and I think we were both having a good time. So good in fact that we decided to go downstairs and continue our date at the Mellow Mushroom. We sat there for two more hours, chatting with the bartender, chatting about life and though we didn't know it then ...enjoying our very last first date together! When the bartender was putting up all the chairs around us, and then went missing for about 20 minutes because his shift had probably ended a very long time ago, we decided it was time to go! Joe walked me over to my car and tried to give me a hug... Which clearly in my eyes was not good enough because we were going to kiss that night whether he liked it or not! I just figured he was trying to be a gentleman or maybe was a little bit nervous... So without even thinking twice, I eased his nerves, leaned in and stole a kiss... A long, very nice, first kiss! I drove home thinking "oh that was fun.. I'd hang out with him again". And I'm pretty sure he drove home thinking the same thing about me! When he asked me out again later that week I had a feeling there was potential for it to turn into something good.... And I'm so glad I was right!
3. So when did you know he was the one you wanted to spend the rest of your life with?
I wish it was easy for me to put my finger on one specific moment "when I knew he was the one." The short easy answer would be "I knew he was the one the first time he made me an amazing cup of coffee and prepared it prepared exactly the way I like it (okay maybe I'm a little bit particular)! Or "I knew I found my future husband when I realized I was dating the best dancer, singer and chef in Charlotte." The truth is there were about a million of these little moments... Each one just a little bit further confirmation that my years of searching for Mr. Wonderful had come to an end! He was well worth the wait.
Here is how it went in 3 steps!
When I knew there was potential:
In April of 2014 only five months after we had started dating, I had a pretty major shoulder surgery. My mom flew down from New York to help take care of me as she always has... Although this time I think she was extra excited to come because she knew she would get to meet Joe...(I'm pretty famous for finding something wrong with everybody within three dates, so the fact that he was still around from December was a good sign)! My mom is pretty much the most important person in my life, so when I saw how well the two of them got along I was thrilled! Without trying too hard, he cooked an amazing meal in my little tiny apartment, and yes of course the chicken was cooked perfectly. We drank, we laughed, we ate and it felt like we had been together forever. Every time he walked away my mom just made sweet little comments... for example: oh my gosh Jenny he is just wonderful, you two are so nice to be around, it seems like you really just enjoy each other's company.... and I see exactly what you mean- he is just EASY!" These were all things that I really truly felt, however being that our relationship was still pretty new... I didn't want to jinx anything... but yes I had a good feeling. The best part about this story is that three days later Joe drove my mom to the airport since I wasn't able to operate any machinery! We dropped her off at the JetBlue terminal, I put my phone in my purse and we drove 20 minutes to Joe's apartment. An hour and a half later I checked my phone and I realized I had about four missed calls from my mom... her flight had been cancelled. She was stuck at the airport and was not going to be able to leave until the next day and was currently searching for a hotel room! Without even thinking Joe put on his shoes, got his stuff and said well, come on! We drove back to the airport and then 35 minutes to my apartment, where we had our first mother/daughter/future son-in-law sleepover. He never once made a mad face, complained or seemed the littlest bit annoyed that we had just spent about 2 hours in the car and that he was spending his Friday night with me and my mom! Although, she did buy him ice cream and his own bottle of wine so he didn't make out all that bad in the deal. I remember thinking to myself that "okay... If he keeps talking to me after this crazy night, then we will probably get married!"
When I knew he was husband material:
Right around the same time, I was invited to my uncle's wedding in Connecticut - with a guest! I asked Joe to come with me! He said yes and we booked our flights! Seems simple no big deal right?
Wrong!! This was a big deal it was a very big deal! At this time I was about to turn 31, although we still deny it, we had both dated people before. I had been in a few pretty serious relationships, some lasting a couple of years- yet none of them actually got asked on the NY hometown date to meet my family! The fact that Joe and I had only been dating for 6 months and I felt confident enough to bring him home (to a wedding nonetheless) was huge for me! He was about to spend the weekend at my childhood home, meet my brother, my grandparents, all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and even my high school friends! I will never forget when my best friend from high school said to me on the phone "oh my gosh Jen... you mean we're actually going to get to meet him in person? Wow, this must be serious!" And it was! If I was ever going to bring somebody home it was going to be a guy who I wouldn't have to worry about entertaining. I was confident that Joe would get along great with my brother, be able to hold a conversation with my chatty aunts and my grandma, and be able to talk sports with my uncles- he really can talk to anyone which is one of his best qualities! That weekend was one of the best weekends ever. He proved to be an incredible travel partner, a handsome and super fun wedding date, and he made an everlasting impression on my family! Not to mention that him and my brother still go golfing every single time they see each other!
When I was "pretty sure" he was the one:
On the plane on the way home, we were discussing the houses I had been looking at buying (I had started my house hunting process just a little bit before we met). He mentioned something about wanting to move out of his apartment and thinking about buying also. At that point we had never mentioned the possibility of living together- as cohabiting was also a HUGE deal to me. I had never even entertained that idea with anyone in the past. I will never forget the moment he looked at me and said "yeah, I was thinking I might start looking at buying a house also." I felt my body temperature go up about a thousand degrees and I know my face turned bright red... I couldn't stop the words from coming out "why would you do that? that makes no sense." I remember thinking why in the world would you buy a house if I'm going to buy a house... Then we would each have our own house? That really makes no sense at all! And a few minutes later I think we had decided that we would move in together... You know ...just to give it a try! At that very moment I knew that if my feelings for him were that strong and I could actually see myself living with him then he was definitely the man for me! When we moved in together I knew it was the right choice! We spent the next two years setting up our home, building a life together and most importantly setting the foundation for a long, loving future. I was confident that whenever the time was right he would make it official and ask me to be his wife!
4. How did he propose?
That day was June 6th 2016, the day before my 33rd birthday, I was completely and utterly surprised with the most amazing, romantic, perfect proposal! We had just left a really romantic dinner, and we were dancing in the car singing 'Never Going To Give You Up ' by Rick Astley. When we got home, there were rose petals, a stuffed animal dog (my favorite kind) with a beautiful ring underneath the paw. There was a birthday card there for me, and as I read it the last line read "I want to celebrate every one of your birthdays with you". He was on one knee, he asked, I cried more than I have ever cried before, and at that moment it was official... I knew he was the one!
I feel so lucky to have met this beautiful couple! It makes me so happy to see two deserving people fall in love. Cheers to a wonderful wedding and a lifelong marriage!