A few years ago, Garrett introduced me to his new roommates who were also his fraternity brothers. One of those roommates and brothers was Colin. A year or so after this initial meeting, Colin introduced me to Mallory, his new girlfriend. I liked her on the spot, and remember thinking “I hope she’s the one.” Turns out she was! I love these two and can’t wait to see them get hitched in July! I was so excited to take their engagement pictures at NCSU and am equally excited to share their story and photos with you all.
How it Began: Mallory’s Side
Colin and I had actually been orbiting around one another since freshman year! He was study partners with one of my good friends (Deanna), although we never met until sophomore year at his surprise birthday party! However, a friendship never developed until our senior year, after Colin joined the College of Natural Resources Ambassador’s Program, and I returned from study abroad. Over the course of the fall semester of our senior year, we worked together on different committees and projects, and finally got to know one another. We always joked because we had mutual friends that we were both very close to, but it took over 3 years for us to become friends.
We started dating February 7, 2016. So, I guess that makes close to 2 years now! It was actually after a Christmas party for the CNR Ambassador’s program that we started talking to one another. Colin, being the southern gentlemen that he was…and maybe having a little crush, stayed after to help me take care of trash and recycling. Needless to say, after 2 hours of cleaning and (mostly) talking, I was completely smitten with this dashing blue-eyed blonde boy from the South. He was so patient with me over the next 2 months, as I was dealing with a lot personally, and we were both trying to figure out if dating as second semester seniors in college was a “smart” move. I’d say it’s the smartest decision I ever made in college!
How it Began: Colin’s Side
Mallory and I kind of have a funny beginning to our relationship; I technically met Mallory in my sophomore year of college at NC State. It is actually pretty mind blowing that Mallory and I’s circles overlapped so much during that first year but we never actually met, we had heard of one another but that was the extent of it. Therefore, we sort of floated around one another that entire start to college.
Sophomore year rolled around and I had a party for something (there is always a reason to celebrate) early in the fall semester of 2013, and I invited Deanna, who also brought Mallory. I remember meeting Mal but it gets a little hazy with time. I remember thinking wow she’s cute.
During fall semester 2014, I was determined to join the College of Natural Resources Ambassador program. One of my best friends, Eanas as well as Deanna (Mallory’s best friend) was a part of the program. So I was asked to help Eanas put together an activity for the 85th Anniversary celebration for CNR. After the event, I was helping clean up when I really noticed Mallory. I was in awe! Have you ever met someone and thought wow they are beautiful, and then when they speak your speechless? Well, that was me. That night I found out that she was in the Ambassador program too. Shortly after that event I was invited to interview for a position on the CNR Ambassador team.
Just before we left for Christmas, I found out I was accepted into the Ambassador program! I was stoked!! Subconsciously I think I was just excited I had a reason to be in the same room as Mallory. Upon returning to school in the spring of 2015, I started training with the ambassadors, but here is the curveball–Mallory wasn’t anywhere to be found. I found out almost a year later that Mal had left for study abroad at the very end of 2014. So the idea and excitement of the pretty, yet mysterious, girl from the 85th anniversary began to fade.
I returned to school for senior year with a lot of anxiety about graduation and my future career plans. Finding a girlfriend was not anywhere on my radar.It was just a few weeks into first semester senior year when Ambassador meetings started back, and I, as always, was running late. The meeting ended and I quickly gathered my things and rushed out the door, not even noticing the girl in the front row was the 85th anniversary girl! It wasn’t until later in the fall of 2015, when Mallory presented to the group that I saw it was her! All the attraction rushed back to me! I needed to talk to her, but “you gotta play it cool” was what I told myself. It wasn’t until the annual tree decorating party that we finally had a real conversation. The event began to wound down, and everyone started to leave. Mal was on the clean up crew, so, being the gentlemen I was, I offered to help. I was finally having a conversation with this beautiful girl. We talked for almost two hours. Over Christmas break all I could think was how do I randomly text this girl and not come across as weird? I knew she liked hunting and so did I. While on break one of my buddies killed a monster buck. Of course, I posed with it acting as if it was mine and took a picture. I later sent that to Mallory. Yes, that is how I decided to start the conversation–bragging on a deer I didn’t even kill! I let her believe it was mine for a little while before I sent her the real picture of me with my four pointer! I had a tonsillectomy just after Christmas and this led to our first date. In my fog of pain medication I was texting her some crazy things, but I managed to talk to her about the NC Art Museum and how we should go there together…
Mallory and I have been dating for one year and nine months, for the first three months we were both in school finishing up undergrad and finding jobs. For the next year she was in Canaan Valley, WV and I was in Windsor, NC– a total of 357 miles apart. That year apart was probably one of the most difficult times I have ever experienced. We would see each other every 5th weekend, but it was a tease. We slowly figured out how to manage the distance, and facetime became our best friend.
By Christmas of 2016 we had talked about getting engaged. We both knew we wanted to get married but we had concluded that it would be too difficult to be engaged long distance. We wanted to wait until we were within a couple of hours of one another and were both established–well that was the plan we thought we had.
The Proposal: Mallory
Fast forward to May 29th, 2017 and we are wrapping up a fantastic weekend at the Outer Banks. Colin is notorious for surprising me with vacations, and since we had been long distance for a year, I didn’t think much of it. I kept joking that he was hiding a ring, and even pretended to go through his suitcase looking for one. However, it was all a joke because we were still long distance (via a 7.5 hour car drive) and said we would never be engaged while being so far apart. Well, I had told him the day before that I would be fine with an engagement at any point…little did I know it would be the very next day.
Before we left the island, we drove down to Cape Hatteras National Seashore for one final sunset stroll on the beach. Oblivious, as always, I couldn’t understand why Colin was acting a little distant and chalked it up to him being sad our vacation was ending. So, I continued to do my thing, which involved chasing down sand crabs and examining dead seabirds #biologistprobs. I was a little bit ahead of him, and turned to show him something, when I saw Colin beginning to drop to one knee.
NOW. Let me tell you. This is not the first time Colin had dropped to one knee, because he thought it was oh so funny to joke around and do this occasionally. *tsk tsk* You know how I responded? “Colin, get up. This really isn’t funny.” To which he responded by pulling out the most beautiful ring from his pocket. As far as I can remember, I choked out “is this real?”, before falling into his arms and sobbing. Yep, I sobbed. Honestly, it took me a long time to compose myself and recover from the shock of what was actually happening.
Of all the ways I could have imagined my proposal, it could not have been more perfect than that moment. It was so simple and intimate. There was no one else around and no big extravagant display, just Colin and I, kissing, laughing, hugging, crying, and celebrating. We relished in that moment until the sun sunk beneath the trees.
The Proposal: Colin
We had been praying that the next step be the right one and for God to show us where he wanted us to be. One day when we were on our “date day”, (date day was something we began doing early on in our stint of long distance, where we would make sure we did nothing but date each other that entire day) we were early for a movie in Greenville, NC. I suggested we go into a jewelry store to try on some rings just for fun. This is how I figured her ring size out!
I had been praying hard about getting a ring. I had saved up some money and was ready. I went into Bailey’s the next week (late Feb of 2017), and began designing a custom ring for Mal. The jeweler and I, over the next two months, worked out every detail of that ring. I even helped pick each diamond. I did it this way because it was extremely important to both Mal and me that our ring be as environmentally friendly and ethically sourced as possible. That being said, I decided to have a lab-grown diamond be the center stone. Lab-grown diamonds are pure diamonds that are grown inside a laboratory which eliminates environmental and cultural destruction of communities in third world countries where diamonds are often mined. I also picked out each small diamond that lines the band and the halo for the center stone. These are natural grown diamonds mined from the earth. It was not financially feasible to get these as lab-grown diamonds. I did, however, get to pick diamonds from a company that provides documentation on where the diamonds came from and the environmentally and socially responsible methods in which they were mined. So needless to say, I poured my heart into that ring.
I have the ring and am holding on to it. I kept telling myself we should not be engaged while long distance. We still facetimed, and the conversation of marriage and engagement becames more and more common, especially as it got closer to the end of Mallory’s contract in West Virginia. It was now May 2017, and Mallory was coming down to NC for a long weekend. Her birthday is June 2 so I decided to plan a trip to Nags Head, NC. As I was packing for our trip, I kept feeling like I needed to take the ring. I buried it deep inside my suitcase. We had three days at the beach, and we spent every minute of them laying in the sun. It was the very last day, and we decided we would pack up the truck and head to the beach to layout one last time. While laying on the beach, the topic of engagement came up once again. This time Mallory had a different opinion. She said, “I have been thinking and praying about it a lot lately, and well, I think I am ready, whenever it happens it happens.”The fireworks start going off and I thought to myself “God, this is why you wanted me to bring that ring.” So now I am laying on the beach thinking I have the green light– how am I going to do this?
As we left the beach, we headed north to Duck, NC for lunch and to walk on the boardwalk. We returned to the truck and started the trip back home. Just before we got off the Outer Banks I asked, “would you be up for an adventure?” and of course Mal being the adventure/travel crazed one she is said “of course!” We changed course and drove halfway down the coast of NC to Cape Hatteras National Seashore. We hit it almost perfectly. The sun was setting, no one was around, and it was beautiful. As soon as we pulled up to the lighthouse, Mal was in a fit to use the restroom. I casually got out and said I had to go too. Well, I let her get about ten steps ahead of me and when she rounded the corner to the bathrooms, I ran back to the truck and began frantically digging through my bag. I needed that ring! I found the ring, pulled it out of the box and slipped it into my pocket. The most nerve-racking walk on the beach you can take with the person you love is when you have an engagement ring in your pocket!
As we walked along the beach, we talked, chased crabs, Mallory taught me about shorebirds, sand crabs, and all the other beach critters (as any biologist would). We got to this perfect place. I mean it is gorgeous–the dunes slightly slope down and fade away revealing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, and the sun was setting directly behind the giant structure. As Mallory was facing away from me taking in the amazing view of the lighthouse, I pulled out the ring and got on one knee. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I was doing this. I was doing this without a plan. I mean she literally less than 12 hours ago said she wanted to be engaged. I wondered if she ever had a clue it would be that same day. So I got down on one knee and said, “Mallory you make me the best man I can be, you make me the happiest man on earth, will you…..” and she interrupts by saying “IS THIS REAL!! OMG!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS?” Cue the waterworks. She fell to her knees, started sobbing and shaking her head yes. She never fully got out the word “yes” but I knew she accepted when she stuck out her left hand and was waiting for me to slip it on her finger. That was the best way I could have ever proposed. She was extremely happy and so was I–we still are! We are currently both in NC and are planning our wedding for 7/28/18, and happily counting down the days until we are finally husband and wife!