Our story began on Sunday, March 6, 2016. My family was busy that morning because it wasn’t a normal Sunday. We went to church that morning with our bags packed. We were leaving right after the service to go to North Carolina. Honestly, I remember not wanting to go. My dad had a meeting there with a pastor I had never heard of, at a church I had never heard of, in a city I had never heard of! Needless to say, I wasn’t that interested. Little did I know that this trip was going to change my life forever.
As we were traveling there that afternoon, my mom informed us that we were going to the pastor’s house after the service for dinner. I was never a fan of this because my siblings and I would always be left to chat with the children. We arrived at the church, and we walked in and got our seats. Once I sat down, I started looking around the place, just scoping it out. And THERE! In the back, right corner of the choir sat a literal angel. I was stunned. Many say “love at first sight” isn’t real or its just extremely cliche. However, believe what you will, but I am a living testament to this “love at first sight”. This nameless beauty with her long, brunette hair, black dress, and pearls, had just stolen my heart with one look. I was transfixed. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. When she came down from the choir, she sat in the left section (I was in the middle). Throughout the service I would make the occasional glance to the left. I thought about her through the entire service, and I was devising a plan to go up and talk to her after the service. The service came to a close, and as the pastor closed in prayer, I see the beautiful mystery girl get up and leave. I was very disappointed. This girl who had stolen my heart without speaking a single word, was gone.
The service ended, and we got in our vehicles and followed the pastor to his house for dinner. I was upset, I didn’t necessarily want to be there for dinner. I didi’t get a chance to talk to the beautiful mystery girl. We walk into the house and I look up, and THERE. SHE. WAS. She was over at the sink making coffee. My disappointment dissipated and I was suddenly flooded with nervousness. We all sat down to eat and because there were so many people there that night, the mystery girl and her sister sat at a table in the other room. While we were eating, I talked to her older brothers and their wives. I was trying so hard not to make it obvious that I was looking at her after almost every sentence. I was just short of staring. Lol. But as more time went by, her brothers and their wives left. And then, the moment I was secretly praying for, she came over and sat right across from me. I have never been more nervous in my entire life. We introduced ourselves and I finally had a name instead of “beautiful mystery girl”. “I’m Caroline,” she said. That’s all she had to say. We spent the rest of the evening chatting and playing “Apples to Apples”. It was one of the best nights of my life. We exchanged information to “keep in touch”. I was so excited.
We talked for about two weeks and then we made it clear that we were pretty interested in each other. We were constantly trying to figure out a good time for me to go down there again, and then we got it. They were having a conference/meeting at their church and I would go down there and visit her then. I made plans to go down there, I was so excited. However, after a couple more weeks passed, the unexpected happened. I was “ghosted”. Suddenly, no more texts, no more replies. Nothing. I’m not going to lie, I was very upset. A week or so passed and it was time for me to go visit her. Well, she wouldn’t answer my text messages, so it was in my better judgment to just not go and forget about it. However, I decided against my better judgement and went out of spite. I took a couple of friends with me and when we got to the church I was looking around and I couldn’t see her anywhere. So, me and my friends just went and sat down. As the service was starting, she walked in late and sat in the back. There was an open seat next to her, this was my chance. I get up during the service and go sit next to her. I thought, “She won’t text me back or talk to me, but now she’ll have no choice.” I sat next to her and said “Hey”….. She looked at me and replied, “I’m going to go sit with my cousin.” And she stood up and walked away. I was furious. To me, that was the end, but I still had that prevailing thought that I know what I felt when I saw her for the first time. Two months pass by, and I text her and ask her how she’s doing, and she replies “Good, I’m talking to someone else now, so don’t text me back.” That was it for me, I was done.
January 19th, 2017, the day before I left to go back to college, everything changed. I wake up and grab my phone and see that I have a text from Caroline Cruse. Shocked, I looked at it immediately and answered her. We talked everyday that semester, and finally had our official first date May 19th, 2017. Fast forward to August of 2018, I decided that it was time to take the next step.
My original plan was to get engaged Christmas of 2018. However, Caroline knew this, and I really wanted to surprise her, so I moved everything up a few months. Caroline’s birthday is August 18th, so I was already going to be down at her house to celebrate with her. Caroline also had a photoshoot scheduled that weekend for us to do with her sister-in-law (Shout out to Brittany Cruse Photography). I contacted her sister-in-law, and she gave me the fantastic idea of asking her during the photoshoot. The date was set. I would do it August 19th, the day after her birthday. We spent the weekend together and finally the moment that had been weighing on my mind the entire time finally arrived. We got dressed for the shoot and headed out to a beautiful botanical garden there in the Charlotte area. I honestly wasn’t nervous at all throughout the entire shoot, and then finally the time had come. And I got so nervous, my heart was pounding and hands shaking. We got in our designated spot for the pictures and while she was turned around, I stepped behind her and got down on one knee and asked the most beautiful woman in the world to marry me.
At this point, our favorite song “I Get to Love You” by Ruelle was “randomly” playing on the portable speaker my sister-in-law had brought with her. I said, “Awe our songs’s playing!”. We had music on during the entire shoot and it was from my playlist so I just thought, “Oh, I guess I put that song on that album forever ago”. And didn’t think another thing about it! It was that secret blonde in me coming out in that moment. (lol;)
Hands on my hips because we were trying to figure out the next pose and it was HOT and HUMID!
In this moment, I truly did not believe it was real. I just kept saying, “Are you serious!?” “Is this real!?” NOTHING has ever compared to the surprise and excitement I felt in that moment. I was so happy and excited I only cried for a few seconds! Lol!
After I had slightly* calmed down, Cortland informed me that his parents were on their way and would be at my house any minute for the “after party”. (We had talked about wanting both of our parents and as much of our family as possible to celebrate with us the day we got engaged.) I was ecstatic. When we got home, I walked in and saw that my sister and mom had beautifully decorated our house for the party. I can’t believe everyone pulled it off without me noticing one suspicious thing all day!! I am so thankful for all the love we were shown from not only our families but my church family that night as well.
To say that August 19, 2018 was a dream is an understatement. We have prayed for this day and anticipated it for so long and I can’t believe it has already come and gone. I would say that I’d like to relive it over and over again, but I can’t even contain my excitement for the next biggest day of our lives to get here. We would appreciate your prayers for us as we begin lots of planning!!
Cortland & Caroline