Some people think Valentine’s Day is simply a “Hallmark holiday,” while others see it as a day set aside for us to take a moment out of our busy lives to remind those important to us how much we love them. Since today is the day of red roses and pink hearts, we thought we’d each share our own little “love story,” if you will, about how we met our sweethearts and if there is any advice we would give ourselves looking back.
There isn’t anything really glamorous about it, but Scott and I met at Friar Tucks, which is now a sushi bar. We got engaged at the same place we went on our first “alone” date, which was Bravo on St. Charles (and I don’t think it is there anymore, actually). Through the adoption process, we learned so much about ourselves and discovered how much we truly loved and respected each other. Looking back at that girl in the picture I would tell her that the best expressions of love aren’t diamond rings or flowers. But rather, small gestures, like heating the car on a cold morning or getting up in the middle of the night with the baby because he knows I am exhausted. That is really what love is all about!
In April 2002, I ran my first marathon, in London, my favorite city in the world. Upon returning to New Orleans, my best friend and I decided the best place to celebrate was the Crown & Anchor English pub in Algiers Point. While we were there, we chatted with one of the bartenders, who introduced me to George, a fellow Anglophile. We spent the evening discussing our favorite things about Great Britain. Three months later, I moved to Algiers Point. One evening in November 2004, we took the ferry across the river to have dinner at a restaurant in the French Quarter. It was a pretty ordinary evening, but as we were walking along the riverfront, George stopped to “tie his shoe.” He then said he needed to blow his nose, and I thought, “wouldn’t it be funny if he pulled out a ring box instead of a handkerchief?” Imagine my surprise when he did indeed pull out a ring box, get down on one knee and propose! What would I tell those people? Sometimes I look at old pictures of us and imagine how I’d feel if I knew we had triplets in our future. But I wouldn’t say anything, because I wouldn’t want to ruin THAT surprise!
Paul and I started dating as sophomores in high school. Yes, that would be before we could drive. I think being high school sweethearts has been so much fun. We have basically grown up together. We got engaged in the parking garage at the Hilton New Orleans. We were on our way to the Coronation Ball for the Krewe of Carrollton. I know now that he had to propose between picking me up at my parents’ house and the ballroom because family and friends were waiting for us inside. So nothing like a deadline; he waited until the parking garage on our way in. I don’t know if there is anything I wish I would have known. Everything that happened got us to where we are. Together. Happy.
Jacob and I met when we were 17. He was from Louisiana and I was from South Carolina, but we met when we were both elected as national officers for the Future Business Leaders of America organization. I was the president, he was the treasurer, but who keeps track of that kind of thing. After that year, our senior year in high school, we continued to be long distance as he was at LSU and I went to college in SC. We made sure there were lots of opportunities to be together throughout college: planning our junior year abroad together in France, serving on the national youth board of the March of Dimes together, lining up the same summer jobs, etc. He had an additional semester of school after I graduated, but he put it off to help me move up to New York City, where he stayed for a few months, because we knew our relationship needed the chance to be “short distance” for once! The following spring we were both accepted to be Teach For America corps members in Hawaii. On the night we arrived in Hawaii, Jacob proposed and I said yes! We were married on 7-7-07!
Michael and I met at work and remained friends for a while before we started dating. After talking about getting engaged for what seemed like forever, he finally proposed in our living room in the fall of 2007, and we were married the next June. We’ve been through a lot together, and those experiences have only made us stronger together. Looking back now, I’d tell myself not to be in such a rush. Enjoy the time you have together, because soon, after the reality of life hits, you sometimes forget how to be carefree. Take those vacations. Splurge at fancy restaurants. Have fun. But most of all, trust in the Lord’s plan, be true to yourselves, and be happy.
Greg and I met through a mutual friend while hanging out one night at Lager’s in Metairie in December 2003. We became good friends while dating other people for the next 9 months or so. Then, in September of 2004 we kissed for the first time, and we have been together ever since. Then in June of 2006, Greg took me on vacation to Colorado for the week. The last day we were there, we hiked to the top of a mountain, he set up his MP3 player so our song would be playing, then he got on one knee and asked me to marry him. Of course, I said “yes.” There were other hikers nearby who were really excited for us and took our picture for us. We got married October 20, 2007, and five years and one baby Nathaniel later, we are still together!
Greg and I met the day after I turned 18 (he was 24) in a bar in Gulfport, MS through my best friend and his best friend who were in EMT class together. They decided we had to meet. We dated each other for about 7 months, broke up and went our separate ways for almost 3 years. We saw each other again at a wedding and that was the beginning of our REAL relationship. I think it was important for us to go our separate ways because I was so young and we both had to do some growing up in order for us to be where we are today. He was going to propose on Thanksgiving day with all my family there (said ring was in pocket), but I was being a WITCH so he didn’t. He proposed a few days later after we went to dinner in Baton Rouge, and he was walking me back to the front door (not so romantic or creative)! From the pic, I would tell myself to enjoy “dating” and don’t be in a rush to get engaged and married. You won’t get those days back, and once you get engaged, the crazy planning and stress comes. And once you get married and start working and have kids, those date nights come few and far between!
Our story began on a school bus in the 80’s. He knew me as the girl with glasses, I knew him as the cute baseball player. While we were in different grades and ran in different circles, our families knew one another since we went to the same grade school. We often saw each other throughout high school too but didn’t hang out together. I had a crush on him for years! Fast forward to college, and one of my best friends who was attending UL Lafayette called to tell me, “You’ll never guess who is on the baseball team here!” I was excited when I found out it was Josh and knew I would have to make a visit there soon. As luck would have it, love blossomed at Shanahan’s bar on the strip in Lafayette (romantic, I know). Even though I drank WAY too much that evening and spent most of the night in my friend’s car, he still called me. It must have been my leather pants and leopard print belt: a super awesome outfit at the time. Four years later, at an LSU game in Tiger Stadium, the cheerleaders held up signs that read “Angelina will you marry me?” I had NO CLUE and was so shocked I almost forgot to respond. I said yes and in March of 2005 we had our dream wedding in Nola! Looking back, I wish I would have understood how carefree our life was. Studying and traveling between Baton Rouge and Lafayette to see each other seemed immensely stressful then. I had no clue what the real world was like! I had tunnel vision then: get married, focus on my career. I wish I could have foreseen how amazing our life as a married couple is and what a joy welcoming Jude into this world would be.
It was a sunny day in July (the 4th to be exact) at Pensacola Beach, and I was with my family for our annual family vacation. We have been traveling there every summer for the past 25 years! It was super crowded on the beach that morning, but luckily we found a free spot of sand to stick our umbrella and chairs for the Blue Angel’s air show right next to a big group of guys, obviously military, who were seemingly already drunk at 10am! Needing to “cool off” in the water, I walked down the beach to take a dip. Not even 5 minutes later were two of the guys splashing around me and playing pass with a football. And, then it hit me…the football…smack in the head. Did it hurt? No. Was I embarrassed? Kind of. Who did it? Marc. And totally on purpose! A year and a half later, we were engaged to be married! In January of 2006, I took the leap of faith and “followed” Marc out to California. He’s a Coast Guard Helicopter pilot, so I had to move to him rather than he to me. California is a beautiful state and we had the times of our single/no kids life there! Looking back at this photo, I wish we would have experienced more of California and traveled up the whole coastline! We’ve since kicked ourselves for not doing so. But, it’s on our bucket list!
We were high school un-sweet hearts??? One date and I decided I really didn’t like him. Haha. We reconnected when I went off to college, and he was visiting another girl. Needless to say, he didn’t spend much time with her because we’ve basically been in a relationship since. We also did the long distance thing (5 hour drive) for four long years. I wish I had known then that it would all pay off. I knew that it was imperative that I continue school, live in a different city, and grow as a person independently, but it would have been so much easier if I had known that it would end with our happiness. I know now that the hardships and our individual growth only served to strengthen our bond. We got engaged on Thanksgiving at his sister’s house. Everyone knew except for me. He had a little room all set up with flowers and champagne. He had asked my father’s permission that very day, and it was wonderful to be able to celebrate with everyone after saying yes!
Blaise and I have known each other since 6th grade. We didn’t go to the same school, but New Orleans is obviously pretty small and you generally know everyone in your class across the city. We became reacquainted in 2000 when we were headed off to college in Virginia together. I had another boyfriend, and we really were “just friends” until I decided that maybe it’d be fun to be more than friends. We started dating in January 2001 after a very serious “define the relationship” talk in a bar and were engaged in December 2005, right after Hurricane Katrina. We were living in Tampa at the time (though we actually did long distance for a period of time before he changed jobs and moved from DC to Florida), so we planned a long distance wedding in our hometown during those early post-Katrina days. We had a pretty big wedding in New Orleans, and it was amazing to celebrate with all of our friends and family in one place. Looking at this picture, I would tell myself to take that trip to Europe. Stop thinking about it, stop talking about it and do it! Book a plane ticket, book a hotel and don’t look back! You may think it’s “too hard” to plan a long vacation now, but just wait … it will ultimately be one of the few things you regret about this stage in your life. And while your New Year’s Eves will look quite different in 10 years (I know it’s hard to imagine, but think 2 kids under 2, one of whom you will be rocking to sleep at midnight, though you honestly would have rather gone to bed hours earlier), the best is yet to come.
At the time, I was living in Washington, D.C. and living the single girl’s dream life in the city. I had a darling apartment on Connecticut Avenue, an amazing job in the Bridal Industry, and a group of girlfriends that were like sisters. I hopped on a plane home to New Orleans in July 2004 for the weekend for my first cousin’s wedding, where I met Matt and we ended up dancing for the rest of the wedding, even though I thought “I don’t do long distance relationships.” (Hindsight – haha! Silly girl!) My boss even said she should have never let me take off that weekend to go to the wedding! We were head over heels already and began seeing each other long distance, with weekend trips as often as we could. Mardi Gras weekend in February 2005, Matt whisked me away to Nottoway plantation in White Castle, Louisiana, and proposed on a chilly February evening. He had a beautiful engagement ring tied to a purple ribbon that had a sterling silver King Cake baby on it. As I pulled the King Cake baby necklace out of the pouch, that was when I noticed the ring sparkling on the other end. He got down on one knee, said a whole lot of beautiful words, and asked me if I would marry him! It was a perfect engagement weekend! We were married in September 2005 in Washington, D.C. (three weeks after Katrina) and started our lives as husband and wife in our first home, a sweet little cottage in Old Metairie. Looking back at when we met, when I was 24 and he was 26, I knew we were young, but was proud that we were both independent. It’s true what they say, “when you know, you just know!” What I would have told myself then if I could, was just to trust my heart, and know that Matt was going to take care of me. And he has. Over 8 years, 6 moves and a silly puppy and one beautiful baby girl later, through the good times and the challenging times, there is no one I would rather be spending the rest of my happily ever after with! Happy Valentine’s Day to all!