We're Engaged!

Photography: Misty Winter

Even writing that title is so unbelievable to me! As I am writing this I can't help but stare at my ring and feel so crazy about this past weekend! Our proposal was featured on How He Asked but I couldn't wait to share the story with all of you from my perspective! 

Saturday, June 3rd, started out like any other Saturday morning. We got up, made breakfast and just hung out for a bit watching the news before I was heading out for a massage that Kollin got me for my birthday that was on May 31st. 

Since my birthday was in the middle of the week, Kollin told me that we would be celebrating with my family the following weekend with dinner in the city. I woke up on my birthday and he gave me my certificate for the massage and said I would get the rest of my presents when we celebrated Saturday. 

I go to my massage and start heading back to the apartment (across the street) to eat some lunch and hang out before we had to leave for dinner. I get off the elevator and go to open the door only to see that it is locked. I found this weird because Kollin told me he would see me after. I unlock the door and as soon as I walk in I see rose petals covering the hallway all the way to our bedroom. 

I follow them into our bedroom and find two envelopes on the bed marked #1 and #2. I open the first letter to find a note from Kollin explaining what was going on - I was going on a scavenger hunt. Clue one said I would need to head up North back to where our Chicago journey began, our first apartment.

The rest of the letter said I needed to leave at 2:30 so I would make the dinner reservation by 4. My massage ran late and I only had about 20 minutes to get ready! I had gone shopping the night before for a birthday outfit and thankfully had everything in mind of what I wanted to wear! I scrambled to get ready trying not to cry from the realization of what was happening and ordered an Uber to take me to the first spot. 

I arrived at our first apartment and walked inside to find our favorite doorman standing with my cousin, Kate. We hugged, laughed and reminisced about living in the building and what had changed. Kate handed me clue two and it described a bridge near the zoo with a fantastic view of the city. I immediately knew the place as it was one of the first places we visited on move-in day. We jumped in the car and headed to Lincoln Park. 

We arrived at the bridge and I made my way through the several bridal parties there taking photos (it was perfect weather and so many people were out). At this point, I knew I should be looking for someone, but didn't know who it would be or where on the bridge they'd be standing. As I got closer, I saw my sister, Ashley, standing in the middle of the bridge holding clue three. We hugged and read clue three together after taking some pictures (the view is too good not to!). Clue three described a place not too far from the bridge that was very special to us and contained beautiful flowers. I immediately knew, the Lincoln Park Conservatory.  I was hoping this destination would be on the scavenger hunt, as Kollin and I loved coming here to escape the city and just enjoy some alone time.

Ashley and I walk into the conservatory to go to the orchid room where clue four was tapped to the back of a bench. We get to the room where he said the envelope was and start looking behind benches (there were four!). We found the envelope and inside was a penny taped to the letter. Kollin said to take the penny and make a wish in the pond I was next to and the next surprise would appear (I totally wished to get engaged!). 

I threw the penny into the pond, made a wish and turned around to find Kollin walking through the door. He came over to me, grabbed my hands, said the sweetest words and asked me to marry him and spend our lives together. 

After a few moments I realized there was a photographer standing by the door capturing the entire moment. After the proposal Kollin said we were going on an engagement shoot before heading to dinner. We went back to the bridge I was at earlier and then headed back to the apartment to take some pictures at our new home on the terrace with the skyline. 

We headed up to our apartment to wait for the photographer to arrive and I FaceTimed my best friend, Lindsey. I wanted to call everyone, but my sister said the photographer was here so I'd have to wait since the photographer was on a time crunch. We head downstairs to go to the patio and Kollin says, "I have one more surprise for you!" In my mind, I thought it was that Lindsey was in town and joining us for dinner. We walked across the patio, up the stairs and down a hallway (I had no idea where we were going!). Kollin opened a door and what came next blew my mind!

So many of our closest friends and family were there to celebrate us, several driving up from Kentucky! We spent the rest of the night having dinner, drinking champagne and catching up with everyone. To say the least, it was the best day of my life and we both felt so incredibly loved! 

I later found out that Kollin had been planning all of this for six months! An entire Facebook page, tons of messages and a lot of sneaking around! I had no clue that starting from the night before people were coming into town trying to avoid being seen by me! Kollin had a schedule of where I would be and what would be happening by the hour (I only went off schedule once after work Friday to go shopping so you could say I'm predictable! lol). Everything went off perfectly and we had such a memorable and special weekend with everyone! I cannot wait to marry my soul mate! Thank you so much for reading, I can't wait to share wedding details and planning with y'all!

Four Years Later

If you had told 17 year old me that I would be living with Kollin in Chicago and having the time of my life, I would have had a hard time believing you. In any love story there are times of hardship and character building, ours included. Because we have known each other since we were 14, we have definitely seen each other grow into who we are and have shown sides of ourselves that we aren't proud of.

On September 15, 2016 Kollin and I celebrated our four year anniversary and it was perfect. We always hear from family how much of an example of love  we are and I'm always asked by readers and friends how we managed to get where we are after years of being in different parts of the country.

To be honest, I don't have a solid answer I give everyone. I thought it would be helpful for other people reading to hear the perspective from both of us about what we have done successfully and unsuccessfully as a couple that had to adapt to change often - everyone, welcome Kollin to The Creative Brief! 

The most important lesson I've learned from our relationship:


Since our relationship started at such a young age, it took me a long time to understand that we were both growing up and that believe it or not we wouldn't end up the same person we were at age 14 (who knew?!). There were times where I just needed to let Kollin grow and be himself even if I disagreed or didn't understand and he did the same with me. Letting your partner become who they want in the way that they want is so important. 


I would say taking the time to show affection. A lot of couples are in a rush, us included, and I think it is important to really cherish those moments and let other things wait. 

What I've learned about myself in this relationship:


My expectations aren't always realistic or fair. I remember reading an article a few years ago about how the way you love someone is not always the expectation that person has. Understanding each other's needs and how to best adapt and communicate my expectations was a learning curve for me.


Being cognsant about the little things. Those little things can go a lot further than what you actually think is important. Being a law student, there are a lot of assignments and time commitments that I have after school, but making a point to spend time with Amanda before I begin my studies creates a balanced environment. 

How long distance made me a better partner:


I wanted to talk all the time and would be upset if there was something else that took time away from us. It then dawned on me that I had to choose Kollin over other things, even my own wants so that he could be the person he wanted. His soccer games, studying, fraternity commitments, etc. took away from our time together, but those things are what made him Kollin. Understanding the importance of choosing your partner everyday puts into perspective what is most important. Once I had this perspective, the small things about our relationships became the best parts.


Long distance made me more confident about our relationship because I knew that if we could last long-distance, we could last anything. Having that confidence allowed me to focus on the positive aspects of our relationship rather than the stress of worrying about what the other is doing. Not worrying about negative things made our relationship an easier and happier one.


How I overcame the hardest part of our relationship:


Kollin and I agree that being apart was the hardest part of our relationship. Personally, it was difficult to overcome the feeling that I was missing out on experiences with Kollin because we were separated. Having separate college experiences really shaped us into who we are and I am thankful for that today. When I would feel down about it I would focus on the amazing experiences we would have once we were together again. 


Amanda and I created an "agenda" that allowed us to focus more on time together and communicating regularly. Our plan was hard to stick to at times and was often pushed back or cancelled for our various commitments. I realized I needed to just commit and understand that if we both tried hard to fulfill our plan, our hard work would be worth it in the end. 


What I would tell myself four years ago:


Everything will work out, have faith in our love. There weren't many times where I would feel discouraged, but all the hardships came with feelings of sadness. I would tell myself not to worry and that everything I dreamed of would happen and it would be even better than I imagined.


The long distance that we went through before was just practice for where we are now. The effort put in back then taught us time management, which is still important today. Learning the importance of quality time early on was difficult, but something I am thankful for today.

My advice for other couples:


Don't let other relationships or even friends and family members define your relationship. Go at your pace, focus on what is important to you and your partner and communicate constantly about your goals and desires. If you think this person is the person, ask the hard questions and be upfront about what you expect from each other - it makes the actual hard times easier.


There is one thing that good relationships come down to... an open line of communication. If you can communicate well with each other you can get through any bump in the road. Don't be afraid to express your thoughts and desires with each other. 


I hope this was helpful for my fellow long-distance couples and those of you looking for some insight. Every couple is different and in no way do we want to imply that these are rules to follow. Do what makes you and your partner happy! Thanks so much for reading!