Back in February, I had the honor of hiding in bushes as I captured Chad proposing to Casey at his parent’s lakeside house, and the other weekend I was able to get them back in front of the camera for their engagement session. I was so over the moon smitten with their proposal images, that I could not wait to photograph more of their love story.
Casey wanted a mountaintop view and a sweeping field (and I wanted to smoke bomb the shit out of them – sure, two different feels, but we made it all work, cause they’re totally rad, and I make magic happen), with a completely laid back, authentically genuine vibe, so we settled on driving the short distance to Pilot Mountain for a Saturday evening sesh.
As we drove from Charlotte to the hills, dodging summer downpours, we met at the top of the mountain, complete with a couple of llamas donning sunbonnets to greet us. I found our perfect summit – thanks to the help of a cute stranger and his friends who hiked with me for an hour before Casey and Chad arrived – and we spent the drizzly evening balancing on cliffs, running through grassy fields, and making colored bombs explode until the park ranger kicked us out.
It was an amazingly blissful night, and I’m even more excited than I was before to shoot their January wedding!
Most people are probably expecting me to share a super romantic story about how Chad swept me off my feet with his slick moves and witty charm, but I’m not sure if that’s how I would describe it… although Chad might!
While we consider ‘officially meeting’ at our friend Brittany’s Super Bowl party on February 1st, 2015, I actually first saw Chad at an MRO (Motor Racing Outreach) chapel service before one of his races. I don’t know what it was, but that moment stuck with me even though we never actually talked. I’ve always admired his love for the Lord, so seeing him spend time at chapel during a very important race day could’ve been what caught my eye! Of course, thinking he was super cute definitely helped.
Matt (thanks, Matt!) was the one who officially introduced us at Brittany’s Super Bowl Party. We spent most of our time watching Matt hit on my friend Jenna (sorry, Matt!), but Chad would chime in with a few comments to try to talk to me. I candidly kept trying to talk to him too! After that night, I remember already trying to figure out ways to see him again.
God clearly already had this all figured out, as I ended up being invited to his sister Emily’s birthday party the very next week. Now this is where the romantic part starts… just kidding! It was such a fun night chatting and getting to know each other more, until he started calling me the wrong name! What really sealed the deal was when our friend Matt asked for my number and Chad pulls out his phone and says, “Well I might as well get in on this” and starts typing my number in. At the time, most of Chad’s friends said he totally ruined it, but the fact that he tried so hard to make a good first impression made me like him even more. I also recall spending most of the night smiling and laughing, which was a total win! He also did make up for it by using my number to ask me out on a date the next day.
As I look back on those first few days and write our “How We Met” story, I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way. While it’s not the romantic type of story we see in movies, it’s our version of romance. It’s the type of story I can’t help but look back and laugh at, while also still having that “butterflies in your stomach” feeling even three years later.
Chad is my best friend, the love of my life, and my rock. He is the one I want to wake up to every morning, and the one I want to be next to when I go to sleep every night (along with our dog Susan, of course). I look forward to going home after a long day or trip knowing he’ll be there. I was once told that I should be with someone who lifts me higher, helps me grow in my relationship with God, and motivates me to be the best version of myself. Chad is that person, my person. I thank God everyday for bringing us together and creating “our story.” While I’m not sure what He has planned for us in the future, I know that if it’s anything like the past three years, Chad and I have a lot to look forward to! I am so beyond thankful to be able to enjoy it together.
How I asked? Well for beginners, you must know a little bit about Casey and the type of person she is. She loves to remember things by the date on which they happened. For example, it was a couple weeks before February 1st and Casey had already started talking about how it was going to be the date of 3 years from when we met. Casey had no idea that I was already working on a plan to propose on this day, and I knew exactly how I wanted to do it.
Casey and I are both involved in motorsports, so we spend much of our year traveling to all sorts of different race tracks from February to December. Quality time at home is hard to come by sometimes. So, I knew I needed to ask Casey before her season started, which was in the middle of February. In the middle of December, I started thinking about when I wanted to pull the trigger, and the date February 1st came to mind. I knew it would have a special meaning for both of us, and I thought I may be able to surprise her and help make up for the disappointment of not being asked at Christmas time (Laugh Here). Fast forward to the middle of January, and I had just finished up at the ring store and spent every last dime I had to my name… just kidding… kinda. But I really wanted to pick a ring that showed not only the beauty that Casey displays every day, but a ring that showed just how much she means to me. So after the ring shopping came the fun part… calling her dad. Luckily Casey’s dad is one of the nicest people you will meet, so he made it pretty easy on me and gave me his blessing to marry his daughter.
While on the phone with Charlie (Casey’s dad) I told him how I had this grand plan to propose and completely surprise Casey; I told him I was going to do it at my parent’s house out by the lake, and that the only way that it could be any better was if they would be able to come be a part of this very important day. Fast forward to February 1st, the day was finally here. The plan to trick Casey started off by telling her we were going out to dinner for my dad’s birthday (which was on February 2nd). We told her that we were going to a really nice restaurant and that she needed to dress up. We also told her that it was going to be an early dinner and that we needed to leave the house at 4:30. Everything was going according to plan, or at least I thought. Casey called me around lunch and told me that she had a last-minute meeting come up and that she wasn’t going to be able to leave until 5pm. So yes, the person that had been dying to get engaged pushed back her engagement by 30 minutes.
When I finally got her off the call, we were headed to the restaurant, or at least she thought. I already planned to have my sister call us to say that my dad forgot his phone at their house and they needed us to go back and get it. So I used the little acting skills I have to play it off like I was annoyed we had to go all the way to my parent’s house, but really we were on our way to the proposal site. When I pulled up to the house I left the truck running and jumped out and said, “I’ll be right back.” Casey says she still had no idea at this point.
I walked around the side of the house towards the dock where my sister had said that my dad left his phone. Out towards the lake we had set up a path of roses petals that Casey would see when she rounded the corner. My next and almost final task was to somehow come up with a clever way of getting Casey to walk around the side of the house. So once I was in the right spot, I called Casey and told her that they had knocked down half of the neighbor’s house and to come look. Terrible excuse for her to come back there, but it worked.
We hung up and I knew it was almost that time. While I waited for Casey to come around the corner, I wondered if she knew what I was up to. But as soon as I saw her stop in her tracks when she saw the rose petals, I knew she had no idea. Watching her walk down the long strip of grass and roses seemed like it took forever, but she finally got to me. Then it was time for the big question. I won’t get into all the mushy details, but I am happy to report I got a big YES. I still had one more surprise for Casey though. Little did she know, the entire time we were outside getting engaged both of our families were inside watching. After she said yes and we were hugging, I motioned for everyone to come outside so when she turned around she saw both of our families. To me it was a symbol of the day, two families becoming one.
Everything had gone to plan. My fiancé was completely surprised by the proposal, and even more overjoyed that she got to celebrate it with her family and the people that mean the most to her.