They are from the same home town and grew up within a mile of each other. They both went to the same grade school, high school, and college. They even worked at the local Quizno’s. “Yet the first time we ever spoke in person to each other was on our first date when we were both in our late 20s,” Matt says. “Our first date was at Big Grove. Best first date of my life, we ended up staying at the brewery talking for about 4 hours. When I was walking into the brewery there was a girl in front of me that I was pretty sure was Nicole, but was going to wait until I got in to say anything. She tripped and almost face-planted about 20 feet in front of me. Right then and there I knew she was special, but it was more a series of events that really solidified her as the one I wanted to spend my life with. A couple examples were her meeting my parents for the first time without me because I had to take call that night and couldn’t attend. Another was her making me a care package of snacks and energy drinks when I took a vacation day to play a video game on the day it came out. I love how empathetic and caring she is. She is the kindest, most gentle person I know. She makes me a better person and I aspire to be more like her in a lot of ways. She has the biggest heart and goes out of her way to make everyone around her happy.”
Nicole and I first met last summer when she was a bridesmaid in another wedding I was photographing (hi, Kaitlin & Alec!) and, since that time, her and Matt have gotten engaged and moved from Iowa City to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Because of their busy work schedules and the travel arrangements they needed to make to come back here, we’ve had the date planned for a while for their engagement session. So when the forecast wouldn’t budge from the gloomy 80% rain, we made a last-minute plan to switch locations completely and try to shoot indoors. Matt, ever the optimist, was like, “It’s not going to rain; it’ll be fine.” And you know what? While it did rain, it also uncharacteristically passed over so we ditched the umbrella and were able to get shots I had given up hoping for! And honestly, even if it had rained the entire evening, I wouldn’t have minded because these two were so much fun and I knew the second we started that we were all going to make it the best we could given whatever we had to work with.
Knowing how much Nicole adores her nephews and how important family is to both of them, Matt decided to include her nephews in his proposal. “I never thought that Matt would be able to surprise me when he proposed; I just know him so well!” Nicole says. “However, we had been pretty distracted by our move to Ann Arbor and Matt had applied for a lot of jobs in the area. We found out he got a job at one of the local hospitals on March 19th! I was so happy for him that I suggested we go over to my sister’s house to celebrate. When we got there, my sister mentioned that my nephews had drawn me pictures. This wasn’t that surprising, as I often got nephew drawings. My two-year-old nephew handed me some scribbles and I didn’t think anything of it. However, when my five year old nephew handed me his drawing, it was a drawing of Matt and me and underneath (in his handwriting), it said, ‘Will you marry Matt?’ When I turned, Matt was on one knee! I was honestly in shock. It was the perfect proposal because I was surrounded by so many people who I love so much (but we weren’t in public or in front of a big crowd, thank god!).”
Similarly to Matt, Nicole can’t pinpoint an exact moment that she knew he was the one, but it was the compilation of small, meaningful moments. “I’m not sure if there was one specific moment where I knew he was the one. I feel like it was all of these little moments: the time he came out and met all of my friends after a long day of work (and ignored the fact that the rest of us had been tailgating all day), the time that we had a pumpkin carving competition with my family (despite the fact that he doesn’t love pumpkin carving), the time he bought 80 chicken McNuggets at midnight because my sister mentioned that she was hungry, the time he had no complaints after driving me all the way home and then having to drive me back to my sister’s house to pick up the keys I had accidentally left there. There were all of these little moments that added up to one big realization that he was the only guy for me.”