They first met years ago at a student government retreat at the University of Iowa, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2020, early in a global pandemic, that they began dating. “We went on a hike at the Res. I had packed apples in case we got hungry and we stopped and sat down on a ledge to eat and watch the sunset,” Joelle said. “As is my nature, I was very nervous. As is his nature, Jeffrey was very easy-going.” Jeffrey said, “I felt like I wanted to go on more walks with her and I also felt relieved that it wasn’t too awkward since we had been good friends for a long time before going on this first date”
“I liked Jeffrey in college, but didn’t act on it,” said Joelle. “My very last night in Iowa City–the day after I graduated from college–we sat at a booth in Dublin Underground and engaged in a heated debate about if ‘the one’ exists. It’s a debate that remains–unresolved–even today. What we do agree on is that we love each other very deeply. It’s a love that has been so easy to fall into. I think we both knew after our first date (or maybe even before we had the actual date) that transitioning our 8 years of friendship into a romantic relationship would be really serious and, if it worked, it’d be forever.”
Jeffrey recalls how Joelle changed the dynamic of his family. “Our family usually finishes [our Sunday] dinners in 20 minutes or less, but with Joelle there, we all say at the table and enjoyed each other’s company for almost an hour. It felt right, like Joelle not only fit in, but had made us into a fuller home.”
As for the proposal, it happened the night before their engagement session so it was fresh off the press! (It’s not uncommon at all for couples to book me for their wedding prior to the official proposal. Wedding venues and photographers get booked really far in advance so if couples have a date or season or place in mind, they have to book early!) “Jeffrey told me we were going for a walk at Squire Point. I was wearing a dress & sandals because I had been working all day. Not the best for hiking! It was a beautiful evening; the sun was setting and the trees by the Res are beautiful shades of red and gold. As we were walking, we were chatting and remembering our first date, which was a hike on the same trail. Eventually, we sat down on a rock and watched the water. Jeffrey told me there was a spider by my leg, and when I looked down, there was a note hidden in a crevice of the rock. It had a clue on one side and part of a poem on the other. It said something about a ‘poem breaker’ being at it again. The next clue led us to the Willow Creek park where there was another clue and another section of the poem. Willow Creek is another place we’ve gone on many, many walks; it’s right by his parents’ house and we have dinner with them every week. The last clue took us to the trail by the Iowa River, which is right by where I live. It’s also where we decided to officially start dating. On the bridge, overlooking the river, Jeffrey had me read the full poem. It was in iambic pentameter (like a Shakespearean sonnet) and the first word of each line ended up saying, ‘Joelle, may I have your hand in marriage?’ He then got down on one knee. Afterwards, we went to his house where our friends, his parents, and my parents all surprised me. I totally lost it when I saw my mom! My parents drove 10 hours in one day to be there to celebrate with us! Overall, his proposal was perfect; meaningful and intimate.”
Because of the enduring heat of the summer, the leaves changed colors much later this fall, just now hitting their peak several weeks behind schedule. It totally worked out in our favor as it brought the color to the cloudy day! Joelle and Jeffrey are a delight to be around and I loved hanging out with them! The way they interact is beautiful, somehow both tender and silly. I absolutely cannot wait for their wedding next spring…nearly exactly two years from their first date!