They met ten years ago, in English Comp II. “I think we were aware of each other because it was a smaller class,” Maddie says. “But it wasn’t until we went to computer lab to write a paper that we actually sat next to each other. Justin will tell you that I sat next to him, but I was clearly seated before him. He just happened to sit in that seat a previous time we were in the lab and proceeded to believe that seat was assigned to him. Nevertheless, I sat down first because someone stole my seat that I usually sat in. He then sat down next to me and we started talking. Our teacher was handing back papers that had been graded and we were talking about who might have the better score. After the class ended for the day, I got up and left and it was maybe a few days later when Justin found me on Facebook and messaged me to ask if he had missed anything in class (he missed that day). I confirmed that he did not and then he asked me out.”
Their first date includes the funniest memory that made me laugh out loud. Justin: “I don’t remember the name of the restaurant (I bet she does) [She does. “Granite City in Davenport, Iowa”], but I remember she didn’t eat any of the appetizer (waffle fry nachos) which at the time I thought was a little weird. Years later she tells me it’s because she was worried I would be mad if she didn’t eat all of her entree… I guess she thought I grew up during the great depression. Turns out she regretted that decision and loves waffle fry nachos. We still make them at home from time to time.”
“I wanted to be sure and eat all of my entree. I still regret that decision to this day,” Maddie says.
Both of them agree there wasn’t a specific moment or time when they knew this relationship was the one, but Maddie says, “I don’t remember there being a specific time, but I do remember thinking about the future and just knowing that I want to go through life with him and can’t imagine life without him. Justin is my best friend.”
Justin adds, “It wasn’t a binary switch from dating to ‘the one’. For lack of a better way of explaining it, it was kind of always just right. We just fit together and honestly everything feels easy and better together.”
He proposed last November when they were in Mexico. “I originally wanted to propose in Hawaii on our vacation we had been planning since the pandemic began, but by the time our vacation came around, I hadn’t had the chance to ask her dad yet. I wanted to ask him in person and there wasn’t an opportunity before our Hawaii vacation.
“So when Maddie brought up the idea of going to Mexico over Thanksgiving I jumped on it and started planning everything out. The resort we were staying at had cameras all over the resort you could activate with your wristband and I originally planned to find the best location, activate the camera, and propose. I picked this bridge location that I thought would be perfect. After a fancy dinner, we walked over to the bridge and I noticed the siding for the bridge was really high and I didn’t think the camera would be able to see through it so it wasn’t going to work! I pivoted and planned to walk down the beach to this really pretty location with palm trees and lights and propose there.
“Of course, Maddie didn’t want to walk back through the sand to the room.” [“I was like, ‘Well, okay, but can we go a different route because I’m over this sand?” Lol.] She kept complaining and I finally said something like ‘Just come here.” And walked over to the spot and proposed. In the end, I am glad it didn’t go perfectly as planned. All of our best memories together are when things don’t go as planned.”
They are planning their wedding for the end of next summer and I’m so thrilled to be able to celebrate with them! They flew in from Texas this past weekend and we had some truly cold, breezy weather for their session on Friday evening, but they had the best attitudes and we had so much fun together! I’m excited to do it all over again next year!
When they used to live in Iowa City, they lived near Hickory Hill Park and it was so special to be able to shoot their engagement session there, on the same trails they used to hike together!
This tree stands lonely on the top of a steep hill and they used to race each other from the bridge at the bottom up to this tree. I love that we were able to include this spot in their session!