They met back in the spring of 2012 in college through her best friend. “It was basically a handshake,” she says. It wasn’t until later that year, in the fall semester of college, that they met again. “When I returned for the fall semester,” Derek says, “A friend of mine–and now ours–convinced me to go out on a Tuesday night the first week of classes. I was very reluctant to go but apparently it was meant to be.” As he approached the bar, he saw Kira standing outside and “my stomach instantly filled with butterflies.”
They had their first date the end of August and, as memorable as that one was for both of them, they both recall date number two being the “big date”, the date they knew they would someday marry one another. “As crazy as it sounds, we were literally the complete complement to each other. Our second date was an eye-opening experience to what I was truly missing,” Derek says.
Derek proposed the day before Christmas Eve last year. “We were planning to wake up early, pack the car, and take the 2-hour drive to my parent’s house,” Kira explains. “There had been some crazy snow the day before so we knew we needed to leave some extra time for the drive. In typical Derek fashion, he told me that he had my gift ready and we needed to run up to the farm before we left to take a look at it.
“Normally my internal private investigator instinct would kick in and I’d get to the bottom of it before he could surprise me, but I had so much to do to get ready for Christmas so I figured I’d let him have his surprise this time. I did my hair, got dressed, and finished up my list of to-dos. Derek had run out for a few minutes and just got back into the house. … We hopped in his car, and turned the opposite direction of the farm so instantly I was rolling me eyes thinking, ‘This couldn’t wait until after Christmas?’
“We pulled up to the corn crib, which sits about 1/2 mile from our house. Derek unveiled my present, a large–no, huge–rock that came from the foundation of the farmhouse in Alburnett, one of his family’s first farm homes. I was so happy that he took the time, don’t get me wrong, but I was getting ready to say, ‘This could have waited two more days, Derek.’
“But I looked at him and caught the flash of a red box being pulled from his pocket and had instant tears. It’s still surreal. We had been dating for so long and I wasn’t prepared for him to finally propose. He kept his proposal speech short and sweet, just ‘Kira Leigh, will you marry me?’ And, of course, I said yes!”
Derek knows they dated a long time before proposing, but he adds, “Everyone asks why I have waited so long to get engaged. Truthfully, time has flown together. the last six years have been so surreal that it doesn’t even seem like that long. Every day that passes just reaffirms that Kira is the one.”
For the ending of their session, we went back to the corn crib where Derek proposed and also the spot where they had that second date. “Trying to impress Kira I pulled out some tricks up my sleeve. It was a Wednesday night and we went out to dinner where we oddly ordered the exact same thing. After dinner I asked Kira if she would like to go out for drinks. Knowing that it was a little early to head to campus town, I took her to a partially combined cornfield, which I had scouted out earlier that day, outside of town. It was secluded from the road and we had a plain view of the stars as the sun was quickly setting. I pulled out a blanket and a bottle of her favorite wine and we sat and talked while the music from the radio played in the background. It may or may not have been in my plan but I convinced Kira to dance with me and I taught her to swing dance. After a couple of hours dancing and stargazing we headed back into town and spent the rest of the evening with our friends. That night was one that I don’t think either one of us will forget. I think it is mostly my favorite date because it seems to be the one that set the ball in motion for where we are now.”
Kira adds, “He pulled into a cornfield that had recently been picked and parked his truck. I am a total rule follower so I thought we were definitely going to get in trouble for trespassing, but Derek insisted I get out of the truck, he had plans. He flipped on a CD of music, opened the tailgate to his pickup, and laid out a blanket. Then he pulled out a bottle of wine. I was impressed he bought a wine I drank frequently and later found out he asked my roommate (that bestie that introduced us, Laura) what kind to buy. After a little while he asked if I wanted to dance…under the star light on a September night in a cornfield. Of course! So we danced. I felt like I was in love at that moment. I’d always wanted to know how to swing dance, so he taught me that night under the stars. It was so so so early in our relationship but he had swept me off my feet.”
Many thanks to Melissa Banes for Kira’s makeup.