Elizabeth and Zach have about a month to go until their Inn at Willow Grove wedding day! So I’m really pleased to be able to share their recent engagement session. They picked Effington Manor for their session location and it was the perfect place to get to see them interact as a couple! Exploring the venue with these two was a delight! I was also excited to hear more about their final planning and how it was all coming together.
So how did Elizabeth and Zach meet and fall in love? Well, first from Elizabeth’s perspective:
“Zach and I met our first year of college at the University of Virginia. What’s crazy to think is that we met one of our first weeks there – Zach lived in the adjoining dorm to mine and our two halls happened to have a joint dinner in the dining hall organized by our RAs. After that, my Maid of Honor, Rachel, and I began to hang out with their hall members more and more.”
“Zach and I fairly quickly went from talking at parties we both happened to be at and at accidental run-ins in the quad, dining hall, etc. to hanging out whenever we could. And when we weren’t hanging out we were often texting each other. What we talked about, I don’t even remember, I just know we were always talking. It also didn’t matter the hour – we were known to have stayed in the dinning hall for breakfast, lunch and dinner chatting all day to also going to the late night dinner spot eating and chatting until 2am. The funny part about this all is that whenever people asked us if we were dating, we’d respond ‘oh we’re just talking’ despite us both knowing deep down we were together.”
“Finally in February of 2015, after Zach may have had an extra drink or two, he introduced me as his girlfriend to some of his Fraternity brothers. While it kept me on my toes, I was excited to finally hear him say it! Fast forward, and we continued to date through all of college. There’s so many great memories, it would take awhile to recount. Now looking back, it seems crazy to me we dated all four years as I know most couples do not last that long in college. It definitely wasn’t always the easiest but even when we had an issue it seemed like breaking up never crossed our minds, instead it was, how do we figure this out and fix the problem?”
“After college, another obstacle was thrown at us – Zach got a job in Wilmington, DE and I got a job in Washington, DC. While both cities weren’t that far from each other (a 2 hr drive on a good day, 3+ hrs on a bad day/Friday afternoon), it still meant long distance our first year in the real world. Looking back, I’m impressed with how well we managed it. We’d see each other most weekends we could while still making sure we each also had weekends alone with friends in our cities. After about a year and a half of long distance Zach moved to DC.”
“Shortly thereafter, COVID hit and we spent more time than ever together. I think through all of that we saw how strong our relationship truly was. Zach proposed in September of 2021. While I was slightly suspicious going into that weekend (both my family and his family were on vacation and his family’s Bay house for the weekend) I still wasn’t sure. That weekend was September 11th on Saturday so I figured if it was going to happen it had to have been on Friday September 10th as Zach may of felt weird proposing on 9/11.”
“On Friday we were supposed to all go to the one nice restaurant in the town so that also seemed like a give away. At around lunchtime on Friday though we got a call that the restaurant had to shut down and cancel our reservation due to a COVID outbreak. When Zach told me he was so calm and offered up ‘Well we could all just go to the casual Mexican place down the street’ so I immediately thought ‘I guess it’s not happening this weekend.'”
“The next day, UVA was playing football early in the day so we watched them play all morning and mid-afternoon. As Zach tells it, he was trying to get me outside at a variety of breaks during the game but I wasn’t making it easy. After the game, we were all hanging out outside and people slowly started disappearing inside. All the sudden it was just Zach and I and I noticed he was pretty nervous. The thought popped into my head but I didn’t want to get too excited but then he started nervously pacing and awkwardly dancing and I was sure. He then proposed and our families came out to celebrate. Our dog Beau was a little mad the attention wasn’t on him for once but it truly was such a great day!”
And from Zach’s perspective:
“We met probably within our first day or two of college. We were in dorms that were perpendicular to each other. Our RA’s hosted a couple events with our two halls, but I honestly don’t remember them at all. Our two halls became closer and closer over the first couple weeks and started doing more things together. Elizabeth and I always seemed to wind up at the same place at the same time and started hitting it off. We started becoming more and more inseparable to the point that our friends made fun of us.”
“If you ask me, I would say we don’t really have a ‘first date’ or first day we started dating in a traditional sense as it all blended together, but if you ask Elizabeth, it was our Fraternity’s Bahamas party, when I first introduced her as my girlfriend. We continued dating all through our four years of college. After graduation, I took a job in Wilmington Delaware, while she had on in Northern Virginia. We pretty much alternated weekend for a year and half. Wilmington Delaware was never a long term plan for me, and I wound up switching jobs and moving into D.C. This made everyone’s lives easier as we were now ten minutes away from each other instead of two hours.”
“I got about two to three months of DC living in, before COVID hit and we had to more or less isolate from the world. Good thing we were already pretty used to each other as we didn’t get to see anyone else for a while. As the world started to open back up, so did the idea of marriage. Both her parents and mine were starting to hint at the fact that it was time. I wound up asking her dad’s permission at her family’s beach trip the summer of 2021.”
“For the proposal itself, there was really only one time that made sense. Her family and mine were both coming to my parents bay house for the weekend of September 10th 2021. We had dinner scheduled at the only nice restaurant within a two hour drive of the house. I was going to propose before dinner and we were going to celebrate with some fun drinks and good food. Half way through the day, I got a text from my mom saying the dinner reservation was cancelled as a staff member had COVID and they closed the restaurant for the time being. I was like great, no idea what I am going to do now. We wound up going to a Mexican Restaurant that was pretty much only known for giant margaritas. That was not the place it was going to happen. I was just going to have to wing it on Saturday.”
“UVA had an 11:00 am football game for some reason, so I thought I would propose at half time. As half time arrived, all Elizabeth wanted to do was play lawn games with everyone at the house. There was no separation and half time came and went and I thought great, another opportunity wasted. At the end of the game Elizabeth went back outside. At this point, my parents more or less shoved my outside and said it was time. There was an awkward pause as we were both outside alone, as I knew both of our families were peering through window staring. I gave an awkward little dance and then went for it and the rest was history.”
Congratulations on your engagement Elizabeth and Zach! I can’t wait to serve you and your families on your Big Day! Keep scrolling for more highlights from their engagement session!
Michelle with Lieb Photographic is a Northern Virginia Wedding Photographer, a Charlottesville Wedding Photographer and photographs destinations nationwide. If you’d like to explore some of my other favorite wedding venues in the Virginia and Washington D.C. areas, view the Wedding Venues page.