I’m so glad we finally met in person! Melissa and John have been planning their October wedding via zoom and scheduled an engagement session at my favorite…Waterperry Farms and Gardens. The weather was absolutely perfect and the setting was gorgeous as always!
Melissa and John are the sweetest couple and I’m so honored to be working with them! When I asked them about their love story, here is what Melissa had to say…
“The first time I met John was at the Dragon Boat Festival in Richmond, VA summer of 2016. In my defense, it was a pretty hectic day and I met a lot of people for the first time. The team consisted of 20 rowers and I honestly don’t remember talking to John for very long… more of a quick meet & greet with teammates (haha, sorry John!) Thinking about it now, I probably didn’t leave a good impression on him because he recently said to me ‘I thought you were cold to me that day.’
Although our interactions were brief we managed to become Facebook friends. We honestly lost touch and never spoke to one another until the following year. One of our mutual friends recruited John to play on our volleyball team and we reconnected in the summer of 2017. I was never a firm believer in the saying ‘you will meet someone, when you are not looking’ until John came into my life…the second time that is! I knew John was different from the start. One time I walked into John’s coffee table, the corner was sharp and I managed to get a big bruise on my leg. Literally the next day he got corner covers for me because I am super clumsy! He’s so thoughtful and cared about me in ways I didn’t think someone would. He is very intuitive to my needs and well being.
One of our first conversations lasted till 6am in the morning and I was thinking to myself, never have I done this before, not even with my best friend! A few days after we went on a day trip to Raleigh, NC. It’s a 2.5 hr drive each way, we barely know each other but I had a feeling things were going to work out. If not, I could pretend to sleep in the car to pass the time. We went to the Whiskey Kitchen for drinks and appetizers and the host said something like ‘oh can I get something for your wife…’ I obviously blushed but neither one of us corrected him nor did we tell him we are sorta on our first date/trip. For the record, I didn’t pretend to sleep on the car ride home.
Through the years of getting to know John I have always been in awe of how thoughtful, caring, and dedicated he is. When I was intensely training for half marathons and my first full marathon, John would wake up at 5am to bike along with me. He’d hold my water and even a mist spray bottle for the grueling summer runs. He even made me a 3D pop up birthday card of my running silhouette telling me ‘he’s in it for the long run.’ John has a kind heart and I knew early on that he’d be the one I want to build a future with.
We’ve talked about marriage numerous times throughout the years and I had a feeling it was going to happen in 2020. I finished school in March and we planned a trip to Italy in April to celebrate. I had a feeling it could happen in Italy. But sadly our trip was cancelled due to the pandemic. Since we had to quarantine I didn’t think much of John proposing since we couldn’t travel. John and I had a random Friday off in June and we decided on a last minute trip to hike Old Rag in the Shenandoah National Park. We had an early start and woke up around 4am and got to the trail around 7am. We packed snacks, lunch, and for some reason I wanted a glass of wine after my hike… (thanks Hydroflask wine tumbler! It was fitting, a celebratory drink at the end).
We got to the summit and John was setting up a tripod. I still didn’t think much of it because he is into photography and he typically brings his camera gear on trips. I was soaking up the mountain views and was rummaging through my pack for trail mix. I was extremely hungry at this point and John insisted that I wait to eat it. I thought it was strange that he wouldn’t let me eat but then it hit me. I saw the camera recording and he got down on one knee. The proposal was sweet and on the hike down I saw a bunch of butterflies which reminded me of my late grandma. I knew she’d be a part of one of the most important days of my life. The mountains have always reminded me of growth and new beginnings and I can’t wait to marry John this October surrounded by our family and close friends.”
And this is what John had to say…
“I met Melissa at an event where we had a lot of mutual friends on that day. I did try speaking to her, just coming from a place of friendliness. She didn’t seem to really care for sparking up conversation, which I thought whatever of it. Still however, we exchanged social medias. Fast forward a year later and we had a mutual friend that invited me to her volleyball team, that’s where I reconnected with Melissa. Probably about another year on that volleyball team we were each going through hard time and we kind of leaned on each other for support. That brought us a little closer.
Eventually it started to seem that we could build more of a relationship than just being teammates on the same volleyball team. We started sharing details about each other’s families, things like how many kids we’d want how we’d raise kids (she said something like 5), what our dream cars would be (she said Honda Pilot) and so on. So from early on, I was asking the real questions. Eventually it just got to the point where we were aware that we were attracted to each other and started dating from there (after getting shut down 6 times). I took her out a bunch and we spent a lot of time together. Her outlook on life was similar to mine and I could see us going in the same direction.
Once we had been comfortable saying ‘I love you’ to each other and I could see myself being very serious with Melissa, I actually opened up a savings account and socked away a little bit of each paycheck for over 2 years to save up for a ring. I was saving up for a house at the same time and she never saw the ring coming. As for asking her, I had originally planned on asking at Cinque Terre in Italy, right along the sea, but that trip got cancelled because of COVID. We also considered road-tripping but that wasn’t happening either. I had the ring but I didn’t know where to ask.
Then we both had a day off and decided to go hiking. I wanted to propose sooner than later because I wanted to just let her know that I already knew I wanted to be with her forever. I figured this was the day to ask. I kept dropping hints to her on that day, asking her ‘this hike is really hard, do you think I’ll be coming back home with my girlfriend?’ Now at the peak of the mountain, I pulled out my phone and read to her a letter, talking about how much I love her and how I had already asked her parents.
I was crying while telling her all this because she really is the most important person to me and saying all this made me feel overwhelming gratitude. And she was crying too. I don’t think that she knew that I was asking her that day. In fact when I pulled out my phone and said that I wanted to tell her something, she instead asked me to hand her the trail mix because she was hungry. On the way down from the mountain, we held hands and smiled. We even had a white butterfly follow us for a while, which Melissa believes is a sign of her late grandmother’s presence.”
Congratulations on your engagement! What an incredibly sweet love story with more to come! Keep scrolling for more beautiful highlights from their Waterperry engagement session!
Be sure to check out the Charlottesville Wedding Venues page and the Virginia Winery Weddings page for more locations for lovely Virginia weddings and engagement sessions. And if you want to see some stunning bridal portraits at some of these places, be sure to check out the Bridal Portraits page as well.