I decided a while ago that I would write pieces of our story to share with all of you one day when we are engaged. I’ve left the following sentence blank until now, but after 14 years together: WE ARE ENGAGED!! WE'RE GETTING MARRIED!!
Table of Contents
Here’s Our Story
Jack and I started dating on Friday, March 20th, 2009. I was 11 and he was 12. He asked me out in 6th grade, after fifth hour class. He was coming from Choir and I was on my way to Choir. Because the elective classes rotated every six weeks, we saw each other often in passing during this rotation. I still can recall the encounter, and saying “Sure!” so quickly I barely let him finish the question. I certainly did not expect to meet my future husband when we were that young. In some ways, we’re still those two kids - young and in love. And in many ways, we’re more mature, better versions of each other, for each other.
At a high level, you see two people who continually choose each other. Everyone has a story; we’ve had 3 stories for more years than not: hers, his, and ours. They’re connected, they work in tandem and often coexist, but as we grow, we continually choose each other. We’ve made this life ours. It’s sometimes messy and tough, but those moments are drastically offset by the joy, charm, and love we cultivate together.
As years went on, there was less and less of a ‘question’ if Jack and I wanted to get married. We talked about it when we were younger (younger than you’d think), dreamt of one day living together and raising a family, but when you’re that young, it all feels SO far away. Like, really far. But the days turn into months and into years, and time and time again, you hit milestones that you once dreamed about - together.
If I were to write this entire 14 year story, it would probably be a book; not a blog post. So in the effort of time, and the sake of keeping it shorter, here we go. I look back and I think it’s remarkable, beautiful, fun, and we've packed a lot love and joy over the years.
I’m going to start with post-grad, because that’s when I felt like marriage actually was a possibility. Graduate college. Check. Get a job. Check. Marriage…felt closer than it did when we were still in school.
August 2019, Moving in Together
Jack and I graduated from Michigan State University in May of 2019. Jack secured employment first, in Atlanta, and we discussed choosing distance for our relationship, or I could move with him and look for a design job in Atlanta. Before graduating, we both landed our first post-graduation job in Atlanta, Georgia, starting in August of 2019. At the time, we both knew we did not want to get married right away. We felt young (we were young) and wanted to live together first. Especially so far away from Michigan, it felt right to really step into the next chapter together.
Transparently, I wasn’t in a household that agreed with this; however, looking back, it was the best thing Jack and I did. Adulting is tough; no one has it figured out immediately after graduating. It's a new phase of life and everyone is just trying their best. Finances, meeting new friends, adjusting to corporate life, it’s all SO new and you’re just tossed into it. We had been dating for 10 years at this point. This was our next step.
We look back at this time and both agree it was some of the most transformative years of our relationship. If you’ve read my ‘Life Update, we’re moving back to Michigan post’ you’ll know how wonderful our time in Atlanta was. I don’t discuss our relationship in depth here often, because it’s ours and I like to protect that. There have been unspeakable hardships we’ve walked through together, and there are years of memories we have, too.
I will say, once we decided to move to Atlanta, we discussed that we want to get married in ‘a couple of years’. Honestly, that statement was great for both of us. It was in the near future, but nothing concrete; and nothing to stress/worry about. We just wanted to wait. **Now, that didn’t stop every family and family friend from asking each time they saw us when it was coming. My response was simple: “We’re enjoying the phase of life we are in; it will come someday”.
I do recall this. There was one night, early October 2019, Jack and I were watching a movie on our new sofa. It was probably 11pm and we were just relaxing. I remember laying together, and something sparked uncontrollable laughter. I can’t remember what it was, but I do recall Jack holding me, looking down at me, he brushed a piece of hair that had fallen into my face, and said: “This is what I want; one day I’ll marry you. I’ve always known it.” Something about all of the transitions from middle school to high school, through college, and beyond those years, right there, just felt like a moment we’ll have forever. Simple, yet so impactful. Powerful.
The world shuts down. Jack went from being a full-time traveling consultant, Monday-Thursday every week, to staying at home 100%. My goodness, it was amazing. We were cooped up in our 847 sq ft bedroom apartment for a few months together, spending more time than we ever had - and we were having a freaking blast. If you read our “One year of having a golden doodle, Georgia" blog post, you know the story there. She’s a covid dog; we put down a deposit in April 2020 and picked her up in July of 2020. In hindsight, she is the dog I didn’t know I needed. But this is story about mine and Jack’s love story, not our dog's! 😛
Ahh, I feel like it goes without saying, but truly just an incomprehensible tragedy struck my family. I lost my best friend and dear sister, Emily, in a fatal car accident. Typing those words feels harsh and my eyes fill with tears each time - wincing at the pain and loss our family has endured. I recall telling some of my best friends days afterward: I knew Jack was the one before this, but my goddess, the way he cared for me in the days, months, and years to come, my heart grew in a way I didn’t know for him. Truthfully, our love was fragile and tender during the lowest of lows. I leaned on Jack for survival and he carried me through.
The world was in the thick of Covid and wedding’s were being cancelled, postponed, and replanned. We both agreed: “Thank goodness we weren’t planning a wedding on top of everything else”.
And the next year and a half, I worked on myself. The trauma and the grief, and Jack supported me. We attended stunning weddings and celebrated with friends. A lot of healing took place.
January of 2022
We had rounded out 2021 with 6 weddings; and we already had 6 weddings on our calendar for 2022. I’ll be the first to say, I started thinking, okay, this could be the year. We had celebrated our 13 year anniversary and felt excited towards talking about it. We were both 2+ years into our careers by now, Jack secured the promotion he was looking forward to, and I was full force building this blog. Life felt calmer….until February 2022 came around and Jack that no longer tied us to Atlanta. AND, if you read my “We’re Moving post you are familiar with the details on how his new job and my unhappiness with my job snowballed into, “We’re moving back to Michigan”.
From March 2022 until the end of July 2022, we discussed us moving back to Michigan until we finally made the move. I adore Jack (duh), but he is very methodical in his thinking. He loves a checklist and appreciates the satisfaction of the check. Let me break it down for you. Secure employment post graduation. Check. 2 years later, land the promotion. Check. Land the next big gig. Check. Decide we are moving across the country - took 4 months, but check! See what I mean?
Going Ring Shopping
Between those conversations though, we started discussing rings and what that process might look like. It was important to me to go and look at rings together, understand sizing and pricing, and being the designer I am, I wanted to have some say in it. I don’t feel like I need a disclaimer here, but Jack’s track record with jewelry selection is….well, we’ll leave it at that.
So, at the end of January 2022, I made an appointment for us to go to a local jeweler in Atlanta. Quick funny story: when I was scheduling the appointment, the woman on the phone told me a time on Sunday afternoon. I realized that was when the LA Rams were playing for the National Championship with the chance to go to the Super Bowl. I couldn’t have that (yes, I love football, but I really love the Stafford's. IYKYK), so I scheduled our engagement ring shopping around football. The jeweler thought I was nuts, but Jack loved every bit of it!
Spring and Summer of 2022
I felt like we canned a phrase: “stick with me and we’ll go far baby” and the other’s response: “that’s the plan babe”. That’s been our lingo, fluid and in stride. We used this a lot throughout the spring. I was excited and happy that we had gone to look at rings and Jack had the information he needed should he want to purchase it.
I have to tell you a quick story about Jack though. When we were younger, Jack would purposely ask me about gifts prior to giving them to me. Like one year for my birthday, he bought me a pair of workout shorts. A few days before giving them to me, he was asking me about my current ones nonchalantly. When I type this out, it seems obvious: the foreshadowing. But when it’s a simple, quick conversation, you don’t usually realize it. WELL, Jack did this multiple times, and I started to catch on. Sometimes I would give him a side eye, and question: this isn’t a gift hint, now is it?! And his little game didn’t have much of a chance.
June of 2022. We are driving to Michigan for the month. Jack makes a comment to me in the car: “Court, I think we should look for a jeweler in Michigan when we move back.” I was kinda of annoyed, like we looked 5 months ago and there was no movement. But, without giving it too much energy, I just said “okay, we can do that.” On the way BACK to Atlanta, in the car again, Jack brings it up again (remember, check list kind of guy), “I’m thinking we’ll find a jeweler back in Michigan, okay?” Me: “Okay, honey. I kind of feel like we already established that…no?” Him: “you’re right, I’m just thinking through it” (HIS CLASSIC LINE :))
July of 2022. We are packing up the last of our first apartment together. Jack is tidying up his desk. He picks up the jeweler's, Susan, card that he has had sitting on the desk since we visited. He bends the corners while holding it, deep in thought. He looks up towards me and says: “Ok Court, I’m going to toss her info, ok?” I quickly think, this is now the 4TH TIME HE’S MENTIONED this. I really thought he was pulling my leg and trying to lead me to think otherwise. I say, “Okay honey, that works for me”. So, to myself, I thought, I’m not going to bring this up again. I’m going to let him continue to ask me to find a new jeweler. Because if he keeps asking, then it’s probably legit. But if not, then maybe he actually has one and this is just to lead me astray.
September of 2022, back in Michigan
Jack and I are in the car (we spend a lot of time in the car together obviously since all of these ring conversations happen there LOL) and we’re talking about our weeks, what’s on our agenda the next couple months, and so on. He looks lost in thought for a second, and so I ask, "whats on your mind babe? You look like you’re thinking hard about something”. He tells me, “Ya know, I love that we're getting settled, we have x y z, but I do want to find a jeweler here.” It’s this time he tells me that I no longer think he’s trying to lead me to think otherwise. Which is totally fine!!! I just was so baffled how we kept having the same convo before moving, that I wanted to wait until he provided more direction.
The next few weeks I would make time to find some local jewelers, and I started to pop into their stores to see what they had. I didn’t tell Jack, I just went. I called him on my way home from the first jeweler and said: “I thought I could do the initial leg work on finding jewelers (aka working with them to design the ring we loved back in Atlanta), and then once there was a mold for the potential ring and a quote, Jack could take the process from there.” And since the jewelers in Michigan were likely going to have to design it, I wanted to find a few quotes and give Jack that information. Jack thanked me for working on it and I tagged him in once we had initial designs from jewelers.
Long story short (just kidding it's already long), the custom quotes came in and I wasn't satisfied with them. I picked up my phone one day and called Susan (the Atlanta Jeweler) and asked if they ship rings LOL. She said yes and shortly after, I reconnected Jack with her. I even made a spreadsheet to lay it out for Jack. It was organized, gave good direction, and easy to understand when seeing everything in a excel sheet.
February of 2023
I feel like I'm starting an Instagram Story saying, "just popping on to say...". 4 months have passed since I've last documented our story and I am writing to say there is no update other than living and loving life. What I will say is that for the past year+, I've always felt like "okay, it could be in the next six months". So, that being said, here are our travel plans in the next 6 months where I do think it actually could happen:
- March/April: Our 14th year anniversary, Naples, Florida, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
- May/June/July: Napa Valley, CA, Northern Michigan, Meghan and Lily's graduations (college and high school), Southern France trip, Northern Michigan, Charleston, SC
While it might not happen on any of those specific trips, I do feel like we are closer to being there and that makes me really happy, giddy, and excited (are all of those the same thing, basically yes but oh well :).
Throughout the course of our relationship, I decided pretty early on after college that I would not make Jack feel pressured into asking me to marry him. When we look back in years to come, I wanted it to be a mutual, exciting agreement. No ultimatums, no shallow comments, and no bitterness, especially from my end. I felt like he already received enough from others, WHICH, was sometimes incredibly tough. The past few years have literally revolved around friends' weddings and the excitement to want your own is VERY real. This time tested me more often than I care to admit, but I am incredibly happy and proud to be able to say that when the time comes, it was right for US.
The Proposal: 03.20.23
MONDAY, MARCH 20TH, 2023. Our 14th year anniversary. It also is the day we started our forever chapter. I'm writing this two days after our engagement and I don't even know where to start. We are going off adrenalin, barely sleeping from excitement, and I feel like I'm rotating in between sheer happiness, shock/holy shit this actually happened, and maybe even some nauseousness of THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED! WE ARE GOING TO GET MARRIED....AHHHH!!
Though I'll keep details of Jack asking me to be his wife between us, I do want to share a few highlights (IT'S ALL A HIGHLIGHT, OMG WE ARE ENGAGED!!!). *currently sharing our story with close family and friends - I'll update soon!*
- When? MONDAY (the best Monday of my life), March 20th, 2023. The date is pretty cool because it's 3.20.23. 3+20 = 23 and it's 3 2 0 2 3. We started dating in 6th grade in 2009.
- Where? Jack proposed on the beach in Naples, Florida. His parents reside here half of the year and we've been visiting for 3 years now. When we think about our future, we imagine making memories in Naples with our future kids one day.
- WHO!!? Jack and Courtney. But also BOTH of our families. We were in Florida with Jack's family. My parents and two sisters SURPRISED me. They were all in the bushes behind the beach watching from afar. The proposal was such a special moment for the two of us, and we celebrated with the people we love afterwards.
- What the photos don't show: ALL of the incredibly thoughtful planning and attention to detail that Jack organized and executed. A lot of moving parts (the weather included), but it couldn't have been more perfect.
- I have chills thinking about when Jack describes it. Hearing him say, "I asked Courtney to marry me" or something along that, I melt every time.
- Jack asked me to stand when he was proposing. Fun fact: when we first started dating, I said "Sure" when he asked me out. He prefaced proposing with, "please don't say 'sure' to this question" (I tip my head back and laugh in the 3rd photo when he says this). I think our eyes, smiles, and hearts say it all. WE ARE SO HAPPY!!
Thank you to our family and friends who have loved us along our journey. You know who you are, we adore you and we can wait to CELEBRATE! This was 14+ years in the making. The best is yet to come and damn it's been a wild ride. I cannot wait to be Jack's wife!! Cheers to the future Allens!!