how we got engaged

Bret & Sidney | Tarleton State University Engagement Session | Stephenville, Texas

A couple kisses under the large trees in Memorial Park at Tartleton State University, Stephenville, Tx - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

I (Melaina) met Sidney, her mom, and Bret’s mom at the With This Ring Bridal Show in January of this year. We really hit it off and I was secretly hoping they’d pick us as the perfect photographers for their wedding. So when Sidney won a free bridal portrait from us at the show, that sealed the deal for all of us. And luckily so, because Sidney was the 5th bride that day who came to our booth with an October 5, 2019 wedding date, so I’m glad she made her decision that afternoon and didn’t wait!

A few months later, we met Bret & Sidney for a coffee double-date in downtown Waco and learned more about their love story. They grew up in the same area and had known each other since middle school. But it was their high school job as lifeguards at the local pool that brought them together. They began dating Sidney’s senior year of high school, and have been inseparable ever since.

Sidney’s loves Christmas, so Bret knew he needed to incorporate her favorite holiday in his proposal. On a trip to visit a large Christmas light trail in the DFW area, Bret had a large bridge covered in Christmas lights cleared so just he and Sidney could be alone. Then, when it was just the two of them, he asked her to be his wife. She said yes, and suddenly they were surrounded by family and friends to celebrate. Such a romantic holiday proposal!

Since their engagement, Bret & Sidney have been busy planning their October 5th wedding...and being college students at Tarleton State University. Bret graduates this year, but Sidney still has a little bit more to go. When it came time to pick a location for their engagement portraits session, the college campus where they’ve spent most of their relationship together made perfect sense.

Tarleton State is such a pretty campus that even if it wasn’t their school, it would have been a beautiful spot for their engagement session. But it was meaningful that it was their school, and it was fun to hear Bret share all these cool details about the campus and culture of Tarleton State. We took some portraits in front of the beautiful president’s home in the middle of campus, and said hi to him when he came out for his evening walk. We stopped in the popular gazebo and let Bret & Sidney have a romantic moment to dance together there. And then they took us to a pretty walkway they often take to get between classes.

Bret & Sidney wanted to showcase a little more of their relationship in this session, and have some fun. So they suggested we get some shots of them long-boarding together. Bret is really talented at it, and he’s been teaching Sidney for a while. Though she feels more confident riding her bike next to him when he long-boards, she was game to try it out in her dress and everything for the session. And she looked great doing it!

A couple strolls near the President’s House on the Tarleton State campus during their engagement session - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
A couple dances in the gazebo at Tarleton State University during their engagement session - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
A man whispers into his fiance’s ear and she laughs during their engagement session - Tarleton State University - - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
A couple embraces as the sky turns pink behind them at sunset during their engagement photo session - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com
A guy helps his fiance long board down a sidewalk while she laughs during their engagement photos in Stephenville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

Dear Bret & Sidney,

You are such a joyous couple who obviously loves to have fun together. We hope you continue to make each other laugh and have adventures together for many years to come!

Love, J&M

A couple stands in the center of a sidewalk lined with trees and buildings on the Tarleton State University campus in Stephenville, Texas - Jason & Melaina Photography - www.jasonandmelaina.com

Our Love Story - Engaged!

To read the previous chapters of our love story, visit part I, part II, or part III
Our engagement portrait session at the Texas State Capitol 

In the fall of 2007, we'd been together for a little over year. We loved spending as much time together as possible, and loved learning more about each other through late-into-the-night phone calls. There were no red flags popping up and each of us felt really positive about where our relationship was heading. Also, my (Melaina’s) internship at the church in Austin was coming to a close and I was looking at enrolling in seminary. Jason was finishing up his undergrad degree at Texas State. All of this led to the "hypothetical future" conversations every long-term relationship couple eventually begins having.

“If we got married, where would you want to live?” “If we got married, would you want to have kids? How many?” “If we were to get engaged, how long do you think it’d take to plan a wedding?” “Would you want to be planning a wedding while in grad school? Married while in grad school?”  

Most of the conversations stayed pretty broad, but sometimes things got specific. However, it wasn’t until one very specific conversation that I began to realize getting engaged was going to happen sooner rather than later. We had spent the day at the beach and we’re driving back. It was a long drive and we would ask each other questions to fill the time. The questions were often random, but when it was Jason’s turn he surprised me by asking what size ring I wore on my left ring finger. He asked a few follow up questions about preferences I had for engagement rings, and then the conversation moved on to other things. I tried to play it cool, but I knew something big had just happened. All the hypothetical marriage questions were just vague daydreaming about the future. But to ask about ring sizes and preference for cuts of diamonds? I knew this meant he was beginning to shop for rings.

My princess cut diamond solitaire engagement ring

Weeks passed

Here’s the thing about knowing your boyfriend's going to propose soon while simultaneously not wanting to ruin the surprise of it all...you start thinking through all the possible days he could propose, but keep it to yourself because you don’t want know exactly when it’s coming. As we moved more into fall and then winter, I saw so many possible days that would be perfect for a proposal. The Marine Corp Ball, Thanksgiving holidays, Christmas Eve or Christmas, our official couple anniversary (Dec 30), New Year’s Eve, my birthday (Feb 3), or even Valentine’s Day.

But after no proposal at the MC Ball, Thanksgiving or Christmas, and no other real specific marriage conversations, I started thinking maybe he’d propose later in the spring. I knew he didn’t want a long engagement, and we were both in our respective cities until the end of May anyway. So I went into our anniversary date on December 30th, 2007 thinking it would be a fun date night with Jason, and telling myself to not get my hopes up for a proposal.

Our engagement portraits from early 2008 with our friend, Lauren Bazan

Our engagement portraits from early 2008 with our friend, Lauren Bazan

December 30th again

The date was a nice date, but nothing really out of the ordinary. (I learned later that Jason had specifically not done anything over the top on purpose because he knew I was beginning to suspect something.) We hung out at a coffee shop, we went out to dinner, typical date night in Austin for us. After dinner, Jason suggested we go walk around Zilker Park and see the large Christmas tree made of lights, since it was the place we had decided to be an “official” couple the year before.  

We stood under the tree, bundled in our jackets, hugging each other and talking about how much we loved spending time together. There was a lull in the conversation and Jason said he had to get some tissue out of his pocket. He reached into his pocket and felt around for a second, then came up empty handed saying he didn’t have any. This is totally unlike him! He has bad allergies and always has tissue in his pockets. (Seriously, ask him next time you see him in real life.) So the fact that he suddenly said, “Oh, nevermind, I don’t have any,” really threw me off.

I didn’t have long to be confused, though, because a second later he looked at me and said, “I’m going to love you forever.”

I responded, “Awww, I’m going to love you forever too.”

Then he said, “Good.” And stepped back, got down on one knee and held out the ring he had not-so-stealthy removed from his pocket a moment before, and asked me, “Then will you marry me?”   

I wish I could tell you that I very romantically and calmly said “Yes, of course!”

Instead I said, “Are you serious?!?” And then proceeded to wave my hands around saying, “Oh my gosh!” I do think somewhere in there I squeaked out a “Yes!” But Jason did have to ask me if I could hold my hands still so he could put the ring on my finger.

Obligatory pic taken by my mom in front of her fireplace the night we got engaged.

Obligatory pic taken by my mom in front of her fireplace the night we got engaged.

Engaged

And just like that, we were engaged. It was simple and sweet and totally us. After the proposal, we drove to my parent’s house to show the ring off to them and my siblings who were there. And we called Jason’s family to tell them the news.

Because we both wanted to get married the coming summer, we busily got to planning our wedding...which is a whole different chapter to this story!