Crabtree Wedding 2017 - Tracy Shoopman Photography

  From the Bride: Having been together nearly 8 years, it's tough to summarize our story, but we'll give it a shot! The first time we ever saw each other was at a high school football game; we didn't speak or officially meet each other until we had a couple of classes together- even so, our interactions were limited- poking fun at the other, a comment about pretty eyes. Near the end of freshman year, we really struck up a friendship that continued into the summer. Being 14, neither of us were allowed at the others' homes, so we stayed connected via phone and text, but one day decided to go out to the community pool beside Huntsville Middle School - because that's what kids do to waste away a summer day in a small Tennessee town. We had a hardly 30 second span of time when we locked fingers in the pool; a couple of years later we discovered in conversation that those 30 seconds were monumental and magnetic to both of us, though neither said anything at the time. Fast forward a couple of trips to the pool and a massive storm came through- we took cover in a little sheltered area attached to the bleachers of the middle school, and we had our first kiss... or two! From that point on, we were inseparable. The rest of the summer we remember as a fairy tale- a blur of the Tennessee woods, sunshine, and the sense of falling quickly. Sophomore year, we found out that my family would be moving to North Carolina. We had been together for about a year at that point- we were devastated. Being so young, it was hard to convince people we had found the person we wanted to be with forever, but we knew. Saying goodbye was hard to say the least- over the next four years, we would see each other about once a month - once every other month for a day or two. Our parents did everything they could to help us see each other as often as possible. We survived by letters and those weekends together. Halfway through our freshman year at college (me at UNC Chapel Hill, Brandon playing basketball at Maryville College in TN), Brandon decided to move up to North Carolina and begin working so that we could be together again finally. We were so proud of having lived through a long distance relationship that perhaps no one thought would last in the beginning (we were kids, after all). Brandon would come to eat dinner with me at the University dining hall on campus and sit with me while I studied. To see each other again nearly every day was like a dream come true, and we thought that was the end of being apart. We were wrong :) My dad took a great job opportunity in Winston Salem at the beginning of my junior year of college, about 2 hours away from Chapel Hill, which amounted to Brandon moving there with my family to work alongside him. So the long distance was back, but not hardly on the scale that it was before. We saw each other every weekend :) I graduated with my bachelors in May 2016, and Brandon proposed soon after. Reflecting back on our years together, there are so many instances that speak of Heaven's influence and guidance- and now, looking forward, we are so humbled by God's willingness to test us, help us grow, help us learn how to love each other unconditionally. We always felt like He was taking special care with us- making sure we were building strong foundations; the gratitude of that realization is astounding. This April, we felt that gratitude more than ever, as we learned we have been given a little baby to look forward to around the holidays at the end of this year. We hope to reveal the gender of our soon-to-be little love around July, so stay tuned :) Each of you have served, at one point or another, as an encourager to us along the way. Thank you, truly, for being a part of our story, whether you realize that you were or not :) We are so looking forward to celebrating with you this July! The Proposal- Olivia's Account October 15. 2016- I walked in to find Brandon's place filled with candlelight, and music playing in the background. Brandon swept me into the center of the room, and we danced for a few songs, just as we used to do in Tennessee before my family moved away. As it turns out, he was playing a CD that I had made for him when we first start dating as teenagers-he had kept it safe for seven+ years! After the last song, Brandon was clearly up to something and made me sit on the couch and close my eyes. He brought out a scrapbook that he had handmade over the weeks prior, which housed old pictures, notes, and letters that we had written to each other during our time apart; it really did amaze me that he had held onto those things for so long. I knew that he had a memory box hidden away in his closet, but I had no idea how diligently and carefully he had memorialized our days together. He sat beside me while I gushed my way through the book. When I flipped to the last page, there was a message about making our memories last forever, and as I looked up, he was on his knee in front of me. All in all, if you're wondering- he nailed it! He honored every day we had spent together in a single evening; it was one of the most precious moments of my life. I guess I couldn't say no :)

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