When Kaitlin and Zach showed up for this Northern Virginia engagement session at Manassas Battlefield Park I knew that we were in for a good time.
Kaitlin is the sweetest and Zach was such a good sport never complaining no matter how far we walked or how long the photos took.
You could tell he just wanted his fiancé to be happy.
Zach and Kaitlin first met in Middle School when, as luck would have it, their lockers were side by side.
“Our lockers were side by side and we were trying to survive a geometry class with a very eccentric teacher to say the least.” Kaitlin remembers.
Zach’s first thought when he walked up to his locker and saw it was right next to Kaitlin’s was that his friend was going to be so jealous.
“My best friend at the time, Jimmy, had huge crush on her. So when I figured out her locker was next to mine my first thought was, ‘Ha! Jimmy’s going to be so jealous!’ It wasn’t until later in the year that I told him ‘Hey man, I think I like her too.’ Haha!”
They first ‘dated’ freshman year of High School for a few months until Kaitlin broke up with him.
She decided that she no longer liked his long hair.
A perfectly legitimate break up reason for a 14 year old.
“Little did I know I would marry him and continue to this day be teased about that–but hey I was 14 and it was a perfectly good reason at the time!” said Kaitlin.
On April 13, 2017, now sophomores, they rekindled their romance and have been together ever since.
“I don’t remember anything particular about about meeting Zach,” says Kaitlin, ” except that he has always been the easiest person for me to talk to. We just haven’t stopped talking since that class I guess!”
Both Kaitlin and Zach agree that their first date was a success.
“Our first ‘date’ was to see the movie ‘The Exorcism of Emily Rose’,” says Zach. “I put date
in air quotes because if your parents have to drop you off and pick you up can it really be
a date lol? I mean we were freshman in high school! Anyways, word of advice to my
past self – do not see a freaking horror movie with a bunch of friends as a first date!
Every time I’d try to hold her hand, which was like special forces sneaking in behind
enemy lines at that age, we would all jump or scream because you know… it’s a horror
I don’t think I ever held her hand. Then again, my dumb ass friend Kyle at the
time kept screaming every occasion I would get close so it probably wasn’t meant to be
that night lol. Believe it or not we still have those movie ticket stubs somewhere so yea,
you could say it was a success. : )”
Kaitlin agrees “Although I can’t say that we have ever rewatched the movie, we definitely do own it for its sentimental value.”
When it came time for Zach to propose he had things 95% planned.
After all, it did take over half a year just to build the ring!
Zach proposed on Assateague Island on July 9, 2015.
“We go to Ocean City each year and spend our days on the island.” said Kaitlin. “It is pretty much my favorite place, very few if any people even in the mid of summer, wild horses and wide open beaches.”
The trip was their annual beach vacation and Kaitlin thought they were celebrating her graduation from Grad school, passing her nursing boards and getting their first apartment together.
Zach was hoping they would have something new to celebrate soon as he planned the details of the proposal.
“When the day finally came I remember packing the ring in my book bag I took to the island and thinking, ‘Oh God don’t give it away, don’t give it away, don’t freaking give it away.’ Haha I felt like I had a giant neon sign on my forehead that said Hey! Look in my book bag!”
Usually on vacation their days were filled with fishing, swimming, relaxing and walking on the beach.
Zach hadn’t planned out exactly when he was going to propose, but he knew that he wanted to do it at sunset while they were on one of their daily walks. Everything was moving along as planned, until early in the afternoon Kaitlin asked Zach if he wanted to go on a walk like they typically do.
“You mean you want to go now, not later?” Zach asked with a slight edge of panic in his voice.
Just then a whole herd of wild horses came right up to them on the beach and Kaitlin got distracted and forgot about the walk.
“After that, I just remember sitting on the rocks with my fishing pole and time was going by sooooooo slowwwwwwww.” said Zach. “At one point I worried that my phone was broken because the time just crawled by.”
A few hours later, they did go on that walk.
While Kaitlin was talking about things they needed for the apartment Zach was getting pumped up to pop the question.
“I didn’t plan on specifically how I was going to ask because every time I started thinking about it I would get real nervous and felt like that giant neon sign was back lol. Finally, when the sun was setting and we went on our walk I was like “Ok… game face. Let’s do this” haha!”
We went quite a way down the beach, it was just the two of us staring out at the ocean still talking. Then he said “You know I think there is just one thing missing,” and I turned and there he was on one knee with a ring in his hand. I was speechless in total shock. He says I whispered his name then said Yes! After being together for 8 years I think it is pretty special that he continues to surprise me and leave me speechless.
I do remember that the night before I practiced going down to one knee thinking “does it look better like this, or like that…. No this looks better” haha. I don’t even remember if I did it the way I practiced – I’m not going to lie I was pretty nervous! : )
He designed my ring himself and had even snuck some of my grandmother’s (who has passed) sapphire jewelry to have the stones used in my ring. It made the moment that much more special because I now carry a little part of her with me each day.
Zach and I have have pretty much been through all of the major milestones you experience at 25 together. He’s been my best friend and now almost my oldest friend so it’s hard to pinpoint one time/activity that I love him the most.
I will have to say that I am reminded the most of all of our memories when we are at Ocean City together. Our first trip there alone, we were 18 and could barely afford a hotel room for the three nights we stayed. To save money we cooked most of our food in the room and our specialty was grilled cheese and tomato soup. Now we go each year and have expanded the trip greatly and always have tomato soup and grilled cheese at least one night. The trip always reminds me how far we have come and how lucky I am to have shared all of my most special moments with the person I love the most.
Zach pinpointed the same memory as one of his favorites.
Probably my favorite time, the point when I feel the happiest and so close is when we make grilled cheese and tomato soup together at the beach with a little bit of slow music in the background. Ahhh it just makes my heart melt! There’s something about it, about how the time slows, how I think of nothing else but her. Feeling her warmth, whether it be from hugging her from behind at the stove or her holding my arm as I cook – I don’t know what it is but man I sure do love that!
There are so many little moments or things that I really enjoy doing with Kaitlin – you know when I realize how lucky I am. I mean it can be anytime like in the car riding together, going on walks with the dog, even if we’re on two different couches just sitting in the same room together!
When I asked Kaitlin what she is most looking forward to on their wedding day she said seeing Zach for the first time and walking down the aisle with him as his wife.
“It just makes me so excited just thinking about it! Also for the dancing and visiting family–it will be the first wedding on his side in a while. I think I’ll be most nervous to say my vows out loud. Public speaking is definitely my thing and it’s a pretty good chance I’ll cry haha. But I really want to do that for Zach because I know how more important it will be than reading traditional vows.”
Zach was equally excited for the wedding!
“Ok I have to be honest; I’m looking forward to A LOT of the wedding!!! I’m really excited for the dancing, the laughs, walking around with her to visit the family that came. I’m also excited for all the little moments that her and I can share together.
Although sometimes I do get choked up thinking about it, I really want to say my vows.
She doesn’t know this (until now anyways lol) but I must have already written 10 different versions. I keep adding to them and changing them because I want them to be perfect. I really want to tell her at that special moment in front of both our families just how much I cherish, respect, appreciate, and unconditionally love her. She is my world and I want to tell her along with everyone else just how thankful I am that SHE is standing with me at the altar.”
Anyone else get a little teary at that?
As excited as he is, though, Zach is also nervous.
Specifically about his best man AJ.
“Oh God….. So my best man…. AJ….. that guy is like a brother! But as you may know…. Brothers can do a lot of stupid stuff together.
You may also know that the best man usually gives a speech at some point…..See where I’m going with this….?
Haha! I’m just hoping he stays away from the open bar BEFORE the speech and tries not to bring up half of the “less than intelligent” debacles the two of us got into while at VT. I would prefer that no grandparents have a stroke on the day of our wedding hahaha – because if you knew AJ… it’s totally possible!