We were on a cruise to Cozumel and Key West with my sister and her boyfriend-- eager for a break from the stresses of school. We had boarded the cruise ship, settled in, and were ready for a week of fun. We explored the ship, laid out in the sun, felt the ocean breeze, ate too much food... we we're on cloud nine. Our first stop was in Cozumel and little did I know how important this day would be to me. An engagement was the furthest thing from my mind as I was focused on having a good time and relaxing (And still celebrating my best friends engagement that happened a few days prior). After a taxi ride to a beach, we settled down and decided to take some photos before we got in the water. We took some photos and polaroids as couples, but my sister suggested that I get a picture by myself. I said, "sure" and hopped in front of the camera. It was suggested that Gabriel sneak in the background, so I figured it would just be a silly photo. My sister snapped the photo, and eagerly wanted me to see if the photo looked alright. I checked, and found my sweet boy down on one knee behind me. I turned around and couldn't believe my eyes. "Emily, will you marry me?" In complete and utter shock, I managed to quickly nod my head as my eyes filled with tears. I squeezed him tight, gave him a kiss, and couldn't believe what had happened. My ring was beautiful, and so was that moment. I said yes to a lifetime of adventure with my best friend.
Growing up in a small town, everyone knows everyone. Gabriel and I went to the same school as we grew up, so we had always known of each other. Though, I'd say our story began at a New Years party where by end of that night Gabriel had taken my phone, put his number in it, and texted himself (so he'd have my number in return.. sneaky boy). We loved talking to each other and grew closer. After two proms, hanging out with friends, a couple dates, and a whole day spent at his graduation party, he finally decided to ask me to be his girlfriend on the day he graduated high school (so we're technically HS sweethearts, right?). I knew saying yes would be a challenge as he was leaving in a couple weeks for the entire summer of military training, and then straight off to college while I would be stuck back home finishing high school. But I did it anyway... sure why not? And boy, was that the best leap of faith! We wrote letters all summer, soaked up our short time together, made distance work, Gabriel made many trips home to see me, and before I knew it the roles were reversed.. and he was the one at my grad party all day. I joined him at Iowa State that fall, and we celebrated no more distance (!!). We soaked up every minute, saw each other everyday, and made so many memories. Sadly, those two years flew by and came to a close once Gabriel graduated from ISU and became a commissioned Aviation officer in the Army. Since then, I have graduated from Iowa State and have moved down to Alabama with our puppy Winston, to join Gabriel as he goes through flight school. We are loving this new (very exciting) season of life, and can't wait for our next chapter in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Army has provided us with some great adventures so far, and can't wait to see where they take us as a married couple!