Valerie blindfolded Andrew and brought him to us today for what he thought was a photo shoot but turned into a surprise vow renewal. She brought all kinds of fun little extras, and that dress was to die for! Congratulations, Valerie and Andrew on 3 amazing years — we hope you have many many more!!
From the Bride:
Andrew and I first met at the end of September 2016. I had learned that I was graduating college a whole semester ahead of time, and I was trying to figure out the next steps of my life. I was looking for colleges to attend for a master’s program, but in between that, I thought it was a good opportunity to travel to church conventions around my home state of Illinois as I had a lot of new time on my hands. Wisconsin has its annual church conventions at the end of September so off I went to Menomonie, WI. It was my first time at that particular convention, but I had some girlfriends there that I knew, and it was nice to see them and meet new friends and families. Such new friends and families that I just mentioned…have been and are a major part of my life now, and hold a very dear place in my heart. So I arrived made friends with some super sweet ladies, visited in a group of all of younger folks and there was Andrew and his brother and a few other people. Introductions were made, occupations were discussed, etc. etc. and I remember being smitten. Andrew is so ruggedly handsome and then he started talking and all I could think was that he was from some foreign country with his accent and low and behold he was just from Wisconsin. I laughed and laughed about that. He still to this day has the cutest accent! Anyways, he told me about how we worked as a carpenter building homes, doing trim work, for a couple that I would later meet at this same convention… and whom I would later get to know a whole lot better… (they mean so much to us both even now 🙂 ) Andrew told me he worked as a carpenter and I remember in my head just being so attracted to him in that way too. My PawPaw (grandpa) built brick homes and was a carpenter and brick mason, and in that moment I just felt so excited that here was a Godly, faithful, man who too built homes! The church convention continued and in between fellowship meetings we would talk… or mainly, I would talk, Andrew would quietly listen, and all I could think was how much I liked him, but I had no idea how he felt. But, the last fellowship meeting rolled around and it was time for me to go home and my girlfriends were insistent that I write my number to give to him. I was so nervous! I wasn’t the type to just go up and give someone my number but there was something in me that just said to go ahead. Andrew remarked, later when we were dating and married, he was so glad I did because he looked me up everywhere online and couldn’t find anything on a media platform ( I did not have FB at the time). I remember walking into that barn where everyone was folding up chairs from the fellowship meetings, with my little notebook paper, that I had written my name and my number, and “feel free to text if you would like” written on it. (We still have this note) I was looking to see if he was still in the meeting barn and there he was and I stuck it out to him and said goodbye and he was welcome to text, and off I took for a 8 hour drive home. Those first few hours home, I was a hot mess, thinking how crazy was I to give him my number, how he probably was not interested– but about 2 hours in he texted and iw was so excited! We would go on to text for a couple of months in 2016, but he told me later he was so scared to hurt me or be in a relationship, so it took a little time before things did work out for us. We saw each other again in October of 2016 at a church convention in Minnesota, where his sentiments and feelings were the same, “let’s just be friends.” My life changed as I graduated in December 2016 and I ended up caring for my special needs sisters and helping my folks. But then feeling an itch to do some more traveling I went to go see a good friend at the end of June 2017 and staying all the way till July 19, 2017. But the day before I headed home to Illinois on July 19, Andrew and I had our first date together… July 18, 2017. After that date, on my way home to Illinois, Andrew texted me he had had a good time but wanted to continue to be friends; I was crushed but just went on with things in my life. As life would have it August 2017 I really felt moved in my heart by the Lord to start a new chapter in my life, which lead me to actually live in Wisconsin Rapids, where Andrew had drove 2 some hours to come pick me up. We had talked before I moved and I was clear it wasn’t a move to be near him (which I wasn’t really that super close at the time) and he was so encouraging about it all. My life at that time was really wonderful and I was so thankful I had followed my heart to move. My jobs changed with my time there, and I would go onto have to get in touch with Andrew’s mother about a new job opportunity. The timeline was around November 2017 at this time. That discussion later would lead me to my now mother-in-law, asking me for my help prior to a wedding, to clean her home and get ready for the wedding, as well as her telling me about a job she thought I would like. I ended helping her clean her home, which Andrew was not excited about at all! Our mama told him that she had hired a cleaning lady off of Craigslist to come clean, and the first words out of Andrew’s mouth when I came through the door was ” MOM, what is SHE doing here?” I did clean that house, and as life would have it, I ended up because of my job and fellowship, moved in with an amazing family near where Andrew lived. At this time besides helping his mama out at the house, I would now also see him every Wednesday and Sunday due to our Bible Study rotation. I also would go on to help with the wedding they needed help with, for my now brother and sister-in-law in February 2018. So Feb 2, 2018 the day of our brother and sister’s wedding we were tearing down all the decor and Andrew was just being extra helpful and seemed so odd from his usual standoffishness like he came across like he was actually interested, but from all the years of him crying wolf, I was over it. Well, he made it pretty clear that night he wasn’t going to cry wolf anymore and he kissed me, and from the 2nd of February 2018 on we have been together. Suppose that the 14th- Valentine’s day 2018 was when he made completely official that he wanted to be my boyfriend, and seriously committed to wanting to date, and then May 2018 he proposed, and July 20th, 2018 we were married at a sweet little barn with immediate friends and family. There was the man who meant so much to Andrew and me, who spent so much time encouraging us in making sure our marriage was one directed by the Lord, he is who officiated our wedding, our ministers in the area at the time, who devote their lives to spreading the Gospel like Jesus did (going two by two, depending on the Lord’s people for a place to stay, and taking never taking a collection), all of Andrew’s immediate family, folks from our Bible study groups, friends, my co-workers from the job I got that my MIL had recommended to me, a little lady that opened her home to me when I first moved to Wisconsin, my friend who I had come to visit in July, the family that was like my second parents that I moved in with after getting my job, my best friend from Jr. High School, the sweet folks from the UP, my family from IL, and all of our friends and family from afar who were streaming online watching. It was a lovely day, with lots of sentimental touches, a surprise acapella of “you’re my best friend”, all of us hysterically laughing at a rendition of a song “Bubbles” that Andrew would sing at work, but it passed quickly and at the end of the day we were just happy to be married!
Life has passed and flown by, three years now, and we both are back in my home state of Illinois helping with my family, and my special needs sisters, and we feel fulfilled. We have gotten to know each other better over the years but we always go back to the feeling of wanting an opportunity to renew our vows and have a wedding with just the very two of us! So the day has come and it will be some of the best memories I think we both will have in our hearts as we continue in our commitment and years the Lord grants to us, together.
Our first date was very memorable and I can see it like yesterday but there is a huge backstory to it before it all came about. It was the middle of July 2017 and I was visiting a close friend, in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. I had been in Wisconsin since the end of June, and had been staying for a couple of weeks but had decided to go up to Mackinac Island in the UP of Michigan. Along the way, I was able to coordinate staying with some older folks and they became like family after my stay. These same sweet older folks would later walk down our wedding aisle on behalf of me, as my honorary grandparents because my grandparents were not able to make it. Not long into my trip from Mackinac, to go back to my home state at the time, Illinois, she called and asked if I could continue to stay in Wisconsin, a few days longer with her, to attend a get together at some a couple’s home who was hosting some volleyball, boat tubing, and activities for the young people serving the Lord. She was new to the area and was asking me because I had met this couple and their children a year before at a fellowship convention and consequently, too, they were who Andrew worked for at the time in the carpentry trade. So, I was not in a hurry to get home, wanted to spend more time hanging out with her, take advantage of getting to have a good time. I never really considered, that Andrew would be there or that we both would spend any time together because she had told me “there is going to be a ton of young people from around the state.” So, I was stoked to see friends I had made a year prior, and meet more people. Anywhoo… She and I both drove up about an hour and a half to the get-together and we pull into the yard where there is volleyball, and there are hardly any young people! There is the couple that is hosting, their son, a relative of the family and Andrew! That was the extent of the huge get-together with the addition of us two girls. Her and I looked at each other and all I could do was laugh, because of all the people to be around here was the boy I had, had a crush on since I met him in September of 2016. So as the get-together would have it Andrew and I got to spend quite of bit of time together and it was a good time with everyone. A couple days later, July 18, 2017, while I was staying with her… Andrew and I had been texting and he had asked if we wanted to meet for dinner and attend a Wednesday night bible study fellowship meeting in that area. I was on cloud nine! I remember jumping up and down in the kitchen saying “yassss, I have waited sooo long for this!!” So, as the day would have it, he drove all the way from where he was working, telling me later after we were dating and married, that he had to borrow stuff from his cousin to get ready for our date because he wasn’t as prepared as he wanted. We laugh about that to this day. He drove about 2 hours from where he was to pick me up at where she was staying… I had a purple floral dress that she had sewn some cute lace sleeve caps on, (the stitching a little later frayed some so I still have them and even the remnants of it on my wedding bouquet, and made a bookmark from one too! To this day I still have that dress, and Andrew always comments, that was our first date dress :)… He picked me up and we went to Jimmy John’s for sandwiches. He had never been there and I was thinking the date was going good and then he said he had to go to the bathroom. So I just sat there, and I waited and waited, and then I remember thinking, “oh no he is trying to think of a way to get this date over with.” He returned and it was all good. Later on when we were dating and married, I laughed hysterically when he let me know that the reason he was in the bathroom so long was because he was sending his dad pictures of all the funny signs they had in the bathroom. What a HOOT!!… So after dinner, we went on to our Bible study, and then I went home the next day. He had texted me on the way home that he enjoyed the date but wanted to just continue to be friends. I remember being crushed because I thought it had went so well… but as fate would have it… a year and two days later, we were married… and now 3 years to date of our first date he is getting surprised, with a wedding vow renewal in our favorite place ever, the Great Smoky Mountains.
Andrew proposed. He proposed at his parent’s bridge over their creek. It was just the two of us and that’s really how we love everything at the end of the day… just the two of us!
The Smoky Mountains our favorite, so being able to have our anniversary trip here is such a wonderful thing, and I thought a surprise vow renewal would be one of the best surprises I could give to Andrew 🙂
I think at the end of the day, we will both agree, after the renewal surprise is out, and we have the pictures, video…. our memories… that we were able to have something we both have been wanting to do for so long. It’s something he has told me for such a long time, that he wished he could have done things a little differently… not that we didn’t like our wedding because there were so many wonderful, touching things of our wedding… but we enjoy just each other and this renewal just is us two and that will mean the most to us.
Ironically, our surprise vow renewal date is 3 years to date of our very first date together. It makes my heart so happy to know that our service it is on a Sunday at a time we would normally meet for Sunday morning fellowship meetings (10am)… but too, that 4 years ago July 18, 2017, I was jumping up and down saying “I have waited so long for this” and this is the exact sentiment I have for this renewal “I HAVE WAITED SO LONG FOR THIS!! 🙂
Andrew and I really enjoy fishing together. It is so fun to be able to catch bass, crappie, bluegills… to have the surprise of something bite your line, enjoy the quiet of the water, get some sun! It’s just a nice hobby. Besides that we enjoy going to hot yoga together sometimes, singing Don Williams in the car, going on bike rides, kayaking, sitting by the fire whether its the woodstove in the winter, or the firepit in the summer, window-shopping in cute little towns, playing silly games… really, just time spent together that is quality time. A typical date night is trying to make restaurant like ambience and dishes at our apartment. I thoroughly enjoy making sweet table settings, cooking homemade food and being in the comfort of our cute little apartment with Andrew for date nights!