Caroline & Daniel Oct 14, 2017
How it All Began
Camp Blue Skies has always had a special place in my heart. It is the first week long, sleep away camp I volunteered at. It is also where I spent every spring break for my 4 years of college. Camp Blue Skies is a camp for adults with developmental disabilities that is founded out of Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2011, they sought out a camp in Rutledge, GA to host a Georgia camp. Camp Blue Skies changed my life for the better. Not only did the campers at Camp Blue Skies challenge me to face my fears, stretch my comfort zone, and define a new sense of "normal," but Camp Blue Skies is also the place I met my future husband.
In October of 2014, I hopped in the car with a friend from college and road tripped to Boomer, North Carolina - where Camp Blue Skies hosts their North Carolina camp. We thought it would be a fun vacation. We were both in between jobs and needed a break from the "real world." We were both currently single, and I vividly remember joking with her about there being any cute boys volunteering. We quickly redirected our attention towards what was important; we were going to invest in an organization we had grown to respect and cherish as well as spend time with some amazing campers.
The first night was just volunteers, no campers. We were receiving instructions about what to expect over the next few days and getting to know each other. It had gotten colder, and I remember putting on my Georgia Southern sweatshirt. And then I saw him. Standing in the dining hall at camp. He was wearing an Appalachian State University hat. (It must be noted that after spending four years at Georgia Southern, you are thoroughly brainwashed to hate anything having to do with crAPP state!) But my friend nudged me and said, "Check out ginger beard over there. I think he's looking at us." Little did she know that he had already caught my eye.
At some point that evening, he made his way over to talk to us beginning with, "So you're one of those Georgia Southern girls we've heard about." (Those of you familiar with Camp will understand that!). To which we responded with something like, "And ew... you went to crAPP State?"
Fast forward to day 2 of camp.
My cabin was out on the high ropes course-which for any of those who truly know me know that I am a scaredy cat about most things, especially heights. I had no intention of getting up there with my ladies until two things happened: one) my ladies begged me to put on a harness and go up with them, and two) I realized this ginger bearded, really attractive, mountain man was up there working the ropes. So with shaking hands, I got in a harness, put on a helmet, and climbed up the stairs to my doom... or my fate... or my destiny... whichever you would like to call it.
We spent the next hour and a half flirting, encouraging campers to challenge themselves, and him actually challenging me to make it across the "tweety bird" which is essentially a bunch of little swings suspended across two poles. You have to swing yourself to get to the next one. I cried and he encouraged me to take it one step at a time. As I sit and reflect on that moment, I realize he is still encouraging me to do the same thing 2 years later - conquer my fears and challenge myself one baby step at a time.
After that, I looked for every opportunity to catch his glance and a smile. He had bright blue eyes and a soft smile. I went back to my cabin that night and texted all of my friends to tell them I had met a boy. Then he did what anyone would do- he messaged me on facebook! After that, we were inseparable for the rest of the week, and even the camp staff were picking up on it! We went hiking, fishing, and just chilled in his eno.
I came home from camp talking nonstop about Daniel. My mom says that it was the first guy that I talked to her so openly about, and that's how she knew he might be "the one." "
How did Daniel pop the question?
"On October 10, 2016, Daniel asked me to marry him; but his proposal story begins long before that. Here is how it is explained through Daniel's perspective...
YMCA Camp Harrison, in the North Carolina foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, is where I first met Caroline. I remember the exact spot she and I were standing the first time I saw her, and I even remember what she was wearing. How many people in our lives can we say that about? I was working staff at camp, and Caroline came up to serve as a volunteer for the group that was at camp that week, Camp Blue Skies. (As a side note which will come back into play later in my story, Camp Blue Skies is a camp for adults with developmental disabilities). After a few years of dating, I knew I had to include Camp Harrison and Camp Blue Skies into my proposal because it was a meaningful place and organization to the both of us.
As the thoughts of marriage entered my life, I immediately began running all kinds of proposal ideas through my mind. Before all of this, I prayed, prayed and prayed more for peace from God that Caroline was the one I was suppose to be with. One day, I received the peace and assurance from God that I was looking for - now I just needed peace on the location. I knew it had to be at Camp Harrison, and so the planning began. Camp Blue Skies visits Camp Harrison for two consecutive weeks every year in the fall, and it just so happened that one of the weeks of camp aligned with my fall break as a school teacher. Caroline and I both agreed that we would go up and serve as volunteers for one of those weeks, but little did she know, both of our lives would change forever after that week. I knew where and when I wanted to propose, now I just needed a ring and a plan.
Caroline and I had been ring shopping a few times, so I had gotten a good understanding of what she would like in a ring. After multiple trips to several jewelry stores, I finally decided on a ring from Satterfield & Dempsey Jewelers (who I would highly recommend to anyone). The moment they called me to let me know my ring was ready was when reality really started to set in. Now that I had the ring Caroline wanted, it was time to figure out when I wanted to ask that big question.
Camp was slowly creeping up on us, so I contacted Camp Blue Skies to let them know of my plan (that way when Caroline and I disappeared one evening, they would know what I was up to). One person I owe a lot of credit to, and really is the reason Caroline and I met, is my good friend Kim Donovan. She worked with me at Camp Harrison, so I knew I wanted her to be a part of my proposal plan. There are many special places at camp that I considered, but I finally settled on The Chapel.
I wanted to make sure at least for Caroline's sake that the moment of my proposal was captured by a photographer, so my friend that I met a few years back (Liza Cox, the photographer from Camp Blue Skies) was willing to help assist me in capturing some still shot photos. With Kim and Liza there to assist me, I told Caroline her and I should go up to the chapel at sunset to get a picture together and this whole time I am rehearsing in my head what I want to say with my proposal. Kim, being in on it, agreed to go with us to take our picture and in the mean time, I had Liza hide out in the closet up at the Chapel so she could pop out and take pictures at the opportune time.
As Caroline and I rode up to the chapel, I was full of nerves and my stomach was in knots. I honestly do not remember much about it, which is one reason the photos we have now mean that much more. Caroline and I took our place in front of the cross at the edge of the chapel with the lake and the mountains in the background. Kim began taking our picture on her phone, and as I saw Liza step out from behind the closet door I turned Caroline around. I got down on one knee, and not a single word I had rehearsed came out correctly. Needless to say, I believe somewhere in there Caroline said, "Yes," and she now had a beautiful diamond on her finger.
We then drove out to see my mother who was working night shift at the hospital and she then shared our excitement with us. She was now getting the "daughter" she always wanted. Once we returned to camp, it did not take long for word to get around of our engagement. The following day, the Camp Blue Skies campers and staff threw us a surprise wedding ceremony complete with a bridesmaids, groomsmen, and "wedding attire." To me, that was the most memorable part of our entire engagement. To see the excitement in our campers faces made me wish that we could actually get married there in front of them at that moment in time."
Share something fun or special about your wedding planning phase.
"In preparation for our wedding, Daniel and I actually met with my parents once a month on the anniversary of the day we would get married for a prayer night. We gathered to pray not only for wedding preparations but also for our lifelong journey of marriage."
Share something fun or memorable about your rehearsal and/or rehearsal dinner.
"At the rehearsal dinner, my mom surprised me with my "something blue." She humorously and graphically shared the story of my birth with the crowd and gifted me with the handkerchief that my Grandma carried the day she was married."
If you wrote your own vows, please share how you came up with them and why?
"After weeks of debating on writing our own vows, we opted for traditional vows. We felt that marriages have been thriving for years using the traditional vows, and we were more concerned with a lasting marriage than a trend."
Tell us about your wedding day. What was your favorite part? Would you do anything differently? What would you share with people planning their day?
"Our wedding day was perfect. I wouldn't change anything. The belt on my dress broke, ants attacked the grooms cupcakes, and we forgot to get the marriage license signed, but it was a perfect day."
If you did First Look, First Touch, First Talk, etc tell us about it. Would you recommend it to others?
"The best part about the first look was having extra time for pictures pre-ceremony, but we didn't have any big emotional moment. It actually felt silly at first and no different than any other day. However, when I walked down the aisle. The moment was magical. Daniel even teared up just a wee bit."
How was your experience at The Wedding Barn at L'Horne? Is there anything you would change? What was your favorite part of having your special day with us?
"The Wedding Barn at L'Horne was amazing! Anna and her family were so hospitable! She was so flexible in allowing us to make it our own for the weekend. So many guests complimented on the beautiful architecture of the barn and the lovely scenery!"
Something else they wanted to share.
"In just 9 days, we will celebrate our 1st anniversary. It has been a year of trials (such as a burglary to our new home) but many more adventures. However, our story would not be our story if Christ our Savior was not the foundation of our relationship. He is the cornerstone on which we stand. I am so thankful God allowed me this opportunity to experience such a sweet relationship with such a kind and loving man."
Dress: White Weddings, Valdosta GA
Photographer: Joy Robertson, Joyful Portrait
Florals: Forget-Me-Not Florist, Warner Robins
DJ/Band: Class One Productions
Catering: GA Bobs BBQ
Sweets/Cake: Tara Johnson
Hair: Kelly & Co.
Makeup: Jenna Brantley
Coordinator: Rachel Richardson
Videographer: Allison Goodman, Boutwell Productions