Most fairy tales begin with, “Once upon a time in a far away land…” Well, mine didn’t quite start that way. In fact, it began at a famously frat boy bar in Royal Oak, Michigan when a handsome young man with Ray Ban eyeglasses and a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest t-shirt saved me from a most boring car salesman who was trying to get my number. While it’s not quite as high stakes as a prince rescuing a maiden locked in a tower, it sure felt like it at the time.
Here’s how it went down.
I wasn’t supposed to be at Fifth that night. A close friend of mine needed a “wing woman” to help her out because this guy she had been talking to only wanted to meet if they could meet in a group (side note: this is a bad sign if you are ever trying to date someone).
So on that night, two completely incompatible friend groups met. Somehow, I got swooped into a conversation with the brother of the guy my friend was trying to date. As this car-salesmen-brother-guy droned on and on over the loud top 40 music about working at GM, I glanced up from our stimulating conversation and met eyes with the most striking person I’d ever seen. My eyes kept drawing back to his like a magnet. I couldn’t tell if this eye game was creepy, a coincidence, or a flirtation, but I wasn’t left to wonder for long.
I found a way to end my conversation with the car salesman and leaned over to tell my friend about the guy with the magnetic blue eyes, but before I could even get my full sentence out, Zak walked up to me and my friend snuck away.
“Are you with that guy?” he asked directly.
“Does it look like I want to be with this guy?” I whispered back with a sarcastic smile.
“I’m Sam.” And then I giggled. I always giggle when I’m nervous.
He smiled at me–the first time his dimples ever melted my heart–and in that moment, my heart felt light. And although we only spoke for a few minutes before my friends were ready to leave, something inside me knew that something special had just occurred.
My friend still tells the story of how I literally skipped back to our car after we left the bar. I was giddy.
That night, I went home to write my sister an email updating her on my life. She was traveling in Israel at the time, so I knew she would get it soon after I sent it at 2:39 a.m. Just over four years later, my sister read that email at the beginning of her Maid of Honor speech.
Zak and I bring out the best in each other. With every date we went on, it became more and more evident that what we had was something special. We dated for almost three years before Zak surprised me with a proposal during a photo shoot he had planned for us.
When it came to planning a wedding, we considered every option. We ultimately decided on Meadowbrook because it felt like a fairytale location, perfectly suited to our love story. We had a pretty easy time planning the wedding because we hired incredible vendors, but just weeks before the wedding, we received heartbreaking news. Zak had a tumor in his ankle and would have to have surgery. Luckily, the tumor was benign, but it had to come out immediately. So with just under six weeks before walking down the aisle, Zak underwent ankle surgery.
That put everything in perspective. We put “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health” to the test before we even said our vows. And we came out of the whole ordeal stronger than ever and ready to say “I do.”
On August 21, 2016, Zak walked down the aisle assisted by nothing more than a hidden ankle brace (thank you to Dr. Drew Moore!). It was a perfect day. Everyone says it goes by so fast, but we took in every moment, and that helped to slow it down. We knew how precious it was that we even go to have that day. And that’s how we plan to approach marriage: grateful for every precious day we get to share together.