(From the bride): In the spring of 2017, I was freelancing at Coastal Living magazine in Birmingham, AL trying to get my foot in the door for a more permanent job. I had graduated from The University of Alabama the year prior (Roll Tide) and was busy navigating the adult world from the comfort of my parent's home—which they graciously opened up with unlimited amounts of wine and laundry services.
I received notice one day that a new intern would be joining the bunch at the office and that I would need to vacate my cubicle to make room for him/her. A little reluctantly, I complied, all the while wondering who I owed my somewhat inconvenient displacement to. A few days later when I was introduced to said intern, let's just say that my attitude shifted. I immediately Snapchatted one of my fellow employees that finally, a really cute guy had entered our largely female-dominated office. You guessed it, he's the groom.
Peyton and I can both confirm the fact that I was the first to notice him. In fact, it took him several weeks to strike up a conversation about "working the copy machine" (emphasis on the quotation marks) and to move into the more serious portion of our flirtationship which included an invitation to join him at the staff donut party upstairs. After many Instagram DM's, Slack messages and awkward banter back and forth, he asked me out to dinner. It's cheesy to say, but the two of us can also confirm that we both "knew" before we even went on our first date. After anxiously awaiting his return from a week long trip with his family to California, we went to dinner, laughed the whole time...and I kissed HIM at the end of the night.
It didn't take long for us to become incredibly close. I have always admired Peyton for being a completely open book, much of that being owed to his vibrant personality, but also to the vulnerable time in which I entered the picture. His wonderful brother and best friend Zack unexpectedly passed away just 4 months before I met Peyton, meaning that I was meeting him and his family at a very emotional time, to say the least. I was pretty timid about introducing myself, but I can honestly say that every single one of them welcomed me with open arms and never made me feel like a stranger.
We soon realized that among all of the other stars that were aligning in our favor, that I actually shared a birthday with Zack, April 13th. Although I never had the privilege of meeting Zack, I've always felt that our shared birthday was a gift from God to help me connect with Zack even from far away. Zack has always been extremely present in every family gathering, every football game, and of course, every birthday celebration thanks to his family who continues to adore him and keep his memory alive.
For the next 2.5 years, Peyton and I experienced many more unforeseen life changes together. As we navigated our early adult life together, we went through changes in living situations, career paths, and establishing who we were as adults and partners, which involved a lot of prayer, discernment, and leaning on each other and our community. Peyton joined my home church (where we cannot WAIT to be married), insisted that we become active in a small group (which neither of us could live without anymore), and redirected his career path to pursue ministry. I on the other hand, left a job that I thought was a forever thing, re-established what my creative side-gig might look like, and grew more into the truest version of myself to date.
Beyond any of the things you might be able to see on paper, we can both agree that we have both shifted into the best versions of ourselves thanks to our relationship. Being two very passionate people, the growth that needed to happen between us as individuals and as a couple was not always easy, but so so worth it. He has taught me to open up more, and I have helped him learn patience. He has helped me become the most confident version of myself, and I have proudly watched him discern his calling in life—and rock at it. We've jumped into the unknown and continue to do so. We make each other brave and proudly consider ourselves partners in crime (Literally—ask us about that later). We've explored so many of our favorite cities together, developed a mutual obsession with pepperoni and pineapple pizza, and made each other laugh to tears on more occasions than we can count. We truly are best friends, each other's biggest cheerleader and confidant, and yep—soul mates. And we cannot wait to celebrate with all of you, our very big and beautiful family.