Every now and then I love to have my couples share their story rather than me. They know it best after all. So today’s blog post is really special because I get to share the ENTIRE story of Hayden and Jennifer’s love from start to finish from their perspective! I hope you enjoy!
Washington Mardi Gras.
It was my first Washington Mardi Gras, and to say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. Dozens of meetings and introductions, but one stood out above the rest. Washington Mardi Gras is a week filled with receptions, parties and balls, and for this one, me meeting my future wife. At one of the receptions, I was making my rounds and shaking hands when a gorgeous girl walks up to the group I am talking to. Little did I know that she is the social queen and everyone is supposed to already know her. That moment can be summed up with, “Jennifer, you don’t know Jennifer?! EVERYONE knows Jennifer!” We proceeded to talk in a group, and when we were getting ready to walk to the Library of Congress for another party, I tried to walk beside and talk to her, but she had absolutely no interest….
The weekend proceeded and we bumped into each other a couple of times throughout it. She still had no interest in me, but I was in awe of her. Specifically, I remember the night of the event’s big gala. Jennifer was wearing a sparkly gold dress that truly took my breath away. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
I was looking for a new job and heard a rumor that Rep. Mike Johnson’s office was hiring. Realizing I had met and knew Hayden, I asked him to coffee. When we met up, I spent about half of the time stating every fact I knew about his district, but somehow, it transitioned to me learning how Hayden was new to the city and providing him with food and brewery recommendations. Before I left, we traded numbers to stay in touch. As my follow-up, I sent Hayden an article for the best breweries in and around the DC area from my beloved source, the Washingtonian.
Little did I realize that was only the beginning. Since that day, there hasn’t been a day we’ve gone without talking. I was so confused because I didn’t know if he was just being friendly or if he was flirting. I mean, I had just had what I thought was a job interview with him…
Several times a week, I get asked to coffee for what is an “informational interview” – basically a dry run of a job interview for a job that might be present in the future. On that particular week, the girl from Washington Mardi Gras had reached out and wanted to grab coffee. Knowing she showed no interest during those events, I was hoping she had changed her mind. On my walk to work that morning, I remember calling my best friend Clay and telling him how much I hoped that this was a social coffee and not another dumb informational interview…
Well, I show up at Dunkin’ Donuts, and there she was, the nerd that she is, sitting there with her notebook, in interview attire, ready to talk about work and ask all the questions…. It wasn’t a complete fail, I did manage to do a number swap. Since that day, there hasn’t been a day that has passed that I don’t check my phone hoping to have a message from her.
I had just gotten home from work, changed into my sweats, and was eating Subway for dinner when I received a message that Jennifer was in my neighborhood and wanted to meet up for a drink. I was ecstatic and jumped at the opportunity. I scarfed down my sub, put my suit back on (I wanted to look good!), and headed out for the 10 minute walk to Bluejacket Brewery. I am not sure I have ever been that nervous.
I walked in and saw her sitting on a stool at the bar, and I went to join her. We talked for what seemed like only a few minutes, but was a few hours. She was beautiful, smart, passionate, and not a moment of silence the entire night (not that there are many moments of silence when Jen’s around). Not wanting the night to end, I invited her back to my rooftop to have a glass of Louisiana wine (thanks Landry Vineyards). It started getting a bit chilly, and when we went to go back inside, we were locked on the rooftop! I don’t know who helped me out, but I still think that extra 15 minutes of laughs sealed the deal of what turned into forever.
We stayed up all night talking, not wanting the night to end. I remember putting on a movie so I could spend more time talking with her. Honestly, I could not tell you anything about that movie, I was so mesmerized by who I was with in conversation. Finally, at 3AM we decided it was time for her to go home. I was so nervous to kiss her goodnight, but I did! I didn’t sleep much that night out of pure excitement… Little did I know some time later at that brewery, I would become the luckiest man in the world, and have her agree to become my wife.
A week or so after our coffee, Hayden and I had been emailing about whether or not I was going to go to a breakfast event with some Louisiana folks the next day, and I had no idea, once again, if he was flirting with me, and honestly, I felt idiotic to even think he might be interested in me.
The next morning, I woke up early, got all done up, and nervously went to this breakfast in hopes of seeing Hayden. He never showed. Heading back to the Senate side, I was super bummed.
In the middle of the day, I got a message from him saying, “Where were you this morning?” Turns out, he showed up within minutes of my leaving. We went back and forth a bit, and when he stopped responding, I was bummed but went about my day and ended up going to a reception in the Rayburn House Office Building with some friends after work.
“Just ask him to grab a drink,” a friend said to me at the reception. “Worst case scenario? He says no.” So, I drafted a message, fibbing that I was at a happy hour in Navy Yard (the neighborhood he lived in – I didn’t want to seem like I was desperate walking 30 minutes out of the way from MY apartment) and asked if he was around to grab a drink. I was so nervous, I wasn’t even the one who pressed send.
I still remember the sense of relief and pure joy I felt when I quickly received, “Yeah! That’d be fun. Where?”
We settled on Bluejacket, and I ended up getting there before him, which of course didn’t help my nerves settle. However, when Hayden walked in and sat, the hours suddenly flew by. I was entranced by him. His perceptiveness. His way of listening to every word I said thoroughly, thinking, and thoughtfully responding. I didn’t want the night to end.
When the bar started to close down, we realized it was probably time to head out and ended up walking down the dock in Navy Yard towards his apartment. Hayden suggested another drink on his roof, which he had yet to go up to and see. So he grabbed a bottle of wine from his apartment, plastic wine glasses, and we went up.
While the wine wasn’t my favorite and it was freezing on the roof, we kept talking for what was probably an hour. Finally, Hayden got the hint that I was a bit chilly, and we got up to go inside.. except the doors were locked. We were stuck on the roof! I couldn’t help but laugh. When we got inside, I don’t remember how or why given the time, but we somehow starting watching The Kingsman. When the movie was over, I checked the time – 3AM!
I ordered an Uber to head back to my apartment, awkwardly gave Hayden a hug to thank him for the fun night, and was surprised when he kissed me goodbye! I smiled the entire way home and until I fell asleep. My jaw was literally sore the next day from all the laughing!
The Day She Said I Love You.
I could have confidently told Jennifer I loved her after our second date. There was just something special and I knew it. One day, several months into our relationship, Jennifer was getting ready. There was nothing unusual or special at that moment, but I just looked at her and couldn’t help but smile. It was then that I whispered into her ear that I loved her unconditionally. I meant it then and have meant it even more every day since then. She wasn’t quite ready to say it back, so she just smiled.
A couple months later, we had spent a fun day with our good friends and were walking back to Navy Yard to go to a birthday party when Jennifer stopped me in front of a dog park and suddenly blurted out that she loved me. Talk about the moment you knew that you had the woman God put into your life.
Our relationship has been full of adventure.. We’ve traveled the country, we’ve traveled the world. Memory after countless memory that would not be the same if I didn’t have her to share them with. We’ve been to 5 countries, 18 states, and of course… 8 baseball stadiums.
When Thursday morning rolled around, I was wearing my favorite work dress (which Hayden got for me). I was kind of confused why he made the effort to have it dry cleaned by Thursday, but he said he was just so excited about finally getting to tour Bluejacket, so I shrugged it off.
Then, there was clue #2.
While I was in the bathroom that morning getting ready, Hayden goes, “So are you going to blow dry your hair for our date night?!”
(For everyone’s awareness, Hayden hates when I spend time getting ready. He likes my hair in a ponytail) Therefore, I was confused and responded, “Why would I blow dry my hair?”
His response? “I don’t know… you haven’t gotten dressed up in awhile!”
“Seriously?! What’s that supposed to mean??”
After that, I had an idea. I thought about it a little through the day on and off, but it still seemed far fetched. When the end of the day rolled around, I sped off from work all excited for my date night, met up with Hayden, and we started walking towards the Navy Yard. If it was going to happen, I knew Hayden would have every single detail planned out, so I asked, “Where were you thinking of getting a drink before the tour?” “I don’t know, wherever you want!” And goes on to list places ALL around the neighborhood.
“Don’t you have… you know… a place figured out??”
“No, was I supposed to?! I’m sorry! I thought we’d just play it by ear and see what we were in the mood for.”
That moment of extreme disappointment was when I realized just how much I wanted Hayden to propose. Gosh, I can still remember how badly my stomach dropped with sadness in that moment.
So 7PM finally rolls around, and we head over to Bluejacket. If you’ve ever been or seen a brewery tour, you know there’s usually at least 10 people on a tour. This one? We were the only ones. Well, figuring that out was the last thing I remember (that whole blacking out from anxious/excitement is real!) until 30 minutes later when I was being brought into a beautiful side room with wooden barrels, roses, and candles. Without any control of my body, I started shaking my head yes before he even could ask! I was suddenly the happiest I’d ever been in my life.
After some pictures were taken and we calmed down a little, Hayden suggested that our photographer, Megan, come back with us to take pictures on our roof since it has a pretty view of the Capitol.
So the three of us piled into an Uber and were on our way home. When we got to the roof, we were hurrying and quickly went to go through the common area to get outside. But before we could, I was greeted by 15-20 of our closest friends!! Even my Mom and oldest/best friend had traveled to DC and were there!!
Hayden had done it all! He listened every single time I mentioned something I’d want in an engagement. He incorporated my friends who he knows mean the world to me. He got my mom there! He left no detail behind and made sure our engagement was more than I could have ever dreamed it to be. It was truly the best night of my life! I was (and still am!) the happiest girl in the world. I know this is only the beginning, and I can’t wait for all that is to come!
Venue | Mount Ida Lodge
Dress | Caroline Castigliano
Florals | Tourerelle Floral Design
Invitations | Whimsy
Hair + Makeup | Studio 321
Planner | Cristelle Koerper
Band | Turtle Recall
Cake | Favorite Cakes by Kathy
Catering | C&O
Videographer | White Flair Productions
Ceremony Musician | Plum Blossom String Quartet
Groom’s Attire | Samuel Brourman Clothiers
Groomsmen Attire | Men’s Warehouse
Bridesmaids Attire | Brideside
Lighting | MS Events
Rentals | MS Events