Maybe it’s the way they danced in a wide open field on a beautiful farm during golden hour. Maybe it’s the way they snuggled under a willow tree dripping in pink roses and drank pink moscato as the sun began to set. Maybe it’s the way he looks at her. Maybe it’s the way she smiles when he does.
So many things make today’s Kate Spade inspired engagement session so very special. It’s the most epically magical love story and engagement session I’ve ever featured!!! Every girl (myself included) that sees this is going to want Caroline of POSH PR to plan + style a fairytale engagement session just like this one and have Natalie Franke Photography capture it. There honestly aren’t enough words in the English dictionary to describe how amazing it is!
Editor’s Note: It’s also the last love story we’ll ever feature. And even though I am a touch sad to see this wedding chapter close, it’s ending on the sweetest note, and for that, I couldn’t be happier. Love is most definitely sparkling in the air today! Like champagne. I hope this feature touches your heart as much as it has mine! <3
HOW THEY MET
Paul and Katie met in the summer of 2009 at the gym. A trainer they both knew pulled them away from their individual workouts and awkwardly introduced them.
Katie remembers wondering if this cute guy was actually interested in her or just being friendly to make the situation less awkward. She found out later that the seemingly random introduction was actually not random at all.
It turns out, while Katie secretly had her eyes on Paul, he had his eyes on her. When he asked the trainer about her, the trainer decided to play matchmaker!
Paul invited Katie to a local bar and grille that night where his friends’ band was playing and they spent all night talking and listening to them play. Katie brought her best friend with her and was so impressed with how attentive Paul was to them both that night. She loved that he was as much a gentleman to her friend as he was to her.
At the end of the night, Paul walked the girls back to Katie’s house. (She’d left her car on a side street since they’d had a couple drinks.) After walking them home, Paul realized he never asked for her phone number, so he went back to the side street and slipped his number in the windshield of one of the three cars he found parked there.
He ended up giving his number to a complete stranger…
When he finally got his hands on her number, he asked her out to dinner. Katie was home from college for summer at the time, so Paul met Katie’s mother when he came to pick her up. She liked him right away—a definite sign that he was a keeper!
He took her to a local restaurant called Liberty Tavern where they both proceeded to spill water all over themselves at different points during dinner. They still spent the entire night talking and laughing a lot.
When Katie got home that night, she called her friend (the one she’d brought to the bar with her) and told her there was something special about this one.
Paul and Katie have been together for seven years and have experienced so many milestones and special moments together. They have a million favorite memories, but family vacations have definitely been some of their favorites.
After Paul’s brother and sister-in-law got married, they all spent a week together in Cape Cod to celebrate. One day they rode a tandem bicycle along the coast. Katie remembers holding tight to Paul as they rode down hills and feeling like she was flying.
They also have some beautiful memories creating their own special traditions. Valentine’s Day is Katie’s absolute favorite holiday. She’s always thought of it as more than just a romantic holiday, but a day to celebrate love in all forms and to sprinkle a little more of it all around her.
This past year, Paul and Katie celebrated by visiting a local retirement home. They passed out flowers to the residents and staff members who care for them and spread a little Valentine’s Day cheer. They really made their day and sharing that experience together was so special for them.
NEW YEAR’S EVE
They started their favorite tradition—a gratitude jar—last year. Throughout the year, they slipped little notes in the jar with moments of joy, love, happiness, and gratitude written on them.
On New Year’s Eve, they dumped them out on the floor, and took turns reading them and reflecting on the moments and memories; some of which would have been forgotten had they not been written down. They literally laughed, cried, and laughed until they cried all night long.
Even though they’ve experienced many exciting milestones and adventures together over the last seven years, the gratitude jar reminded them of the beauty and joy in the ordinary and helped them be grateful for all of the big and little gifts they’ve been given.
They can’t wait to keep the tradition going year after year and look forward to sharing it with their future children! They hope it will continue to remind them to notice the magic that’s all around them.
FALLING IN LOVE
There was an instant spark between Katie and Paul from the start. Falling in love with Paul wasn’t something that happened in a single moment, but in a million little moments that happened during their first year together, and honestly, still happens. He steals her heart every single day.
The way he smiles, the way he always gives her the chocolate pieces out of his trail mix, the way he dances around their condo just to make her laugh, the way he takes care of her and derives genuine happiness from her happiness. She still gets excited when he comes home from work every day 🙂
A year after they started dating, Paul went to watch Katie compete in the Miss Virginia pageant. As weird as it sounds, he thinks that’s when he realized he was in love with her.
He thought her true colors showed beautifully while she was competing and he loved watching her interact with everyone there—from the young girls that looked up to her to the judges that eventually picked her to be the next Miss Virginia.
During visitation, on the second night of preliminary competition, Paul slipped Katie a note. It was an equal parts sweet and silly love note that he signed at the end, “Some guy who is falling in love with you.”
REALIZING THEY’D FOUND THE ONE
Somewhere along the way, Katie’s feelings for Paul went from “I love you” to “you are my person.” And even though she fell in love with who he was six years ago, she’s even more in love with him today.
She always tells him she loves him from the tips of his toes to the top of his head, but she loves his heart the best. Paul knows every unflattering, crazy, nonsensical thing about her and somehow makes sense of it and still finds beauty and humor in all of it.
He often reminds her when she gets frustrated with certain parts of herself that every part of her makes her the person he loves.
Katie says that life with Paul keeps getting better and better. Just when she thinks she can’t love him more, she does. She says that that’s one of the most exciting things about marrying Paul—she can’t imagine loving him more than she does today, but knows the best is yet to come!
Paul popped the question last summer on July 1st; just in time for Katie to sport a special sparkler on the fourth of July!
Every year, Katie’s entire family on her mom’s side vacations at Litchfield beach in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. It’s a very special tradition for them and a special place for her family. But this year, Paul planned for something extra special to happen.
He wanted to propose on the beach because of the meaning it held and so Katie’s whole family could be there. He even hired a photographer to capture it and everything! But Katie planned a special photo shoot as a surprise for their anniversary at the same time. Thankfully, Katie’s mom found out and immediately alerted Paul who contacted Katie’s photographers and made arrangements to hijack her photo shoot without her knowing.
The photo shoot/proposal began at Atalaya Castle, the historic estate of Archer and Anna Huntington. Archer Huntington built it for his wife. It was her dream home and an escape for her to work on the art she loved to create. Today, the eighty-year-old castle stands as a tribute to their love story and a symbol of enduring romance.
As a little girl who lived in princess dress-ups, a real life castle was the perfect setting for their fairytale to begin. Little did she know her own prince charming was about to sweep her off her feet!
They took photos all over the grounds of Atalaya before heading down to the beach. As they walked, Paul began talking. It was in that moment that Katie realized what Paul was about to do. Everything seemed like a surreal blur, but she’ll never forget the beautiful things he said to her.
As they emerged onto the dunes, Paul dropped down on one knee and pulled out a shell with the most gorgeous ring she had ever seen!
Neither of them are sure she even said yes, but she did give him the wrong hand! (Luckily, one of them knew what was going on and the ring made it on the correct finger!) Katie joked afterward that she had only one job in that scenario and she literally did it all wrong. But it was perfect!
The most beautiful part was that Katie’s sweet Granny, who had passed away a couple months prior, and her Pop were the ones who had started the beach tradition. Paul had her Granny’s diamond re-set in her engagement ring, and so although she was missing from the celebration, she was truly at the center of it. It couldn’t have been more perfect!
THE SWEETEST FUN FACT
While Katie was changing outfits during their engagement session, Natalie took a photo of her ring on top of a “Pop” champagne bottle. In doing so, she unknowingly captured something so special to her. The diamond in Katie’s ring once belonged to her Granny, and in the photo, the ring is framing the word “Pop,” which is what they call her grandfather.
HOW THEY BALANCE LIFE, LOVE, WORK & WEDDING PLANNING
We are still in the midst of it all, but we are having the best time! We began planning right after we got engaged; and secured our venue and most of our major vendors right away. This really allowed us to take a step back and enjoy being engaged and soak it all in without any worry—because our date was set and the biggest things were already taken care of.
We have tried to take advantage of the time we have to be more productive with wedding planning and also allow ourselves to step back from wedding planning when other parts of our lives get busy. This has really helped keep wedding planning fun and help us maintain a positive balance.
If your bride asks, give her your honest opinion. “I don’t know” isn’t helpful, and “I don’t care” can be hurtful when she’s asking you about something that matters to her.
Ask how you can help; and understand that there’s a lot of planning that you probably won’t even be aware of. Be appreciative of her hard work—there are a lot more details that go into a wedding than you realize.
Most importantly, keep a stash of chocolate handy at all times! Remember that wedding planning should be a fun experience that you can do together. And that ultimately, her happiness is more important than any wedding decision or detail.
My best advice is to keep perspective and enjoy the experience! You have already made the only decision that truly matters—choosing your life partner.
When something becomes stressful, remember that ultimately which flowers you carry or what flavor filling you choose for your cake won’t matter on your wedding day. Because the person who makes your heart happier than it has ever known will be standing at the end of the aisle and your family and friends will be there to celebrate with you and surround you in love.
PAUL’S BEST RELATIONSHIP ADVICE
Communicate openly and honestly, even when it’s uncomfortable. One thing I have learned from my relationship with Katie is that expressing feelings is a sign of strength, not weakness. Remember that no matter what, you and your partner are on the same team.
KATIE’S BEST RELATIONSHIP ADVICE
For couples who are engaged and getting ready to tie the knot—have fun planning and dreaming of your future together, but also take time to be fully present where you are right now.
During our engagement, I have been asked if I am “counting down the days” until our wedding. I am over-the-moon excited to marry Paul, and school girl giddy with anticipation for this day I have long dreamed about… but I am not counting down the days until our wedding because I am striving to make every day count.
I am appreciating the time I have with Paul and our relationship as it is right now. Getting married is so exciting and such an important milestone, but being engaged is also a beautiful adventure and that is the adventure I am focused on right now.
When our wedding day comes and we move into our next adventure, I want to look back on this season with a full heart. It is a season we will never get back. It is a season that has value. And it is a season I intend to fully embrace while I have it!
Thank you, thank you, Katie and Paul, for being our last featured couple, for sharing your love story with us, and for being an inspiration to all! Thank you Caroline of POSH PR for planning and styling this most magical engagement shoot for them! Thank you Natalie Franke Photography for capturing their love so perfectly!
Thank you everyone for reading all 248 love stories we’ve featured over the last 4 years! We love you all and hope you’ll continue to follow our journey as we start this next chapter all about female entrepreneur lifestyle!