How It All Came Together: It’s kind of a funny story…we met the night of our friends’ wedding on September 13, 2014. I was a bridesmaid and John-Mark was a friend of the groom. The ceremony began and as I walked down the aisle I noticed this tall guy standing behind the seated guests. He had arrived late to the wedding. As soon as the ceremony was over I asked whom the cute boy was standing behind the crowd. He was a friend of the groom’s.Just a few moments later he came up to the table where the bridal party was seated for dinner. John-Mark asked the bride and groom to point out the single bridesmaids. They told him that he should ask the girl in the pink dress(me) to dance. All night during the reception everyone was trying to push us into talking to each other. Finally when the reception was almost over, John-Mark approached me.
We chatted for a few minutes. While we were talking he told me about how he was joining the Air Force and would be leaving on December 29th for basic training. He asked me if he could take me out to dinner the next time I was in town so I gave him my number. The DJ announced that he was about to play the last song of the reception so all of the bridal party and guests got out on the dance floor to dance. John-Mark and I were the only two people who didn’t have someone to dance with so everyone started chanting our names. He finally asked me to dance. Neither one of us can remember the name of the song because we talked the whole time we were dancing. After the song was over, we all lined up outside to send off the newly weds. We waved bye to each other and left.
I was texting a friend that night about the wedding and told her about John-Mark. I told her that even though I didn’t really know anything about him and I only talked to him for 20 minutes I could marry him (How ironic!). The next day I got a text from him asking me out to dinner for the next time that I planned to come home from college. He took me to Ted’s Montana Grill and we talked for hours. From that night on we started dating! Our relationship has always been long distance. For the first three months, I would drive 3 and a half hours home from college almost every weekend and he would occasionally come to Georgia Southern University to visit me. December 29, 2014 soon approached and John-Mark left for San Antonio, TX for Air Force Basic Training.
It made us both sick to our stomachs to see this day come because we knew it would never be the same from that day forward. We were both willing to do whatever we could to make things work even though the odds were against us. Some of our friends even doubted our relationship and thought it would never work out but we were determined to stay together. Throughout the 8 weeks of training I sent John-Mark 56 handwritten letters each 3-6 pages long. I drew pictures, sent Bible verses for encouragement, sent photos, even sprayed my perfume on the paper and sealed each envelope with a kiss. He wrote me when he was able and he was allowed three short ten-minute phone calls. It was so hard and miserable for the both of us to be apart for this long without communication.
I flew with his family to Texas for his graduation at the very end of February. We were beyond excited to see each other and we picked up right where we left off. We only visited for a few days. John-Mark remained in Texas for 12 more weeks for AIT tech school and then he received his first orders. We prayed and prayed that he would get stationed in Georgia or at least in the South East but God had a different plan. He received orders to be stationed in South Dakota. We both forgot the state even existed up until this point. He returned home that summer to visit for a few weeks before he moved. We made the most of our time together here at home. We decided to drive across the country to South Dakota and turn it into a road trip so that we could spend a few more days together. It was so hard to leave him there because we both had no idea when we would get to see each other again.
Ever since then we only get to see each other four times a year for a few days at a time. On December 29th, 2016, which marked two years since John-Mark joined the Air Force, he proposed to me! John-Mark found out last minute that he was able to take a few days of leave to come home for the holidays. I was excited that this would be the first time we would get to spend New Years together but a little sad because this was the first year he missed Christmas. He was only home for five days and somehow he managed to squeeze in the proposal.
We had always talked about how we should go back to Ted’s for dinner since that’s where we had our first date but never made plans to do so. While John-Mark was home visiting, he suggested that we should go back to Ted’s, just the two of us so we made plans to go. We have also always wanted to go see the Holiday Lights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens but it never worked out in the years past. John-Mark suggested that we should go see the lights while he was home so we invited his best friends and his sister to meet us there after dinner. John-Mark and I went to dinner at Ted’s and reminisced about our first date, afterwards we met everyone at the gardens. We all walked together through the gardens gazing at the beautiful lights.
John-Mark’s sister, Abby stopped us to take a few pictures in front of our favorite lights of the show. It was getting close to closing time and we had already been through the whole park and seen all of the lights but John-Mark insisted that we find another good spot to take one more photo. He kept guiding me over towards the fountain, which was the center of the attraction. Once the crowd cleared out, the two of us got in front of the fountain and posed for a photo. In the middle of having our picture made, John-Mark got down on one knee and proposed! I was completely shocked and burst into tears. His friends filmed the proposal and his sister captured the moment perfectly with photos. We hurried home afterwards to celebrate our engagement with our families.
It was a night we will always cherish and never forget! We have decided to get married on May 12, 2018 at Carl House in Auburn, Georgia and we are beyond excited. After the wedding we will make our way up to South Dakota together where we will begin our new adventure together!
We can’t wait for that day to come so that we can finally be together forever! Throughout our whole relationship we have lived miles and miles apart only getting to see each other a few times a year but he have always made our short time together well worth it. One of our favorite quotes about long distance relationships that I sent to John-Mark in a letter during basic training says:
This quote has been a reminder to us throughout our long distance journey that love is worth fighting for. All the miles traveled, plane tickets purchased, airport goodbyes, tears cried, care packages sent, Netflix dates via FaceTime, and the sleepless nights thinking about how much we miss one another make the limited days that we spend together that much more special to us. We always knew in our hearts that no matter how painful distance could be, not having each other in our lives would be unbearable… after all, true love will always find its way! 🙂 Our relationship would not have been possible without our faith, trust in one another, and constant support from our families and friends. I hope that our story will serve as inspiration and encouragement to other couples that face the difficult challenges of long distance relationships. Hang in there, it’s worth it in the long run!
Photography: Aline Marin Photography