How did you meet?
Julie: Andrew and I met online in the Spring of 2017. We communicated for a few days before I was at the pool one afternoon and Andrew asked if I’d like to meet up for dinner that night. A friend had asked earlier if I had wanted to go out that same night and I wasn’t up for it. Looking back, I’m so glad I was up for dinner at Hank’s Pasta Bar instead!
Andrew: Julie and I first met online and exchanged messages for a week or so before meeting in person for our first date.
What was your first thought when you saw or interacted with him/her for the first time?
Andrew: When I first met Julie, we had agreed to meet at Hank’s Pasta Bar for dinner. I arrived early and found Julie had arrived even earlier than I had and was standing outside of the restaurant waiting for me. I was immediately drawn to her bright smile, blue eyes and blonde hair.
Julie: Throughout the first date, there were so many common interests: both growing up locally, both going to Virginia Tech, and being foodies; that I remember thinking that Andrew might be too good to be true! I also remember our conversations after that date and it was evident that Andrew was different but in a good way!
How did you start dating?
Julie: So officially dating– We had been seeing each other for about a month bonding over love of good food, cocktails and old school video games when we went to a Gin Blossoms concert at the State Theater on my birthday in July 2018. After the concert, Andrew said he was happy that I chose to spend my birthday with him and asked me to be his girlfriend. The best birthday present ever!
Andrew: Our first date was at Hank’s Pasta Bar in Old Town Alexandria. As we began learning about each other’s background – including where we grew up and went to school – I was surprised to learn that Julie knew the names of all of the local high schools in my home town and was able to rattle off all of the names while trying to guess which one was my alma mater. We quickly realized that we had grown up less than 10 miles from each other and that is how Julie was so familiar with the schools in my home town!
What did you tell your friends or family about each other after your first date?
Julie: So, I actually didn’t tell my friends a lot about Andrew initially. Let’s just say I had been searching for Andrew for a while and was afraid of jinxing things (yep, I know…) I only told my friends only minor details of him and our first couple dates. It wasn’t until I was out with my girlfriends for brunch on my birthday about a month after Andrew and I met that I gave them more details about him. I guess it worked as Andrew asked me to be his girlfriend that evening! Once my family I told my family, they were beyond happy. Once they met him, they were just as smitten as I was!
Andrew: I told everyone that I had met someone special that had grown up not far from me and that I was interested in getting to know more and seeing what else we had in common!
When did you know that your partner was the one?
Andrew: It was Christmas Eve 2017 at my aunt’s house and it was the first time I was introducing Julie to my larger family circle. Everyone was so excited to meet Julie and she fit in so well with the entire group. Not only that, but the process of facilitating Christmas festivities with both of our families was so simple and easy due to everyone being within a 10 mile radius of each other. I told my parents the next morning on Christmas Day that I would be asking Julie to marry me some time in 2018.
Julie: With Andrew it was as simple as when you know, you know. However, when I realized could be completely and 100% myself with him, introverted and all, I knew there was something special there. Couple that with when Andrew met all my friends and family and fit in like he had been there all along, I realized that Andrew wasn’t just too good to be true, but that he was the one who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
How did the proposal happen?
Andrew: Julie and I had planned a trip to Paris, France in early March 2018. I knew I would be asking her to marry me at some point in 2018 and thought to myself “what better location to propose than Paris?” I had purchased an engagement ring shortly after Christmas 2017 and kept it tucked away until our trip in March.
Leading up to the trip to Paris, I spent time on Google Maps looking up all the various locations around the Eiffel Tower in an effort to identify the best spot to propose. I located the Place du Trocadero – a very popular tourist spot with amazing views of the Eiffel Tower – and decided that would be the spot where I would ask Julie to marry me with the Eiffel Tower front and center in the background.
The day of the flight, I kept the engagement ring in my carry-on bag rolled up within a t-shirt and containing warning messages to any TSA agent who might randomly search my bag that an engagement ring was hidden inside and to please not spoil the surprise.
The flight itself was a red-eye and we didn’t arrive in Paris until the next morning around 10:00am. We didn’t sleep much on the flight but also weren’t able to check into our hotel until later in the afternoon. We chose to check our bags with the hotel concierge and take a walk to the Eiffel Tower which was about 20 minutes away. Before we left the hotel, I asked to use the restroom and snuck downstairs to take the engagement ring and its box out of my backpack and place it inside my jacket. The challenge with having a big clunky box on your person is finding the best spot to safely hide it where your partner won’t accidently brush into it or touch it while walking or posing for pictures. I decided to store the ring in my right jacket pocket and awkwardly walk with my hands in both pockets while blaming my decision to do so on the cold wind blowing through the city and my lack of preparedness in packing gloves (I actually did pack gloves and had them with me but chose to play it off like I didn’t).
As we got closer to the Eiffel Tower during our walk, I realized we were walking up on the side furthest away from the Place du Trocadero. At this point the nerves started to set in a little and I asked Julie if we could push through our mutual desire for lunch and coffee and go to the other side of the Eiffel Tower where I had read about amazing spots to take pictures. We hadn’t eaten anything yet since leaving the airplane and it was 1:00pm at this point so this suggestion was out of character for me and I was hoping Julie was too tired from the flight to notice I was acting strange.
Directly underneath the Eiffel Tower was a little food stand where Julie suggested we grab a soda to help keep us going. I said that sounded fine to me but asked her to pay for it. This was again out of character for me as I usually offer to pay for everything but I had the engagement ring hidden in my right pocket along with my wallet. I was thinking to myself “no way I’m pulling my hand out with my wallet and risking having the ring box fall out or leave easy access to a pick pocket!”
Julie begrudgingly paid and we left the street vendor with our can of coke and began walking up the platform towards the Place du Trocadero. At this point I am sweating profusely and can feel my nerves working against me. The funny thing is I wasn’t nervous about Julie’s response to my proposal – I was worried about finding the perfect spot to ask her to marry me in a location I had never physically visited before but had only seen in photos online.
Once we were actually on the platform at the Place du Trocadero I was nervously scanning the entire area out of the corner of my eyes looking for a place that wasn’t too crowded where I could get down on one knee and not draw too much attention to ourselves. I noticed an area of the platform that had some descending stairs and was actually the closest spot to the Eiffel Tower and largely out of view of the larger crowds. Julie and I took a few photos from that spot and I felt the nervous energy hit me again because I realized this was the spot where I was going to propose and I didn’t want to lose the moment.
Standing at the spot where I was going to propose and looking on at the Eiffel Tower, Julie made a comment about how I was visibility sweating and how I must be hot in all the layers I was wearing. I responded with a comment along the lines of “well I think there’s another reason why I might be sweating so much” and at that moment I pulled the ring box out of my right pocket and slowly opened the top of the box as I dropped to a knee. Upon seeing the ring I remember Julie uttered “Seriously!?” and then nodded and proceeded to cry and was speechless for about 10 minutes. It was perfect!
What quality/qualities do you love most about your partner?
Julie: Andrew is the most caring, loyal and hardworking man I have ever met. He is extremely family oriented and has stepped in to be a part of my family along with his family welcoming me with open arms which means the world to me. He always strives to ensure that my needs are met in day to day life on top of his. We’re able to learn from each other. Ultimately, Andrew helps push me to become a better person everyday.
Andrew: Julie and I are on the same page with so many things in our lives and are both very loyal and committed to family. I love that Julie is always open to new ideas and new experiences but at the same time is comfortable just relaxing at home and being introverted with me.
What are some of your partner’s quirks that you love or appreciate?
Andrew: I love how I can be myself with Julie and I love how happy she makes me feel.
Julie: He’s a starter so he has various projects or ideas going on. I’m more of a finisher but it takes that starter to help us initiate new ideas and adventures! Andrew also has a bit of a stubborn side– he’s definitely a Taurus & an only child. He will say he won’t like something or doesn’t want to do something, but after he thinks about it or does it initially to appease me and then he likes it. I always smile when that happens.
What moment of your wedding day are you most anticipating?
Julie: Do I have to pick just one?!? Seeing him for the first time during the first look definitely. Walking down the aisle hand in hand after the ceremony for the first time as Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald! Also, I can’t wait to celebrate our love with a day that we have spent so much time planning together with all those closest to us!
Andrew: I am excited to see Julie in her wedding dress for the first time and share our special day with all of our friends and family!
As a reminder or for those curious about engagement sessions and what they are: Since couples will be spending much of their time in front of the camera on their wedding day, these sessions help to get rid of those in-front-of-the camera jitters and allow them to feel more relaxed with me and with being photographed. Most couples tell me they feel awkward in front of the camera. I encourage them to think of their session as a fun date night where they get to flirt, kiss, and have fun with each other. During these sessions I give my couples a few different actions to go through and let the rest flow naturally. People often use their engagement photos for their save-the-date cards, pre-wedding parties, and decor for the wedding. I hope you enjoyed some of my many favorites from their session. To see more from Old Town Alexandria engagement sessions, be sure to check out Jackie and Bryce and Melissa and Navin‘s sessions as well!
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