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Shenandoah National Park on Skyline Drive Engagement Photos | Carly + Joe

I finally made it out to Shenandoah National Park on Skyline Drive for an engagement session! What?! Somehow, I’ve not yet had a couple who was interested in making the hike out there for a shoot and it’s been on my list of places to go for some time now. Carly and Joe love the outdoors and do a lot of hiking and camping and riding out to Skyline Drive so this location has special meaning for them. I love that! The scenery is so breathtaking everywhere you look and I was so excited to spend this time with them. We spent our time at Big Meadows and it was quite cold and in the 30’s the whole time. They braved the cold but still rocked it out and NEVER complained once. They spent so much of their session laughing and going with the flow and I’m so excited to photograph their wedding next May at Riverside on the Potomac in Leesburg, VA! As always, enjoy a small handful of my favorites and learn more about the two of them below. Cheers to this amazing couple and I hope you enjoy!

How did you meet?

Carly: We met in college at GWU when I was a senior and Joe was a junior back in 2012. He’s always told me that I was too young to be a cougar, so he calls me a puma instead!

What was your first thought when you saw or interacted with him/her for the first time?

Joe: Our first date was for coffee at the Foggy Bottom Whole Foods (they had a great little coffee shop that all the GWU students hung out at). Carly got there first. I remember walking up to the table and she had a giant textbook on counter-narcotics trafficking open with literally hundreds of post-it note tabs on it. Carly was working on her thesis on Mexican drug cartels while waiting for our date. I was actually a bit intimidated–this girl was pretty intense and smart! We walked all over Foggy Bottom that afternoon just talking and laughing. It was an instant bond.

Carly: Honestly, the moment I saw him I thought: “I’m going to marry that man.” I remember being startled by that thought because I am NOT the type of person that believes in love at first sight or fate, but I just had a feeling that this was the guy I was meant to be with. Turns out I was right!

How did you start dating?

Carly: For our first date, we got coffee at the Whole Foods on our college campus and then went for a walk. I remember how easy it was to talk with Joe and how much I loved making him smile with his cute dimples. I was hooked right away! After our first date, we saw each other just about every day. We made things “official” about a month after our first date. I don’t like gray areas or ambiguity, so I wanted to be 100% certain that this was an exclusive relationship and that neither of us would be seeing anyone else (even though neither of us was). Joe kept good-naturedly teasing me about girls always wanting to talk about everything, so I decided to circumvent that. One day, I got an index card and wrote out: “Dear Joe, Do you want to be my boyfriend? Check yes or no. PS: This way we don’t have to talk about it.” I handed it to him with a sharpie and waited for his response. He laughed, checked yes, and handed it back to me. I still have it! He likes to tease me for not putting a “maybe” option and, as he puts it, making him sign a contract.

What did you tell your friends or family about each other after your first date?

Joe: I think I told my family pretty quickly, because it got serious pretty quickly!

Carly: I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I do remember that I couldn’t stop smiling. One of my college roommates saw me shortly after our date and told me that this guy must be really special to make me react that way–she was right!

When did you know that your partner was the one?

Carly: A little over a year into our relationship, my Nana was nearing the end of her life. She had cancer and was, at the time, very small and frail. My dad, Joe, and I went to visit her in Massachusetts. She was laying in her bed, propped up with a pillow. But she kept sliding down and wasn’t strong enough to raise herself back up. Joe asked her if she would like him to help her up, and she said yes. He then leaned over and gently pulled her back up to a sitting position. For the rest of our visit, every time she slid down, he wordlessly helped her sit up again. He was so kind, gentle, and patient. I knew before, but this really solidified for me that this was the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with.

It didn’t hurt that this same Nana had told me before that if I didn’t marry him someday, she was going to. Nana always had good taste!

Joe: I don’t actually remember a specific date or event that marked this… but I think that’s because it just worked from day one. There was never really a question that this was it.

How did the proposal happen?

Joe: I rented a cabin in West Virginia for a weekend, and picked out a spot at Point Lookout in a nearby state forest. I had set up my camera on a tripod with a remote shutter (which Carly didn’t think twice about, I do a lot of photography so she just ignores it now). I got down on one knee, told her that I want to spend the rest of my life doing my best to make her the happiest woman alive, and she said yes!

Carly: Joe and I decided to get out of the city and spend the weekend at a cabin in Berkeley Springs, WV. Joe made pancakes in the morning (my FAVORITE) and then wanted us to go to the nearby Green Ridge State Forest to see the beautiful foliage and take some photos. When we got to Point Lookout (a BEAUTIFUL spot that looks out onto a horseshoe bend in the Potomac River), Joe seemed a little anxious. At the time, I chalked it up to him wanting to find the best possible vantage point to take his photos and didn’t think much of it. I was looking at something away from Joe and not paying much attention to what he was doing. When I turned back around to face him, he was down on one knee! He had a big smile on his face and started things off with: “I have some things I’d like to say.” I cracked up and couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. Shortly afterwards, a group of women drove up towards Point Lookout and realized what had just happened. They were very excited for us and told us that they’d all been married for decades, ranging from 20-35 years. We took it as a good sign that there was some long, happy marriage karma meeting us! We celebrated back at the cabin with a campfire, macaroni and cheese, and a viewing of Stargate. It was a perfect day.

What quality/qualities do you love most about your partner?

Joe: Carly is incredibly intelligent, caring, and kind. I love how passionate she is.

Carly: I feel like this is a very generic term, but Joe is truly the kindest person I have ever met. He is always the first to volunteer to help a friend move or help a stranger push their broken-down food truck off the road (a real thing we did during one of our dates). I love that I can always count on him to be there for me when things are going well or when things are tough. We’ve been together long enough now that we’ve been through a lot of “real life” things together, and Joe is always such a rock for me to lean on. I have no doubts that as we continue to go through life, I’ll be able to rely on him to stand by my side and have my back every step of the way. I also love how silly he is–no one can make me laugh like Joe! Even when I’m feeling upset or doubting myself, Joe can always pull a laugh out of me and make things seem better. I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else.

What are some of your partner’s quirks that you love or appreciate?

Carly: When Joe decides to do something, he is ALL IN. I love that he’s so dedicated to any goal or task he sets for himself. This has worked out especially well for me, since of the things he’s dedicated himself so wholeheartedly to is me and our relationship!

Joe: Carly is goofy. She can’t resist a pun. We’re always, ALWAYS, laughing.

What moment of your wedding day are you most anticipating?

Joe: I’m looking forward to seeing Carly in her wedding dress! I’m also really excited to see all of our families together to celebrate.

Carly: I can’t wait until that first time I see him when I walk down the aisle, surrounded by our closest family and friends. I just know he’ll be standing up there smiling, and those dimples still give me butterflies.

Carly and Joe are getting married next Spring at Riverside on the Potomac in Leesburg, VA! Congratulations, Carly and Joe! I can’t wait to celebrate with you both.

Shenandoah National Park on Skyline Drive engagement photos at Big Meadows

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