Couples, Engagements, Portraits

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Winter Harpers Ferry WV Engagement Session | Rachael + Lee

Today I’m sharing with you Rachael and Lee’s winter Harpers Ferry WV engagement session! These two are going to be married in September of 2021 with the fabulous Alison of Cherry Blossom Weddings & Events and I am looking forward to it SO much.

We had originally planned to do their engagement photos the week of Thanksgiving, but I actually love a winter session (so long as it’s not 20 degrees) so when we had to push it back a little, I was not bummed about it at all. These two were so easy-going and sweet and I loved getting to spend some time exploring the quaint area of Harpers Ferry with them. A bonus was that Lee knew his way around the area pretty well since he has family there, and I loved that the area was meaningful for them.

I’m getting ready to share some of their love story interview with you all, so here we go!

Rachael: We met on July 2, 2016. Our mutual friends were visiting from DC and we all met up in Sheep Meadow in Central Park. It was a beatiful hot summer day. Fun Fact: Lee (and his 2 brothers) went to Penn State, as did I. After an evening of insomnia, I found a photo of Lee and I in college together. We didn’t fall in love in a hopeless place, but we had both been there. (Photo evidence available and it’s a good one!)

Lee: Rachael and I first met in Central Park over July 4th weekend in 2016. We had mutual friends that were visiting New York for the holiday, which was a lot of fun. We had a big group go out for pizza on the Upper West side that night. The movie The Dark Knight had come out about eight years earlier, and I was a bit too eager to remind everyone that Rachel was also the name of Batman’s girlfriend.

Rachael: It wasn’t an immediate connection. Neither of us were looking for something. Lee was funny and playful and we shared a fun day in a group of friends. We shared some interesting moments, specifically one in reference to the Dark Knight and my name being Rachael.

Lee: Rachael is beautiful in a way that does not really resemble anyone else I can think of. I once heard someone describe her as “striking,” which I think is pretty accurate. She also has an amazing laugh.

Lee: Several months went by before I saw Rachael again, which gave me some time to regroup and rethink my strategy. I don’t think I made a great first impression over the summer, so I didn’t have her phone number either. I finally sent Rachael an Instagram message asking her out. Her response was something along the lines of: “I can’t, I’m traveling to India.” Luckily, we crossed paths at my friend Carlos’s birthday party that fall. Our friends from DC visited again the first week of December, and we all went to a bar to watch Penn St come back from a 28-7 deficit to beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. Perhaps because she was in such a good mood from that football game, Rachael agreed to get a drink with me after work on December 8, 2016.

Rachael: After many months, Lee slid into my Instagram DMs and asked me out. I responded that I was going to India, but maybe when I got home. I’m pretty sure he thought I was blowing him off, but I was truly going to India and Sri Lanka. After I returned, despite being super nervous, I said Yes. On December 8th we went on our first date. Lee chose a bar near our offices, but it was booked out for a holiday party. We walked down the street and popped inside a small Irish pub. Our date was surprisingly enjoyable and easy. This was a much different Lee than I first encountered. I loved how he spoke about his family and his friends. He told me about his trip to South Africa when he was in a cage with great white sharks. He told me about his mentorship program and his mentee, a youth in the Bronx. At one point we took turns in the restroom and when Lee was in the restroom mozzarella sticks were delivered. (How does he know?) Ends up he didn’t know! He came back from the restroom and told the waiter he didn’t order them. (Heartbroken… and hungry!) We walked out onto the sidewalk. Shared a rather unbelievable kiss. It will forever be one of my favorite NYC moments. We said goodbye and walked our separate ways. I remember turning around a few strides and thinking to myself that this may be something. Lee later realized he messed up with the mozz sticks. On our 2 year dating anniversary, he surprised me with mozz sticks and roses.

Rachael: I wasn’t quick to tell Julie (our mutual friend) about our date or even dating because I was nervous. We got close really quickly. Lee joined me and my friends to celebrate my birthday in a snowstorm. We spent the morning after at the diner eating pancakes and watching the snowfall. Another favorite NYC moment. Soon after, Lee surprised me with a date on Valentine’s day. My first ever! That sealed the deal and we were official.

Lee: That first date didn’t go exactly as planned. I wanted to take Rachael to this cool cocktail bar near where we worked in Midtown, but when we arrived it was closed for a corporate holiday party. We ended up at an Irish Pub called Pig N Whistle.

My Dad was in town for work that week, and I think I told him about my date and how Rachael was able to have a good time even in a divey pub. She is also a New Yorker and a Nittany Lion, a very strong combo.

Lee: We had this huge party in Rehoboth Beach in the late summer of 2017 to celebrate my Dad turning 60 and my brother turning 30. Rachael came to the party and met an overwhelming number of my friends and family for the first time. She was pretty unfazed by it all. It was always going to be a memorable weekend (big birthday party at the beach, duh), but having Rachael there made it so much more fun. We have done a lot of traveling over the years and she makes every trip more enjoyable for me and everyone else. I can’t imagine not having her around, life would be so dull.

Rachael: Everything with Lee is fun and easy. Every day is a new opportunity to navigate life together.

The real moment I knew I loved Lee was when I came home from work, and was in a bad mood. Things weren’t progressing at work the way I wanted and I didn’t know what to do. Lee said that “we” would figure it out. From then on we were always in it together.

Lee: We got engaged on April 11 in the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. I had originally invited some friends and family to New York to celebrate with us. As we got closer to the date, it became clear that it would not be safe for anyone to travel. As a substitute, I hired a photographer that would be waiting in the park at 10:30 am to take photos of the proposal. I tried to act normal before we left the house that morning, but I suspect that my changing into a real pair of pants (the non-sweats variety) was a major red flag.

It was a beautiful day and I’ll never forget that walk through the park with the ring in my jacket pocket. There was an unexpected number of people in the garden that morning, including our photographer who was dressed in hot pink from head to toe (very inconspicuous). I dropped to one knee on a patch of grass that is off-limits to foot traffic. The park ranger waited until Rachael said Yes before telling me to get off her lawn.

Afterward, we walked back to the apartment to drink champagne and call our families. We were very happy.

Rachael: During the height of Covid, Lee wanted to go for a walk. I realized he put on jeans, so I put on jeans. When we got to Central Park, I noticed a woman in all pink taking photos of us and sure enough Lee got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. It was an emotional blur. I said yes! We hugged! A parksman approached us to congratulate us, but also asked that we get off the grass. I later found out that Lee had planned for our family to be in town and a weekend getaway. He didn’t want to wait and so we celebrated via zoom calls with family and friends and drank champagne on the balcony. It was just us, but it was truly perfect. I think I knew something was up, but it was still an incredible surprise and some light in the darkness.

Rachael: Lee is not only handsome, but is loyal, honest and supportive which are the most important things I could ask for in a partnership. He loves me unconditionally, which I know I test at times. He is so hardworking and modest. He has been working full time and in his MBA program. He’s at the top of his class in one of the best online programs in the country. Lee is surprisingly romantic and thoughtful. I had a flight delayed home from Australia and he waited with a welcome home balloon to spend all of a few hours sleeping next to me before I had to go straight into work. I adore how much Lee adores my niece and nephews.

Lee: I mentioned that Rachael is beautiful and fun. She is also incredibly caring and generous. She is a great friend, daughter, aunt, and fiancee. She is also hilarious.

Rachael: Lee has a great smile, but an even better laugh. Usually it comes from Family Guy, but occasionally I’ll really make him laugh and it’s the best ever. I am always worried and Lee is patient and carefree. We’re like ying and yang.

Lee: Rachael works with a lot of British people for her job, so I always think it’s funny that she changes her vocabulary and mannerisms on work calls (she has to check her diary to see when she is going on holiday…)

She falls asleep on the couch almost every night in our apartment and then acts annoyed when I try to wake her up to go to bed.

Rachael is a bit of a worrier, so I think we kind of balance each other out in that way.

She tries really hard to keep our house plants alive, with mixed success.

Lee: I can’t wait to see Rachael in her wedding dress for the first time.

I am also really looking forward to getting our family and friends together, many of whom will be meeting for the first time. I think we found a great venue for a big celebration and I’m excited to see what it will look like on our wedding day. It’s going to be so much fun!

Rachael: I can’t wait for us to profess our love and make it official. I’m also looking forward to our first look, since it will be a bit more intimate. Lee also looks exceptionally ravishing in a suit. I think with Covid and the inability to celebrate so many special occasions with our family and friends, we’re really just looking forward to being together.

To see other engagement sessions, you can view more here!

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