Get to know contest couple #1! Please note: the ONLY place you can vote for this couple is on their inspiration board on our Facebook page. See it HERE. Go to the bottom of this post to see the rules of voting. Good luck Leah and Neill!
How They Met
We should have met some time in 2007 through mutual friends at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as we were usually all in the same places at the same time around campus, but we never did. In the fall of 2008, we officially met through mutual friends (two of our groomsmen) at their apartment, he was one of the happiest people I had encountered, laughing, singing, making jokes, dancing and pulling silly, mostly harmless, pranks on his roommates.
After spending many weekends at the “guys’” apartment, flirting with each other and doing what we do best: being goofy, I knew I had to make a move! So, in March of 2009 I took him out on our first official date to dinner, where I asked him shyly but really more awkwardly if he wanted to date, as in only each other, and he didn’t answer. He just put food in his mouth and moved on to another topic (he says he gave me an answer, but I didn’t hear it!). I went along with it, brushed my clumsy attempt at asking him out under the table and let him lead the rest of the conversation. After dinner, we went to see “I Love You, Man” at the movie theatre. He held my hand near the end of the film, and due to the hand-holding, I felt it was necessary to ask something along the lines of “Soo, um…I asked you earlier, but I’m not sure…..are we dating?….Or what…?” and he promptly replied “Yes! I thought we were?” I told him how confused I was, and then we laughed all the way home. To this day, we continue making each other laugh, as it should be.
And as Neill puts it, “I just haven’t been able to shake her since.”
The Proposal (Since Leah sent it to me from both perspectives, it’s more entertaining when they are spliced together)
Neill: After a long time of debating with myself as to how I would actually propose I settled on a sure thing, something to do with horses. There is no way Leah could say no if a horse was involved (but I had no worries she would actually turn me down, since I was getting plenty of gentle nudges & hints). If some of you don’t already know this, when Leah sees a horse, she immediately looks and acts like a 5 year old being told they can have unlimited candy and toys (I’m not exaggerating). I settled on a horse and carriage ride after dinner. I told Leah I would take her out for a dinner to celebrate her being finished with her master’s exam and classes in order to not draw too much attention.
Leah: On June 8th, 2013 Neill wanted to take me out for a celebratory dinner as I had just passed my Master’s exam, so we went to the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee to have delicious food.
Neill: I had one issue, how in the world to carry the ring in the box without Leah knowing (it’s not like I carry a purse or anything). So my solution was to wear a sports coat over my shirt, which I never do, so I could put the ring in the pocket of the coat.
Leah: Before we left, he put on a brown sport-coat. He never wears sport coats to dinner. I told him he didn’t need it, primarily because I really liked the shirt he was wearing underneath it, but he wanted to keep it on, so who am I to argue with a guy trying to be fashionable.
Neill: I had to hold my ground and tell her it was cold out and that I thought I looked great in it. She thankfully let me keep it on.
Leah: We finished dinner around 7:30, and Neill mentioned that we have 30 minutes to wait because we had plans at 8pm. I asked “What plans? We don’t have any plans!?” which he slyly replied, “It’s a surprise.” I looked out the window and saw a horse and carriage parked outside the Pfister, so, because horses are my favorite, I asked if we could take it for a spin to waste some time before our mysterious plans at 8.
Neill: She saw a horse and carriage sitting outside and immediately asked me if that is what we were doing (remember what I said earlier about how she is around horses). I had no choice but to tell her yes or she might have dragged me outside to see the horse at that very moment.
Leah: I had ruined my surprise. Whoops.
Neill: So we went upstairs, grabbed a drink, and headed out to meet the horse around 8pm.
Leah: I, of course, spent some time petting the horse before jumping in.
Neill: We got to take pictures with the horse before the ride, and even though the driver knew that I was going to propose at any second, played it off cooler than a polar bear in a blizzard.
Leah: The horse’s name was Nick, by the way.
Neill: Earlier in the week I had picked up a mini cooler, two wine glasses, & one bottle of wine to bring on the horse & carriage ride. We got into the carriage and Leah immediately noticed the cooler with my name on it.
Leah: When we hopped into the carriage, I noticed a cooler with a sticky note saying “O’Reilly.” This was it, I knew it.
Neill: She started talking fast (she had to know what was coming at this point) and asked me what was inside.
Leah: I asked all sorts of questions like “What is this cooler doing in here? What’s in the cooler? I’ll find out…Oh, it’s wine! Why did you get wine? That’s so sweet of you! Oh the wine bottle has a horse on it too! You really planned this out…”
Neill: Then I smoothly said, “but before the wine, I have one last surprise for you” and popped the question.
Leah: Before I knew it he was down on one knee inside the carriage asking me to marry him
Neill: Just kidding it wasn’t that smooth, I was a nervous wreck. But she said absolutely so it worked out fine.
Leah: He shed a happy tear, I kept on talking a mile a minute. It was us.
Neill: Then I got to let out a huge sigh of relief… my toughest and most stressful part of the wedding planning probably just finished.
The wedding style I’m going for is rustic elegance, I like the mason jars and mis-matched bridesmaid dresses, as well as mis-matched decor/center pieces. I want it to feel unique, but also timeless. Seafoam blue is the main color. The location will be in Madison, Wisconsin, home of the UW-Badgers and the best cheese in the states. Our top venue is called Monona Terrace, it’s a wonderful Frank Lloyd Wright building that offers views of the Capitol on one side, and Monona lake on the other.
How to vote:
2. Cast ONE vote on Facebook by liking the couple’s inspiration board.
3. Cast DAILY votes by commenting on the couple’s inspiration board.
Voting will remain open until Sunday, October 13th at 11:59 pm, PST. The winner will be announced on Monday, October 14th! Good luck to all the finalists!