Rachel + Dave, Shepherdstown, WV Fall Engagement Session

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 I have to start off this post with a declaration: I LOVE this job. I’m so fortunate that I get to celebrate love and commitment. That I get to hear stories about how people’s lives change in unexpected, but beautiful ways when they meet their loves. That determination and a choice to sacrifice one’s own interests for the benefit of another leads to profound fulfillment. Rachel and Dave’s is one of those stories.

Rachel was logging into an online dating profile to delete her account. She had met a string of guys that weren’t interested in anything long term and were totally those stereotypical shady dudes. Just before clicking “delete,” a unlikely suitor  caught her attention.

Dave was divorced and had a kid, two things in which Rachel didn’t want to get involved. However, they started a conversation and Dave’s sweet personality stuck with her. He was kind and considerate, a gentleman among cads.

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 The two chatted for a couple of weeks and finally had their first date in early February 2015 at the Blue Moon in Shepherdstown, WV.

“We hit it off instantly and realized we had a lot in common. I was still at Shepherd finishing my second degree, nursing. Dave graduated from Shepherd in 2007. We were involved in many of the same things on campus. He had been a RA and I was a RA at the time. We both were also involved in student ambassadors. We actually had the same supervisor. I remember walking into her office and asking her about him and she told me he was an awesome guy. Additionally, Dave and I were both part of the Greek Community. I was a sister of Pi Beta Phi at WVU and he was a brother of Phi kappa tau at Shepherd.”

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Because Rachel was so busy, the pair didn’t really have time to dress up and go on dates like a typical courtship. “I had clinicals, an internship, and work so he would come over to my apartment and we would just talk and laugh or he would sit with me while I was at work.”  At that point, the pair confesses they hadn’t really decided whether they were officially a couple and kept their budding relationship somewhat quiet.

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After it became clear that they both wanted to be in a serious relationship, Dave introduced Rachel to his sweet daughter, Kaylee. While Rachel rejoices now in the close relationship she has with Kaylee, she laughs recalling their first introduction. “When Kaylee met me, she said ‘hi,’ and kept on playing, like I was nothing exciting!”

About a month later, Rachel was offered her dream job at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, TN, and was forced to decide if she should stay to pursue her relationship with Dave (and now Kaylee too) or go to Nashville. Dave and Rachel had a heart-to-heart talk about their futures and agreed the relationship had potential for the long-haul. Rachel made the tough decision to stay and called Vanderbilt to turn down the job.

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It turned out that the decision was prudent. Dave and Rachel’s relationship blossomed and Rachel now cherishes her relationship with Dave’s daughter. “I absolutely adore Kaylee and we have the best relationship. She’s my little side kick. Our world revolves around her. Being a step mom has been one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences I never thought I would have.”

::: Pass the tissues, amiright? :::

In fact, Kaylee was part of the proposal! Dave reserved the same table where the pair had their first date. After ordering, Dave casually told Rachel that Kaylee had made her a present. She looked down at a frame decorated with stickers and all the trappings of a 4 year old which read, “Rachel, Will You Marry Us?” When she looked up, Dave was on one knee with the most gorgeous, perfect ring. And, as you can guess, Rachel said “yes.”

This bride and groom are most excited about spending time with their bridal parties. The bridesmaids, for example, are old school friends who live all across the country, so the wedding will certainly include some reminiscent revelry! The two are working on the details of their rustic spring wedding and enjoying see their vision come to life.

Even Rachel’s dad helped with some of the wedding planning. Rachel came home after a stressful day and found a “guestbook” handcrafted by her father. Rustic wood nailed together into wall art and bearing the couple’s initials and wedding date, Rachel nearly cried when she saw it.

Thank you so much, Rachel and Dave, for inviting me into your lives and sharing your love story. I can’t wait to see you exchange rings and vows in May!

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Focusing on relationships, real moments, and story-telling, Claire Watson specializes in photography that captures true beauty and feels genuine and authentic. Claire Watson is a Wedding Photographer based in Martinsburg, WV; she joyfully serves clients in West Virginia, Northern Virginia, and Maryland.