Brides is committed to guiding ALL couples through not only their wedding planning journey, but through relationship milestones and ups and downs. Every love story is beautiful, has its own distinct history, and its own trials—there's no relationship that looks the same. To celebrate that uniqueness, we're asking couples to open up about their love story, for our latest column, "Love Looks Like This." Below, Lunden Stallings shares her love story.
Words fail when trying to express the genuine love we share, but we will sure try! A little over two years ago, Olivia reached out to me asking me if my golden retriever Willow’s breeder had any puppies as she was wanting a golden of her own. I told her mindlessly DM’d her back telling her no, but I would keep an eye out for her. Well, I got in touch with a breeder out of Tennessee that had a surprise litter, and I was going to get my mom one for her birthday. Months later, I went back to that DM and told Olivia I knew of a person that was selling a golden. Not knowing that she ended up getting one from that litter, several months later we found out that her golden (Howie) and my mom’s golden (Rosie) were brother and sister! We then fell out of touch and didn’t connect again until...
In May 2021, I got a promotion offer from my job to move from Austin, Texas to Atlanta, Georgia where Olivia was also living. Without knowing Olivia was in Atlanta, I accepted the promotion and came to visit and look for a place to live. Olivia saw that I was in town. We connected and instantly knew we wouldn’t ever again spend a day apart, and we didn’t! It was history from there.
Olivia and I met each other’s families, and that is where our relationship really took off. We are both very family-oriented and having their support meant everything to us! Taking Olivia back to Arkansas for the first time will always be one of my favorite memories. This was when I knew she was one day going to be my wife without a doubt. Seeing her with my mom and sister like they have known each other for years meant everything and more to me. That whole week in Arkansas was what I hoped and longed for my entire life. All my people in one place loving on each other, it couldn’t get any better than that!
Fast forwarding to Christmas 2021, I sat my family down telling them I wanted to propose to Olivia—their reactions were priceless. With lots of happy tears and hugs, I had the support of my family and that was all I needed. I then went to Olivia’s family and got their support and love, which had me over the moon with excitement. Little did I know Olivia was doing the exact same thing and I obviously had no idea! Our families both then caught on—we were planning the EXACT same proposal!
We had a trip planned since January to go to Charleston, South Carolina in May to kick off summer. Knowing I was going to propose in May on our trip, I immediately started looking for Charleston photographers. I found Clay Austin who I instantly connected with to share my vision; funny thing is a month later (and the SAME day), Olivia reached out to the photographer she hired, Chelsea Paige, telling her the same sailboat plan! It was so in sync that we told both of our photographers the same cues we were going to use before proposing.
While all the Charleston planning was going on, I knew I wanted to surprise Olivia with one last thing after our proposal. So, I started to plan an engagement party with all our family and friends who drove and flew in from all over the states to meet us back in Atlanta when we got home from our trip. Little did I know, I was coming home with a ring TOO!
Thursday, May 19th was genuinely the best day of our lives. We both woke up and immediately had butterflies. All I could think about was our 7 p.m. sunset sailboat ride, not knowing Olivia was having the same exact feelings. One of the funniest things was I would walk out of the hotel room and tell her I was going to the car to grab something, and would just go outside to call my mom about I was so nervous! Well, she didn’t answer because Olivia immediately called her to tell her she needed to be calmed down because she was also nervous... We were literally living the same exact feelings without a single clue it was crazy.
We learned later that Chelsea, Olivia’s photographer, arrived first and said she was here for the Stallings engagement. Then, Clay arrived right after telling the captain that he was also here for the Stallings engagement. The captain told Clay that there was already another photographer waiting for us on the boat, so that is impossible. Well, Clay walked down to see Chelsea and they instantly smiled and said, “Oh my gosh. This is a double proposal”. From there, the captain had both Chelsea and Clay in sailing shirts and introduced them both as crew trainees. I knew who Clay was obviously, but really thought that Chelsea was just a part of the crew. Olivia was thinking the exact opposite. Clay was literally at one point sailing the boat, so she was sure he was a part of the crew.
About 30 minutes passed and I did my cue to Clay, and asked Olivia to be my forever. With a lot of tears, kisses, and hugs, she looks at me and says, “Lunden wait.” I am so confused at this point. I truly thought Olivia, for one, didn’t even have my ring yet. Two, I was convinced she was proposing on my family vacation in August. NOPE! She pulled my perfect ring right out of her dress pocket, and I instantly hit the floor of the boat (see picture).
It was truly the most surreal, soulmate moment of our entire lives. We both pulled off the most genuine surprise at the same exact time. We enjoyed the rest of the sail with a photoshoot and champagne.
I had made special dinner reservations that I had planned for months. But once we got off the boat, we decided to take our heels off, grab four dollar pizza by the slice, and run the streets of downtown Charleston soaking up every single second of that night. It was truly an absolute dream!
If I had to choose one word to describe Olivia and I’s relationship, I have always said “easy.” It simply has always been so natural, never forced, like we have known each other our whole lives. I knew from the moment I met her, she was everything and some that I had searched for in a partner. We are over the moon and genuinely the happiest we have ever been. We want to thank our family and friends for their unconditional love and support. We wouldn’t be who we are today without them. Each and every one of us deserves love regardless of if it may look different than yours. No matter who you are or who you choose to love, love will indeed always win.