Elisa and Thomas met through Elisa's brother, dated for awhile, decided to stop dating, became good friends, eventually fell in love, and two years later began discerning marriage together. While Thomas remained hopeful that this would be the ending to their story, Elisa gave him plenty of opportunities to practice patience along the way. If you're a fan of unconventional love stories a la Anne of Green Gables, you'll enjoy reading theirs.
In Elisa's words: My amazing husband-to-be, Thomas, and I met on September 5, 2014 after First Friday Adoration at St. Joseph’s parish in Washington, DC. My brother introduced us and it was attraction-at-first-sight. A few months later he asked me out and we went on a few dates. We definitely clicked, but both of us realized that God was not calling us to a dating relationship at that time. Thankfully, we discerned this early enough to continue spending time together in groups without (too much) awkwardness and our friendship grew.
Fast forward to a little over a year after our first round of dating. The Lord had done a lot of work on me, and I had finally turned my dating life over to Him. I was praying more intentionally than ever for my future husband and I decided that unless I really felt like God was calling me to date someone, I was not going to date at all. Right around this time, Thomas asked me out for a picnic date. I knew I would have a wonderful time with him if I said yes, but I had just made this resolution and was committed to sticking to it, so I declined. He rolled with it, because he’s the best, and very smoothly asked me to have dinner "just as friends" instead. I readily agreed because, unbeknownst to me, I was already falling in love with him (it was all very Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe).
For the next few months Thomas and I continued to spend time together in groups. I was more and more drawn to him and there were many times when it should have been obvious to me that I had feelings for him. But, for His own mysterious purposes, the Holy Spirit kept me blindfolded to the fact that I was falling in love with one of my best friends.
On September 17, 2016, I began a Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots for several intentions, but mostly for God's will to be done in my life and the lives of others I care for. On the 9th day of the Novena, the Holy Spirit, in His perfect timing, removed the blindfold and I realized I loved Thomas and didn’t want to live without him. I was so at peace that this was the relationship Our Lord was calling me to.
I called him the next day and asked if his offer still stood. He said yes (EEEEKKK!!!!) and that night we met at Adoration at our parish to begin a novena to St. Joseph asking for his intercession as we began to discern God’s will for our lives together.
My husband-to-be also happens to be a wonderful musician. About a month into our courtship, he sent me a song that he had written about us before we started dating. The chorus:
Oh I can feel a change coming quickly
Will you and I start again and
Embrace the Mystery?
I asked him when he had written the song and he told me September 17. That was the day I began the Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. When he told me the date he wrote the song, it finally hit home for me that Our Lord is in every detail of our lives, stitching together an incredibly intricate, beautiful plan that we could never dream up for ourselves: “Nothing is impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).
Thomas finished writing the song a few days after he shared the beginning of it with me. He recorded it for me as a Christmas present because he is just that wonderful. Whenever I listen to it, I am reminded of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our relationship. It is such a blessing.
Four and a half months after we started dating, Thomas orchestrated the most perfect proposal of all time. I'll let him tell that story.
In Thomas' Words: In March of 2016 my work sent me to London for a 6-month business trip. I knew that God would use this time away from friends and family to help me grow and lead me closer to my Vocation, but I never would have guessed how.
My first stop en-route to London was Dublin, Ireland for St. Patrick’s day. It was here that I made the decision to marry Elisa without even knowing it. As I sat in my AirBnB on the eve of St. Patrick’s feast, I wrote in my journal:
If marriage is my vocation, I could see myself marrying Elisa.
Elisa and I were simply friends at this point, so why write that I would marry her? As Elisa pointed out, the Holy Spirit and Our Lady were already weaving our lives together.
After Dublin I went to Koln, Germany for a few meetings and then shipped off to London for what I thought was going to be a 6-month stint. At the London border I was stopped, detained for 12 hours, and extradited from the country – the original “Brexit.” After spending Holy Week in Rome I went back to the States, confident God had a better plan in mind for me.
During the six months that followed my unscheduled return from London, God’s plan for my life continued to unfold and my trust that Elisa and I were meant to be together grew. I got creative in figuring out as many ways to spend time with her as I could since Elisa was not yet ready to date. This included but was not limited to: moving 6 blocks away from her, camping with friends, baseball games, offering her rides to parties, getting a ticket right next her at Phantom of the Opera, etc.
About a week before Elisa and I started dating, I was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write a song about our relationship. I was sure we were on the cusp of a new chapter for both of our lives. Nine days later I started dating the most beautiful, holy and hilarious woman I know, and after four months of dating I was sure I wanted to make that woman my wife.
How I asked:
Getting permission. Arguably the most nerve-racking part of the proposal process. My future father and mother-in-law live in Texas, so as much as I wanted to, I wasn’t going to be able to ask in person. Elisa’s mother asked me a few pointed questions regarding my intentions only a couple weeks before, so requesting permission over the phone was suitable. I ran a couple wind sprints, did a few push-ups, and called Elisa’s father, receiving permission. Nerve-racking step #1 complete.
Finding the right ring. He didn’t go to Jared’s, but she still said yes! My parents generously gave me my grandmother’s ring from the 1920s which I had re-set in platinum. This was one of the sneakier aspects of the proposal planning process as I had to get creative so Elisa wouldn’t find out I was checking on her bling. Elisa shared with me post proposal that she wanted a vintage, heirloom ring. Yet another instance of God’s providence.
Planning and executing the proposal.
I chose to propose in front of the Mary statue at St. Peter’s on Capitol Hill for a number of reasons:
1. Elisa works at St. Peters so she and I have spent many hours praying there together for our friends, our families, and each other.
2. When Elisa and I started dating in September, we decided to pray the St. Joseph Novena (highly recommend) which we completed in front of the St. Joseph statue as St. Peter’s. It was here, in front of the statue on the last day of the novena, that I told Elisa for the first time that I loved her.
3. Both Elisa and I have had devotions to Our Lady for most of our lives. We know she has interceded for us from day one and was very instrumental in bringing us together.
Nine days before I popped the question, I asked Elisa to pray an “Our Lady Undoer of Knots” novena with me. Bookending the courting period with a couple of OLUK novenas felt like the right move. On the night of the proposal I met Elisa at St. Peters to finish our novena, with two white roses in hand for the Blessed Mother.
I asked the pastor of St. Peter’s to move the kneelers in front of the Mary altar and turn off the lights except those above the altar: Pro tip – Good lighting is crucial to any successful proposal. My sister snuck in the back of the Church with my guitar, Elisa and I prayed the rosary, and my heart reached a new high for BPMs. After we finished our prayers I took Elisa by the hands, got down on one knee and asked her to by my wife. She squealed “yes!” and I serenaded her with the song I wrote nine days before we started dating.
Photography: Paul Padgett, Thomas' Brother-in-Law | Location: St. Peter's on Capitol Hill, Washington DC