How He Asked | Melissa + AJ

We are honored by the opportunity to walk alongside you in this marriage ministry, from Yes to I Do and beyond, and we love returning to our couples' stories as they continue to unfold. If we've featured your love story in our How He Asked engagement series and you now feel called to share your wedding with us, as well, submission details can be found here.

Read more here for the story of Melissa and AJ’s wedding, a tale of devotion to the Lord and his Blessed Mother, and a wedding day completely enveloped by peace. 

Melissa and AJ met at church through a mutual friend in 2016, and they were married less than two years later in 2018. Their love story is a whirlwind of romance, faith, and Marian devotion.

Even AJ’s proposal, which didn’t unfold completely as planned, was filled with intentionality--from the ring he had custom-designed to the final love letter he presented to his future bride.

Through the intercession of Mary and the Blessed Virgin’s parents, Sts. Joachim and Anne, AJ and Melissa were graced with the strength to promise the rest of their lives to each other.

In Melissa’s words: A good friend who knew both of us well introduced me to AJ one night at church. That was July 19, 2016. A few weeks later on the solemnity of the Assumption of Mary,  after a Latin Mass at the oldest and most beautiful Catholic church in Miami, AJ asked me on our first date. Two months later we had already begun talking about marriage and the good things in store for our future.

On the days leading up to the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, we made our first consecration to Jesus through Mary by finishing 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley. We would later renew our consecration on our wedding day, April 21, 2018, at the very same church where he began pursuing me less than two years earlier.

Looking back, he had been planning the proposal for a long time.

I only knew it was coming because he could not contain his excitement, which was the sweetest thing.

The summer after I finished grad school, AJ asked me to leave one particular Wednesday unplanned. I tried not to be suspicious, but that was the moment I really knew. I really thought I had it all figured out.

Even though I was going to be hiking all day in the sun, I decided I needed to look my best since I strongly suspected he was planning to propose! I woke up early that Wednesday and got myself ready. This was in Moab, Utah, and he came to take me hiking at Arches National Park in the morning. The rest would be revealed as the day went on.

There was no cell service in the park, and we both took advantage of it to unplug and enjoy nature. He drove me to Delicate Arch, our first stop. Unbeknownst to me, this was also where he planned on meeting a photographer to capture our special moment.

We immediately spotted some park rangers, cones, and a roped off section of the park. I caught AJ desperately trying to cover up his look of, “this was not the plan!” Apparently, there had been flooding due to rain the day before, and the trail was closed.

There was a local woman and her daughter who pulled up at the same time also asking about the trail. They explained that Delicate Arch was their favorite, so it was too bad it was closed.  However, they had another favorite trail called Double Arch, and we could follow them over there if we wanted.

While all this was happening, I had no idea that this stranger was actually our engagement photographer trying to help AJ come up with a last minute backup plan!

As we hiked up Double Arch, I took pictures of beautiful rock formations. AJ took my hand, and led me to the center directly under the main arch. He began to say a lot of lovely things that I would never have been able to remember, because I was so giddy and nervous and excited. But he had written them down beforehand.

In short, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

AJ proposed on July 26, the feast day of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They are also the patrons of marriage, among other things, and such an incredible example of marriage and family life. During the days leading up to his proposal, AJ prayed a novena to these two holy saints asking for their intercession in our future marriage.

And the ring was beautiful. We had already gone to look at rings together two times. He knew exactly what I liked best.

I had no idea that his mother had given him a diamond that she bought on a necklace when she was my age. He had taken her diamond to a jeweler and had the rest of my engagement ring custom designed based on what he knew I liked. It is the most special thing I own.

To add to the special moment, July 26 was exactly three months after the day I received his first love letter in the mail. I received fourteen more letters during that time frame. He handed me the last one right after he put the ring on my finger.

He showed me how each letter began with a word, and the first letter of that first word was enlarged just a little bit more than the rest. When all 14 letters were lined up next to one another, together they spelled out, “WILL YOU MARRY ME?”

He had been asking me to marry him since April that year, and he finished his question on the best day, the day I said yes.

I am so thankful that God made this man for me, who seeks the Lord with his whole heart and goes to God first before coming to me. I cherish our love story so much because it is rooted in faith and prayer, individually and together.

Photography: Richards Photography | Location: Arches National Park |  Ring: Albert's Fine Jewelers