Aubrey & Christian are a couple after my own heart. These two are so adorable together. My heart swelled every time I witnessed them expressing their love for one another. Usually, I tell my client’s love story, but Christian wrote their love story in such beautiful words. So, I am going to let him tell their story.
Telling the story of how I came to fall deeply in love with Aubrey is no easy task. There is a short version and there is a long version. It’s not a particularly complicated story but it does – to my mind – span years. It involves many peripheral though important characters and kind of goes all the way back to when our grandfathers were still with us. It is for me as much a story of faith and family as it is of two people finding each other and realizing what they’ve found. I’ll give you the pertinent details as I see them. I know that a lot of what I am going to say will be somewhat disjointed and seem irrelevant.
It is very hard for me to express in any cogent manner this “journey.” I apologize in advance. Both of our grandfathers were physicians and worked in the same medical park in my hometown of Winter Haven, FL. Aubrey’s grandfather, Dr. William Read, was a surgeon; my grandfather, Dr. Raymond LaRue, was a pediatrician. They both ran private practices and aside from being professional peers shared other, more important commonalities. Each was a devoted Christian, husband, father and patriot, and I believe these qualities bonded them in a special way. Unfortunately, I never got to know my grandfather. I was just an infant, barely born when he passed away of cancer. But I’ve heard hundreds of stories of how wonderful a man he truly was; how he loved his family, how he loved God and how much he cared for and loved his patients.
Many of these stories were told to me by Dr. Read. My best friend, Austin, who is also Aubrey’s cousin, used to insist that I visit his grandfather quite regularly. So I would go and see him and we would end up talking late into the night and early into the next morning. Literally, three to five hours would pass and most of the talking was done by Doc Read — stories of his family, his experiences, and memories of my grandfather, Dr. LaRue. Those were very special evenings that I cherish to this day.
My point in sharing this with you is to express the fact that I have known Aubrey’s immediate and extended family for a long time. I have had a meaningful relationship with the latter long before I fell in love with her. We both come from pretty big families. We have lots of cousins, aunts, and uncles. Many of tour family members have been around long enough and often enough to watch us grow and mature over the years. It is very special for us to have so many of them present on our wedding day.
Now, if memory serves me, Aubrey was thirteen years old the first time I met her and this would have been, I guess, a couple years before I started visiting with her grandfather. I think I was fifteen at the time (my birthday is in June, so I was always one of, if not the youngest in my class). Don’t worry; this is just a thing we remember.
There was NOTHING like a romantic relationship even considered at that time for obvious reasons. I just remember that Austin and I were taking she and her friend who was visiting from Boston, MA to Typhoon Lagoon or one of the other Disney water parks for the day, and she and Austin were bickering for some ridiculous reason and we actually pulled over so they could both throw tantrums, essentially. It was an unbelievably petty event. Aubrey acted like a brat and Austin acted like an ass hole. That’s that; that’s the first time I remember ever meeting my little Aubs.
Years passed before I can recall a specific occasion or interaction with Aubrey after that day. Obviously, she lived in Stuart and I was in Winter Haven; she was younger and I was older. Austin moved to Ghana with his parents for sophomore and junior years of high school and family functions that I would attend diminished to zero because my primary relationship was with Aubrey’s extended family – i.e. her cousin Austin and his immediate family.
There is a lot of disagreement between the two of us regarding timelines in our relationship. The years honestly have begun to run together at this point for me. As I remember, I went to Auburn for school and didn’t see much of Aubrey for quite some time. We might have seen each other here and there at a family event like a Christmas party or something, but very infrequently. It wasn’t until after I graduated from Auburn that I would see her again. I was attending a Hooper/Read family function at the Hooper’s house.
It must have been June or July; it may have even been July 4th. Anyway, the house was filled with people and everyone was having a great time. I was talking to Aubrey’s Aunt Belinda and Grandma Read. Belinda started to tell me a story about how Aubrey went out with her friends to some bar. Instead of talking to the guys who came by and tried to pick her up, she would make a silly or dreadful face and just hold it for several seconds until said guy got the picture and left. She would say nothing and she thought that this was a funny thing to do. As Belinda told me the story, I just chuckled politely.
I didn’t think it was funny; I didn’t really get it, but Belinda and Grandma both thought it was. Aubrey happened to be walking by us as Belinda was relaying this story to me and told Aubrey to come over and SHOW me what she was doing on that particular night at the bar. Aubrey laughed a little bit but was all in. She wasn’t shy, she didn’t hesitate.
“Pretend you’re hitting on me at a bar,” she said with a smile, so I did. I used some cheesy pick-up line and the next moment
I used some cheesy pick-up line and the next moment Aubs contorted her face in a way I can’t even describe, and she held it right there in front of me for I don’t even know how many seconds, but it was several. Belinda laughed hysterically and grandma just kind of stood there smiling watching the two of us, not saying anything, and I stood there thinking, “What the hell is happening here?” Aubrey held that face so long that I literally started to feel awkward and a little embarrassed.
I finally said, “Ok, I get it! That’s sort of a harsh way to turn a guy down but I can see how it works,” or something like that. Her face went back to normal, she laughed and walked away. I fell in love with her at that very moment, as she walked away in that strapless, tea-length purple dress with the cool, almost hipster pattern that just seemed to me so “University of Florida”, so starkly different from what the girls at Auburn would wear, and so cool and so sexy, to be frank. She didn’t turn around to see if I was watching her as she walked off, but I was. I was hooked. For the first time in my life, I was floored by a woman, left sort of reeling by this awkward moment that this young coed so coolly and confidently created without really intending to.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to do after that night. Austin and I were such good friends, practically brothers. I was so close to that side of Aubrey’s family, that I was a little apprehensive about whether I should pursue a relationship. Of course, I had no idea if Aubs would even be interested in exploring that prospect. I knew that I was, and for the next few months my mind was preoccupied with the possibility.
The night she made that goofy face, I learned so much about Aubrey. I was absolutely drawn to how sure of herself she was; how easy it was for her to simply be herself, to share her incredible personality with anyone she encountered. I came away from the evening understanding her to be beautiful, bold and confident. From everything I had ever heard about her from her relatives, I also knew that she was very intelligent, slated to graduate at the top of her class from UF; that she was a talented singer and performed a cappella with a group called The Sedoctaves at school; and that she was a Christian, which is very important to me. All of this information coupled with the goofy face incident arrested my thoughts and imagination. I was thinking about her all the time.
One day, Aubrey’s cousin Brayden, who is also a groomsman, casually mentioned that I should give her a call. It occurred to me that she probably told him to put in a good word for her or something, and while that idea certainly excited me, I was still somewhat hesitant to put myself out there. At the time, I was trying to get into law school but it wasn’t really working out. I was working a full-time job for a local agricultural company doing the grunt work – planting orange trees, fertilizing them, taking down and putting up new barbed-wire fencing and performing any number of other tasks that needed to be completed. I was kind of drifting and felt that I was not really good enough for a woman like Aubrey.
To be totally honest, I was a little intimidated and embarrassed with my situation. Some time passed before I saw her again, this time at a quasi-family function at a family friend’s house. We talked a lot that night and by the end of it Aubs extended an invitation to me to come up and see her in Gainesville for a weekend, we could go to a football game or participate in the other shenanigans that college towns afford. I told her I would definitely take her up on the invitation but I wasn’t sure when.
After a few weeks, I called Austin up to tell him that I wanted to pursue a relationship with Aubrey. Austin is my best friend. He is also Aubrey’s cousin. As her cousin, he is very protective and I wanted to make sure that he would be okay with me dating Aubrey if it came to that. He gave me his blessing and a few weeks later I called Aubrey and told her I wanted to come hang out for the weekend. Gainesville is a two-hour drive from Winter Haven.
The whole drive up I was a mess of nervousness and excitement. I was nervous because I still felt that Aubrey may not be interested and I was excited because in my heart I truly felt that God had a hand in the situation. I just somehow knew that Aubrey and I were meant for each other, that we would make a great match, that our personalities would mesh well and we would have a great time.
That Friday night we went out with some of her friends to a free concert that the student union was putting on. While I am a sociable guy capable of making conversation and keeping it going, I am not a particularly social person. Aubrey is a social person. She has troops and troops of friends and loves to be where the action is. At the concert, I was very much out of my comfort zone. There was a lot of dancing and I am a terrible dancer, but
There was a lot of dancing and I am a terrible dancer, but Aubs overlooked that fact. I watched her dance and fell in love a little more. She was so free and fun and in the moment and I found it very attractive. One of the things about being with Aubrey that I love is that she frequently takes me out of my comfort zone and forces me to try to live in the moment, to get out of my own head and not worry so much about what other people might be saying or thinking about what I’m doing and just enjoy the present.
Anyway, Saturday morning came and I just had to relieve some of the anxiety I was feeling. I decided the only way to do that was to simply tell Aubs how I felt and learn whether or not she was feeling the same way. I was very nervous, so I just immediately asked her: “how do you feel about a relationship – you and me; about giving this a shot and seeing how it goes?” I’m certain it was the strangest way she had ever been asked by a guy if she would consider an exclusive, romantic relationship, and I’m sure it caught her off guard. Be that as it may, she replied in the affirmative and we began dating.
It was a little difficult since we couldn’t see each other during the week. It felt a little like being back in middle school sometimes. We would talk on the phone for hours on end whenever we were able, but we learned so much about each other. I would talk to her about everything under the sun – our families, our faith, our dreams, our experiences and our hopes. On Friday nights I would drive to Gainsville after work, stay the weekend, usually go to a football game and meet and hang out with her friends; often she would have a capella performances with her group The Sedoctaves, which I loved attending.
Over the last four years, Aubrey has been the most positive, amazing and encouraging blessing in my life. Aubrey has stood by me through thick and thin. She has forgiven my shortcomings and encourages me to get better every day. Aubrey loves me for exactly who I am. The years we’ve shared so far have been extraordinary. We’ve hit some rough patches here, went on some incredible adventures there. We always tried to remember to laugh no matter what and have really had a ball going through life together, and learning and growing together
The AMAZING team of professionals who made this beautiful event possible!
Hair & Makeup: 5th Avenue Hair & Makeup
Venue: Indian Riveside Park
Wedding Gown: Ever After Bridal
Wedding Gown Designer: Allure
Stuart Wedding Photographer | Stuart Wedding | Indian Riverside Park Wedding
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