(Then the very next day he whisked me off to Paris for a week of celebrating our engagement - just the two of us in the most romantic city in the world!)
Read the full post if you want to hear my gushy (LONG) description of how we met and got engaged and for more of the wonderful photos captured by the one and only DanFredo Photos + Films.
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I met Taylor in a bar (but he didn't remember me)....
It was the summer after I left New York City. I was burnt out from working long hours in the city and fresh out of a serious college relationship so this was simply time for having fun with my best friend Caitlyn in LA for a few weeks before she started law school and I made the scary but exciting jump to move to Hawaii with my sister Chelsea, hanging tight to the slight hope that I would be a wedding photographer there but mostly just planning to on to lay on the beach for the rest of my life.
It was a Sunday in late July and I tagged along with Caitlyn to Manhattan Beach to watch some of her college buddies play in a softball tournament that of course ended in Sunday Funday drinking at Sharks Cove (in true Manhattan Beach fashion.) That's when I saw Taylor - the tallest guy in the bar with dark scruff and a tan...so he was hard to miss. I leaned over to Caitlyn and whispered "I'm gonna make out with that guy!" and she proceeded to give me his full life story. He was super sweet but at 25 years old - a couple years older than us - he was in the thick of his quarter-life crisis and also newly single. I didn't really care. I wasn't looking for anything serious for a LONG time. I introduced myself and he didn't seem to notice me much - he had that goofy smile on his face accompanied by a really "fratty" voice which I now know signify his drunkenness. He doesn't remember meeting me this day... I also fake bar-married his friend Curtis that night with an engagement ring made from a bar napkin (turns out five years later, Taylor would be Curtis's best man and I would be the maid of honor in his actual wedding!)
I ran into Taylor again three nights later at a Hermosa bar called Boogaloo where his friends' band Whispering Eyes played once a week during the summer, packed to the gills with bussed in USC kids. Taylor had that same goofy drunk smile on and didn't remember meeting me but I danced with him anyway for a few minutes before he went off with his friends.
The next time I saw him was on Friday of that same week at (yes another bar) AC Lounge in Santa Monica for D-Cup's first US appearance ("papa americano!") We were all there early and Taylor looked kind of different - he didn't have that same goofy smile, he looked confident and smart and spoke with a much more intelligent voice than the first two times we met. He still didn't remember me and was wearing the same t-shirt as the first time we met (I think it had an astronaut on it.) After reintroducing ourselves, he wandered off toward the bar. He was talking to another girl when we had a moment where our eyes met across the bar. I didn't break eye contact. I was on a mission. I smiled. He smiled back and I could see the the wrinkles next to his eyes that I would come to love so much and I'm pretty sure we were both hooked at that very moment. He bought me a beer and we talked about music festivals and dj's and bands we had seen and then we danced for hours inseparable the rest of the night. Taylor's phone got water damage in his pocket from sweating so much! The very next day everyone met up down in San Diego for the Del Mar races and I saw Taylor's moustache for the first time. He held my hand the whole day and we took this: the first photo we ever took together!
We spent almost every day of the next two weeks together that summer at the beach and in little South Bay bars telling each other all of the stuff you NEVER tell someone you're planning to date. We were brutally honest about our past relationships and really just became super close friends who liked to make out. I didn't have a return ticket from Hawaii and I knew this guy wouldn't stay on the market for long so I just enjoyed the time instead of trying to lock him down. On August 18th, I moved to Hawaii. On the plane I told my sister "Taylor is the kind of guy I want to marry one day...it won't be him but I want to marry a guy like him" I figured we would fizzle but we kept in touch while I was in Hawaii and even though we both dated other people, we remained friends. That first Christmas in Hawaii was a sad little one...Chelsea and I couldn't afford to fly back for the holidays so it was just the two of us using dirty knee-high socks as our stockings and crashing a friend's family dinner but Taylor had sent me a large gift, he had painted this for me:
That's when I knew that it was more than just friendship. He wanted more. If you know Taylor, you know he doesn't wear his emotions on his sleeve so it can be hard to discern his feelings but this was a clear message for me. He invited me on a trip to Big Bear over MLK Jr. weekend (exactly 4 years ago as I write this now!) and he asked me if I would consider moving to Los Angeles. I had already been considering an internship in LA because my business wasn't taking off in Hawaii and my savings was running dangerously low so 2 weeks later on Feb 1st I arrived at LAX...terrified. My start in LA was rocky but within a couple of months and with so much emotional support from Caitlyn and Taylor, I was up on my own two feet and confident I had made the right decision.
The next 4 years just flew by....we moved in together and basically renovated a tiny beach shack in our beloved Manhattan Beach, became fur parents, went to tons of concerts, threw crazy parties, fell in love, met each others families, watched our careers blossom, kissed a lot, danced a lot and nestled into a group of friends that support and love us.
(Above two photos by Rebbeca Yale Photography)
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(Below, all photos by Danfredo Photos+Films)
We drove to Tucson to leave our pups with Taylor's mom. Flew to Connecticut to see my brother. Took the train to Philly to spend Christmas with Taylor's sister Ashley. She had asked if I wanted to get my nails done and told me to bring at least one nice outfit for a fancy brunch on Christmas Eve. I was already suspicious...
As we were driving to the Fairmont Waterworks (where Rocky runs up the steps in the movie), it was pouring buckets. There was a break in the rain and we hopped out to take some photos near the river and I noticed there was a woman sitting on the bench and I said to Taylor "What the heck is that chick doing sitting in the rain?" and as the words were coming out of my mouth, I immediately realized that she was probably the photographer and that my suspicions were likely correct. We started to walk back towards the big building and I noticed Taylor was edging me away from the path and Ashley was no longer walking with us.
He turned to me and said, "Chloe, there's no brunch..." and then I KNEW! I started crying and burying my face into his chest.
He was saying the sweetest things and I didn't want the moment to end so I clung tightly to his arms. He had to push me away just so that he could drop to one knee.
I didn't even look at the ring - I just went straight to nestling in his beard!
And then I saw the ring...! Custom, geometric, very hip nothing like the typical engagement rings I see every day - I LOVE IT!
When I turned to show Ashley my ring, Taylor whipped out his phone to text my dad and tell him I said yes and to remind him that I still didn't know about the trip to Paris that he would surprise me with the next morning on Christmas Day so not to say anything when I called him to tell him we were engaged! Sneaky man...
We then proceeded to have a super fun session with Dani in the rain full of laughing, dancing and kissing...
He totally NAILED IT and I can't thank Dani enough for capturing these moments and Ashley for helping make the whole thing happen. I will post Paris photos soon!