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Congratulations to Payton and Zach, one of OAK's newest couples! We look forward to sharing in your wedding this June! Here is their love story, in Payton's words:

How we met: Zach and I met at a party during our freshman year of college. He played baseball and I was on the cheer squad. The baseball players had very strict curfews and he was late leaving in time to meet his curfew. Somehow we landed in the car together while riding back to campus that night. It was funny, because we had a conversation between us about how both of us were loving being single!

We saw each other several times on campus and at different friend’s apartments the next few weeks. All of my life I have had a passion for dance and I actually posses many years of experience in the dance field, even as an instructor; but I have to say that my attraction to Zach was that he was a much better dancer than me! I also began to notice that he was such an amazingly happy person and was hilarious to be around.

In the fall while campaigning for homecoming court, I offered him a cookie. He often expresses how delicious that cookie was. Soon after, he began texting me and we started spending more and more time together. We had some of the best times together simply riding back roads. The two of us seemed to be always carefree and laughing while we were together. He truly made me smile so effortlessly.

We have spent very little time apart since that fall. Zachery is my one true love that I consider a gift from God and thank him for everyday. The Lord knew already had a plan that late summer night when he placed us at the same place at the same time.

How He Asked: An amazingly talented photographer that is a close friend of my moms, text me one afternoon a few weeks ago. She said “Payton, I have a favor to ask you. Would you and Zach be interested in ‘modeling’ for me next Saturday morning? I have an idea I would like to try. Let me know if you’re interested.” Hope and I have spent a lot of time together the last few years. She shot my senior pictures, special occasions and had even taken a few photos of Zach and I together once before. So needless to say I was excited and Zach seemed to be ok with her idea.

Hope and I worked out the details over the next few days and I never even had the slightest suspicion that it was actually Zach that was putting her up to reeling me in. After a little car trouble (which through Zach’s plans slightly off schedule), Zach and I arrived early that morning at the meeting place Hope had requested. She was going to photograph us spending time together at Dunn’s Falls, which is a beautiful waterfall that flows into the Chunky River in Enterprise, MS.

Little did I know that while she was beginning our session, both of our families were traveling to the waterfall also. Zach had thoughtfully remembered that I have always said I wanted our families to be there when that special day came. But since our families couldn’t let me see them and spoil the surprise, they were trying to judge the proper timing after the car trouble we had experience and were a few minutes later than what Zach had planned.

Hope had already captured us holding hands and just being Payt and Zach on the venture down to the falls. She then began shooting various moments of us in the bottom of the fall. Once it was time for his big moment, she cued Zach and he ignored her cue. Needless to say both Hope and Zach became a little nervous, (at least they said they did) but I never noticed. See, Hope didn’t realize that Zach was waiting on the families to arrive. They had a small miscommunication between them and she didn’t know that he wanted our parents on top of the lookout above the waterfalls watching the proposal. Hope took over and decided to shoot a few more creative shots of us.

Zach finally saw our parents up high.  The big moment came for Zach and I had my back turned to the waterfall. Hope instructed me on where to stand for her next shot, she stepped away with the camera and I watched as sweet Zachery knelt down on one knee. Happy tears ran down my face and I knew what was coming next. There was no doubt what my answer to his question was. As we enjoyed the moment and exchanged a big hug, I could hear cheers coming up from the top of the waterfall. I looked up and noticed our families looking down and it was at that moment I knew my dream was real!

We enjoyed lots of hugs together with our parents and siblings at Dunn’s Falls. Of course, we had to grab a few more photos with the ring on my hand and even caught Zach admiring his perfect choice more than a couple of times. We posed for a quick group photo and then headed back to our hometown. I then found out that Zach had picked out a perfect new dress for me to wear and had arranged a gorgeous vintage inspired surprise engagement luncheon at a local restaurant. The restaurant was decorated wonderfully just for us and to make it all the more special our closest family and friends joined us in the celebration.


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