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Story of Us | Part 3: Christmas and a Gondola Ride

Life with The Carneys

May 21, 2019

welcome to the story of us

I held his hand as we drove. Hoping it wasn’t sweaty. Hoping I wasn’t clutching it so hard he could feel my nerves. The snow fell softly outside the windows as I worried whether or not his family would like me. We’d talked about his large, boisterous family and my introvert heart clenched each time I thought of being thrown into the sea of new people. New people that mean the absolute world to him. He distracted me with lame dad jokes and witty stories. Making me alternate between rolling my eyes and gut laughing. And always kept holding my hand. Finally we pulled into the parking lot at the bar, Jon’s mom inside prepping for that night’s business. I’m not sure why, but meeting mom is always the most intimidating! But not with Gail. As soon as Jon introduces us she pulled me in for a hug, offered me a drink, and we proceeded to stand around chatting. I said maybe all of six words, but hey #introvertlife.

The next day was the large family Christmas party at Jon’s grandparents’ house. We walked inside the house and it was like WHOA – instant overload! As we shuffled through the crowd, I was introduced to so many aunts, uncles, cousins, my head was spinning. There was no way I could possibly remember all their names on the first go! 😂 I am the opposite of someone who loves being the center of attention and being the new girl Jon brought home meant I was just that. Questions asked, me striving to not be awkward. Talk about overwhelming!! At some point Jon moved off to chat with some of his male cousins, leaving me to fend for myself. In a room of loud, boisterous people. Who all know each other and I’ve met all of two of them. Basically, an introvert’s nightmare. I faded towards the edge of the room to take in the madness (I mean, there’s no other way to describe a Wittman gathering!). Feeling overwhelmed and so unsure of myself, I stood there fretting when out of nowhere Jon’s mom came up and put her arm around my shoulder. And just held on. Not talking, not asking questions, just offering silent comfort to a young girl who felt so overwhelmed.

You see, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’d somehow found the most amazing guy. We’d been dating for only a few months when we both knew that we were going to get married. Before we’d even gone down at Christmas for me to meet his family. We’d even talked about it together, both hoping it wouldn’t freak the other out. So besides that amazing guy, I gained the most awesome family I get to call mine too. I’ve mentioned several times that they’re loud and boisterous. But they’re also sweet, funny, fantastic people to be around. They welcomed me with outstretched arms. So what I thought was the scariest weekend turned out to be one that I treasure so very much.

Fast forward several months and it’s late summer. I’d graduated that May from Purdue and relocated to Indianapolis for a hotel job. And though there was some tense moments and a lot of prayers, Jon got a job at Beech Grove and was able to join me. We’d gotten our own apartment and were adjusting to our new jobs. We were busy, busy, busy and it was hard sometimes to do more than just go to work, come home, relax on the couch, sleep, and repeat. While we dated through my senior year at Purdue we used to do what we called “surprise” date nights. Jon would text and say “Hey, I’m coming down on Friday evening. I’ll be there at 5:30pm, wear something fancy.” We’d never know what the other was planning, it was super fun! So one evening as we’re lounging on the couch Jon brings up how we haven’t done one in awhile and he was going to plan something for that weekend. I was told I could dress casually and it would be a simple date night.

So on Sunday we head downtown, me peppering him with questions along the way about what we were doing. We ended up parking along the canal and get out and start to walk down along it. Me being oblivious, I think we’re just going on a nice stroll before heading to dinner when Jon walks me towards a gondola docked on the side of the canal. The gondolier greeted us by name and it didn’t take long before I was ushered into my seat on the gondola. As we pushed off and started gliding down the canal, Jon wrapped his arm around me and we had the mundane conversation on how much fun this was and how nice the weather turned out to be that day. I won’t lie, I had a slight inkling on the drive downtown that maybe he was going to propose, but then laughed at myself and said “Yeah right.” At a lull in the conversation, Jon turns toward me and says “You’ve always known how much you mean to me…” and that inkling came flooding back! I know I started crying and I’m sorry Jon, but I don’t remember anything else you said until you asked me “Courtney, will you marry me?” 🤣😭 After a tearful “YES!” I threw my arms around his neck (not the best move inside a moving gondola!) and laughed over how he’d tricked me and that this amazing guy was going to be mine forever. After the gondola ride ended we continued walking along the canal, soaking in the gorgeous sunset and the promise of the most amazing things to come!!

Here’s the one shot we captured along our canal walk and some over our favorite engagement photos by the wonderful April Cochran-Smith!!

Much love friends,

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