The Story of Us

July 15, 2018

Wedding Photo in Grand Central Station, NYC
Many people have messaged me over the past weeks asking about the real-life "fairytale" of my relationship with Herschel, how we met, how we became engaged and how we eloped (twice). Since his deployment has officially started, I thought this would be a good time to reminisce and share with you the true fairytale of our story.

I originally met Herschel in 2016 when he was leading a system implementation project for his civilian job at the State of Ohio, which involved partnering with county staff from various counties across Ohio. My twin sister, Erin, was the representative from her county and worked with Herschel for years on this project. Over the course of the project, they got to know each other, and Erin mentioned that she had a twin sister and invited Herschel, along with her other colleagues, to meet me at a conference when they were all together in Columbus in the fall of 2016.

At the time, I was married and just remember a very smiley and very nice gentleman named Herschel on my way out the door to leave for the evening. But things were a bit different for Herschel...

"I met you for all of five minutes and what I remember is you walking up and your bright beautiful eyes and your big genuine smile. We met, exchanged pleasantries and you walked away, and I remember standing there watching you walk away thinking about the impression you made on me in just those few moments and wishing to have a woman like that in my life." -Herschel Elkins

After that evening, many of her coworkers and I became friends on Facebook, including Herschel.

Two years and my devastating divorce later, I reconnected with Herschel coincidentally and found myself sitting across from him at the Ocean Club one Friday night for a glass of wine that turned into dinner, champagne, and a very long evening of conversation during which I knew he was a completely different caliber of man than I had ever met before.

Within 10 days of that evening together, we fell in love with one another.

"Monday after the second weekend of seeing Amanda, I was sitting in my office with a profound knowledge that this relationship was going to change my life forever. I remember the weight of that moment of realization and, at that point, knew that I was in love with her and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her." -Herschel Elkins

A couple of weeks later, we began planning a trip to Italy in October where we planned to marry at a villa in Tuscany. But fate had different plans. Two days after booking a beautiful villa, Herschel received a call while in his jeep with both of us dressed in formal attire on our way to a fancy dinner and the symphony when he was told he was being sent to Afghanistan for 400 days. Not wanting to ruin our evening together, he didn't say a word to me and focused on our perfect date.
Date night at M in downtown Columbus

The next day over coffee, he said "I have something to tell you and it is not going to be easy to say." I steeled myself for some bad news about which I had no idea and then he said "I am being deployed to Afghanistan soon. I don't know when yet but I will be gone for 400 days. The timing of this could not be worse."

After an inordinate amount of tears (the first of thousands I would shed as we prepared for this deployment together), he told me that he loved me, that his feelings for me would not change, and asked if we could get married before he left for deployment.

I didn't have to think about it. I knew in my heart that this was the right man for me. A man who would always take care of me, cherish me and honor me as his wife forever. And I felt the same way about him. So our plans moved from October to May.

Because I am obsessed with fashion, one day before this all happened I exclaimed loudly at my Instagram feed and showed Herschel a pink sparkly Lazaro gown and said "someday when we get married I want THIS DRESS." Ironically, I was seriously looking into how to get this gown just weeks later and found one store in Columbus that, after I told them our story, agreed to sell me the sample size gown off the rack because there was no way I would have time to order one. And, as practically everything else happened to align the stars for our upcoming weddings and time together, the dress fit me perfectly and needed minimal alterations. In fact, I was the first bride to have this dress from this store as it had only been off the runway for two weeks.  Needless to say, I was thrilled.

While I was busy finding "the dress," Herschel couldn't let us be engaged without officially proposing and began an elaborate plan for "the perfect proposal." A few Fridays later, I was told "be ready for me to pick you up no later than 2 PM. We are going out of town. Bring a formal gown."

The Proposal

Not missing an excuse for a blowout (my favorite bit of pampering), I hurried home and the always-punctual Captain Elkins arrived to whisk me away. We got to Cincinnati late in the afternoon and checked into our hotel room where he had champagne waiting on us as we got dressed for our dinner reservation at 6:00 PM.

Not knowing what to expect or where we were going, he gave me his arm and escorted me four blocks away to a French restaurant where the maître d was waiting on us at the door. They took our coats and led us upstairs to a private dining room, but nothing could prepare me for what I saw when we walked in.

There were vases of my favorite flowers, a playlist of (what I found out later was) all of the songs we’d ever listened to together, a crackling fire in the fireplace, and two glasses of sparkling rose (my absolute favorite champagne).
The "Parisian" Room at BOCA

Flowers everywhere!

My handsome fiance
Herschel took my hand and led me into a slow dance to “I Love You for Sentimental Reasons” by Nat King Cole, and I was overcome with joy and laughter at the extreme show of romance and planning I was beholding. Once we finished our champagne, Herschel said “I think your finger needs a ring on it” and proceeded to get down on one knee, told me how much he loved me, presented me with a 1.77-carat vintage diamond ring from the 1930s and asked me to marry him.

Me: YES!!!!

The next few hours were filled with a custom 9-course French meal, each with its own wine pairing, lots of laughs, more dancing. In short, it was the most romantic night of my life. I couldn't wait to be Mrs. Elkins.

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