High school sweethearts Michele and Elio joined Shanell Photography at Union Station for their elegant Chicago engagement session.
How We Met
Elio and I actually met when we were 13, in eighth grade, at a “Freshman Orientation” for our High School. We quickly became good friends! I still remember eating lunch on the lawn with our little friend group. Although we were best friends throughout High School, we didn’t start dating until senior year homecoming. He was a big flirt and I knew it was real when he held my hand during the fireworks and bought me Steak & Shake after (we still consider this our “first date”) All those years of friendship turned out to be a great foundation for our relationship – he’s still my very best friend in the entire world.
Our Proposal Story
It was the holidays and I was totally ready – nails, tan, lashes, the whole bit. For every date and family get together, I made sure to get dressed up thinking, “maybe tonight will be the night!” But Thanksgiving and holiday candlelit dinners came and went. After spending Christmas Eve with our combined families with a lot of bubbly but still no ring, I said as we got into bed, “all my friends are blowing up my phone asking if I’m engaged. It’s making me a little anxious” (this was absolutely true.) Laughing, Elio replied that there was no need to be anxious! The jeweler couldn’t get the ring done and it would be a few more weeks before he was able to pick it up. He asks, “Are you disappointed?” I reply, “No I’m not, I should have my nails and lashes done like this all the time!” (insert eyeroll emoji) Smiling, he rolls over and goes to sleep. Meanwhile, I’m trying not to cry.
The next morning I wake up to the smell of coffee and sound of Elio whistling (as he does when he’s happy/having a good round of golf) and he asks if I want to open presents. Reluctantly, I get myself out of bed, throw on some sweats, not even bothering to brushing my teeth or hair (gross right?), and plop myself down on the couch. He hands me a big box – it had a long note inside filled with so many beautiful sentiments, at the end, it read “Look Up”. When I do, he’s down on one knee, holding the perfect ring that “wasn’t ready” and asking me to be his wife. I was so genuinely shocked that it took a few seconds to find the word “yes!” We popped a bottle of sparkling rose before heading to my Mom’s house where his family was waiting to celebrate. Out of all the pictures that were taken that day, my absolute favorite is a selfie we snapped right after he proposed, before anyone else in the world knew, in our sweats, hair unbrushed, tears still in our eyes.
One of my mom’s close friends is a jewelry designer. We met her in the city last fall where we were able to choose the perfect diamond and build a custom setting around it. It was so special to create something so beautiful together.