Ryan Pratt and Ally Taulbee fell in love on Christmas Day, 2009.
But their love story starts long before that day...
Ryan and Ally's lives came together like a fateful movie -- at times a hopeless drama and simultaneously a romantic comedy. There were a few tears but mostly laughs. Some good times, some bad. But some memorable, movie-like moments always brought them back together.
In the Winter of 2001, Ally and Ryan locked eyes at opposite ends of the long golden hallway just outside the purple gymnasium at Jackson High School. They didn't speak. But it didn't matter. It was a typical high school romance.
Then one Saturday morning in the Fall of 2005, Ryan and Ally locked eyes once again. This time just outside the Starbucks on North High. Though basically strangers at the time, their embrace felt more like that of two long lost lovers in a classic 50s film. Her warmups were a brilliant scarlet on grey film.
Then there was the notorious strip beer pong tournament in the basement of Ryan's house on Lane Ave during the summer of 2006. Ally won. And Ryan lost. It was college.
In the summer of 2007, Ryan met Ally at Lido's on North High for drinks. Her best friend was bar tending. Ryan showed off. Ally giggled. And to this day that is all they remember. It was college, the sequel.
The following year, Ally and Ryan spent a hot summer day in the lagoon-style pool at The Barn in Dublin, Ohio. Ryan sat on the shallow brick edge as Ally hung on his dangling legs. Their conversation drowned out the DJ by the bar. It could have been a scene from Gatsby.
In 2008, Ally and Ryan spent their first holiday weekend together watching a Christmas movie marathon, which included Home Alone, Scrooged, Elf, Fred Claus, The Santa Clause, and, of course, Die Hard. He surprised her with a Horton Hears a Who DVD and stuffed elephant.
2009 was their first "official" Christmas together. They had been "going steady" for only a few short months, but they were already madly in love. Ally's family spent the week in NYC and Ryan was in Canton. But they "celebrated" the weekend before and exchanged 143 texts on Christmas Day.
On New Year's Eve, Ryan called Ally from the dark street outside a bar in Cincinnati. Ally was on the beach in California pre-gaming for her march in the Rose Bowl parade. As the clock struck twelve, Ryan proposed to Ally for the first time. It was more-so a drunken declaration of love than a marriage proposal -- but even then he meant every word.
By 2010, they were inseparable, and spent those holidays traveling together to each other's family homes. Ryan was already plotting the official proposal.
In 2011, Ally moved her dresses into Ryan's closet. Cali and Barley became sisters. And that December, they bought their first Christmas tree together.
By the summer 2012, he could not wait another moment. On July 2nd, he went to Jared's. It was a secret to everyone but his two best friends. He walked out with the perfect gift and a grin from ear-to-ear. Ironically, later that night, she wept on his shoulder, wondering if he was ever going to propose. It was the only secret he ever kept.
On July 10th, he bought a fake Christmas tree online. Two days later that tree arrived at the door. Ally teased, "What is it? It's too big to be a ring!" Ryan lied as he stuffed the box on the top shelf in the garage, high above Ally's reach, "Just a little surprise for Nut Ridge babe."
On July 23rd, the ring arrived. It was a special order, designed online, a perfect 1.43 carat princess cut diamond. 143, a numerical expression of "I Love You" -- three numbers that followed them everywhere.
On the morning of July 24th, they left for work together -- but Ryan had other plans. He went to the store instead. Ensuring she'd come straight home after work, he lied one last time, saying his sister was in town for dinner. But Ryan wasn't at the store for lasagna noodles, instead he picked up a "Christmas" ham, pine scented candles, and 3 rolls of red, white and green wrapping paper. He returned home, pulled the boxes from the garage, and began decorating. By 3pm, the house was covered in lights, inside and out. And he'd even wrapped the presents. The ham was in the oven, the candles were lit, and the gifts surrounded the tree.
One small red box with a white bow stood out from the others.
Watch the entire proposal: