On a misty evening, bartender Randall Toffel, 24, and registered nurse Bridget Brawner, 25, had their first dance under an umbrella in the rain. They both knew instantly that this was the start of something special. Now, as the two prepare to exchange vows this winter, they cannot wait to share their first dance as husband and wife. This is their love story.
How did you meet?
Randall: We had each been encouraged by friends and family to create an online dating account, and we stumbled upon each other within a week or two of being on the site.
Bridget: I thought he was so handsome. He immediately took my breath away–I couldn’t wait to get to know him.
Tell us about your first date.
B: After a couple of days of talking online, we decided to meet at the Cheesecake Factory. I first saw him at the door of the restaurant, holding an umbrella for me. We ordered three different cheesecakes and ended up closing The Cheesecake Factory down that night.
R: I remember her telling me she used to dance, and when I walked her to the car I admitted I wasn’t very good at dancing. I asked her for my first dance lesson in the parking lot in the misting rain. I knew then and there that I was going to fall hard for this woman.
B: As I laid my head on his chest while dancing with him, I knew that he would be around for a very long time.
B: Moss Rock Preserve is our favorite place to spend time together. We love the being in nature, and the Preserve gives us the option of hiking in the woods or hanging out in the hammock.
R: We love being us and being together. We can be homebodies and burn the heck out of some French toast, or be out dancing until the early morning. It really doesn’t matter what we do, we just love being together.
Describe your partner in three words.
R: My tiny dancer.
B: The best thing.
When did you realize you had met “the one”?
R: I knew she was the one within the first week of dating her. We met at the big field in Moss Rock Preserve, and I brought my Australian Shepherd Jazmine, because I was dying for them to meet. When we began throwing Frisbee with Jaz in the mud, I couldn’t tell who loved it more between the two of them.
B: There were many small moments that made me realize I wanted him to be mine forever, like cooking dinner together or when he would bring me flowers for no reason. These moments just made me close my eyes and smile.
R: I pulled the old switcheroo for the proposal and made her think she was planning a surprise birthday party for me. We set everything in place at Bellini’s Italian Ristorante.
B: I invited all of our friends and even put together a slideshow of us for the party. We sat down with a bottle of wine and I started the slideshow that I made him. All of the sudden, a clip appears of Randall telling me he is going to propose to me! He asked me to marry him, and then my entire family from out of state came into the room and surprised me. We all had dinner together—his family and mine—and it was perfect.
What was your experience like shopping for the ring at Diamonds Direct?
R: I went to Diamonds Direct twice with my dad. I can’t remember who saw the ring first, but when we stumbled on to the Tacori with a single halo setting, neither one of us could take our eyes off of it.
B: I am absolutely in love with my ring. I don’t take it off unless I have to go to work at the hospital; it’s the best feeling ever when I get to put it back on again.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given about love?
R: Be slow to speak, be quick to listen, and love unconditionally.
B: My grandmother is the wisest, most godly person I know. She once told me that it’s very easy to get married. The hard part is staying married.
R: I look forward to spending our lives as one shared journey together. It won’t always be easy, but knowing that we’ll be with each other every step of the way is more than I could have ever hoped for.
B: Spending our days with each other–the good and the bad–and eventually looking back at everything we have done together and giving each other a high five and a happy sigh.