Taylor

and

Eric

Our Story

How We Met

Taylor and Eric both spent their childhood in the small town of Hudson, Ohio. Unbeknownst to Taylor, her future husband, lifelong best friend, and soulmate could be found wandering the halls of Hudson High School or out on the baseball field long before she even knew who #22 was. Similarly, it was not until the final semester of Eric's senior year that he crossed paths with this junior-year girl named Taylor for the first time.

Taylor: "His best friend messaged me on Facebook and asked me point blank if I thought Eric Kuczek was ‘hot’... I didn't really have to think about that one. I was given his cell phone number and instructions to text Eric first, since he was 'too scared' to reach out. Classic."

A week or two later, Eric took Taylor on their first "date" to Swenson's, a drive-in burger joint famously local to Akron, Ohio.

Eric: "Okay, I wouldn't call this our first 'date'... it was just the first time we hung out in person. Taylor will tell you I didn't say more than 5 words, total. She will also tell you the same thing about our 'second' date to the movies... you decide."

Regardless of Eric's verbal contributions, it took him four months to work up the courage to ask Taylor to be his girlfriend. In fact, so much so, that her best friend, Kelsey (MOH), crafted an ultimatum: if he didn’t ask her out by the end of Sadies Hawkins dance, it was time for Taylor to move on. The jury is still out on whether it was Kelsey’s ultimatum (written on the back of a Steak n’ Shake menu left on Eric’s windshield after the dance) or Eric’s plan all-along, but that night (April 9th, 2011), he finally asked Taylor to be his girlfriend.

They attended Eric’s senior prom, he graduated one month later, and the two spent the rest of the summer falling in love. From summer country concerts to drive in movies and boat rides on the lake, their bond became undeniable. Taylor brought out Eric’s social side and introduced him to new experiences, and Eric, quite frankly, kept Taylor grounded and leveled her out. Like clockwork, Eric rounded out the summer by professing his love for Taylor before heading 4.5 hours south to Miami University for the fall.

Our Story

While Taylor and Eric’s story began in high school, it took shape in college. Eric dove head-first into his passion for architecture in the fall of 2011, while Taylor was still home in Hudson finishing out her senior year of high school and applying to colleges.

Taylor: “Freshman couldn’t have a car on campus, so it made the 4.5-hour distance really daunting. On top of it, I was only 17… so the idea of driving 9 hours in a weekend and staying overnight with a handful of college boys was not exactly Momma Martz’s cup of tea. So, we only saw each other on holiday breaks, which (as every college alum can attest to) are few and far between.”

Eric: “Alright, but let’s not forget the time I took a Greyhound bus from Oxford to Hudson so I could be the one to take you to senior homecoming… 10 hours spent on a bus in exchange for 4 hours spent with you at a high school dance. That’s modern-day romance.”

In an era before Snapchat and FaceTime, Eric and Taylor communicated via occasional phone calls, texts, and Skype video calls when their schedules permitted. Thankfully, this distance shortened a year later when Taylor accepted a scholarship to the University of Dayton an hour north of Oxford. Although 3.5 hours closer to one another for 9 months out of the year, it didn’t necessarily increase their face-to-face interactions. Taylor was without a car all 4 years of college, which made visits challenging. She would carpool with just about anyone in order to make her way to see Eric─ sorority sisters, students with friends at Miami, classmates who happened to be going to Oxford… you name it.

Taylor: “Major shout out to all those who were willing to let me hitch a ride. Some of those people will be at our wedding… seriously. Whether they realize it or not, they played a role in keeping our relationship afloat. Plus, all the time spent in the car winding through the horribly barren roads to Oxford were filled with awesome conversations about life.”

Eric and Taylor spent the next 3 years fitting in time to see one another amidst sorority formals and date parties, architecture presentations, and birthday celebrations. Eric graduated in the spring of 2015 before heading back home to pursue his Masters of Architecture at Kent State University, bringing the distance apart back up to 3.5 hours. During this year, Taylor began completing graduate courses at night to get a year head start on her Masters in Communication. After graduating from Dayton, she transferred her graduate credits to Kent State University to diversify her education, return home to family and friends, and be closer to Eric.

Eric: “Grad school was hard, but working through academic struggles together while finally in the same city was a huge relief after 5 years apart. Plus, graduation was a light at the end of the tunnel for us. Jobs were lined up and we could finally begin to envision saving up for our first place together. And now? I can reach over and squeeze her anytime I want."

How He Asked

Eric and Taylor spontaneously planned a vacation in April based on an awesome flight deal. They’d leave for the trip one week after their 7 year anniversary. Since the very day she booked, Taylor had probably been asked over 200 times if a proposal was going to “finally happen after 7 years of dating,” to which she said there’s a 98% chance not... it was a trip for fun and he wouldn’t travel with a ring internationally.

Although their Punta Cana resort was all-inclusive, guests had to make reservations at the different restaurants each night. On Wednesday, the couple had a seafood dinner planned for 7pm. Rachelle (Bridesmaid), the long-time girlfriend of Eric’s best friend Mikey (Best Man), happened to be staying with her family 3 resorts down from Eric and Taylor. She had met the couple at their resort that day to relax by their pool for a change. As the clock got closer to 7, both Eric and Rachelle continuously tried to urge Taylor to get ready for dinner, but she felt “no need to rush.”

Eric: “She’s not the type to cut social time or conversation with loved ones short… so this was harder than it sounds, but I needed her to get ready for a nice dinner.”

Taylor: “I was putting my chlorine-soaked hair in a quick bun and throwing on a wrap dress when he looked at me and goes: 'You’re not going to shower?' Yeah… that went over exactly how you think it did.”

On their walk to dinner, Eric looked at her and said, “Actually, I had something a little different in mind for tonight.” Low and behold, he had planned a private candlelit dinner on the beach with red wine and the best lobster they’ve ever had.

Taylor: “Everyone asks me if I was suspicious at this point in the story, but thanks to the craftiness of Taylor Sim (Bridesmaid), I had cast off the idea of anything happening. At one point during dinner, Eric excused himself to run to the bathroom, and I immediately texted my little (who else?!). I asked if I should be worried and if Eric had told her anything, to which (of course) she replied ‘no.’ She told me I was silly, to put my phone away and be present, and that he was probably just doing something nice for ‘our anniversary.’ I completely believed her. But today, I know she and my sister, Corbyn (MOH) were the ones to help Eric pick out my ring.”

During dinner, the wind began to pick up and dark clouds could be seen rolling up in the distance. In fact, it was so windy, Taylor’s napkin literally blew off her lap into the darkness. Within minutes, it began sprinkling and quickly turned into a torrential downpour. So much so, the waiter and photographer sprinted away to take cover at a nearby cabana, leaving the couple completely alone on the beach in the storm.

Eric: “It wasn't the vision I had in my head, I’ll be honest, but… I made the best of it. I pretended to duck down to look for Taylor’s napkin under the table for ‘cover’, but came back up on one knee instead. Creative, right?”

Taylor: “I think I blacked out. I legitimately had to ask Eric later that night what he said while he was on one knee. And if you ask him, he’ll tell you the first thing I said was ‘no’ … but before you jump to conclusions, it was more like a ‘no, no, no… this can’t be happening’ type of thing. I was in complete shock.”

They spent the next 10 minutes simply hugging, crying, and kissing on the beach in the pouring down rain with not a care in the world other than one another. Eventually, the waiter came back out to snap a few blurry cell phone pictures of the moment, and the two returned to their room to FaceTime their closest family and friends to share in the excitement.

Eric: “We decided to keep the engagement a secret until we got to the airport for our flight home that weekend. Thanks to limited WiFi in the Dominican, that wasn’t much of a problem. Honestly, we wanted to soak it all in, just us two. I did make Taylor keep the ring in the safe until we left the resort… I wasn’t chancing it.”

The storm was the only time it had poured their whole trip, they may not have fancy pictures due to a fleeting photographer, and Eric’s plan might not have gone how he initially envisioned, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. It was raw, intimate, and genuine. God’s blessing poured over the new fiances that evening on the beach in so many ways, and they’ve had the greatest outpouring of love and support ever since.
Phrosne Ras