Lancaster PA Woodsy and Whimsical Engagement Session
Real Engagements

Lancaster Whimsical Engagement: James and Abby

Sharing this warm and magical engagement session with James and Abby in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

From John Malloy Photography:

James and Abby’s engagement shoot was awesome! They have such great chemistry and look amazing together! They’re definitely a couple with a determined commitment and patient devotion to each other and their future marriage.

Let’s start with their first date. They had been texting and FaceTiming for three weeks, thanks to a mutual friend encouraging James to contact Abby. He decided to drive from Philadelphia to Frederick, Maryland to finally meet face to face with this girl who was so easy to talk to. Just steps away from Abby’s apartment, they went to a local brewery, had drinks and talked for hours. Right away, Abby felt an attraction to James, not just because of his good looks and perfect smile, but also because conversation flowed so effortlessly. As they finally decided to order some dinner, James was excited to try the restaurant’s famous crab cakes. What had began as the picture-perfect romantic date, ended with James getting violently ill with food poisoning! Abby said it wasn’t the most romantic first date, but it was definitely memorable. And it wasn’t enough to dissuade them from continuing the relationship because about 2 years later James returned to the same spot that he first saw Abby in person (in front of her old apartment…not far from the dreaded crab cake) and got down on one knee and asked her to marry him! Of course, she said yes, but that’s not all there is to the story.

Abby had moved away from her old apartment but the area was still so special to her. James had suggested they go back to Frederick and spend the day walking around the shops, having brunch and reminiscing when they first met. Abby, being totally clueless of James’s plans to propose, invited 3 of her best friends from college to come along with their significant others. The party had gone from an intimate affair for 2 to a party of 8, but nothing was going to stop James from asking Abby to spend the rest of her life with him. As they stopped in front of her old apartment, James proposed. Abby was shocked! (so were her 6 friends) It only took a few seconds for more people to come running down the street congratulating them. Their families had been in on the secret and were watching! It was a perfect day, in a perfect place with all of Abby’s favorite people celebrating in their lifelong commitment to one another.

James loves Abby’s loyalty and genuine happiness toward their relationship. She loves being by his side on the good days and the bad. Abby loves that James is so encouraging and strong. Through a lot of changes, he’s been her number one supporter. He always puts family and friends before his own needs and is such a hardworking and selfless man. She can’t wait to marry him next year at Stoltzfus Homestead and Gardens.

Here is what Abby had to say about their chosen venue: “When we first walked onto the Stoltzfus Homestead & Gardens property…we instantly fell in love! From the beautiful Tobacco Barn to the romantic feel of the Grand Barn, we knew it was the perfect venue for our wedding day! We can’t wait for golden hour pictures by the corn crib and in the gardens throughout the property. The Stoltzfus team has been wonderful, and we are so excited to work with them!

Lancaster Whimsical Engagement: James and Abby
Lancaster Whimsical Engagement: James and Abby
Lancaster Whimsical Engagement: James and Abby
Lancaster Whimsical Engagement: James and Abby
Lancaster Whimsical Engagement: James and Abby

From the couple:

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you two first meet?
James and I met through a mutual friend. Allie, who I knew for many years from the Frederick area and who James knew from college, thought we would be a good pair! She encouraged James to text me…and one night out of the blue, James sent me a text that said “hey what’s up, Allie told me to text you.” James is from the Philadelphia area and I am from Maryland, living in Frederick, MD at the time. After three weeks of hours talking on the phone, endless FaceTime calls and countless text messages…James decided to make the three hour trip to Frederick so we could finally meet! We decided to go get something to eat at a local brewery/restaurant in downtown Frederick, just a few steps away from the apartment I was living in at the time. We spent hours talking and getting to know each other! After a couple of drinks, James decided to order a crab cake (which Frederick is not known for) which left him violently ill with food poisoning, just a few hours later. Not the most romantic first date…but certainly memorable!

What makes your relationship special? Tell us some things that you both value in your time together. (example: pushing each other to new limits, love to travel, huge comic book fans, foodies, etc.) What makes your relationship unique?
James and I both LOVE “The Office” and he even proposed…in a Dwight Schrute shirt (Bears, Beats, Battlestar Galactica). A lot of people who watch The Office hope to find the Jim to their Pam…but those who know us think we are more of the Michael to their Holly. We also both love donuts and will be bypassing a traditional wedding cake for donuts instead!

We both love spending time with each other, whether we are vacationing in Estes Park, CO (our favorite spot to visit!), or trying a new brewery…we love exploring life together. We are both incredibly supportive of each other – pushing each other to new limits and encouraging to go after each other’s goals.

How did you know your partner was the one? When did you first know this in your relationship?
Abby’s perspective:  James and I dated long distance for the first year of our relationship. Both of us are very career driven, making it very difficult to visit each other while dating. After several months of dating, I realized seeing each other every other weekend or every three – four weeks…just wasn’t enough. I wished for longer weekends and more time with him! I decided I didn’t want to keep up the long distance relationship any longer…and he was the one so I decided to make the move from MD to PA. His loyalty, selflessness, and his support has always been there since we first met – he has the qualities of someone I’ve always dreamed of in a partner.
James perspective: Abby is (And always has been) a true Maryland girl – when she decided to leave her hometown, family & friends to move to PA to be closer to me it was a surprise. My love for Abby was growing each day up to that key point in our relationship but upon learning she wanted to change her whole life for me, it confirmed we were madly in love. I knew she was the one! Ever since we met, her genuine happiness and care for others has been apparent. She has the qualities of someone who I’ve always wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Give us all the details about the proposal. How and where did it happen? Was it a surprise? What was the planning process?
James proposed back in September of 2019! In August, James suggested we go to downtown Frederick for the day. It had been some time since we had been there, and he knows how much I absolutely love the Frederick area so I instantly said yes, let’s go! We talked about getting brunch at one of our favorite restaurants then spending the rest of the day walking around to the various shops and stopping by a few of the local breweries.

James is not much of a planner…so I didn’t bother to tell him until the night before that I invited 3 of my closest college friends (plus their significant others) to brunch that morning. Our brunch reservation went from 2 people to 8 people! They are all from the Frederick area, and we have been best friends since college so I didn’t think twice about inviting them to a casual brunch. The day came and we met everyone for brunch. After brunch, James suggested we walk to a nearby truffle shop, which was really his excuse to me back to where we first met in person – outside of my downtown Frederick apartment. I am not the biggest fan of the truffle shop so I complained the whole walk there. We walked in the truffle shop…and after about 30 seconds we came out.A few steps later…we were standing in front of my old apartment, where James got down on one knee! My friends and I were all shocked! Needless to say, I said yes! Everyone was crying tears of joy! A few seconds later, our families came running down the street! They had been watching the whole time! We spent the day celebrating with our family and friends….a perfect day!

We’re all about the bling… Tell us all about that ring!
James had an idea of what Abby would like in a ring through some of her best friends. James went to a jeweler with his brother-in-law to design the perfect ring for her. After several trips and few design changes, he picked it up several months before the engagement waiting for the perfect time to propose.

What are you most excited about when it comes to your wedding planning?
We are most excited about planning a wedding that truly captures both of our personalities and a day that will celebrate our love! We’ve enjoyed the entire process so far!We loved the romantic feel of Stoltzfus Homestead & Gardens the moment we stepped onto their property and could picture our wedding day there! We both can’t wait until the Tobacco barn doors open…and we meet each other at the end of the aisle to say “I do!” We loved sampling Hess’ BBQ and meeting their kind owner and team!

John Malloy made our engagement photos fun and captured our love & personalities perfectly! We both never had professional photos taken before so this was a first-time experience for us. He put us at ease…and made it fun & effortless! We can’t wait until next year to (finally) be able to tie the knot surrounded by our loved ones.

Other Location: Overlook Park
Event Planner: Stoltzfus Homestead and Gardens
Photographer: John Malloy Photography