Dear Reader,

Every girl spends a vast amount of her life dreaming of her wedding day. Planning everything down to the smallest detail. Imagining that "knight in shining armor" that sweeps her off her feet and whisks her away in a horse drawn carriage.

I was no different.

Though it was a little more extreme back when I was younger, I mellowed out when I grew into my personality. I created a pinterest board and would occasionally add things to it.

Over the years I fell in and out of what I thought was love. I put myself into very painful situations, seeking this end goal of marriage. To feel like I accomplished at least ONE thing.

It wouldn't be until much later in life, and after MUCH pain, that I finally found to whom my heart was meant for. Yes, marriage and relationships are work. But also yes, true love DOES exist; and I was lucky enough to have found my "Prince Charming".

Let's Start At The Beginning

Recently leaving a very, VERY toxic situation, that resulted in a restraining order. I was far from ready or willing to be with anyone or anything. I was battling years of narcissistic trauma, and trying to be a mother to my child, along with getting myself back on my feet and back to being able to provide for the two of us. He who shall not be named, did a NUMBER on me.... But slowly I began getting back my friends I had been isolated from, and got back into painting and playing music in my spare time (when I had it). On top of all this, I was taking college classes online and working as a substitute in Polk County.

So, naturally, when Adam reached out and started dropping little hints to hang out, I was far from ready. We'd known of each other back in high school, but ran with different crowds. Nevertheless though, he kept at it. Eventually, after sevveerrrallll months, I told Adam, "If you wanted, you're more than welcome to come out to Padgett Farms this weekend. I am one of the vendors there for their fall festivals. It'll probably be boring though." To my suprise, he said he'd love to go. He was a part of one of his best friend's weddings that saturday, but he showed up Sunday and sat with me and my crazy kid throughout the day. He even took her to play on the playground at one point.

I took this photo of him while we were there. I will never forget the feelings that overcame me when he walked up. It was so weird. Like I had been missing him with the deepest ache, but I'd never really hung out with him before in my life.

Later in the day, after everyone was packing up, we spent a little time on the homemade swing set while Daisy went down the slides. We were each in those bungee swings. I will never forget that moment. I was watching this woodpecker that was up on the top of one of the slides, trying so hard not to take my eyes off of it. All because I could feel Adam watching me the entire time.

Months later I asked him about this and he told me he knew then that he wanted to marry me.... #SWOON

Fast Forward 4 Months

Adam and I spent weekends together consistently and, eventually, he asked me to stay with him permanently. Daisy would be started Kindergarten soon, so we found a VPK for her to be in while I worked during the day,

Fast Forward 2 More Months

SURPRISE! As if life wasn't already weird and crazy enough.... we get hit with a Global Pandemic! Adam was a teacher at the Junior High so he didn't have to return to the campus. So instead Daisy stayed home with him the entire Spring and Summer of 2020 while I worked. Talk about diving in, am I right?

Lets Go A Liiitttle Bit Further

Adam and I have created the most rock-solid friendship and foundation you could hope for. We got through a pandemic and toilet paper shortage. He taught me to play a video game so we could play together. We ordered meal kits and I actually allowed him in the kitchen to cook WITH me (crazy, I know). We even faced the loss of some of the most influential people in our lives together. Along with building back the financial statuses our ex-spouses completely destroyed.... We went through so many seasons together in such a short time......

.... And he still loved me.

I Couldn't Believe It...

Here I was.. the definition of a broken, and damaged person. Scattered into a million pieces. STILL battling strife after strife. And he still loved me. He still wanted to be with me and do life with me. And it would also be imperative to add that he NEVER raised his voice at me. (And still hasn't, to this day). For as bad as I am at it, we are pretty good at communicating together. He understands me on a level I didn't think anyone could. He knows to give me time and I will come and tell him what I need to tell him. Or he knows when I just need to be held for a moment.

And so we began building this life. Adding our first little furbaby (first together) into the mix. Aslan.

Adam already had a dog when we got together (Waylon). And could you believe that after only a few pleads and begs, he let me get a cat!? That was true love right there. We loved our sweet Samuel L. Catson so much. It was such a hard day when we lost him.... for all of us....

Life Has Become A Dream

Our fluffy boy has gotten bigger, and Adam and I have been working together literally and figuratively. We celebrate the Cartwright birthdays (they're almost all born in August) by going to a new restaurant in St. Petersburg and then plan to watch the sunset together (as a family). At this point, Adam and I have already discussed our future together. It's been about 2 years. I was whole-heartedly ready to just go to the courthouse and call it a day. Being married to him was more important than HOW we got married. But he shot that down for the sake of our mother-figures.

While we were at this family outing, Adam was the first out of the car. He had said, "Oh hey! Look!!" and pointed at the sky. When I got out and looked up, I saw this airplane go by that had a sign saying "Will you marry me, Rachel?" (I can't remember the exact name anymore, but we will use Rachel for aesthetics). He said, "that is so cool." To which I replied, "Yeah, but my name's not Rachel."

For the next few months, this became a running joke with the two of us. And by that, I mean me. I teased him endlessly at first and then would back off for a few weeks, only to pop it up into conversation again when he least expected it.

But Little Did I Know.....

All that light jeering back and forth would eventually come back to bite me in the butt.

Adam planned a spontaneous getaway a few months later and we went up to Orlando for some one-on-one time. Which was much needed after the way work had been going for us as of late. We went to I-Drive, which, if you don't know, is a bustling hub in Orlando--filled with all kinds of to-do places.

We had dinner at BJs Brewhouse and tried one of the BEST Silverbochs I have ever had, and I am NOT much of a beer drinker. Then we went a little further down the road and went to this piano bar. I had never been to anything like this before so I didn't know what to expect. The stage was backed with a mirror that had cashapp tags in the corners. You could pay the cashapp to have messages or requests put on the board while the pianists played and interacted with the crowd. Me being my usual annoying self, I sent in a cash app saying "will you marry me, Rachel".

This caused the entire place to shut down momentarily to address the "proposal".

Adam looks at me and says "Did YOU do that?" and my response was just a fit of laughter. They kept trying to find the person in the crowd that didn't exist. One lady behind us yelled out, "Don't do it! He only paid $7!!" (To get your message on the board, you had to pay at least $1 more than the current message paid). Eventually they all moved on and I just continued to laugh.

Fast-forward about 45 minutes, and the pianists start playing Purple Rain. A song I had requested. Suddenly they change the board again to say, "Will you marry me, 'Mesqua'?" My jaw dropped and I looked at Adam who pulled a ring out of his shirt pocket (IT HAD BEEN THERE THE WHOLE TIME). I immediately said "Yes" of course.

So Here We Are

And if you're still reading this far, Bless You...

Newly engaged and so excited. We started planning our big day. We set a date for the end of Spring Break week (because the beginning is usually filled with a baseball tournament), and set out piecing together everything that made it perfect.

I was so excited for our future. So happy that I found a man that was taking his time to choose me, and my daughter, and to make sure we knew we were chosen. We were wanted. That he cared. Adam has consistently shown me, every day, the true love I only ever dreamed of.

Nothing brings comfort to a single mother more than finding a partner who can show her daughter what to expect for her own future, and see how she should be treated day in and day out. Adam does all of that and more for our Daisy, and I am so grateful for him..

We Found Our Perfect Place

After weeks of research, we landed on having the wedding ceremony in Northern Georgia. Toccoa Falls College has a venue service in front of their eclectic waterfall.

So we gathered up our friends and family, and traveled to Rabun County, Georgia. Our ceremony was wet, since it had rained most of the day leading up to the ceremony (Which I was so excited for). We decided to be a little unconventional and more "us", so we had a handfasting ceremony and spoke celtic vows to one another.

Our Reception Was To Die For

We found a place tucked away in the mountains of Tiger, GA. It was tremulous getting there, but it was WELL worth facing our fears. Chevin, the venue host of Splendor Mountain, has such a GEM hiding up there. It was absolutely breathtaking.

Our group rented out both cabins, as well as the honeymoon suite at Shadow Rock Pavillion. We set up our reception in the Sunrise Lodge with the help of my best friend, future In-Laws, Xclusive Bartending, Venues by Elsewhere and Brittany Grant's bakery. The night before, the BFF, in-laws and I, all went to the lodge and set up the tables for the guests. Venues by Elsewhere came in the next day and set up our sweetheart table, cake table and food table. (I am so thankful for my sister driving to Clemson to pick up our Raising Canes tailgates for reception). Brittany came in shortly after and set up the amazingly crafted and DELICIOUS cake she made for our wedding. Then Xclusive Bartending moved in and took care of us behind the rest of the night, serving us in more ways than one and going above and beyond as our bartenders.

So Now "Me" Has Become "We"

Officially that is. However, if you were to ask us, we both tend to have the same response.

We feel as though we've been married forever and just had to turn a paper in recently.

I am not sure how I lucked out so easily to find someone I could truly spend forever with. That never raises his voice at me, or belittles me--or does anything to make me feel less than what I am. It's even crazier to me to think that I have known this person for as long as I have, and that he'd been under my nose this whole time. Though they were difficult as hell at times, I wouldn't trade my experiences for the world--simply because I know they led me to Adam. But it would've been nice to have left a couple of things out to find him sooner.

I found my forever. Daisy has the best Father in the world. And I will spend a lifetime doing all I can to show him just how much he means to me and to Daisy (for that matter).


Mrs. Cartwright