Laura Fowler and Jeff Fogle
Jeff Fogle, 27, proposed to his fiancée Laura Fowler, 25, one year, one month and one day after they started dating.
“We both grew up in Central Florida about 45 minutes away from each other but moved all the way to the Keys after college before we met,” Fowler laughed.
Fresh out of college and into their new jobs – he is a trainer at Dolphin Connection at Hawk’s Cay and she is the operations coordinator for Florida Keys Area Health Education Center (AHEC) – the pair met at a Marathon Jaycees event.
“We were both new to the group and were looking to meet some new people and get involved in the community,” she said.
Jeff and Laura both say it was the other person’s smile that initially attracted them to each other. It was during a Jaycees event at Stanley Switlik Elementary during which the two were serving concessions during a dance – “We were passing pizza back and forth with smiles on our faces the whole time!” – that Laura knew they had a good thing going. But the act that sealed the deal for her was when, on his day off from work, Jeff came to her house and built a much-needed door for her bedroom.
“Anyone who would do that hard labor with a smile on his face was definitely worth keeping around for a while,” Laura said. “Even when we first started dating our friends always commented on how comfortable we were with each other and how happy we were together.”
On a recent ski trip to Colorado, the couple enjoyed a rustic ranch house dinner and a sleigh ride through the snow. Before turning in for the night, the pair took a stroll around an ice skating pond decorated with twinkling white lights.
“Just as we were turning back towards the stairs to go home and get out of the freezing cold, Jeff said he had something for me” Laura remembered. “The first thing I spotted was the ring box and the perfect ring in it, and before it fully registered, he got down on his knee. His extremely sweet speech was too long when all I wanted to do is say yes!”
The couple is planning an early 2010 wedding – “before hurricane season!” – right here in Marathon where they first met.
“We have two friends getting married this year and hopefully we’ll pick up some wedding tips along the way.”
Kristin Hall and Danny Price
Danny Hall’s dog, Moose, does not like male veterinarians. When Danny, a wastewater treatment plant operator for the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority, had to bring Moose into the Marathon Veterinary Hospital, he requested a female veterinarian to oversee his four-legged friend’s check-up.
“About a week after his appt, Danny called and left me a message at work to ask me out to dinner over voicemail,” Kristin explained. “I was out of town, and I didn’t get the message until about a week later. I finally called him back after discussing it with Della, the vet tech who also worked with Moose. She gets the matchmaking credit.”
That was three years ago.
Last September, Danny began planning a huge proposal event. Thanksgiving 2008 would be the first time both Kristin and Danny’s families would be coming from Raleigh, N.C. and Virginia Beach, Va. respectively, to spend the holiday in the Keys. Coincidentally, it would also be the first time both families would meet each other, so the occasion was already an important one.
“I set up a party/happy hour gathering at Frosty’s – the location of our first date when it was Cabot’s – with the idea of celebrating the holiday weekend with family, friends, and coworkers,” Danny said. “However, everyone except Kristin and her family were in on the surprise. The night before the party, I managed to get a moment alone with Mr. Hall and ask his permission to marry his daughter. Over a few shared tears and a hug, permission was granted.”
“I couldn’t have been more surprised! For those that haven’t seen the video on Facebook, I think my face said it all. I screamed, almost cried and then laughed when I realized how many people were in on it. I had no clue that he was planning this and my first thought when I saw him on his knee with the ring was that he might be playing a joke on me!”
The couple has lived together for the past two years, and Kristin said that experience has showed her she could be with him long term.
“He makes me laugh, and even when we argue, we can’t stay mad at each other for very long.”
Danny said though her self-confidence and their mutual love of animals attracted him to her, he knew all long that she was the one for him.
Their new lives together will not start following their vows – they started on that journey three years ago.
“For us, our life together in the Keys has already started. We love the water, the climate and the people. We are both looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together and falling more in love with each passing year.”
Holly Merrill and Ryan Raschein
Ryan Raschein and his girlfriend of three years and ten marvelous months, Holly Merrill, were getting ready to head to Wisconsin for the 2008 Christmas holiday. He awoke early and prepared a lavish breakfast in bed for her. Alongside her morning meal was what Holly said was the most beautiful diamond ring she’d ever seen.
“It was cheesy, I know, but he did a fabulous job all by himself,” she laughed. “We’d never discussed rings, and though I knew it was coming, I had no idea when he would actually pop the question.”
Holly has been working in the Florida House of Representatives for six years, and she moved to Key Largo to serve as the legislative assistant to State Representative Ron Saunders. Mutual friends had told her about Ryan, and she when she was at his Christmas party one year, she generously offered to help him serve cocktails at his holiday celebration, both agree they pretty much knew right away they were meant for each other.
“There was a lengthy initiation period in which I tried his patience and he tried my tenacity,” Holly said. “The icing on the cake is that fact that I love his family and he loves mine.”
Ryan, like so many others, came to the Florida Keys for the fabulous fishing and wound up staying for good. Since he now owns and operates Milestone Shutters South, LLC, he’s leaving the planning of the wedding up to his fiancée.
“Event planning is one of my favorite pastimes so we’re looking forward to putting something together that is edgy yet romantic, simple but creative,” Holly said. “We will commence our nuptials on the beach in a year or two.”
The couple recently purchased their first home together in Key Largo and is excited about the coming years in a small, closely-knit community.
“Who knows? Maybe we’ll thing about having an island child or two…”
Denise Matzen and Billy Turnbull
Denise and Billy grew up together in adjacent communities on Long Island, New York. Though they had mutual friends and their social circles intersected, it wasn’t until one fateful evening in a bar on Fire Island that they were formally introduced.
Denise was working part-time in a fish market one summer, and she first spotted the young man everyone affectionately called “The Barefoot Fisherman.”
“Everyone was talking about this guy and what a good fisherman he was,” Denise said. “One night I was over on Fire Island having drinks in a friend’s bar. I saw him and just decided to walk right up to him and ask him out.”
Two year of courtship passed and the couple began seasonal stints together between Long Island and Duck Key. Commercial fishing and tournament winnings proved lucrative for Billy in New York, but the warm weather, bountiful fisheries and friendly people in the Keys finally swayed the couple to relocate permanently.
“We have been living here permanently for the past two years and really enjoy it,” Denise explained. “We’ve made some really great friends and enjoy the year-round summers.”
After a bit of strategic planning with his mother and sister, Billy finally popped the question to Denise last December just prior to her thirtieth birthday.
“I had a ring made with one of my mother’s diamond earrings, and Denise had talked with my sister about a design she really liked,” Billy explained. “I was a nervous wreck waiting for the ring to be shipped down from New York.”
She is a bartender/server at Sparky’s Landing on Key Colony Beach, and he owns and operates Snapper Charters, which specializes in daytime sword fishing trips.