We met in Savannah, Georgia, at the TEDxCreativeCoast reception on June 7, 2013. Kolby attended the entire conference, themed "Decoding Happiness." Danielle was unable to go due to work, but attended the reception afterward. The event brought together creatives and entrepreneurs and nonprofit professionals from all over Savannah, and that's where our social circles finally connected. On the surface, it was networking. We talked about our work and planned to see each other at upcoming mixers for young professionals. He gave her the only business card he brought; she was fresh out. It could have ended there, but Danielle followed up with an email a week later, closing with: "Also, you seem like a really cool guy, so if you ever want to hang out or talk, my cell number is..."
Ideas of professional collaboration quickly fell away, and they went on their first "date" — she didn't consider it one at the time — on June 29th, wandering through art galleries, grabbing a bite and a beer at Kayak Kafé, spinning records in Hang Fire, and sitting and talking in Ellis Square. At the end of the night, a stranger selling palm roses approached, entreating Kolby to recite a poem and confess his undying love for Danielle, which was surprisingly not awkward at all.
After countless dates, beach days, music and film festivals, family dinners, out-of-town trips, and aimless walks and bike rides, Kolby proposed on a hill overlooking the Cornell University arboretum and botanical gardens on August 8, 2015.
5 Things I Love About Her
- She loves to explore. She was born while her parents were stationed in Germany, grew up in North Carolina, and later studied abroad in Ecuador. We've gone on several trips together, and I'm sure there'll be many more to come.
- She's brilliant. And not just because she currently studies at Cornell by way of UNC. She thinks deeply, engages in conversations that matter, teaches me about life through her experiences, and lets me catch tiny glimpses of the world through her eyes.
- She has a heart for service. In Savannah, she worked with a local nonprofit advocating for abused and neglected children in foster care, and she currently has a growing interest in family planning and reproductive justice for women of color.
- She's beautiful. Obviously. And not just in a physical way, or in a "true beauty is on the inside" sort of way. She's a woman after God's heart, and she's a living, breathing reminder that Eve is the crown of His creation.
- She's legit the most interesting person I know. When we first met, she'd recently started trying her hand at gardening, canning, and knitting. She later took a ceramics class at a local art studio and started listening to Drive Time French. Basically, she's an old soul.
5 Things I Love About Him
- He loves people (and people love him). Early on, I saw Kolby through the eyes of his family, friends, and colleagues. The way others saw him and spoke about him solidified my own observations of his stand-up character and upbeat personality.
- His generosity, warmth, and tender heart. I don’t know if it’s the Midwesterner in him (because they have Southern hospitality beat), but Kolby is always willing to give of himself and share his last. He loves to build community, connecting people to each other and to opportunities.
- His adventurous spirit. Kolby loves the raw outdoors — the breath of the wind on his cheek, the stars above his head, and always a good fire. After graduating from Indiana University, he and some friends set off on a 40-day, 7,500-mile road trip across the U.S. exploring national parks and forests. He also completed a 40-mile solo hike in Pisgah National Forest. His desire to explore matches mine, and I love experiencing the sights, scents, and flavors of life with him and through him.
- His sharp mind. I have been delighted to no end by Kolby’s wit and ingenuity. He thinks through problems differently, always challenging (me and) the status quo. If we’re not laughing, our conversations can be mistaken for arguments because we’re so passionate.
- He can boogie. Many may be unaware, but I’m not the most coordinated person, and Kolby has this inner rhythm that just…gets me. We vibe.
Photos by Izzy Hudgins Photography