Chris Hartwick, sophomore in wildlife management next semester, and Emily Richardson, senior in elementary education, went on a cruise to Alaska in July 2012. But little did Richardson know, Hartwick had every intention of proposing to her during that time.
Hartwick and Richardson had been dating for two years when Richardson was invited on the Alaskan cruise with the Hartwick family. Hartwick works for the military inspecting aircrafts.
It is a normal occurrence for him to be deployed for work. For Richardson, to spend time with Hartwick was important.
Richardson admitted to ruining the first attempt as Hartwick’s proposal because she didn’t understand the point of being on the cruise ship’s dock. The following night, Hartwick successfully proposed and romantically surprised Richardson. The wedding date has been set for May 24, 2014.
Hartwick and Richardson recalled moments in their relationship when distance and deployment were present and how it effected their relationship. The couple agreed that their experience has taught them how to be separate people, but also how to be stronger together.
“We are a very strong unit together, but his deployment has taught us how to be strong for each other,” Richardson said.
In agreement, Hartwick said the deployments ultimately contributed to their success as a couple.
“It made us stronger, because of the tests we went through,” Hartwick said.
Hartwick said the military has been part of a great experience for both parties and provided a great road for the future for the engaged couple.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without the military,” Hartwick said. “They are a great provider for us.”
Richardson and Hartwick recalled a time when Hartwick was deployed and Richardson had to take on responsibility for the both of them. The couple was moving from an apartment to a house and Richardson, with the help of some friends and family, successfully moved their belongings and started to unpack before her fiancé returned. Hartwick said it took him by surprise when he came home to a house that was well-put-together for the circumstances.
“The burden fell upon her, but I had no choice,” Hartwick said. “I have faith in her. She always rises to the occasion.”
Michelle Dukes, Richardson’s mother and maid of honor, said she is excited about the pair announcing their engagement and wedding plans. She also expressed excitement that she is gaining another son.
“I’m really excited about their engagement,” Dukes said. “I love [Hartwick] with all my heart, and I think he’s wonderful. I’m excited to have another son in my family.”
Between her work schedule and Richardson’s school schedule, Dukes said they have had busy schedules, which makes it difficult to plan currently. Although they both have busy schedules, Dukes said she thinks her involvement is a great addition to the wedding, and she is excited Richardson has allowed such a privilege.
“She is letting me be as involved as I could be,” Dukes said. “I’m the mother, and the maid of honor, so I get lots of input.”
Dukes has two older daughters and has been through the marriage process as a parent before, but she said that Richardson wants a different style than her sisters.
“She wants more of a Victorian wedding, and I’m excited to help her with it,” Dukes said. “With every girl, it’s different with their wants and desires.”
While Dukes is helping her daughter plan the wedding, her excitement is growing as Hartwick and Richardson’s date gets closer.
“I’m excited for [Hartwick] and [Richardson] to start their lives as a married couple,” Dukes said. “I’m excited to see where God will lead them in the future.”
The pair originally met at Richardson’s brother’s and Hartwick’s wrestling match a few years back, while they were both in high school. Hartwick was competing and Richardson was a bystander.
The couple met up again at the state’s high school solo and ensemble competition, where they started talking more seriously.
“I wrestled her brother, he kicked my butt, but I got his sister,” Hartwick said.