Two newly engaged St. Louis couples share their love stories.
Sarah Jackson, 29 & Drew Paradoski, 31
Occupations: I work at MLP Property and Asset Management as a property manager. Drew is an assistant branch manager at Reliance Bank.
First Sight: Drew was riding the elevator in my college dorm and actually held the door for me. He played basketball, and all of the basketball players lived on the floor below me.
Believe it or not: Many people don’t know that we actually had crushes on each other in college. We met while attending Missouri State University. I was the nai?ve freshman, and he was the older college athlete. We lost touch and met again while I was leasing apartments in St. Louis. He and his brother came in to rent a townhouse. Drew says that this was the strategic plan all along, and refers to it as “The Slow Play.”
First Date: We went to the Lemp Mansion haunted house right before Halloween. At the end, a guy with a fake chainsaw chased me through the parking lot and kept yelling my name—which I later found out Drew had provided him with. We officially became a couple on October 10, 2010.
The Proposal: Drew asked me to marry him on a paddle boat in the middle of the lake in Forest Park. We often run there together, and I always mentioned that I wanted to go paddle boating sometime. Drew had received my grandmother’s engagement ring from my aunt and had the center diamond placed in a new setting. It meant so much to me, because my grandmother raised me and her passing was very difficult. It was just so thoughtful and special.
Perfect St. Louis date night: Tapas and wine at our favorite tapas restaurant, One 19 North. We have stayed there for hours just enjoying the company, live music and wine.
Together we like to: We really enjoy staying at home and watching ridiculous reality television— some of our favorites are “Lizard Lick Towing” and “Duck Dynasty.”
Our Song: “Down by the Water” by The Drums
The Big Day: July 22, 2013, at Dreams Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Mindy Cloet, 22 & Dustin Strasburg, 24
Occupations: I am a sales associate at Massage Envy, and Dustin is an optometry grad student at UMSL.
The Proposal: The day he proposed, it was a complete surprise. It was in our first apartment here in St. Louis. We had just moved back from Nebraska so Dustin could attend optometry school. I didn’t even know he was home—he just hopped out of the pantry and onto one knee.
First Date: We randomly decided to go to China Buffet, and my friend tagged along. She didn’t know that Dustin and I liked each other, but she figured it out by the time we were done eating! Three years and four months later, here we are planning the rest of our lives together.
Together we like to: We like to work out together, watch movies and try new restaurants and bars in St. Louis.
Perfect St. Louis date night: Going to Charlie Gitto’s for dinner, then stopping by Bridge for a few glasses of wine.
Believe it or not: Our nicknames for each other are “Little Bear” and “Big Bear.” Don’t ask!
Our relationship in a haiku: Fit like a puzzle / with love that’s one-of-a-kind / hearts adjoined as one.
Our Song: “Let Me Love You” by Ne-Yo. We like to belt it out when we are riding together in the car!
Home Sweet Home: We plan to settle down together back home in Lincoln, NE.
The Big Day: July 27, 2013, at First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln, NE, with a reception at the Embassy Suites.
Photo by Sarah Paradoski