Curtis and I met for the first time in the mid 1990s when we both attended Helena Middle School. We joke about it now, but I even signed his eighth grade yearbook with “love ya” and a heart… little did we know back then. We ventured on throughout high school together with several of the same mutual friends yet we remained simply acquaintances. After we graduated from Helena High School in 2002, we both remained in Helena for college but our paths did not cross. For over a decade, life took us in completely different directions. However at the end of 2014, the stars must have aligned and our paths crossed once again. I had recently moved back to our hometown of Helena and one evening I thought I saw Curtis at Albertsons. I said hello as we passed each other in the produce aisle. He did not respond, so I figured it must not have been him. A few weeks later, he “winked” at me on Match.com and we started communicating… we reconnected and have been together ever since. I guess you could say it all started with a wink.
I believe everything happens for a reason. On Christmas Eve 2016, Curtis proposed with a beautiful engagement ring placed in a handmade keepsake white box sewn by his mother and accented with red rhinestones. The little box was hidden in the Christmas tree at my parents’ house and had been since he purchased it a few days earlier on December 22, his birthday. He and his mother had made a few trips to Eaton Turner Jewelry that day. While we were having dinner with Curtis’ family that evening, he noticed the ring he had purchased looked just like Heather’s (his sister-in-law). He had a slight panic attack and excused himself from the family gathering after dinner concluded. I did not notice anything out of the ordinary, so he must have concealed it well. When I was tired and headed home a bit early that night, he talked this slight dilemma over with his mother and sister. However, after thorough consideration, he decided to keep the ring. After all, it was the ring he liked and kept going back to at the jewelry store, the ring his mother liked (no she had not noticed it was the same as Heather’s), and the ring my mother liked (they had sent my mother pictures via text). It was the ring he thought I would like and the ring that sparkled significantly (Curtis said he knows how I like bling). When I saw the ring on Christmas Eve, I immediately knew it was the same as Heather’s. Of course I was taken back a bit, as it matched my future sister-in-law’s ring (which I had always liked by the way). Although Curtis gave me the option to exchange it, I could not do that. It was beautiful. It was the one he had chosen with me in mind. Plus it was the one he proposed with. Since hearing more about the proposal preparation and ring shopping experience, I know I have the ring I was meant to have. We visited the jewelry store, shortly after Christmas, to start discussing and considering wedding band options and to drop the ring off for sizing. Curtis told the salesman who had sold him the ring the crazy story. He chuckled, as did the other customer in the store at the time, and he pulled out Curtis’ second ring choice for me to try on. As I slipped it on my finger, next to the one Curtis had originally chosen, there was simply no comparison. This unintentional coincidence just adds to our love story. It will be something we joke about in the Madsen family for years to come and a story we pass onto our children and grandchildren down the road. It is truly special. It is truly us.
Most of 2017 was spent planning and finalizing wedding details. We chose a historic Helena-themed wedding, as Helena has a special place in both of our hearts. Our engagement sessions took place at prominent Helena locations such as Reeder’s Alley, the fire tower, and the downtown walking mall. We were married on August 26, 2017 at Reeder’s Alley in the caretaker’s lawn behind the old Pioneer Cabin. In addition, wedding photos were captured at the State Capitol Building as well as both parents’ houses… our childhood homes. The smoke from all the forest fires that consumed most of the month of August cleared, the sky was blue, and the weather was warm and lovely. All of our siblings along with our nephew and niece stood beside us as our wedding party. Many other family members and friends gathered to share in the joy of our marriage. The wedding day was beautiful and we are extremely lucky to have such wonderful people in our lives.