Brian and J.R.’s Long-Distance Love Airport Engagement Shoot


Sometimes when you look back on your relationship at the moments that made it special or the places that hold your best memories, it isn’t necessarily the glamorous dinners or weekend getaways that first come to mind. When you live 3,000 miles away from one another, the airport becomes the source of all your joy, and unfortunately your heartbreak when it's time to say goodbye.

Brian and J.R., separated by opposite coastlines, didn’t let distance interfere with their love. So when they were choosing locations for their engagement shoot with Valley Images Photography, it was only fitting that they chose the Sacramento International Airport, as it had played an integral part of their relationship.

The Love Story

It’s ideal to believe that wherever your soulmate is, you’ll be nearby. But that isn’t always the case and certainly wasn’t for Brian and J.R., who were coast rivals when they first connected on a gay sports website. For more than a year, they braved the long-distance relationship, sometimes a long, tiring process that many would have given up on early in the relationship, but not these two. “I knew from the get-go that there was something really special about this one,” J.R. says. “For someone willing to engage in a long-distance relationship, stick with it and see it through, it says a lot about one’s heart.”

During those months apart, they made several attempts to unite, wanting so badly to be close to one another, but that was easier said than done. Finally, after 15 months of long-distance, J.R. made the move east. “That night when we finally made it to the East Coast, after our two-week cross country travel, we laid down to sleep,” J.R. says. “I thought to myself, ah finally, no more planes, trains and automobiles across the country just to see each other. This is home; this is where I belong.” Once they had conquered the distance, it was pretty clear to Brian that he had found his soulmate. “When he gave up his home and job on the West Coast so that we could be together, that sealed the deal for me,” he says. 

The Proposal

On a cool, breezy day, J.R. was out running errands just like any other day while Brian was secretly planning a moment they would remember forever. Before heading home, J.R. picked up some fried chicken to munch on for his drive home before he pulled into the garage and walked into the back door of their house, just as he always did. But this time, a note was waiting for him on the kitchen table with the instruction to follow a piece of yarn. “I proceeded to follow the yarn into the kitchen,” J.R. says. “It had been draped and woven all throughout the house with multiple stops. At each stop was either a picture of us, our first concert ticket stub, a cute note or some other sweet anecdote with significant meaning.”

Brian had created a literal walk down memory lane where J.R. could revisit the happiest and most meaningful moments of their time together. The yarn took J.R. up the stairs and through two bedrooms before he came to their bedroom where the door was shut. “As I opened the door, there was Brian down on one knee with a ring in his left hand,” J.R. says. “All this time as I was making my way through the hall of memorabilia, the walk down memory lane, he had been up there waiting with nervous anticipation.” Even after the grand display that Brian had created of their relationship, J.R. admits he was taken aback when Brian asked him to marry him. “I could not believe what was happening; I was not expecting it,” he says. “To say that it took me by surprise would be an understatement. It was overwhelming and beautiful all in the same.”

Memorable Moment

“There were so many happy wonderful memories tagged on the wall or on poster board,” J.R. says. “Every time I tell this story, I get a visualization of Brian putting all this in motion — what fun he must have had executing his plan, the anticipation, the nervousness. No doubt there was quite a bit of pre-planning involved. Lots and lots of thought was put in to this proposal.”


Danielle is a University of Missouri graduate who recently moved to New York, fulfilling a lifelong dream of hers. New York is her first love; writing and editing are her second. When she’s not plugged in, Danielle spends her free time exploring the city and finding inspiration in its energy. Aside from her passion for love, she’s a grammar nerd, coffee lover and music enthusiast! 


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