Kristen Callaway and Joshua Hoffman were friends in high school, but despite attending a homecoming dance together it was years before they went on a real first date. Their freshman year of college, Joshua, a financial analyst, sensed a potential romantic connection and began looking for the right moment to ask out Kristen, a legislative assistant. The opportunity came toward the end of the school year, when Kristen bought a brand new dress. “She loved the dress—in fact, it was a dress she had wanted for months. But she told me that she had no occasion to wear it,” says Joshua. “I took that opportunity to take our relationship beyond friendship and asked her out to one of the fancier restaurants I knew.” Lucky for Joshua, Kristen too felt a connection beyond friendship, and they began to date.
Nearly six years later, Joshua decided to propose. He wanted something grand yet still intimate and reflective of them as a couple, so he chose the Jefferson Memorial as the spot to pop the question. “Kristen is uncomfortable with a lot of attention, so I really wanted to be respectful of that and make the proposal very personal and intimate. For that reason, I planned it at night when, hopefully, no tourists would be around,” says Joshua.
After taking Kristen to dinner in Georgetown earlier in the evening, Joshua convinced her to go down to the memorial. When the two arrived, the place was deserted except for a couple of strategically placed “tourists”—Rich Barry, a Spanish guitarist who was playing at the foot of the steps, and Brittany DeFrehn, a photographer, both of whom Joshua hired for the occasion. “After listening to Rich for a bit, Kristen and I walked into the memorial briefly before returning to the top of the large marble steps,” says Joshua. “There, with the Washington Monument in the background, I asked Kristen to marry me.” Brittany captured the entire moment on camera.