Erica and Cory were the winners of the $40,000 wedding giveaway from Pine Peaks Retreat and Event Center. We are extremely excited for them to have their wedding here. They are a great couple and have a wonderful love story that we would love to share with you all.
While Cory was growing up and attending school in Minnesota, he never would have guessed his future wife; Erica was growing up and attending school in the next-door state of North Dakota. For most of their life, they were only one state apart and at times only a few hours apart. But that is not where they would cross paths. It wasn’t until 2012 that they met in Utah.
After graduating from St Johns University in 2008, Cory decided to join the Air Force. He finished training in 2009 and went off to his first duty station, Hill Air Force Base (AFB), Utah.
Erica graduated from Minnesota State University, Moorhead in 2011 and was itching to get out of North Dakota. Since her brother and his family were stationed at Hill AFB, she thought that was her best opportunity to get out. So in September of 2011, she headed to Utah to look for jobs and experience a new place.
Erica eventually found a job that would suffice for a while and there she made a few good friends, but she still hung around the house a lot. Her sister –in- law started convincing her to come out with her. She was trying to help Erica meet more people in the area. June 2nd, 2012, was the day the Erica and Cory first met. They exchanged a shake of hands and that’s about it. After a couple more occurrences of the same sort of interaction, they would finally catch each other’s eye.
On July 14th, 2012 Erica and her sister went to see Mike Epps at the Comedy Club, in which Cory was attending as well. They didn’t see each other, though. Afterward, since her sister was driving, she had Erica call Cory to see if anything was going on after the show. From that moment on, Cory would take full advantage of having Erica’s number.
A few of them met up a little later in the night. Cory would go on to talk most of the time while Erica yawned and waited to go home. Before Erica left, Cory squeezed her shoulders and said, “You smell good!” Awkward. When Erica got home and was getting ready to go to bed, Cory sent her a text saying, “You have no idea how good it was to see you tonight!” Again, awkward.
The next day Cory apologized for the awkward moments. They went on to text for most of the day and Cory asked her to see the movie Brave. Although Erica isn’t a big fan of animated movies, she said yes because it was something to do. They enjoyed the movie, but both of them thought of it as nothing but the beginning of a friendship.
At one point in the night on July 14th, Cory had made fun of Erica’s headlights and said he was a pro at cleaning them. So, Erica made him prove it. He came over one evening and cleaned them for her. They took the car through the car wash when he was done. That night they went on to talk until one in the morning. This is when they realized they had a lot in common. They talked about everything from age to education, to the background, to the military.
You see, Erica had applied for the Air Force earlier in the year. While all of this was happening with Cory, she was finding out what her job was going to be and when she would ship out to Basic Training.
Erica’s ship out date was to be November 27th, 2012. After the night with the headlights, Cory and Erica started hanging out more often. Since she was going to be leaving, they took things slow right away. It wasn’t til around the 7th time they hung out that Cory kissed Erica.
In August, Cory’s parents came to visit and he was adamant about Erica hanging out with them. While they were visiting, they wanted to take a motorcycle ride to Bear Lake. Erica had never been on a motorcycle ride before, but they convinced her to tag along. It may have been early in the relationship, but Cory’s parents made her feel like she was part of the family.
As the months went by, Cory and Erica tried to enjoy the time they had together. They took a few trips throughout Utah. One, in particular, was to Park City, UT where they would celebrate Christmas together since Erica wouldn’t be around for it. Cory had a small box for her and for a second she thought he was proposing. It was a ring, but today it is the ring she wears on her right ring finger, a promise ring.
Before they knew it, November 26th rolled around. Erica had to stay in Salt Lake City the night before she shipped out, so Cory came to visit her briefly. It was a tough goodbye because they had no idea what the future held for them. They didn’t know when they would see each other again or if they were tough enough to get through the distance and unforeseen.
Basic Training was in Texas and 8 weeks long. Erica was allowed a 15 -minute phone call a week and she could also write letters. She didn’t know at the time, but Cory wrote her a letter every single day she was there.
It was hard for her to decide who to call each week, but she tried to leave at least one minute every time to call Cory and let him know she was ok. One week she got an additional phone call for being one of five girls who passed their locker inspection. Of course, she used that phone call for Cory. He was in Las Vegas at the time and so happy to hear from her. He even went the distance to say, “I am going to marry you someday.”
Erica was set to graduate January 25th, 2013. Cory had been planning a ski trip for around that time, but he canceled it to go see her. She was allowed four days with her family but she still had the curfew of 2100 hours. Therefore, Cory was going to meet her family while she wasn’t around and he would spend every evening with them once she went back to the dorms. This is when Erica realized she had a special guy on her hands. Her family welcomed him with open arms and just like his parents did with her, her parents made him feel like he was part of the family.
This goodbye was even harder than the last. Erica had no idea how long her additional training was going to be. She heard everything from 3 months to 13 months. So again, they said goodbye without knowing when they would see each other next.
Erica’s next phase of training was held at the same base in Texas. She was allowed to have her phone after the duty day, so she and Cory could now talk or FaceTime every day.
Her birthday is March 24th, so they planned for Cory to come visit her over that time since she wasn’t allowed to go anywhere. Cory flew in on Friday and flew out on Monday. He arrived early on Friday the 22nd before Erica was released for the day.
Every day there is a final formation held where all the Airmen in Tech School gather together to receive any important information and recognize anyone important. That specific day, Erica was working in the dorm so she wasn’t required to attend final formation. The student leader called her workstation and told her to go though. Erica was upset, anxious and nervous all at the same time. Cory was waiting in the parking lot for her so she just wanted to hurry up and be done. Once at the final form, her military training leader called her to the stage. She was being recognized for being Distinguished Graduate in her class. Erica thought this was odd because no one else had ever been recognized for that. All of a sudden, Cory jumps on stage in uniform. He gave Erica a hug and then got down on one knee in front of 250+ people.
Needless to say, they enjoyed their weekend together. Every hello meant there was a goodbye and again they didn’t know when the next time they would see each other was going to be.
Over the next 8 months, Cory drove overnight and surprised Erica while she was in Washington. His parents, her parents, and Cory visited her while she was in Little Rock. Cory and Erica went back to North Dakota and met her friends. Erica also made a short trip to Utah. They were able to see each other every 2 months or so.
Ironically, a year later, on November 27th, 2013 Erica finished and graduated from all her training. They now anxiously plan and await their wedding day on June 28th of this year! We can’t wait for their big day!
Check out Erica and Cory’s engagement photos done by Kelli Engstrom Photography.