Personal Account: The Marriage of David & Paula Near
“I arrived at the restaurant first and waited in my truck. I felt a little anxious but was excited to meet her. Paula had told me what she would be driving and when I saw her car pull in I got out of the truck and stood beside it. She got out and when she walked around that car, I was blown away. I knew right then and there that this woman was special. I can’t describe what I felt, but it was incredible.” David Near told me when I asked about the couple’s first date.
David and Paula met on Match.com, an online dating site. Their first date was at a local Mexican restaurant. Ironically, it turned out that David and Paula lived within a mile of each other in the Marietta/Kennesaw area. “We spent the entire meal talking and sometimes just staring at each other,” David laughed, “Paula and I talked about everything that evening; it was so natural and felt so comfortable.” The new couple spent time together every day for the entire week following that first date. “I just couldn’t get enough of her, I still can’t, but it seemed overwhelming for both of us so we decided to pull back and see if this was as real as it felt.” Two weeks later the couple picked up right where they had left off and have been together ever since.
“David and I both have been through so much during our lives that we knew in our hearts that this was real.” Paula actually shared her first love story with me. She had been married to her best friend Michael the father of her two young sons and with the man whom she thought she would spend the rest of her life. Unexpectedly, Michael was taken to Heaven leaving Paula and their son Grant who was six years old. She was also 19 weeks pregnant with son Hollis when Michael passed away; she was devastated. What was apparent is that Paula has incredible faith and she looked to God for strength to go on. “It was a very hard time for us but I knew I had to keep going,” she said.
Paula loved being married and while she didn’t know how she could ever begin dating again, she knew that she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life alone. Paula’s sister Allyson encouraged her to find someone who could make her happy. “My sister was my first best friend and we were very close. Shortly after the one year anniversary of Michael’s death, my sister passed away. I wasn’t sure how to go on at that point, it was unbearable at times, but again I looked into the faces of my two little boys and I knew I couldn’t give up.”
Paula and David had been dating awhile before she introduced him into the boys’ lives. “The boys and I had planned to go to Cracker Barrel one morning for breakfast and once we were in the car I told them I had a friend named David and I thought we’d pick him up and he could go eat with us. Hollis was too young to care but Grant agreed and when I saw how David interacted with my boys and how they responded to him it made me realize that this was meant to be.”
“I was divorced and had two daughters of my own Sydney and Emily. We took baby steps there as well and we continue to strengthen our family bonds even today. I’ve learned so much about life and what’s important from Paula. All she has been through has only made her stronger and increased her faith in God,” David said. “We knew that we wanted to get married and had been to look at rings. We both fell in love with the same ring and had it custom ordered. Paula had won a trip to Hawaii and so the plan was that we’d go to Hawaii and when I found the perfect place, I would propose. Well we were due to leave and the ring had still not arrived. I had to have it sent overnight and we literally picked it up on our way to the airport. Once I saw the ring, I was in awe of it and knew I couldn’t wait. Instead I got down on one knee as we were waiting at our gate to board the plane and proposed right there! Once we got to Hawaii every beautiful place we went I proposed again.” They both laugh at those memories.
So the planning began as soon as the couple returned from their trip. They began searching for a venue and found Sugarboo Farms in Blairsville, Georgia. They made plans to go tour the farm and when they did they discovered it was the perfect setting for their weekend wedding getaway. “We were initially planning an intimate ceremony thinking we’d have maybe 25 people, but it began to grow and we ended up with 75 close friends and family who would be part of our day,” Paula said, “and there were enough cabins for everyone to come for the weekend. I am not really a DIY kind of person but David is and we wanted this day to be so special. We wanted to make it our own so we spent hours on Pinterest looking at ideas for the wedding”.
“We painted mason jars, made hand-painted signs, designed our own invitations and I also built a custom arbor as a gift to Paula that we used at our wedding. Today the arbor stands on our patio as a daily reminder of our special day,” David told me. The couple says that doing all of this together just added to their relationship and really made their wedding even more special.
David and Paula found their photographer Eric Haggart from Franklin, North Carolina, on a bridal website. They drove up and met Eric at the farm and it was an instant click. “He seemed so interested in our story, what we wanted and spent a lot of time talking with us and asking questions. He told us he would be at our disposal. Eric was so genuine and he and his wife make a great tea; they were just fabulous!” Paula told me. Eric has been a cover artist and is how we met Paula and David.
So Friday they drove up early and worked to set everything up and that evening as family and friends arrived they had a “rehearsal cookout” with burgers and hotdogs. Sugarboo Farms also has an outdoor movie screen where we played a movie for the kids and everyone enjoyed a wonderful evening under the stars. “It was a very family oriented weekend,” Paula said.
Saturday was such a great day for everyone and before they knew it the hour had arrived for the wedding. The wedding was perfect. As this couple pledged their love to each other a family was blended and God restored lives and hearts. Paula told her son something very important that day, “I told Grant that his Dad had taught me that true love exists and David continues to show me that every day.”
Today the Nears live in the Marietta/Kennesaw area and they are currently looking for their future home. The family attends Piedmont Church, they work full time and spend a lot of time with the children. David just accepted a position helping coach Grant’s flag football team and he helped coach Hollis’ soccer team last year. This is a for real love story and it’s our pleasure to share it with you.