Alexa Miller and William Schaub
October 20, 2018, in New Hope
“Meet your neighbor, Alexa,” said Will’s mom, Sue.
Kim and Keith Miller and Sue and Rick Schaub had lived next door to each other for more than half a decade. But Alexa lived in Pittsburgh and worked at the Allegheny County Housing Authority, and Will had joined the Air Force before his parents moved from Medfield, Mass., to Washington Crossing and was stationed in Rapid City, S.D. Thanksgiving 2016 was their first simultaneous visit home.
Will was happy to meet Alexa and became even happier as the neighborhood afternoon gathering progressed. The feeling was mutual, Alexa said: “We talked non-stop for something like three hours.”
Yes, Will’s mom was matchmaking that day — but not with Alexa. Will had to leave to go meet someone else. “It would have been wrong to stand the other girl up,” he said. But as soon as he got home, he asked his parents to help him get Alexa’s phone number.
His mom texted her mom. His dad texted her dad.
Alexa had turned in early, so Kim knocked. “I’m sorry to wake you up, but is it OK to gave that boy Will your number?”
Alexa smiled drowsily, then noticed the text notification on her phone. “Um, Mom? He’s already texted me.”
“Keith!” Kim yelled down the stairs to her husband. “You’re supposed to ask permission!”
Alexa and Will had by then reopened their conversation. Did she want to play darts? She was in for the night. Did he want to get together the next day? He was booked, and then flying back to base.
“Everything was working against us, with her in Pittsburgh and me in South Dakota. But we just really enjoyed talking,” Will said.
So they talked by text and social media about their families, careers, friendships, politics, religion — everything. A few weeks later, Alexa asked what would happen if she flew to South Dakota, and Will said he meet her at the airport.
On Dec. 10, Alexa got off a turbulent flight. They hugged, Will took her bag, and they walked together into the wind. At Will’s apartment, they took turns playing classic rock rifts for each other on his guitar. The next day was so cold they had Mount Rushmore pretty much to themselves.
As the weekend evaporated, “We realized there was something here worth going for, despite the distance,” Will said.
They added Skype to their communication repertoire, talking for two hours every night.
In early February, Will visited Alexa in Pittsburgh. In between dinners for two, time at the driving range, and snapping selfies with the city skyline behind them, she introduced Will to most of her friends. After seeing them together, they no longer questioned her willingness to date Will from afar.
The couple had decided they needed to somehow delete the distance between them as soon as possible when, in late February, Will learned he would be deployed to Qatar in June.
Alexa, who is now 25, initiated their most intense conversation yet. She told Will that she believed they were heading toward a lifelong partnership, and that that was exactly what she wanted. Will said that was his goal, too.
Alexa was accepted into Pennsylvania State University’s online public administration master’s degree program. She quit her job and in April moved to South Dakota.
One May morning, the two went to breakfast. They had no sooner climbed back into Will’s truck when his cellphone rang and Alexa overheard the jeweler tell Will the ring he wanted was ready.
“Let’s go get it!” she exclaimed.
Will darted into the store to get it. “I have a place where I want to propose,” he said. He drove to Canyon Lake, and they walked to a small dock on the water. “I had never been there before, and it was a beautiful day with the sun shinning down,” Alexa said. “Perfect, except I’m laughing awkwardly because I pretty much forced him to propose right now.”
Will was laughing, too. “I was trying to make it romantic, but we both knew what was going on.”
Nevertheless, Will dropped to one knee. “Alexa Rae Miller, will you be my wife?” he asked.
“Absolutely!” she said.
Will slipped the ring on her finger, and Alexa bent down and kissed him.
At month’s end, Will brought Alexa and their German shepherd, Valkyrie, to Pennsylvania. Their families threw them an engagement party, then Will was off to Qatar.
After six weeks of house-sitting for Will’s vacationing parents, Alexa accepted her current job, product owner for Emphasys Software, and moved to Miami. Will came back to the States in January 2018, and he, Alexa, Valkyrie, and new family member Harley, an English bulldog, moved to the South Dakota base. Alexa worked remotely through that August, when Will’s six-year enlistment ended and the two moved to Cutler Bay, Fla.
Will, a staff sergeant, remains in the Air Force Reserve at Homestead Air Reserve Base and is studying engineering at Miami Dade College. After completing his degree, he will return to the Air Force full-time as a second lieutenant.
In October, the couple headed north for their wedding at HollyHedge Estate in New Hope. Will wore his dress blues, and Alexa accessorized her dress with the gloves her mother wore when she married Alexa’s father.
The Rev. Phillip Bauman — Will’s pastor from the Medfield church he grew up in — led their Christian ceremony. “It meant a lot to have someone who knew me,” said Will. Pastor Bauman used that knowledge mostly to crack good-natured jokes at Will’s expense, a ploy to relax the couple, who were both suffering from stage fright.
It mostly worked, but it did not prevent the groom from freezing silent during the vows, forgetting the words he had just heard a moment before. Alexa found it charming. “Everyone was crying, and we all needed the laugh,” she said.
At their reception for 130, the couple danced to Brett Young’s “Would You Wait for Me,” a song they find especially meaningful considering the time they’ve spent living apart, and the time apart that may await during Will’s Air Force career.
Walking down the aisle with all eyes on her made Alexa so nervous she wanted to run down. “My dad was holding me back,” she said. Then she got close enough to make eye contact with Will. “I just forgot about everybody else who was in the room.”
Will was just as focused on her. “When I saw her in her dress for the first time, I was overcome with awe,” he said. “I’m trying to figure out what I did in my life to deserve this, but I was just so happy it was happening. I was determined not to cry, but then we were looking at each other, and my pastor was talking about marriage.”
Alexa cried during her vows, too.
Three days kayaking, lounging on the beach, and getting pampered at a spa in Key Largo, Fla.
Officiant: Senior Pastor Phillip Bauman of the United Church of Christ, Medfield, Mass.
Venue: HollyHedge Estate, New Hope.
Music: Wedding band Reign, Philadelphia.
Photography: Carmen Troesser, Missouri.
Flowers: Cindy Flynn at Clark’s Flower Shop, Newtown.
Dress: Purchased at La Belle Mariee, Newtown.