“We both said yes," Valerie Smith, who first connected with wife Amanda Smith while they were getting divorced from their husbands, tells PEOPLE
Amanda and Valerie Smith unknowingly planned the same surprise on their Florida vacation: proposing!
The couple took a private tour of the Pensacola Lighthouse, climbing 177 steps on Sunday, July 17, 2022. When they posed for a picture at the top, Amanda turned to Valerie and said, “I have a question,” as she reached into her pocket, pulling out a cushion cut engagement ring.
Much to her surprise, Valerie responded: “I have a question, too." Then she proceeded to take out the princess cut engagement ring she had purchased.
The happy coincidence was a total shock for both. “I was surprised — I didn’t know what was coming. I knew what I was doing, but I was so focused on trying not to drop the ring off the lighthouse that I was like, ‘What’s happening!?’” says Valerie, 33, a project manager for a sign company. “We both said yes.”
As fate would have it, Valerie actually planned to propose on the dolphin cruise the day before, but she got too seasick.
The couple first met through a mutual friend, who suggested they connect because they were both in the middle of divorces.
They started chatting in March 2018. By the following July, the two had become best friends — and once they were both divorced from their husbands, they realized they wanted to be more than friends.
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“Amanda showed me that there’s so much more to life than being held in one spot and being unhappy,” Valerie says.
They married Oct. 21, 2023 on Navarre Beach in Destin, Fla. — and Valerie’s sister performed the ceremony.
“We have the family that I’ve always dreamed of,” says Amanda, a 39-year-old behavior specialist paraprofessional for a school district. “It looks different than I thought it would, because I didn’t think I would be allowed to be who I was – but I love it. I love the way it looks and I love that we have so much support and love that surrounds us. I didn’t have that when I was married, and I feel like it’s because she makes me so happy.”
Valerie has become a loving second-mom to Amanda’s two kids, 12-year-old son Jaxon and 9-year-old daughter Brooklyn.
“She does all the mom things,” Amanda says of her wife. “I’ve never had the support and love that I have in my life right now.”
For more on Amanda and Valerie Smith's love story, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.
They started a photography business together and hope to buy a farm where they'll have mini-cows and a dog rescue.
“It’s been like a fairy tale since the very beginning,” Amanda says. “It’s been so easy, that it’s almost scary."
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