If there's one rule to relationships, it's that they all form in their own unique ways. With that said, some relationships form in slightly more nontraditional ways than others. Case in point: Austin Mann and Esther Havens' six-year-long relationship.
Back in 2008, the two freelance photographers met in Waco, Texas. They immediately hit it off, and for good reason: not only do they both work as photographers, they also both work for nonprofits in developing communities. But since Mann and Havens both travel extensively for work, their relationship didn't have time to grow beyond a fast friendship.
As traveling photographers racking up over 10,000 travel miles a year, the two friends inevitably ended up crossing paths at airports across the world. A few years ago, Mann was passing through the Amsterdam Airport when he realized that Havens would be in the same exact airport just a few days later. So, on a whim, he decided to leave her a note at the airport's Starbucks and texted her a riddle in the hopes that she'd find it when she was in Amsterdam.
This thoughtful gesture changed the course of Mann and Havens' relationship forever and the two started dating. But that didn't change the fact that they were both still traveling extensively for work. So the two stuck with their Starbucks love notes and it quickly became a tradition.
Literally all over the world, Mann spent years hiding notes for Havens. He tucked them into seat cushions. He taped them underneath tables. Sometimes, he even preordered Haven her favorite drink so that it would be ready and waiting when she passed through the same airport.
"Austin's notes were always filled with something to make me feel special," Havens said in a Starbucks press release. "My notes for Austin were many times filled with encouraging words about how awesome I think he is."
After a few years, Mann knew it was time for him to ask Havens to marry him. And since airport Starbucks across the world had played such an important part in their relationship, he decided to pop the big question in the Starbucks where it all started: in the Amsterdam airport.
Mann knew Havens would be flying into the airport from Tanzania early one morning, so he texted her telling her there was a note hidden for her at the Starbucks there, and then secretly boarded his own flight to Amsterdam. He got there, along with Havens' younger sister, informed the baristas of what he was doing and then they hid.
When Havens showed up at the Starbucks, she found Mann's hidden note, which told her there was a preordered drink waiting for her at the counter. When she went to go get it, she found Mann waiting for her, complete with a bouquet of flowers and an engagement ring. As you can imagine, Havens gave Mann a resounding yes.
"There are things we can dream about forever, but that's what I love about Austin is he does it," Havens said. "He makes it happen. He's like, 'Why not? I'll fly to the other side of the world.'"
And yes, in case you were wondering, the couple plans on keeping up with their love note tradition at airport Starbucks across the world.