It took moving to a city of more than two million people for Prince George natives Melissa Companion and Sean Cranston to connect.
For all intents and purposes, the pair - who began dating in 2005 - should have crossed paths years ago, having lived mere minutes from each other in high school in the southern reaches of town. In fact, Cranston moved in to the the home of Companion's childhood best friend when his father married her friend's mother.
Unfortunately, Companion and her friend had fallen out of touch a couple of years prior, leaving her old friend's new step-brother a total stranger.
But in 2005, when both Companion and Cranston were going to school in the Lower Mainland, they were introduced by Companion's sister.
Seven-and-a-half years later, the two are among the Top 10 finalists in Global BC's Win a Dream Wedding contest, vying for votes for a $20,000 trip for themselves and 10 guests to marry in Mexico.
Living paycheque to paycheque in the Lower Mainland rat race with lots of student debt and a new baby, Cranston, 29, still managed to make his longtime girlfriend's dream come true with a surprise early-morning proposal last January.
As he heard her stirring early one morning, Cranston secured an engagement ring to four-month-old son Liam's teething necklace and made himself scarce. Before she had the chance to have her morning coffee, Companion was summoned to the baby's crib under the guise of having to change Liam's diaper.
"I was kind of mad," Companion, 28, recalled. "I'm not a morning person." Any hard feelings disintegrated as the sparkling accessory breached the morning fog and she turned around to find Cranston on bended knee behind her.
When they met, the pair clicked immediately. Despite having only known each other for a few months, Cranston knew that Companion was someone he wanted to stick around for.
"I had been thinking of moving back to Prince George," said Cranston, who was studying at Capilano College and was looking to switch to the University of Northern B.C. But after moving into Companion's small Cloverdale apartment, he said he "wasn't in a huge rush."
The following year, the move couldn't be put off any longer and Cranston and Companion made the difficult decision to carry out a long-distance relationship while she finished the final year of a two-year program at Kwantlen College.
The time apart was hard, said Companion.
"I had never been in love before," she said, admitting that one night she went through her calendar and numbered all of the days until she finished school and and could join Cranston in their hometown. "I didn't want to leave him."
Though marriage was always on the brain, the pair wanted to put it off until they felt they were in a financial place to do it properly and the way they wanted.
"One day we'll get a house, we'll live together, we'll get married," Companion said they told themselves. "But it was always three steps forward, two steps back."
The next step back came when Cranston realized his economics degree wasn't going to help him much in a recession-affected economy and decided to start a master's degree at Simon Fraser University in the fall of 2010.
Companion, who is very family oriented wasn't too keen on leaving home and moving back to Vancouver, but ultimately agreed with the promise that the two could start planning and saving to get married after Cranston finished his degree.
But life had another intervention for them. In December of that year, they discovered Companion was pregnant.
"Liam was a huge surprise," she said, adding the arrival of their son threw a bit of a wrench into their plans of buying a house, getting married and starting family in that order.
Last week, the small family moved back to Prince George in time for Cranston to start a new job with the city. Living with Companion's parents until they can get a place of their own, the couple said winning the dream wedding prize would be a great way to give back to their families who have supported them over the years.
"It would be an amazing thing to give a gift like that to your family," Cranston said.
To vote for Companion and Cranston, visit www.globalnews.ca/contests/dreamwedding. Voting is open until Jan. 27 and the pair will be interviewed on Global TV on Jan. 18.