Valentine’s Day: A sampling of love stories on the Emerald Coast

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Not every love story is epic, but every love story is special.

Annie Blanks @DestinLogAnnie

Not every love story is epic, but every love story is special.

For Valentine’s Day, the Daily News reached out to couples along the Emerald Coast and asked them to share their love stories: how they met their significant other, how they’ve stayed together and what their love means to them. Check out the stories below of everyday people living extraordinary love stories.

Kyle and Sarah Hock, Fort Walton Beach: ‘I knew I’d marry her then’

KYLE: My wife and I, both 34 years old, have been together since we were 5 years old. We were elementary school sweethearts, middle school sweethearts and then high school sweethearts, and got married right out of high school. We now have three gorgeous kids (ages 6, 4 and 1) and are now expecting our fourth child in June.

We met in her dad’s church when we were 5 years old and I knew I’d marry her then. I even told her parents at a very young age.

She’s been the greatest mother to our children and a phenomenal friend to me. She’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me.

Becca Stillman and Robert Herrin, Destin: Two people walk into a bar …

BECCA: I met the love of my life while on a family vacation in Destin. My sister and I went to a local bar, the Red Door Saloon. A cute guy from across the bar came over, sat down next to me and started singing some Tim McGraw song along with me and we spent the rest of the evening laughing.

A week had passed and I couldn’t get this guy off of my mind, so I sent him a message. A month later, he flew me back down to Destin to spend a week together. I flew back home, quit my job and moved in with him in Destin a month later.

Almost two years have gone by, and we fall more in love every day. And the same cute guy I met at the local bar asked me to marry him in December of last year.

Lauren and Layne Fielder, Destin: Found love at an airport gate

LAUREN: My love bird is Dr. Layne Fielder, my handsome hubby, and we met at gate B12 at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport about six years ago. We both grew up on the Emerald Coast but didn’t know each other, and then we both wound up in Texas. I was living in Dallas and he (a dermatologist serving in the Army) was stationed in San Antonio.

We met because we both happened to be flying home to the Emerald Coast for the holidays on the same flight, and we had our first date the following Valentine’s Day in Austin, Texas. We’ve been together ever since. We are now raising our sweet little family in our favorite seaside community, Destin. It’s easy to stay together because he still takes my breath away every day.

Duffy and Jean Ringstead, Shalimar: 65 years strong

DUFFY: We met in Bermuda in November 1951, she was living there on one of the little islands and I was stationed there for the Air Force. We got married in October of 1952 and had our first daughter in August of 1953. We came back by ship to New York and got to see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty before we got up early to disembark.

We have three kids total and five grandchildren. We’ve got a basketball team, but no cheerleaders. We also have 11 great- grand-kids. We now live at Bob Hope Village.

We traveled all over the world with the Air Force, and we just love each other. It was love at first sight.

Katie and Kurt Holtzman, Destin: Love in deployment

KATIE: My husband and I met at my cousin’s wedding. His good friend married my cousin, and he was a groomsman and I was a bridesmaid. We weren’t even a glimmer in each other’s eyes until about five years later.

He was getting ready to deploy, and he called me to ask if he could write me letters while he was away. That Christmas he drove all the way up to Ohio to take me out on our first date. We’ve been together ever since, and celebrated two years of marriage in January. We now live in Destin and he is stationed at Hurlburt Field.

He’s deployed right now, and this anniversary felt a little different, but that’s OK. We’ll have plenty more to celebrate. If I could express how much my husband means to me, I would, but words never seem to do it justice. He’s my rock, my confidante and my best friend. He’s the one person who I can run to and fear no judgment. He lets me reach for the stars while still keeping me grounded. He’s the love of my life and I’m beyond grateful, and don’t feel worthy enough to have his love.

Shaina and Roger Kelly, Freeport: ‘When you know, you just know’

SHAINA: My husband and I met four years ago this past January. He used to come into my work, and one day I said, “What’s up, buddy?” He gave me a funny look. As it turned out, his nickname was “Buddy” and I had no idea.

So we got to talking, I met his kids and, to make a long story short, we were married within a month.

The circumstances leading up to how we met were just so perfect. We know God meant for us to be together. We’ll be married for four years on Feb. 23. When you know, you just know.

Dan and Cayce Collins, Destin: Love on Fat Tuesday

DAN: Cayce and I met while we were both working at a local radio station. I was an on-air personality and she worked in the sales department.

We had our first date (she asked me) on Fat Tuesday, and we’ve been together ever since. We dated for only a few months, and were engaged and then married shortly thereafter on Feb. 19, 2005.

We have since added four kids and a couple of large dogs to our chaos. She is a wonderful mother and a strong, creative woman who supports me playing music for a living, which is a tough lifestyle for a wife and a mom.

Lisa and Marty Buchman, Destin: Always making time for marriage

LISA: Marty and I started dating our senior year at North Springs High school in Atlanta. We graduated in 1986, went to college, had a few years of adventure and then married in June of 1992. We were so young, so naïve and so in love as we said our vows.

On our wedding day, my dad, James Goblish, told Marty that no matter what was going on in our life, to make time for our marriage.

We have been through quite the adventure in the 31 years we have been together, 25 years married. Both of our professional careers are incredibly time-consuming. We have raised two beautiful daughters along the way. We are happily married because marriage is at the top of our priority list. The list includes God, marriage, and then everything else.

Oh, and he is so incredibly handsome.

Chelsea Wilson and Preston McMinn, Destin: Distance can’t keep us apart

CHELSEA: I’ve been with my guy for almost four years now. We met almost six years ago in our home state of Wyoming. Preston and I were close friends and stayed close through social media while he chased his dreams, left his parents’ nest and came down to Destin to earn his salt. Two (EXTREMELY LONG) years later, I sold everything that wouldn’t fit in my Toyota Corolla and drove 1,640 miles to somewhere I’d never been, where I had no family, and I only knew one thing — Preston was everything I’d been looking for.

Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs. They say the secret is to fall in love with your best friend. I not only fell in love with my best friend, but I found my home in the world. Before Preston, I was a struggling single mom breaking my back to make ends meet. I moved around a lot. I never found a community I felt welcomed in.

Four years later, Preston and I are looking at buying a house here soon. He’s earned his salt and I can say that I’ve finally put some roots down as well. So thank you, Destin, for being the setting for my happy ending and being the community my soul longed for.

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