When Kylie Reed arrived at Josh Duling’s house near Maupin for a party in 2015, he was immediately impressed; she, not so much.
“When I met Josh, he was wearing a pair of skinny jeans and I gave him a hard time about being a farmer and doing that,” said Kylie, who grew up in Dufur. “I was questioning his choices.”
She arrived at the Duling homestead with a girlfriend who was married to Josh’s buddy and didn’t want to be the only female at the party.
Josh, 26, a fourth-generation wheat and carrot seed farmer, was attracted enough by Kylie, 24, to pursue her despite her standoffish attitude.
“She was playing hard to get – I like a challenge,” he said.
Kylie, a licensed massage therapist who is self-employed, found herself drawn to Josh’s kindness and sense of adventure.
Josh enjoyed her straight-talking style of communication.
“I knew right away she was the one,” he said.
They dated for a while, but Kylie wasn’t ready to commit to a relationship, so they broke it off for six months.
“I knew if we were going to get back together, it was going to be serious,” she said. “I was ready by then, I had figured it out.”
In the fall of 2017, Josh and Kylie went ring shopping and she picked out an “Asscher Cut Diamond” that was set in a band with 128 smaller stones.
Although Kylie knew the proposal was coming, she didn’t know when or where it would take place. Josh had received her father Marc Reed’s blessing during a routine fuel stop at the farm several weeks before he began planning the proposal.
She assumed that Josh would pop the question on the family property with its sweeping views of several peaks in the Cascade Mountain Range.
He wanted to create a memory that Kylie would cherish for the rest of their lives. And he wanted to completely surprise her when he took a knee.
So Josh enlisted Kylie’s younger sister, Sydney Reed, as an accomplice. They agreed that nothing should be said to her mother and step-father, Heather and Deric Anthony, because they would not be able to keep the secret.
There was a near miss on Dec. 22 when Sydney and her brother, Isaac Anthony, went to Washington Square Mall in Portland to pick up the ring for Josh, who couldn’t get away without drawing Kylie’s suspicions.
The Anthonys happened to be doing some holiday shopping at the mall that day. When Sydney and Isaac strolled by the restaurant where their parents were having lunch, they fortunately were not seen, so were spared an awkward explanation.
The two conspirators returned to Maupin to meet up with Kylie and Josh for a trip to Portland. His plan was to pop the question that evening while the family was at the Oregon Zoo for the holiday light festival.
As far as Kylie knew, the outing was to celebrate Sydney’s birthday.
“It was pouring down rain, that was the downfall,” said Josh. Joining Sydney, her boyfriend Cole Kortge, and Isaac on the adventure, and in the know about the “big event,” were Kylie’s grandmother, CeCe Fix, her cousin Tabor McLaughlin and his girlfriend Mayce Stan.
They all travelled in the same vehicle and Kylie said the trip became stressful when they had trouble locating the MAX light-rail station where they were meeting her parents for the ride to the zoo.
“It was cold, and I was not in a good mood,” Kylie recalls of the evening that would change her life.
Josh waited until about three minutes before the proposal to ask Deric for permission to marry Kylie.
“I knew her parents wouldn’t have a chance to say anything to her in that short period of time,” he said.
Later, he and Kylie learned that Deric didn’t even wait 30 seconds before he told Heather, which he justified by saying that, because his wife was a social butterfly, he didn’t want her to get distracted and miss the moment.
“They are terrible at keeping secrets,” said Kylie.
With the blessing of both fathers, Josh dropped to one knee on wet pavement in front of the carousel. He picked that location because Kylie had been fascinated with horses since girlhood.
“Honestly, I don’t remember anything I said, it just kind of happened,” he said.
The first words out of Kylie’s mouth were: “Are you serious?” Josh was taken back for a moment, but then he got the answer that he had been waiting for, a resounding “YES!”
“After that, I was in a much better mood,” said Kylie.
“I had to cheer her up somehow,” said Josh.
Their wedding will be Sept. 15 and Josh is involved in the planning process, which has yielded mixed results.
“It will have to be a country-themed wedding because we have a big barn to work with, but he actually wanted to put a John Deere tractor on the cake,” Kylie said.
“I don’t think that I’m going to get that, but I can wish,” he said.
Josh also wanted their dogs, Remi and Nash, to wear bride and groom costumes to the wedding, but his bride-to-be nixed that idea because the animals looked like a circus act.
However, the couple reached a compromise that will find Isaac, 14, walking the leashed dogs down the aisle so they can participate in the ceremony as part of the family.
Josh has plenty to keep him busy during the next few months. His “honey do” list of wedding-related projects seems to be a mile long.
There is old fencing to replace and a barn to paint. Farm equipment stored in and around the barn needs to be moved to another location. And the dozens of potholes in the long driveway need to be filled.
“She’s making me do a lot,” Josh noted.
“I’ve got to get work out of him while I can,” Kylie commented.
This is a good year to focus their energies on a wedding, they both say, since wheat has been planted on the acreage normally used for carrot production due to its increased nutritional value.
And wheat is a much less labor-intensive part of the operation, said Josh.
He is taking the wedding preparations in stride and looking forward to the moment when Kylie will be his wife.
“This means you are stuck with me forever,” he said to her with a grin during a recent interview.
Kylie, who has a “go-go-go” personality, is on a quest to get the DJ booked, the dress picked out and everything in place so there are no last-minute glitches.
Unlike Josh, she doesn’t wear her heart on her sleeve and said that his emotional honesty is one of the things she most loves about him.
He admires the fact that Kylie is “not afraid of anything” and is both independent and feisty.
“We just get along so well,” she said of their relationship. “He asks me all the time why I want to marry him, and I tell him, ‘I can’t tell you yet.’”
Editor’s Note: The Chronicle will be showcasing the planning process and marriage of Josh Duling and Kylie Reed over the next eight months. Watch for the next installment in March, which features Kylie’s journey to find the perfect wedding dress.