It was no secret that Jody and I wanted to get married. We began talking about it after Jody graduated from college. However, the following year when I graduated, Jody told me he wanted to wait until after he completes graduate school to tie the knot. While I was disappointed that we would have to wait a few more years, I was glad to still be able to spend most days with him.
Fast-forward one year. Jody had been accepted to Salisbury University for his masters program, and was planning to move from Richmond to Maryland at the end of the summer. We spent most of our time outside of work, exploring the city, traveling and taking picture, our latest hobby turned small business. One evening, Jody told me that his coworker, Tony, was also trying to build his portfolio for his photography business, and had asked to practice couples styled shots on us. While I was hesitant, I reluctantly agreed to participate. Jody said that Tony wanted us to pick a few locations that meant something to us as a couple, or a place that we go a lot, with the idea of being in a place where we were comfortable would make us more relaxed and have a better shoot. According to Jody, they decided that we should start with pictures at Randolph-Macon College, our alma mater. At this point, I mentioned I really didn’t want pictures at R-MC yet, because I knew I wanted to get our engagement pictures taken there one day. Jody convinced me that we’d only get a few in Ashland, and then we would go to Richmond for the rest.
Our shoot was scheduled for June 26, 2016 at 6:00pm. As a budding photographer, I knew this was the perfect time of the day to get pictures during what is known as “golden hour”. While I was still reluctant to go to R-MC, I was getting more excited about having some pictures of Jody and I that were better than iPhone quality. However, when we were nearing the school, my stomach started doing flips. I mentioned to Jody that I was nervous and he just shrugged it off and told me that Tony was going to meet us at the tennis courts, which I just assumed was because it is the largest parking lot on campus that doesn’t require a parking pass. As we got out of the car, I noticed that there was a group of people huddled back under the shelter, which I quickly forgot as I walked towards Tony to introduce myself. Jody pulled out his speakers, which he does do pretty often, and started to play some music. It was in this moment when I realized that all of the pillars of the tennis court’s gazebo were covered with pictures of Jody and I over the past couple of years. I looked up to see twenty balloons floating at the top of the gazebo, with more pictures of us taped to the string. Realizing what was about to happen, I look up at Jody, who grabs me by the hand and starts walking me to point out his favorite memories and photos of us. He then leads me to a larger picture, with a towel draped over the frame. He let go of my hand and said “Go look at that one.” Taking a deep breath before reaching for the towel, I uncovered a image of Jody holding a sign that says “Turn Around”.
Timed perfectly to the words of “When She Comes Around” by Ben Rector, my favorite independent artist, Jody gets down on one knee and says the words every girl waits her whole life to hear:
“You came into my life and brought light to one of my darkest points. Morgan Elisa Parks, will you marry me?”
I cried as I said yes, full of so much joy as I was looking into the eyes of the love of my life, trying to engrave every emotion that we both felt in that moment into my memory. He slipped the ring on my finger (which I completely forgot to look at until ten minutes later) and whispered “this ring is very special”, immediately telling me that he included his mother’s diamond in the setting, which was something he brought up as a possibility when we first started talking marriage. As soon as he said that, I realized there was a crowd of people to my left, quickly realizing was our families and closest friends. Jody had managed to capture everything I had ever dreamed of for a proposal– at a meaningful place, a private moment followed by a celebration with our closest family and friends, a little white lie about when it was going to happen to throw me off-guard (it worked!), and a photographer to capture the greatest moment of my life thus far. It was more than I ever could have dreamed of an I will cherish Jody, and the day that he planned perfectly, for the rest of my life.