Ariel and Alex

How We Met

I’m pretty sure when you sign up for the required freshman English course, most people do not expect to find their prince charming. I know I definitely did not, but as cheesy as it sounds, I found love in the most unexpected place and when I least expected it. In January 2011, Alex and I met after I asked him to be my editing partner in our English class at UNC-Chapel Hill. To my surprise, and I hope this surprises all of you as well, he said no. I was shocked, but of course, like any determined girl, I asked the instructor to assign us to partners anyways and she happily agreed. Throughout the semester, we edited each other’s papers but honestly did not have much conversation outside of that. Y’all, all of his papers were on football, and somehow I had no idea he even played football for UNC. It’s actually kind of embarrassing considering how instrumental football has been in our relationship.

Ariel's Proposal in Kenan Memorial Stadium at UNC Chapel Hill

Marriage Proposal Ideas in Kenan Memorial Stadium at UNC Chapel Hill

After the semester was over, we parted ways (without each other’s numbers) and during the summer we reconnected at a football party. Yes, this is when I actually realized he played football! We spent the entire night talking and laughing. From that night forward, we were inseparable. We spent almost all of our free time together, learning new things about each other and ultimately becoming best friends. Months passed, but Alex still had not formally asked me on a date. It took until October 2011 for him to ask me on a date to see his dad’s high school football team play. Even though it rained the entire game, and I hit Alex with my umbrella in the mouth (ouch) he somehow fell for my silly self. Of course, I also had fallen hard for him! Later that night, he FINALLY asked me to be his girlfriend, and for more than 6 years I have been blessed to have him by my side in the same place where it all began, Chapel Hill!

Ariel and Alex's Engagement in Kenan Memorial Stadium at UNC Chapel Hill

how they asked

First off, I think it is important for you to know that Alex and I live VERY busy lives and often have opposite work schedules (he coaches football at UNC and I am a night shift trauma and orthopedic nurse at UNC Hospital). So, the fact that he was able to coordinate such a perfect proposal where so many people knew ahead of time (you will hear all about this later in the story), both of us could be off, and I was completely clueless is truly impressive! Now that you know that, let me tell you the story about the best day of my life…

About a month ago, Alex asked me to try and get off early on March 3, 2018, so I could attend a football social for the coaches and their significant others in the Blue Zone of Kenan Stadium. Thankfully, one of my coworkers willingly agreed to come in and help me out (Thank you, Kate). I did not think anything about it because it was the night before Spring ball for the football team started so it made sense for there to be a get-together. Little did I know, I would never be attending a social, but instead, would be getting the biggest surprise of my life.

After lots of outfit changes the day of “the social”, he and I left for the stadium at 5:15 pm. He parked in his usual spot at the stadium and told me we would walk across the field to get to the Blue Zone. I was completely oblivious as we walked through the tunnel and onto the field. He stopped me at the 50-yard line and said, “Ariel, I love you more than anything in this world.” Again, oblivious me did not catch on and told him I loved him too. He then continued to tell me how I spend every day taking care of other people and how he wanted to take care of me and spend the rest of his life with me. Tears began to form in my eyes and right as he dropped down on one knee, I began to full on cry. I could not believe it was actually happening. “Ariel Franklin, will you marry me?” he said, and of course I said yes, Yes, YES!

It was shortly after that I heard yelling from the balcony of the coaches offices, and there stood Papa Mangili (a very close friend and coworker of Alex’s who helped him make sure the stadium was ready for the proposal), my incredible mother who drove in from the mountains of North Carolina, and my best friend, Laura, who flew in from Nashville, Tennessee. My mouth dropped and I began to cry again! As we began to run towards them, I saw a photographer hiding in the same tunnel we entered through! As if proposing to me in our favorite place was not emotional enough, he went and arranged for a photographer to capture it all and made sure my mom and best friend could witness it!

The surprise did not end there, he then took me back to the house where he had arranged a surprise engagement party with our closest friends and family! Once again, I cried. Having our parents, other family members, and friends from near and far all together to celebrate our love was truly incredible! I was (and still honestly am) speechless about how perfect the night was!

Special Thanks

Arika Shelest
Laura Cartwright | 
April and Wayne Franklin; Connie and Doug Marrs |