How We Met
The answer isn’t a simple one. Garner and I have always known OF each other. We don’t really have a recollection of “meeting.” We both attended Presbyterian Christian School for elementary and high school, but Garner was three grades ahead of me. I, as most pre-teen girls tend to do, swooned over the “cool, older jock” which in this case was my Garner Bell. Even though I didn’t know him, I remember him as kind, very smart, athletic and, most importantly, Godly in character. He exuded friendliness, and he lit up every room he walked into (still does.) Now that you know how I thought of him in high school, I must admit that I almost asked him to prom my senior year, and let’s just say I’m very glad I didn’t because he was a junior in college at the time. It probably would’ve cramped his style a bit ;)
Fast forward many years… Garner finished school at Mississippi College, got a masters at UMMC and started med school at William Carey, and I finished school at Ole Miss while embarking on my long three year journey competing in Miss Mississippi. We went separate ways, lived in different towns, and never saw each other.
AT THE START: Our story starts at the end of Garner’s third year of med school and right after my third and last time vying for the title of Miss Mississippi. Two very special friends (Kate and Michael Robbins) thought it would be a good idea to play matchmaker with me and Garner. I’ll never forget sitting in Southbound Bagel in downtown Hattiesburg and Kate saying to me, “You really should date Garner Bell.” I probably looked like a deer in headlights because it was out of the blue. So I said, “I mean I would if he asked me on a date. I’d for sure go on a date with him.” Guess what… not even three days later I get a text from Garner Bell whose number I didn’t even have.
“Hey Ivey, this is Garner Bell. I hope it is okay that I got your number from Michael Robbins. Do you mind if I call you in a minute?”
Whoa! Brave if you ask me. I knew what was coming next because of my previous convo with Kate, but I was so relieved not to get a text saying “hey, what’s up?” Or “hey, we should hang out sometime” which is the kind of text modern day culture calls an appropriate courtship. So, Garner called, asked me to dinner, and gave me the time he would be by to pick me up. I was undeniably giddy.
He picked me up for our first date on July 8th, 2016 and was shocked to see that I chopped my hair off to my jawbone that day. Talk about a fresh start!!! We went to the Branch for dinner and a cocktail and talked about life, work, family, friends, interests, travels, you name it. After dinner, we ran by his house so he could teach me a little guitar (AKA show off and impress me… it worked) since he knew I was trying to teach myself how to play at the time. Garner, reserved and semi-shy, played and sang to me. I didn’t know much about him, but I knew that he was going out on a limb and that he didn’t do that in front of people often if ever. He sang the song we will be dancing to on our wedding day, “Tenerife Sea” by Ed Sheeran.
WHEN YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW: That’s when I knew… sitting in his study room listening to him on that first date. I was falling fast and hard. I actually crawled in bed with my sister the next morning, and after my mom and dad joined us in her room, I cried happy tears talking to them about him because I knew. He was so kind, respectful and such a gentleman. From that very first date forward, Garner sought my heart in the right way and never played games. He later told me he knew I was the one for him after his brother’s wedding on July 16th, one week after our first date. I knew he felt this way about three weeks into dating when he told me he wanted to take me to residency with him… as his wife.
From the get-go, we had so much in common. Our ideals, interests, goals, morals and everything in between aligned, but we saw that we were different enough personality wise to complement each other and balance one another out. Most importantly, from the very beginning, we talked openly about our spiritual lives. After getting to know Garner on that level, I knew he was the one I had been praying for since I was a little girl. For years and years (even while in relationships) I prayed, “Lord, please put the person in my path that YOU want me to be with. Please let us find each other.” God could have literally put big, bright flashing lights above Garner’s head with arrows saying, “THIS IS HIM!” That’s how apparent it was, and Garner and I both found so much comfort in that. We knew that no one other than our creator led us to one another. Today, the only thing stronger than Garner’s love for me is his desire for me to love and follow Jesus. That’s pretty powerful. I am so blessed that God provided a husband with that sort of faith and spiritual leadership.
how they asked
Fast forward again… 9 months, many fun trips, countless 2 hour phone calls, tons of laughs, random concerts, a move for a job, and residency interviews pass by… March 25, 2017 (one week after he matched into the Internal Medicine residency program in Michigan) Garner Bell asked me to be his wife. He made up a very very unassuming story to get me all dressed up and to the Hattiesburg Saenger Theatre, which I thought was a pit stop to pick something up on the way to our fake final destination. I walked into the empty theater showing the “Garner Bell Production” titled Finding Ivey.
Side note: Garner asked me to go see Finding Dory for our second date, so Finding Ivey was only fitting. When I glanced at the screen in shock, all I could say was “nooooo wayyyyyy” and then… instant tears. The movie was a slideshow about the separate lives we lived prior to him “finding” me and that “who you’re looking for is sometimes right in front of you all along.” Cue me bawling my eyes out and Garner’s manly tears streaming down his face as he pops down on one knee (this is rare because Garner is the definition of “stoic.”) I’m pretty sure we had a happiness blackout because all we remember are words ending in “Will you marry me?” along with tears and a definite “yes” followed by lots of hugs and kisses.
He fooled me so good and gave me the most heartfelt, well thought out, special engagement a girl could ask for. It was the kind you see in a movie. Afterwards, he surprised me with a celebratory gathering with our family and friends at his childhood home.
March 25, 2017….. hands down was the best day of my life until we wed on November 4, 2017.