How We Met
Mark and I were both working as interns at a local news station (WOOD TV 8) in Grand Rapids, Michigan during the summer of 2014. My dad is one of the sports anchors at the station, and he had mentioned to me that his intern was a really nice, talented guy who went to Butler University. I was working as an intern for the station’s lifestyle (eightWest) and family/community show (Maranda Where You Live), so I didn’t really think I would see much of my dad’s intern. However, on one of the first days of my internship, Maranda, the host of the station’s community show, called a meeting for the interns, and she told us that part of the summer internship program required all of us to help with a community event that her show broadcasts, called, “Maranda Park Parties.” These park parties pull together local vendors to provide free fun, food, and games in lower income neighborhoods throughout West Michigan. We were told that these park parties would take place each week during the summer, switching locations every time.
At the end of the meeting, a guy with warm brown eyes, deep dimples, freckles, and broad shoulders came up to me and shook my hand, saying, “Hi, I’m Mark, and I’m your dad’s intern. You must be Kelly.” I was immediately struck by how kind, polite, and friendly he was, and I looked forward to getting to know him better. The next week, all of the interns were setting up at our first park party, when Maranda announced that she wanted the interns to inflate and tie balloons, since this was the 20th anniversary of park parties. I was trying to untangle some of the balloons strings, when I saw Mark fumbling to tie the balloons after filling them. I walked over to him and joked, “Having a little trouble there?” He looked up at me and laughed, “I think my thumbs are too big to tie these.” I smiled at him and asked if we could trade jobs. Mark and I spent a lot of time talking, laughing, and joking as we filled and tied the balloons. Throughout the park parties, I couldn’t help but notice the way that he treated everyone with so much kindness, respect, and sought out ways to serve others.
There was something about us that just gelled and felt so genuine and familiar, but I never entertained the idea of dating him, because we were both in long term relationships at the time. One day during our internship, I was editing a story when I overheard some of the women I work with (including Maranda) talking about “What a nice young man that Mark Pearson is.” I agreed with them, saying, “That’s the kind of person I want my future kid to marry.” Maranda looked over at me and asked, “Why not you?” I laughed it off and told Maranda that there was no way that would happen, but she just shrugged, saying, “I’m just saying, there’s a spark there. I see it.” I drove home that day, feeling a little unsettled by her comment, because I knew that she was onto something. At the conclusion of our internships, I remember feeling so surprised by the sinking feeling in my stomach after I awkwardly shook his hand to say goodbye to him. I never thought that I would see him again, and I kind of felt like I had met the person that was made for me, but at the wrong time. I felt like I would go through life seeing Mark as my biggest “What if.”
Fast forward 1 year later, and I was single, and sitting at a West Michigan White Caps baseball game with my sister, when I saw Mark walking toward me. He was with his girlfriend, and I kind of panicked and shook both of their hands and said something awkward to his girlfriend, like, “Wow, I’ve heard so many great things about you, and you’re so pretty.” When they walked away, my sister Julie turned to me and said, “You’re going to marry him.” I told her that there way noooooooo way that would happen, and she said, “Just wait. You’ll see.” About 6 months later, I got a text message from Mark. He told me that he was in town for Christmas and New Year’s Day, and that he had met with my dad for some career advice since we were both going to graduate during the spring, and he wondered if I wanted to catch up over coffee or grabbing lunch/dinner.
I showed the message to my sister and she immediately demanded to check his social media to see if he was single. Low and behold, he was. Julie started shrieking, “I TOLD YOU THAT YOU WOULD GET MARRIED.” The next week, Mark and I met up at a local restaurant on the lake. When I got there, he had his hands in his pockets, and he was watching a pink sunset slip into the lake. I immediately had ALL OF THE FEELS, and something in me just confirmed what I already knew—he was the one. ***in the photo, Mark is the one in the pink polo and glasses on the bottom right, and I am the one in the black dress with the silver zipper standing in the middle****
how they asked
In May of 2017, I was invited to go on a cruise to Key West and Cozumel with Mark’s parents, and his sister Jenn. Mark and I are in a long distance relationship, and so his family and I planned to travel to Miami together and pick him up from the airport. Little did I know, while I was flying to Miami with Mark’s family, he flew from Grand Forks, North Dakota (where he works as a sports anchor) to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to meet my parents for lunch and to ask for their permission to propose. My parents obviously said yes, and then he flew to Miami, where his family and I picked him up from the airport. As soon as we greeted him, he suggested that we run to the bathroom before we left the airport. I agreed and skipped off to the bathroom, while he (without me knowing) pulled the ring out of his carry-on bag and hid it in his mom’s purse.
Now Mark and I had talked about getting engaged at some point during the year, so he had anticipated that I might do something to mess with him, like asking to carry his luggage to see if he would squirm. Just as Mark had thought, as soon as I returned from the bathroom, I asked if I could carry his bags for him, and he nonchalantly agreed. This immediately ruled out any of my suspicious regarding a proposal during the vacation. The next day, Mark and his family and I boarded the cruise ship. Mark knows that I love the sky and the water, and so he asked me if I would like to go up and watch the sunset from the deck of the ship before we went to get our fancy dinner. As Mark and I were watching the sunset, he told me that we should take a “Titanic” picture, to get me to the edge of the ship.
As he was standing behind me, he told me that he wanted to show me a video, and he pulled out his phone. The video Mark made took us through a series of our “firsts,” featuring photos that matched up to each of these moments. The fact that we were sailing through the Atlantic Ocean at this time is significant, because all of the most important moments in our relationship took place near water: we had our first date at a restaurant on Reeds Lake, he asked me to be his girlfriend on shore of Lake Michigan, and he told me he loved me by the pond on Butler’s campus. I basically saw the first slide showing the first time we met, which had a photo of us at the intern lunch, and after that, the rest of the slideshow was a blur.
At some point during the slideshow, his dad slipped him the ring behind his back (Mark knew better than to keep the ring in his own pocket, because I like to poke his pockets to say that I’m doing “ring inspection”). As Mark played the video of all of our first dates and kisses, the second to last slide was a photo of us hugging goodbye at the airport in Grand Forks, North Dakota during my last visit, and that caption read, “First time saying goodbye while I had the ring.” Finally, the last slide appeared, a black background with white text that read, “The first time I got down on one knee..”
Mark had his sister Jenn and his dad taking pictures, and his mom captured the whole moment on video. We laughed and cried, and we went down to the bottom of the deck to celebrate.
I swear I couldn’t even read the menu during dinner, because I was so overwhelmed, surprised, and over the moon happy. I’m forever grateful to my dad for hiring such a great intern, and to the host of the Maranda show for making us tie all of those balloons together…whoever knew that tying all of those balloons would lead to tying the knot? ;)