Morgan and Stephen

Image 1 of Morgan and Stephen

How We Met

Stephen and I met on October 21, 2013. I had signed up for an alternative spring break program at the University of Georgia named IMPACT. This was the first time our group was meeting, and I was super nervous, as I’d applied on a whim and it was way outside my narrow comfort zone.

One of my best friends had told me that one of her friends (who she only referred to as Kopanski) had been placed on the same trip as me, which would be to Chicago for homelessness and poverty. She introduced us at the meeting, forced us to hug like two Barbie dolls, and intentionally made it as uncomfortable as possible.

He asked for my number by the end of the night, and I gave it to him. We didn’t talk much between then and the trip aside from spending time here and there with mutual friends.

Then, in January 14, 2014, I lost my dad to a heart attack. One day he was there, and the next he wasn’t. It was, of course, incredibly difficult for me. Even though we didn’t know each other well, Stephen texted me to let me know that if I needed someone, he was there. He said it wasn’t quite the same, but he had lost a fraternity brother just a couple of weeks prior, and loss was something he understood.

This came at a time when even some of those who I had been close to weren’t really checking in with me (about two weeks after, if I were to guess), just because they didn’t know what to do or how to handle it. But Stephen did.

When we went on our trip to Chicago, Stephen and I would stay up late talking with each other in the church basement we stayed in. It was those kinds of nights when you know you really need sleep, it’s 3am and you have to get up in a few short hours, but you can’t because the moment you’re having is just so valuable.

Image 2 of Morgan and Stephen

By the end of the week, Stephen and I were incredibly close. We took turns sleeping on each other’s shoulders on the long ride back to Georgia.

A couple of weeks after the trip, we shared our first kiss after staying up all night talking. I remember finally going to bed at 10am the next morning, and thinking, “wow, I feel like a middle schooler,” because I just couldn’t get my excitement about him out of my head.

how they asked

Stephen told me we were going out to eat in Athens for his brother’s birthday, and that his mom wanted us to take some pictures as a family beforehand, so I should dress nice. He had graduated from UGA a semester before me in December of 2015, and he told me he hadn’t really gotten to walk around Athens since then, so we went early to explore North Campus.

As we walked, he said, “we have so many good memories in Athens. What’s one of your favorite memories from when we first started dating?”

We took turns talking about a million little memories from our early stages: all those late night conversations, Waffle House runs from when he lived within walking distance of one, our first Greek date night and how strange it was to me at the time (I was in a particularly edgy phase). Eventually, we were in the Founder’s Garden.

Being completely oblivious, I started looking around for a bench, because I would have sworn there was one there. I wanted to be able to sit and appreciate how beautiful the garden was with him. He had a different plan.

I was still looking for that bench when Stephen turned me around said, “I want to make one more memory here.”

He got down on one knee.

Image 3 of Morgan and Stephen

The first thing that came out of my mouth was “oh my god.” I couldn’t believe it was really happening. (Side note, this is also what I said the first time he told me he loved me. Poor guy.) I love Stephen with all of my heart, and I was ready, but he had succeeded in tricking me into thinking it wasn’t coming yet. I was shaking.

He told me how important I am to him, that I’m smart and beautiful and his best friend. He pulled out a beautiful ring, and asked, “will you marry me?” I said yes, and leaned down to kiss him (and missed because I was shaking so hard. Smooth.)

Image 4 of Morgan and Stephen

Suddenly I heard shutters clicking, and realized he had hired photographers so we would have pictures of this moment, just like I had always wanted. The photographers took us around campus, taking photos of us with our families and at different landmarks on campus, like the Chapel Bell and the arch. I was so excited to show off my new ring, but I was also so excited to tell my friends I had landed the best guy on the planet. I struggled with not calling them immediately, but wanted to be present.

Image 5 of Morgan and Stephen

Image 6 of Morgan and Stephen

The photographers led us downtown. As we were walking down Clayton Street, the photographer asked me if we had a special place downtown, and just as I was about to answer, I looked up.

Image 7 of Morgan and Stephen

On the marquee of the Georgia Theatre were the words “She said yes! Best wishes Stephen and Morgan” with the date!

Image 8 of Morgan and Stephen

I was so surprised. All of our family and friends were underneath it, cheering for us! I cried. This was such a huge moment, and I was so happy that everyone I loved was there to celebrate for us and share in our excitement. Even that best friend who had introduced us joined in on Skype, since she had moved away for grad school.

Image 9 of Morgan and Stephen

We all took photos together, and his family brought us to a restaurant nearby. All of our friends and family shared dinner with us as an engagement party. I’m an incredibly picky eater, and Stephen and his family had even gone so far as to make sure that the restaurant added food to the menu that I would eat. It was perfect.

What made that day so special, though, wasn’t how grand every detail was. It was how much love I knew had gone into each of those details. Every single day, Stephen treats me like a queen. He tells me that I’m beautiful when I least expect it. He texts me that he loves me during the day when he can. He’ll get up and get me a glass of wine even if I just say I’m thinking about doing it. There’s so many little things that Stephen does that all compound to show that he loves me with all of his heart, and I am so lucky to have him. He’s not just the man of my dreams; he’s more than I could have ever imagined, and I am so excited to be his wife!

Image 10 of Morgan and Stephen

Special Thanks

Blane Marable
 | Photographer