The Proposal

Kody and I met a little over four years ago in January of 2014. He was working at Gold’s Gym Eagle’s Landing, and I had decided to try out a class at the gym with my mom. My mom and I worked out together, and then after, she ordered a smoothie from the front counter. Kody made it for her. We quickly started talking with one another as my mom talked with the class instructor, making small talk. We somehow landed on a conversation about books we were reading. I was reading Cold Tangerines, and he was reading Jesus > Religion. We said we would keep in touch, and then I left.

As soon as I got out of the door, my mom looked at me and said, “He’s hot.” I followed with, “I know. No way he’s single.” “You never know,” she said. The next couple of days, I drove to the gym to see if Kody was working so that he could sign me up, but he wasn’t. Eventually, I gave up and signed up for a membership anyway. I still went back every single day hoping he’d be there. When he still wasn’t there over a week after meeting that first time, I had lost all hope. I thought he had quit.

Saturday morning, my mom asked me to come to a workout class with her at 10 a.m. I do not get up for anyone on a Saturday morning, but I thought I’d give it one last shot to see Kody. We got to the gym, and he was nowhere to be found. I was so disappointed. After the class, we walked out of the room, and to my complete surprise, Kody was there. My eyes lit up just like a typical 17-year-old girl. My mom immediately said, “I’ll order a smoothie.”

Kody and I talked, and he apologized for not letting me know he was going to be gone the last week on a cruise. (Yeah, that would have been helpful. I’ve only been coming here every day the last week looking for you…I thought.) The gym was really busy, so he wrote his name on a sticky note and told me to “look him up on Facebook.” What?? I think he was just nervous. We left, I looked him up, I added him a few hours later, and he messaged me immediately.

For the next few hours we messaged consistently until he finally gave me his number…thank goodness. Then, we texted consistently, and by the next week, we were going out on our first date. This guy had me smitten from the very beginning.

We began dating shortly after we met, February 12, 2014 to be exact. He knew from the get go that I would be moving to Athens, Georgia to start college at the University of Georgia during the fall of 2014 after we began dating, but we fell for each quickly and fell hard, so we were determined to make the relationship work. We were both certain fairly early that we wanted to marry one another, but we knew logistically, I would need to finish college first. So, we began our four years of dating

Fast forward to the fall of 2017, and marriage was a topic that was quite often talked about amongst friends, family, and with one another. It was on the horizon and so was an engagement. I had expressed to Kody and ideal timeline in which I would like for us to be engaged, but I knew that it might not be completely feasible.

Fast forward to the winter of 2018, and you could call me “Miss Antsy Pants.” I’m sure that’s putting it nicely. I was beginning to get really concerned. Are we going to be engaged? Our four year anniversary is approaching. We would like to be married in the fall. We need time to plan a wedding. Where is this ring?

If Kody knew anything, he knew that I wanted to be surprised, but I was getting very certain that at this point, there was no way he could surprise me. I had our weekend plans for the next months memorized, and every time I said them aloud, I came up with every reason as to why he couldn’t propose that weekend.

My friends also had me convinced he was never going to propose which made it worse at the time (obviously better now…they knew exactly what they were doing). You can only imagine the amount of conversations we had that went something like this. Me: “Kody is never going to propose.” Them: “I can’t believe it. He hasn’t said ANYTHING to me. I would at least give you a little something to go by.” Me: “I’m getting nervous.” Them: “If he doesn’t do it by X time, then we will have a chat with him.” They were good…real good. Of course, they would have never actually told me anything. Why would they?

To give you a bit of some background details—this past January, Kody was brought on as an exercise specialist at Chick-fil-A Corporate in Atlanta, Georgia, and his first business trip, that just so happened to fall during our four year anniversary, was approaching.

I was trying to be incredibly supportive of him and this opportunity. I knew how excited he was, but I was so, so bummed. I knew no matter how long it was going to take him to propose, this was still going to be our last dating anniversary to ever celebrate together. Our anniversary is also two days before Valentine’s Day, so normally, we don’t celebrate both, but I thought in this instance we could at least celebrate one or the other. Nope, he would be gone for both.

And, I still didn’t have a ring. I was totally disappointed by the whole thing. He was supposed to leave for his trip Saturday, February 10. I decided to stay in Athens that weekend, and earlier in the week, one of my best friends, Olivia, asked me to go to lunch with her on that Saturday after she “volunteered for a 5k her work was hosting.” The 5k was a lie to get me to believe she needed to go to bed early the night before. Really, she just need to help set things up for the next day. She informed me that she would be “dressing cute,” which was not an out of the ordinary Liv thing to say.

On Saturday, I woke up to a text from Kody letting me know he was headed to the airport. I got another text saying he made it to the airport and still another saying he boarded his flight. As soon as he landed around 11, he called me, and we talked as I was getting ready for lunch. He said he was catching the shuttle to the hotel and would be working as soon as he got to the conference center and wouldn’t be able to talk to me until that night. I wished him good luck, and we hung up.

Liv picked me up for lunch, and on the way, I started asking questions about “this fake race.” How many people registered? What was the course like? How much was the registration fee? My curiosity and journalism instinct takes over in my friendships, and I had apparently never even realized.

She proceeded to say that the race cost $60.00, and I thought this was so expensive. “Wow, that’s a lot for a 5k,” I said. “Yeah, well we marketed to people from the country club, so they had extra money to donate,” she said completely on the spot. And on in our conversation we went, me thinking nothing of it.

We had a delicious lunch, talking about all sorts of things. She asked if Kody made it to Florida okay and if he was excited, and I told her we had just talked that morning. Toward the end of our meal, she pulled out a card addressed to me in Kody’s handwriting. Immediately, she said, “Do not get your hopes up. This is not what you think.”

I was confused because of course I would have been thinking proposal, but she was so sure, and I trusted her. She would be the one to know. The last thing I wanted was to be let down even more. I was already missing Kody. I said to myself, “Dang Kody, this would be cool.” But, I looked at Olivia and said, “Too bad he’s in Florida,” to which she confidently agreed.

The note was an apology letter that he would be missing our anniversary and that he wanted me to have a fun day with my best friends to get my mind off of it and to prepare to celebrate our anniversary when he got back. I was so excited that he had been so thoughtful!

She said we had to leave to get to the next place, and when we arrived at a boutique next door, one of my other best friends and roommate of three years, Christina, was standing right there, card in hand. I was ecstatic!

I opened it up it, and I was told by Kody to use the $60.00 inside and the help of my best friends to pick out the perfect outfit for our anniversary. We started shopping and weren’t having much luck. Eventually, we made it to Red Dress Boutique, and we landed on a blue skirt, one that I had been eyeing for a while. They both said I had to get it! We paired it with a shirt and a necklace, and then, I was handed card number three.

I was told to go get my nails done and to “not chew them off this time.” “I want them to look great for our anniversary dinner next weekend,” Kody wrote. At this point, I still was not clued in to the fact that I was only a few hours shy of being engaged. I knew Kody was in Orlando, and every card alluded to celebrating our anniversary the following weekend. And Liv had already told me not to get worked up. She didn’t want me disappointed.

At the nail salon, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What if I have a ring on this finger later today?” But I never told Liv or Christina because I knew I would just sound crazy. I didn’t want to leave that wonderful day upset. After getting a great manicure, we snapped a selfie, and they told me that was it! I was so happy—what a fun afternoon I had just had, just what Kody had ordered.

When we got to the car, Christina pulled out a fourth note. “I thought you said we were done,” I said. “We like to keep you on your toes,” she said.

I opened it. “Change of plans. Go put on that outfit now,” Kody wrote. And there was where my mind began to shift. Olivia rushed me to the car, and I started crying happy tears, but I was also more confused than I’ve been in my entire life.

“Is this happening?,” I asked her. She never told me yes. She just told me I could be happy. In the car, I said at least 12 times some variation of, “But Kody is in Florida. Kody is in Orlando. He’s in Florida, right? I don’t understand.” I was a broken record.

We parked in the south deck on UGA’s campus, and Christina and Olivia lead me into the bathroom of the Georgia Center & Hotel. Christina had gone into my room after I had left for lunch and grabbed every possible shoe, bra, and underwear combination she could think of based on what potential outfit I might buy.

Together, my best friends retouched my hair and makeup, helped me pick out the perfect shoes and jewelry, and got me ready for one of the most exciting moments of my life.

After I was ready, Olivia hugged me bye and left me in great hands, and I followed Christina to the car. “What are you thinking?,” she asked me. “I don’t know what to think. I know what’s going to happen, but how? Kody’s in Florida.”

Y’all—I was STILL FOOLED. I had myself and Kody had me so convinced that until I saw him in the flesh he was hundreds of miles away. No, we don’t have “find my friends,” so I really didn’t know. I wasn’t sure if he was going to propose on a videocam or if he was going to teleport to Athens, but I just KNEW he wasn’t in Athens, and no one was convincing me otherwise.

He had truly done his job of surprising me, and he had done it dang well.

Christina drove me to the entrance of the Founder’s Memorial Garden at UGA, told me she loved me, and out of the car I got. I followed the pink rose petals up the steps. No Kody.

Instead, there was a letter that read, “OPEN ME.”

Inside, the envelope revealed a three page letter Kody had written to my dad. My dad passed away three years ago, just a year into Kody and I’s relationship. My dad and I had a very rocky relationship toward the end of his life due to the fact that he was an alcoholic, so Kody had met him a few times, but we did not see my dad often. Unfortunately, he never got to ask my dad for his permission to marry his one child, his only daughter.

I had always hoped Kody would incorporate my dad into this day since he would not be able to physically be here, but I could have never imagined this. I read the most heartfelt sincere letter. I thought I was reading a real conversation between my dad and Kody. Cue all the tears. He asked my dad for my hand in marriage, and he promised to always honor me and also my dad’s legacy in our family. He signed it, “Your future Son-In-Law, Kody.”

After I read the letter, there was a laptop set up with a button that said, “Press the spacebar and watch the video.” And to my genuine surprise, everyone had known, and everyone had known for a while. A video played with messages recorded from all of our friends and family congratulating us on this day and this time. It was so special because it felt like everyone was there celebrating us, but I knew the proposal itself would still be an intimate moment between Kody and I. Cue all the happy tears.

At the very end of the video, Kody appeared on the screen. He said, “Hey babe, the day is finally here. Shut your laptop, and meet me at the bottom of the stairs. I love you.” It was then that I saw him there, and I knew he wasn’t in Florida. Boy, did he have me caught off guard.

I hugged and kissed and pinched him to make sure he was real, and he lead me to the center of the roses. He got down on one knee and said some romantic stuff that I cannot remember to this day. They always tell you that you won’t remember what he actually says to you in that moment. It’s true. I know it was amazing though, and I know I said yes. He put the most beautiful ring on my finger, and the most special moment in my life had just happened right in front of me, to me! I was in the most beautiful state of disbelief. He had truly pulled it off. He is amazing.

About five minutes after that special moment, Kody motioned, and my mom came running up the stairs. She had watched the entire thing start to finish from her car across the street! We celebrated and took pictures together and reveled in this special, special time.

Then, we got in the car, and Kody drove me a little out of town to a house he had rented where some of the very same friends and family were all there waiting on us. We celebrated some more!

This was the most perfect day planned by Kody. He truly knew how to make me feel so special and show me how loved I am and we are. I replay this day over and over in my head. Thank you to everyone who was a part of our day and who has been a part of our journey thus far! And of course, thank you Kody for every little thing you put into this proposal. You truly are so special, and I am so blessed!

Xoxo, Marlee

P.S. Thank you Sydney Lord for the beautiful photos, so we will always remember this amazing day!

P.P.S. You can also view our story on How He Asked where it was published!


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