Wedding Party

Ashley Heitling - Maid of Honor
Montana Williams - Bridesmaid
Ashton Lingo - Bridesmaid
Ashley Rahn - Bridesmaid
Joanna McCoy - Bridesmaid
Anna Puckett - Bridesmaid
Clinton Coley - Best Man
Terrience Greene - Groomsman
Brett Skelton - Groomsman
Dillen Weyer - Groomsman
John Gatling - Groomsman
James Denny - Groomsman
The Wedding

Saturday, July 15, 2017
6:00 PM
Ceremony and Reception
Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
870 Howard Avenue, Biloxi, MS, United States

Cocktails and reception to follow ceremony in cathedral hall behind the church.

Our Story
Freshman Year

On the second Tuesday of August 2011, one bright eyed, pony-tailed girl donning her newly received South Alabama track T-shirt walked into her first college Biology lab in the Life Sciences building at the University of South Alabama. She joined a table with three other individuals, one of which was an eager, blue-eyed boy whom was easily the best dressed. He was wearing khaki pants, dress shoes, and a long sleeved collared shirt despite the humid conditions in Mobile, AL. The four person lab group finished their introductory lab and the professor released the students. The pony-tailed girl was the first to leave. She hopped onto her bike and headed to the cafeteria in a rush to beat the crowds. A few weeks went by and the group of four began to warm up to each other, laughing many times during parts of the lab. Every week, the girl continued to rush out of lab onto her bike, much to the boy's dismay.

One day, the girl was upset at her grade on a weekly quiz. The quiet, kind-hearted boy offered to tutor her once a week in Java City-a coffee shop in the front entrance of the school's cafeteria. The girl and the boy never exchanged numbers, but each week met at a previously agreed upon time in the very public coffee shop. Her grade improved in the class and she was thankful. The fall semester ended and the boy never did summon the courage to ask the girl for her number. Spring semester began weeks later, but the boy and the girl did not have classes together after their first semester of college.

Sophomore Year

The boy and the girl immersed themselves in school academic and extracurricular activities. When in passing, the boy or the girl would smile and say a few brief words to the other. The boy would smile to himself at times when he would see the girl running around campus.

Junior Year

One crisp fall day the girl and her roommate (Ashley Heitling) were walking up the hill towards their on campus apartment at Beta 2. The girl blushed and flashed a smile at the boy and somewhat casually introduced him to her roommate. The roommate didn't inquire much further from the girl, but she knew that there was more to come. Months pass and the spring months bring sunshine and blossoming flowers around campus.

The girl and the boy are selected to be inducted into a senior honor society-Mortar Board Honor Society, Azalea Chapter. The girl and the boy, perhaps by fate, continually sat next to each other during the informational meetings. Finally, the day came for them to be individually honored and the girl was hopeful to take a picture with the boy, but the boy was nowhere to be found after the induction ceremony. Weeks later during a Mortar Board meeting, came the time to vote for officers and chair members. The candidates were asked to leave the room to initiate discussion amongst the non-running members of the organization. The girl shocked herself when she stood up in front of her peers in response to the request for someone to speak about the boy in a positive light. She spoke quietly about his diligent work ethic, love for people, compatibility for the position, and for his kindness and desire to help others including herself. She sat down with a flushed face and then she knew.

With summertime quickly approaching, the blue-eyed boy and the pony-tailed girl were meeting regularly for coffee and studying for finals, but with much more emphasis on the company part rather than the endless studying. The boy bought some of the girl's cross paintings to help her raise money for her mission trip in the upcoming summer in an effort to show he cared about her. The boy and the girl had quite a lot in common including mutual friends, beliefs, and aspirations. His friends knew he liked the girl and encouraged him to share his feelings, but he was unsure if she was interested. The girl questioned herself and wondered if the boy realized how much she wanted the boy to reach out to hold her hand.

Then one day after many cups of coffee later, the boy asked the girl to go to an Italian restaurant, Mirko's Italian. The girl spent more time than typical getting ready. She felt nervous in anticipation despite sharing many study "dates" prior to that night. The boy was the gentleman that he was raised to be and picked up the girl, opened her car door, pulled out her chair at the restaurant, and would not accept her offer to pay for the meal. They walked outside hand in hand under the night sky. They stopped by a beautiful fountain and reflected on that biology lab in which they had met almost a full three years ago. It was a sweet, happy date and the girl didn't want it to end. After awhile, the boy drove the girl back to campus and walked her to her door. The girl thanked the boy once again for the company and meal and leaned in to hug the boy and whisper goodnight. But the boy did not want to hug her. He placed his arms around her shoulders and she looked into his eyes wondering why he pulled her away. And at that moment he kissed the girl and she was taken by surprise until she kissed him back.

The Beginning

Final grades were out and summer was in the air. The girl had a very busy summer ahead of her including a week long mission trip, training for her fourth and final cross country season, working as a counselor at a Christian camp, and preparing for her first year of occupational therapy school. The boy had an equally demanding schedule filled with being a university guide to upcoming freshmen and studying for the dreaded MCAT.

But they were joyful because after much time, prayer, and a little encouragement from friends/family the boy asked the girl to be his girlfriend.

The "I Love You"

There are no words to describe when you meet another person that brightens your day with their presence. It is something you feel in your heart, but the depth of caring about that person goes beyond the superficial level. That is what it was like between the boy and the girl. They brought out the best in each other, highlighting the other's strengths and improving the other's weaknesses. They did simple things together such as cheering on their football team at games, going out for ice cream, attending campus events with friends, and going to church together.

Then one day the boy cheered on the girl and her teammates during their home cross country meet (he even jumped over a fence to stay up with her dad in order to go from one end of the course to the other). In true fashion, the boy wore a long sleeved collared shirt and nicer pants and shoes in contrast to athletic clothes. Later that night, the boy persuaded the girl to go for a walk around campus even though her legs were tired. They reached the South Alabama Moulton tower and sat down on a nearby bench. The boy was quiet and not acting himself, but the girl was too tired to question him. He told the girl to reach under the bench and she pulled out a folded handwritten letter. In all caps the top of the letter said "Do not look up". The girl read the letter and felt her eyes water. When she reached the end of the letter it stated to "look up now". The boy had somehow during the minute it took her to read the note put on a sunflower bowtie and in his arms was a vase full of sunflowers for the girl. He handed her the sunflowers, called her beautiful even though she was sweaty in her running warm ups, and said three words that he never said to any girl except her. She smiled, reached up to hug him, and said "I love you, too".

The Proposal - July 8, 2016

"Love you, be safe driving to the lake with your family" "Love you too, call me after you get done with fieldwork."

It was just another Friday at the outpatient OT/ST pediatric clinic followed by the typical head to Panera for a few hours to drink endless coffee refills while completing evaluation write-ups, reassessments, and intervention plans for the upcoming week. The girl was on her second cup of coffee when the boy texted her saying that his family was about halfway to the lake. He told her that he wished she could have come. A couple coffee refills later, the girl gathered her notebooks and tablet and rushed to her car to drive back to her apartment. She felt satisfied at her productivity and was excited to relax and go out to dinner with her friend Anna and her family. The girl opted to change out of her work clothes and last minute decided to take her hair down from her messy bun in an attempt to look somewhat nice since Anna's sister Jesse would surely be dressed up. Jesse texted the girl saying that her mom and her were outside. The girl got in the car and the three of them drove toward the USA bookstore to pick up Anna from work (or so she thought).

They drove past the Moulton Tower and entered the bookstore parking lot. The mom and daughter began laughing and talking about how they needed to turn around to get something. The girl was slumped down in the backseat not paying attention and wasn't really concerned. They started to talk about sunflowers, but the girl still was kind of in her own world. Finally, it wasn't until Mrs. Puckett parked the car in front of the Moulton Tower and Jesse said, "Shannen, LOOK there is a sunflower" that the girl started to wonder what was going on. Probably due to a combination of being tired and just truly not expecting that night to be "the night", she still didn't get out of the car until Mrs. Puckett said something along the lines of "Shannen you should go get that sunflower". Puzzled, the girl picked up her favorite flower from the bench and then froze. The next few moments were a blur. She immediately had a flashback to him telling her that he loved her while seated on that bench.

...

[The two goals I had throughout planning my proposal to Shannen were to make her feel special and two to for once in my life surprise her! For all of our dating days, I never could fully surprise her- she guessed her birthday and Christmas gifts without even a hint. Therefore, I knew I would need the help from a lot of people to give myself a cover. As far as the ring, I knew the style I wanted for Shannen for quite a long time. At around six months of dating Shannen and I spent some time in New Orleans to watch the Pelicans play and afterwards we ended up looking at beautiful antique engagement rings. This was the only time we went ring shopping and I am pretty sure she was more shocked than I was to be trying them on. Nevertheless, in order to make the proposal run smoothly, my parents, Shannen's parents, and our friend Anna Puckett devised a plan that was very involved but had everything needed to make the day memorable. I always knew I wanted to have this special moment at Moulton Tower where I first told her I loved her which just so happened to be next to the track she competed at throughout her college career. Anyone who knows Shannen knows her infatuation with sunflowers runs deep so there was bound to be sunflowers everywhere. Besides sunflowers, Shannen loves pictures so with the help of her mom I created a picture runner of our favorite memories. I also incorporated burlap and mason jars because she really likes those, too. Given all of this I planted the seeds for an alibi of my family having a lake weekend, made sure her ring was as special and unique as she deserved, and got every sunflower in the city of Mobile.

When the day finally came I can honestly say I was very excited and nervous only for the fact that I wanted to actually surprise her! I had both families make sure they were nowhere close to anywhere Shannen could wind up which means coffee shops. Coffee drinking machine… Anyway, as I showed up to the Bell Tower to set everything up I was overwhelmed by the fact I had thought about this day off and on for over a year. I was grateful that I had found the young lady I had always dreamed of finding to be my wife. As both families showed up and Anna plotted her photo angles it truly began to sink in today was the day. Around 6 PM as the heat of the day finally faded I got in place for Anna to casually bring her by the Bell Tower. I can honestly say the moments before she came running down the concourse were some of the most peaceful and exciting moments of my life. I can also say when she first saw me she was surprised by something I had done for the first time. She stood there stunned till I waved her down the concourse. Literally, it took her an entire minute to react- she was that shocked. She was overwhelmed and shaky for sure. When she stopped shaking as much, I simply told her, "all of this is for you and I want you to forever be my person". My heart was beating pretty fast and I may have accidentally attempted to put the ring on the wrong hand but this moment couldn't have been better. After a few moments, our parents who were hiding behind the bell tower came and congratulated us.]

The girl looked up and saw more sunflowers and then she saw the boy. She snapped out of her trance and ran down the concourse to the boy in the sunflower bowtie. There were sunflowers, mason jars wrapped in burlap, and pictures of the two of them in the background. Time was frozen for a second and she didn't comprehend what he said until he slid the loveliest ring on her finger. She nodded her head yes, of course, and they embraced. Anna was off to the side narrating the story through her photographs for years to come. Both the girl and the boy's parents out of nowhere ran to congratulate the newly engaged couple. After spending some time taking pictures, they all headed to Mirko's for dinner, champagne, and the beginning of their new chapter.

This is where their Forever Jammen story unfolds.