Blake and Zach

Blake's Proposal in Fred W. Symmes Chapel - YMCA Camp Greenville

How We Met

Our love story started when I walked into calculus on the first day of senior year of high school. Zach and I are both from the same small town, and we both attended the same small private school through most of elementary and middle school. We knew of each other, but we didn’t actually know each other. Zach left to attend a different high school, and I rarely thought about him again until that first day of school. I can remember walking into my second period calculus class and seeing him sitting in my unassigned assigned seat, the same seat I’d been sitting in in that classroom since the eighth grade (hey – it was a really small school). I decided I would sit behind him, but not before I noticed that Zach Bowens had gotten cute since I’d last seen him almost four years ago. Seventeen year-old Blake was very confident, so I quickly tried to gain his attention. I took every opportunity I could to try and talk to him; I picked lint off of his shirt while sitting behind him in class, I painted his football number on my cheek every Friday night (I was a cheerleader), and I openly stared at him any time he would leave his seat and walk to the front of the class. I even boldly gave him my phone number, completely unprompted! (I cringe when I think about those early days of our friendship.) By spring semester, I had worn him down enough, and we saw a movie together. He asked me to be his prom date, we started dating, we both went to the same college (not to follow each other, but because it happened to be the right fit for us both as individuals), and we will have been together five years in January. I’m so glad that Zach sat in my seat almost five years ago.

Engagement Proposal Ideas in Fred W. Symmes Chapel - YMCA Camp Greenville

Where to Propose in Fred W. Symmes Chapel - YMCA Camp Greenville

How He Asked

Zach and I decided we would go on an early-morning, sunrise date. For a few weeks, I had been asking Zach if we could go somewhere to do a Bible study at sunrise, and we finally decided on a date that would work. Throughout the week, we studied Ephesians chapter five, verses 21 until the end of the chapter; this portion of this chapter in Ephesians discusses how a Christian marriage should work. We decided we would go to Fred W. Symmes Chapel (aka Pretty Place) in Cleveland, SC, for our sunrise Bible study. Having dated almost four and a half years, I was very impatiently waiting for Zach to propose. The whole night before our scheduled date, I was completely freaking out. My college roommate tried to keep me calm and talked me into considering the idea that Zach might not propose during this date. Even still, she painted my fingernails “just in case.” Zach said we should try to dress up and look nice so that we could take pictures if we wanted. I have to admit, I was certainly hoping he would take this opportunity to propose! In order to make it to Pretty Place in time for the sunrise, we would have to leave our college’s campus at 4:30AM. I never went to sleep because I was so anxious. Little did I know, just a few steps away in his own dorm room, Zach was wide awake all night, albeit for a slightly different reason. Zach wanted to find a way to capture the special moment on camera, so he worked for weeks to get the best way to do so. In his first attempt, he found a very small camera lens to put into the ring box so that it would capture my reaction when he got down on one knee. The first camera worked, but suddenly broke when he tried it the second time. Zach ordered a second lens, and this one caught fire in his dorm room! When this plan obviously wouldn’t work, he decided to borrow his brother’s GoPro. Right as Zach was about to fall asleep the night before our big day, he realized that he didn’t know how the GoPro works, so he ended up staying awake all night, too, while trying to figure out how he would capture the proposal. We left campus in the pitch black morning, and we talked about the many different ways in which God had led us together: bringing us together in high school, leading us to attend the same college, and directing our path to that point. We listened to a sermon that discussed the section of Ephesians chapter five we had studied, and when it ended, we further discussed our opinions and ideas on the topic. We sadly did not arrive at Pretty Place quite in time to see the sunrise itself, but the view was breathtaking none-the-less.

As we walked in, we saw a man who had a camera set up on a tripod, taking pictures of the sky. It was unseasonably cold for a May morning, so Zach and I walked back to the truck to grab a blanket. I remember seeing what looked like a ring-shaped box in his pocket (what I would later learn was the GoPro), so my heart was beating right out of my chest. We sat on a pew to take in the sights, and Zach said he would be right back. He told me he was going to use the restroom, but he actually stopped the man with the camera and asked if he would capture the proposal for us. When Zach returned, he suggested we stand in front of the cross so that we could better appreciate the sight, and when we got to the front of the chapel, he told me how much he loved me. He got down on one knee, asked me to spend the rest of my life with him, and opened a box to expose the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen. I (of course) said yes, we hugged and celebrated, and Zach turned and said, “Thanks, Clarence!” to the kind and friendly man who took pictures of this special moment (much to my surprise).

We later found out that Clarence is a professional photographer and pastor, and the about me section of his photography website includes this quotation: “Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.” Zach and I definitely feel blessed, and we believe God’s love washed over that moment in our lives.

Special Thanks

Clarence Burke
Photographer