Couple goes on campus-wide scavenger hunt, candlelit proposal on Tarver Library roof
Mercer University brings many people together. Four years at this institution gives the students wonderful memories, lifelong friends and to the very lucky, their future spouses.
On Feb. 16 Morgann Belcher and Stephen Bradshaw began their Valentine’s date that to Belcher’s pleasant surprise, ended with a candlelit proposal on the rooftop of Jack Tarver Library.
The two began their relationship meeting through mutual friends and their involvement in Reformed University Fellowship. They grew as friends and eventually began dating.
A month before the proposal, Bradshaw began planning and making arrangements for the big date. A 2012 Mercer graduate, Bradshaw is currently a Mercer admissions counselor while working on his Master’s of Business Administration at Mercer’s Stetson School of Business.
Bradshaw used his connection to Mercer to make the proposal the best it could be. He said he had to pull a few strings and discuss the rooftop proposal with Mercer Police Chief Gary Collins, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Doug Pearson and finally the Dean of University Libraries Beth Hammond to get permission to access the library’s rooftop.
“When I met with Dean Hammond for the first time to talk about the proposal, she said ‘I assume you want to go and see the roof to see what it looks like’ and then she stopped herself and said, ‘You already know, don’t you?’” explained Bradshaw.
All of the locations Bradshaw took Belcher to on Feb. 16 were significant to their relationship. Because their relationship was founded at Mercer, the majority of the places were on campus and where the two had spent time together.
Bradshaw began Feb. 16 by picking Belcher up for their surprise Valentine’s celebration date. They drove to Atlanta for lunch at a spot the couple had been before, RiRa Irish Pub. Following lunch, Bradshaw brought Belcher to shop at Lilly Pulitzer, asking her to pick out an outfit for the evening portion of their date.
Back in Macon, Bradshaw cooked dinner for Belcher in his home, something she says was very out of the ordinary. Bradshaw said he was so nervous eating dinner that he could barely taste the food.
“Anything that was said at the dinner table that night I have no recollection of,” explained Bradshaw. “I was shaking and I didn’t really eat it because I was nervous. Once we got to Macon, from then on, it’s a blur. I remember the proposal and I was there for that, but dinner was scary.”
Following dinner, Bradshaw led Belcher to a number of different places on campus that held significance to them. Each location had an envelope with a small poem and a single rose. The couple visited the steps of the administration building where they shared their first kiss, the quad where they had spent afternoons sitting on the grass, and Willingham Auditorium where they had spent a night dancing on the stage.
The stops around campus ended at Jack Tarver Library, a place that both Bradshaw and Belcher had spent many long hours together studying and talking.
“The biggest thing is that the library is closed on Saturday nights,” explained Bradshaw. “I knew I wanted to propose on Saturday night but I had to have multiple meetings, emails, an in person conversations with Dean Hammond and she was nice enough to come in after hours on a Saturday night, unlock the door for us and was there the whole time.”
The final envelope and rose were placed outside the door leading to the library’s roof.
“It was significant because a night before we started dating, I had had a really bad day and he came into my study room and said. ‘I want to take you somewhere to make you feel better’ and somehow he knew that the door to the roof was unlocked, I don’t know how. He took me up on the roof and we sat on the roof of the library and just talked for a long time,” explained Belcher.
When Belcher opened the door to the roof, mason jars filled with tea lights lined the stairs. Once on the roof, a pathway of more candles formed a circle where Bradshaw took a knee and asked Belcher to marry him. A photographer, also a Mercer employee and co-worker of Bradshaw’s, stayed hidden in the dark capturing the moment.
The couple went back downstairs where their families were waiting to congratulate and celebrate with them.
Belcher explained that she was unaware the entire evening that a proposal was coming. The romantic Valentine gestures were normal for the couple.
“I actually didn’t realize what was happening almost up until the proposal,” said Belcher. “It wasn’t until he opened the door to the roof that I thought something might be up. Up until that point, I just thought it was our Valentine’s day celebration.”
Following Belcher’s graduation in May, the couple will continue to hold Mercer in their hearts. They plan to wed on Aug. 3 this year, in Newton Chapel surrounded by their families and friends.