lliana and Marcus met when they were both full-time college students in Jacksonville, Florida in 2012. He was studying Business Administration at the University of North Florida, and she was studying Political Science at Jacksonville University. Rival schools. Marcus was working as a waiter at Ted’s Montana Grill, and Illiana was working as a waitress at Chili’s Bar and Grill. So much in common, but still worlds apart. So how did they meet, you ask? A friend and fellow server at Chili’s approached Illiana one day telling her of this “awesome, and super cute guy” he knew that was just recently single. He showed her a picture, and she reluctantly agreed to meet him. They met a few short days later.

The proposal

Marcus had just finished Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island in March of 2016. He was attending further training in Newport when Illiana came up to visit during July. Her family is only an hour drive away from Newport, in Connecticut. While they were visiting her family, Illiana had gone on a ‘girls day’ with her sisters that Saturday, July 9th. They went and got manicures and pedicures and had planned to get sushi for lunch. On the way to the restaurant, her sister Oxana informed them that she needed to stop at a baby shower and drop off a pasta salad she made. She mentioned she only needed to make a quick appearance and then they would be on their way to eating some delicious sushi. They pulled into a driveway in front of a beautiful house situated on the Niantic River. Oxana and Tatjana hopped out of the car, Illiana stayed seated.

Oxana asked, “Aren’t you going to come in?”  Illiana replied, “No. I don’t know anyone. I’ll just wait in the car.” “But it will be really quick, just come in. They want to meet you.”

After rolling her eyes, Illiana agreed and walked toward the front door with her sisters.   Oxana entered first, then Tat and Illiana followed. Her sisters quickly disappeared out of a set of french doors leading to the back deck of the house overlooking the river. Illiana tried to follow behind her sisters. She was first met by the owners of the house- the First Selectman of the City of Waterford, Connecticut and his wife who were standing in the kitchen. So many questions, where are all the people for this baby shower? Why did her sisters leave her behind? Who is pregnant?

Then, from behind the french doors, in walks Marcus. Ok, why in the world is Marcus at this baby shower?

He welcomes Illiana, and grabs her hand. He leads her through the doors, and to the back deck. There are decorations and flowers, everything in white. No pink or blue to be seen.  Marcus’ parents were there. Illiana’s parents were there. Her sisters, her best friend from high school. Her sister’s husband and his parents. She sees her dad and bursts into tears. He flew all the way in from San Antonio, Texas to be there.

Marcus begins a long speech thanking each and every person at this ‘baby shower’ for being there. With everyone’s attention gathered and Illiana standing at his side, he thanks one last person:

“Thank you for always being there by my side. Thank you for your unconditional love, that you have always shown me in more ways than one. Thank you for being my rock, my foundation and my true love for life. Thank you for being the best mother to our two little dog-ters. The truth is, this list could go on and on about countless ‘thank you’s’ for all that you have done for me. But most importantly, thank you for being my best friend…”

Illiana is full-blown ugly crying now.

“September 29th, 2016 will mark four incredible years together. We’ve done everything from backpacking part of the Appalachian Trail, to snorkeling the reefs in Cozumel, Mexico and I assure you the adventures will not stop there. I honestly, do not know where my life would be without you, Illiana. We have one hell of a roller coaster ride together, and a ride I intent to never get off. I love you so much more than words can ever express. And with that, I would love nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with you.”

Marcus flings the paper he is reading from, drops down on one knee, and pulls a tiny box from his pocket.

“Illiana Nicole Tidd, will you marry me?”

Of course she said yes, or you wouldn’t be reading an engagement story on a wedding website.  Congratulations to the pair and thank you to Vanessa Hicks Photography for sharing the images and such a lovely story.

Photographer:  Vanessa Hicks Photography//

Submitted via Two Bright Lights