“When you’ve been friends for nearly 20 years, it’s hard to remember any of your firsts- when you actually met, where you had your first date, first kiss, or when the first ‘I love you’ was said,” shares Alex.
Alex and Jamal’s love story started their senior year of high school and has spanned decades. While they may not know when they first fell in love, they know their love for each other is stronger than ever.
To celebrate their engagement, the couple took some sophisticated engagement photos at the Central Station Hotel in Memphis, TN, and later headed to the gym and hallway of the high school where they first met for some casual photos.
Read more about their amazing love story including Jamal’s sweet proposal below.
- Couple: Alex Willis & Jamal Boddie
- Engagement Session Date: Feb 08, 2020
- Engagement Session Location: Central Station- Memphis, TN
How did you two first meet?
When you’ve been friends for nearly 20 years, it’s hard to remember any of your firsts- when you actually met, where you had your first date, first kiss, or when the first “I love you” was said. As with every story, there are at least two versions. We agree on the basics, we met at White Station High School and became really close friends during senior year. Alex remembers that they had a gym class together freshman year. Jamal, a little hazier on the details, remembers her as part of “the crew”. We both remember a significant escalation of our friendship in the summer of 2005 before leaving for college and the many years of long phone calls to follow.
What makes your relationship special?
After high school, although we were miles apart (Alex in Nashville at Vanderbilt and Jamal in Tucson at the University of Arizona), we stayed very close. Our friends often joked about our frequent phone calls over the years. Those phone calls would turn into visits, which would often be memorable – like the time Jamal visited Nashville the same weekend Alex’s parents happened to be in town and tried to unnecessarily and unsuccessfully sneak out of Alex’s dorm room. Or the time Alex came to Tucson and in true Jamal form, his roommate kindly cooked for them the whole weekend. Over the years, we made sure to stay in touch with each other no matter where life took us.
Give us all the details about the proposal.
Unbeknownst to Alex, Jamal had been working on a plan to propose for a few weeks. He took advantage of a weekend she was out of town for her 10-year college reunion to put the plan in motion. Alex came back to go to a friend’s wedding with Jamal Saturday night, and then Jamal had planned for them to go get brunch Sunday.
When Alex woke up she wasn’t feeling 100% after all the weekend’s festivities, so she was a little slow-moving and Jamal was pretty eager to get to brunch, which Alex thought was a little odd but she started to get ready. She was getting something from their bedroom when Jamal came in and got down on one knee and popped the question. Although she had some suspicion that he was up to something, Alex was totally caught off guard. She of course said yes and immediately felt better! And off to brunch, they went.
After brunch, Alex suggested going by her parent’s house, who lived nearby, but Jamal said he wanted them to enjoy some more time together. So they went to one of their favorite spots and ordered some champagne. They went back home to find, to Alex’s surprise, all their friends and family already there, greeting them with a surprise engagement party! We felt so loved and were so happy to share that moment with all of them. It was the perfect day!
How did you know they were the one?
Jamal: I always liked her, but let Alex tell it, I liked every girl in our friend circle. I don’t think there was just one moment when I realized she was the one. It was a combination of a lot of things. How well we knew each other, the comfort I feel when I’m with her, life just felt better when she was around. She’s one of the most positive people I know and over the years all those things started to mean more to me. She’s the one person I want to talk to when anything happens in my life, good or bad. I knew when I moved back to Memphis, that I was going to try and make this happen and I did. And now we’re about to get married. I guess I was right.
Alex: Like Jamal, I’m not exactly sure when the light bulb went off. Jamal and I had become close friends and many of our friends often joked that we should date. But I was pretty adamant that I didn’t want to ruin our friendship because he was and still is one of my best friends. Years ago before we both moved back home to Memphis, I lived in Indianapolis and Jamal lived in LA. I just started my first “real” job after college and grad school, which required a lot of travel throughout the state of Indiana. I would often call Jamal when I was on the road. During that time, I began to realize how happy and comforted I was when I talked to him. Each time we saw each other, it started to become clear to me that we were becoming more than friends – even though I wasn’t quite ready to admit it. In time, I realized that I was my happiest, fullest, and best self with Jamal. We can talk about everything, tackle anything (like planning a wedding during a pandemic) and laugh constantly together. I can’t wait to begin the next chapter of our life together.
What are you most excited about when it comes to your wedding planning?
We were really looking forward to having the 2020 Experience (what our friends affectionately called our wedding) with 250+ of our family and friends. Although the Rona has forced us to change plans dramatically to a much more intimate affair, we’re still so excited about sharing this moment with those who are the closest to us. COVID-19 restrictions caused us to cancel all of our pre-wedding festivities, so it will be such a special feeling to have our parents, siblings, and closest friends (safely) surrounding us on our wedding day. And we’re still going to have the party of the year!