Tradition meets romance on the Horseshoe

At the University of South Carolina, the historic Horseshoe offers iconic views and rich history. It also makes a romantic backdrop for popping the question.

Senior marketing major Chelsea Woods met her soon-to-be husband her first year at USC through a resident hall roommate. The lucky guy, Will Harper, is a third-generation Gamecock who graduated in 2012.

After Skyping with Woods’ family in Missouri to receive their blessing, Harper plotted a convincing lie to throw off his future fiancé — he said they were meeting someone from Craigslist to buy a pair of headphones. Woods never questioned how they ended up back at the location of the first date they had two years earlier.

“We went to the Horseshoe where my roommate had helped him set up a picnic blanket and candles,” said Woods, describing their first date.

Harper couldn’t think of a better place to ask Woods to be his wife.

Bound together by their faith, sense of humor and love for USC, the two are planning to get married June 14 in Tennessee.

A love story set in stone

Garrett Snipes, a 2013 Gamecock graduate and current USC School of Medicine Greenville student, made sure his proposal to girlfriend Emmy Persall would remain a part of USC forever.

Snipes and Persall, a senior graphic design major, attribute their success as a couple to their ability to “be best friends first.”

Snipes knew right away that Persall was the one for him. Set in his plans to propose, Snipes searched for the perfect proposal plan. As a My Carolina Alumni Association member, Snipes had the opportunity to purchase a brick on the historic Horseshoe.

On Sept. 29, 2012, what Persall thought was a picnic, turned into the unveiling of an engraved brick that read: “Emmy will you marry me? Love Garrett- 2012.”

The born-and-bred Gamecocks plan to represent their alma mater at their spring wedding in Columbia.

“Garrett will be wearing garnet suspenders, and I’ll be wearing my Carolina garter, which was a gift from my sorority sisters,” said Persall, a member of Delta Zeta.

High-school sweethearts

Sophomores Hope Lewis and R.J. Cooper met in elementary school and started dating in 10th grade. Coming to USC was an individual decision for both North Augusta, S.C., natives – a decision made easier by the fact that they would be together.

During winter break, Cooper and Lewis had a romantic date on the Horseshoe to exchange Christmas gifts.

Beneath a tree, Cooper wrapped his future wife in a blanket and handed her a scrapbook of their relationship. The last page alluded to Lewis’ favorite movie, “I hope the past three and a half years have been ‘A Walk To Remember.’ ” Then Cooper asked Lewis to marry him.

Lewis said she was shocked and ecstatic to receive her future mother-in-law’s original engagement ring and loved seeing her past, present and future come together in one special place.

Columbia love

Joanna Wiggins, 28, and fiancé Adam Hart, 29, didn’t meet on campus or even attend the university together.

Wiggins, an early childhood education graduate, met her future husband through family friends when she was just 15 years old. Hart, a devout Gamecock, chose instead to go to Francis Marion University on a golf scholarship. Ultimately, he lost contact with the beautiful blonde from Holly Hill, S.C.

When the two met again in 2010, Wiggins says, she couldn’t tell at first whether she was talking to Adam or his identical twin.

Wiggins and Hart fell in love, bonding over their love of family, faith and the Gamecocks.

“We both love football season — a lot. I think if I didn’t love football, we’d have an issue,” said Wiggins.

Hart, now a professional golfer, invited both of their families to help surprise his bride-to-be on the Horseshoe in May 2013. Wiggins says she is looking forward to joining Hart’s loving family she has grown to think of as her own.

The lifelong Carolina fans plan to have the “2001” theme song played on the piano at their ceremony in April.

Wiggins says she will always come back to the Horseshoe with “memories of being young and having no clue about the real world. It will always represent pivotal moments in my life.”

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