The Lucky Lady: Alicea Smith, 26, Optometrist

Her Leading Man: Justin Hill, 25, Graduate Student

The Big Day: May 24, 2014

Wedding Location: Jackson, MS

Where and how did you meet your man?
We met through a mutual friend. I was celebrating a new job and a friend of mine invited me out for dinner at a local restaurant. I had no idea I was being set up.  Justin showed up out of nowhere in the middle of dinner, introduced himself and sat down. I was playing my friend in a game of tic-tac-toe and I was winning. As he watched, Justin told my friend that I was cheating and offered to play me instead. He won the first game and exposed my strategy. I was mad and interested at the same time!

What was your first impression of him?
I thought he was very laid-back and extremely charming. He didn’t even ask for my number right away so I thought that he was definitely trying to play it cool.

What was his first impression of you?
He thought I was gorgeous. Justin actually saw me a year before meeting me at a sorority ball. He confessed later in the relationship that even though he couldn’t take his eyes off of me, he couldn’t bring himself to come over and introduce himself then. However, he told his friends that I would be his lady one day. One year later, we were meeting for the first time, so it was meant to be.

Were you looking for love at the time?
I was so focused on my career goals that love had taken a backseat. I was very much enjoying that time to focus on me.

Who said “I love you” first?
I’m pretty sure it was him. I was still trying to play hard to get so even though I knew I loved him, I wouldn’t say it first. It seems so trivial now because not a day goes by that I don’t tell him I love him.

Best gift he ever got you?
Justin has given me all kinds of gifts but my engagement ring is at the top of the list. I love what it represents- a lifetime of commitment with the man that I love.

What do your friends say about him?
My friends think he’s a cool guy. They know he balances me out and makes me happy so they always offer support and encouragement.

Do you get along with each other’s parents?
Yes. Family is important to both of us so spending time with our families is always high on the priority list. If we ever show up at a family function without each other, there’s always a piece missing from the puzzle.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened on a date?
This was more funny than it was embarrassing: We were at the movies and a fight broke out in the auditorium. I immediately got up to get out of harm’s way and made it all the way outside before I realized that he wasn’t behind me. I left him! When he finally caught up with me, he was laughing so hard saying he’d never seen me move that fast.

How long did you date before you got engaged?
We dated for four and a half years before we got engaged. Four of those years were long distance because I was in school 200 miles away. It was tough but we stuck with it and made it work. In the end, it made us better because we appreciate each other more and those tough times made us stronger.

How did he pop the question?
It was May 17, 2013, the day I graduated from optometry school. I was excited about my accomplishment and having both of our families there to celebrate with me. After the ceremony, I was outside taking pictures in my cap and gown with family and friends. It’s Memphis in the middle of May, so I was extremely hot and extremely hungry. Just when I thought we were finished and about to head to the restaurant, Justin said that he had one more picture that he wanted to take. I was about to start the biggest rant about how hot I was and how I was ready to leave until I noticed that he was getting on one knee with a ring in his hand. I was completely blown away. After that, the only words that came out were “yes” and “wow!”

What was really going through your mind as he proposed?
Oh goodness, I hope this isn’t his bad knee. Justin had a knee injury playing basketball a few months prior and I always stayed on him about trying not to overdo it.

Were you nervous about proposing Justin?
No because I knew I was doing the right thing. Nothing happened the way I planned but it worked out even better than I could imagine. It was a perfect moment.

Who would you cast to play your future hubby in a movie?
Blair Underwood. Justin is so smooth and suave and has a smile that will melt your heart just like Blair Underwood.

Photos: Carlyn Photography