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Inspiration » Proposal Story » Joy Proposal Story: Cliff & Ashley

Joy Proposal Story: Cliff & Ashley

by Cali Pitchel

How did the two of you meet?

Her Side…

Cliff and I met my final semester of graduate school for Social Work at North Carolina State University when I returned to my on-campus job working with student-athletes. While sitting in Case Academic Center for a staff meeting, in walked the first male to join our staff, Cliff Jones, Jr. He was very handsome, quiet, and stayed to himself. When he introduced himself to the group, he informed us that he had gone to UNC!!! Seriously…UNC!?! (#GTHC).

I recall our first conversation: Cliff had emailed our staff asking for someone to cover one of his sessions due to another event. After reading the email, I noticed that on his signature he also worked at Wolf Village Campus Apartments, where my younger sister, Chelsea, was living at the time. Next time I saw him, I thought I would make conversation and see if he knew my sister. That conversation was a complete flop. If my memory serves me correctly, he completely brushed off the conversation. We didn’t speak very much after that.

So fast forward to Summer 2014: I had now graduated from State at this point and was preparing to enter into the work force. Cliff and I reconnected on Facebook. Shortly after, he messaged me and we exchanged numbers. Cliff would text me and I would respond…inconsistently. I will admit, I was not the best text-er and often would either not respond or would begin conversation and get distracted and forget to pick back up on the conversation. Cliff remained steadfast in his pursuit, and we finally made plans to get together one weekend and go out in Chapel Hill. Well…it snowed…a lot. Cliff texted me to check in and I failed to respond until days later. We didn’t talk for a while…a long while after that.

Life has truly felt like one adventure after another with Cliff.

Fast forward again to June 14, 2015. I went to church and was feeling really good about life. I had been praying for my Boaz and asking that when God’s timing was right he place this gentleman into my life. I had previously seen a Facebook post that Cliff had posted about getting his first job post graduating with his Master’s Degree. Although we hadn’t talked in a long time, something was compelling me to text him so I did…and the rest is history.

Cliff and I talked daily after that and went on our first date on July 11, 2015. We went to Cinebowl and then went to Noir to celebrate my best friend’s birthday. After that, I would say we were inseparable. On August 29, 2015, Cliff and I were having the time of our lives at the J.Cole concert when “Single Ladies” by Beyonce came on during an intermission. The DJ was hyping up all of the single ladies in the audience so I turned to Cliff and asked him if I was single. (Smooth, I know.) He shook his head, laughed, and said no. We decided to make it official at one of the greatest concerts of my life. Life has truly felt like one adventure after another with Cliff. From horseback riding, many concerts, movie nights, Carolina Panthers & Charlotte Hornets games, to parasailing, it has truly been an amazing journey!

His Side…

I met Ashley at NC State University. (Hey! Nobody’s perfect!) I was a graduate student in the Higher Education Administration program and she was working toward her Master’s in Social Work. That semester, we were both employed as mentors for student-athletes on campus and we became colleagues. We met during the first staff meeting and it was love at first sight! Actually, no, it was not, far from it in fact—no sparks flew, no love songs played in the background, her hair did not blow in the wind, time did not stand still.

That being said, I was immediately attracted to Ashley, but my shyness prevented me from expressing that right away. It also didn’t help that, at the time, she thought I was a square. We were always cordial in passing and communicated every now and then, but typically only about work-related matters. Well, time progressed and somehow we exchanged numbers—and this is when the curving began. I started hitting Ashley up somewhat regularly. She would either A) not respond (which is what happened most often) or B) respond once or twice and then disappear.


Somehow through all of this curvage (I guess as a great testament to my tenacious perseverance), we set tentative plans to get together one weekend. As that weekend approached, so did a snow storm. Of course, just my luck. I texted Ashley just to make sure she was good and to confirm that we would probably need to reschedule. No answer. None. Days later, after the snow had melted and our regular lives had resumed, I contacted her again to make sure she was okay. This young lady, who I now love with all of my heart, responded and told me that she hadn’t been able to respond to my message—get this—because she was snowed in. WHAT?! That ended up being the last straw for me. I finally took the hints, the interest wasn’t mutual. I was ready to move on. I was fine with that. You win some and you lose some. The end.

Curvage and graduation and snow storms all seemed to derail my plan, but God’s timing is always perfect.

Just kidding… Months and months go by, and I had just graduated from my master’s program and had started a new, big boy job. I posted on social media updating everyone on where I was and what I was doing. Just out here living life, being great, and minding my own business. OUT OF THE BLUE, guess who I get a text message from? Yep. Ashley Nicole Gardner (soon-to-be-Jones). “Hey Mr. Jones!! I believe congratulations are in order for your new job! ”

So we started texting, then talking on the phone regularly, and then we went on our first date. CineBowl was the move, and I ended up making us late so we couldn’t even order food (oops!). The remainder of the night was amazing, and we were hooked. And now many texts and calls and Facetimes and dates and road trips and hugs and snowed-in weekends and Netflix and chills and football Sundays and family dinners later, here we are. And the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s amazing to see how God orchestrated the paths of our lives to intertwine at just the right moment. Curvage and graduation and snow storms all seemed to derail my plan, but God’s timing is always perfect. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

Who proposed? When? Where? How?

The weeks leading up to the proposal, I had a baby shower that I was scheduled to attend on Oct. 15, 2016. I had asked Cliff if he would go with me, but he informed me that he had to work and even went as far as to send me the work flyer for the Saturday event. My best friend asked me to have a girl’s day with her to prepare for her wedding. She wanted to get our nails done, test out some make-up looks, and then go to a cake tasting in Greensboro that same day. She insisted that October 15th was the only day she had free. I was still determined to go to the baby shower, so I told her that we could pamper ourselves before the shower and then afterwards I could meet her in Greensboro for the tasting.

The week before the shower, Cliff and I were chatting and he said “I really don’t think you should go to the shower this weekend, I think you should go with Arius. She would really appreciate it.” Feeling frustrated, I proceeded to talk to my best friend about it. She agreed with Cliff. THEN…on that Thursday night leading up to the proposal, my sister accidentally texted her flight information to me indicating that she was also coming home that weekend. WHAT IS GOING ON!? I called my mom inquiring about it, and she informed me that she knew nothing about it and that my sister had been acting weird. I called my sister who decided to blame me for ruining her surprise by calling mom. At that point, I WAS FURIOUS, and I let Chelsea have it.


On Saturday, my best friend and I went to brunch, then got our nails and hair done. She asked me that morning if I would mind going with her and her now husband to scope out another location for their engagement pictures. She asked if would be a “prop” and pose at different spots at Duke Gardens. Then, she insisted that I wear this outfit that my mom had bought me for homecoming. (It was really for the engagement.)

We got to Duke Gardens and I was walking around with Darius and Arius taking pictures at different places. As I was walking to one area, Arius told me to stop walking and Cliff came from around the corner (I really thought he was at work in Greensboro) with red roses. My heart stopped, Cliff came up and began reciting spoken word poetry that he had written. When he got on one knee, all I could think was “IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING?” In that moment, Cliff Jones asked me to marry him! “YES! YES! YES!”

I am looking forward to marrying my best friend, my honey do, my forever!

Our sisters came out from hiding to greet and congratulate us. I didn’t even notice that Cliff had a professional photographer there as well to capture the moment. Following the proposal, Cliff told me that he had reserved a space in a hotel room to have a fancy dinner to celebrate and that they were decorating the space. I wanted to call my family and friends, but he told me to wait until we got to the hotel to FaceTime everyone together. When we got to the hotel, he asked me to close my eyes until he made sure they had decorated it the way he wanted it. When I opened my eyes, I was surrounded by our closest family and friends. I was so overwhelmed with joy.

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I believe that we are a living testament of God’s timing being perfect timing. While I didn’t see it initially, God had a plan that was even bigger than I could have ever imagined. “The one he kept for me, until it was time”. He blessed me with a man far beyond my dreams, a devout and God-fearing man, an intelligent, handsome, and wholesome man. “I have found the one whom my soul loves” (Song of Solomon 3:4). I am looking forward to marrying my best friend, my honey do, my forever! I’ve got a Love Jones for you.

What is your favorite part of using Joy for your wedding?

Joy is the absolute perfect platform to showcase the narrative of our love story for the world to see. The site’s design is sleek and attractive, and it’s ease of use is an added benefit. We’ve loved the process of adding pictures from our engagement and details of our upcoming wedding. It’s starting to feel so real! Joy has been critical in helping us organize and chronicle our thoughts, ideas, and emotions, and it has accompanied every step of our wedding planning process. Soon we will be jumping for Joy!


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