Marine’s proposal goes off without a hitch — from Iraq
By: By WENDY ISOM The Jackson Sun
Blake, 21, enlisted the help of family and friends to coordinate a long-distance surprise wedding proposal for his girlfriend, 18-year-old Lauren Vaughn.
On Sunday, the mission was carried out at Corky’s restaurant in Jackson.
“A couple (of) months ago, he called and said, ‘Mom, guess what? I’m fixin’ to ask Lauren to marry me,”’ said Blake’s mother, Patricia Hampton. He mailed her a gigantic teddy bear wearing a T-shirt that read, “Will you marry me?” But that’s not all he had in store.
He had Lauren pick out the ring she wanted. He enlisted his father, Bill Davis, to pick it up. Lauren thought she would get a ring when Blake came back to the U.S.
But she received the ring surrounded by more than 20 of the couple’s closest family and friends at Corky’s. Sunday was also the first time the couple’s parents met each other.
During the dinner, Bill Davis got a call on his cell.
He handed Lauren the phone, telling her that somebody wanted to talk to her.
It was Blake on the line. Shortly after that, Bill Davis put a ring box in front of Lauren while the two were on the phone. Lauren’s eyes lit up, and she was all smiles.
At about 2 p.m. Jackson time and 11 p.m. Iraq time, the mission was accomplished.
Family members brought cameras and handheld video cameras to capture the moment to share with Blake.
“He’s supposed to be back in March 2008, but you know how that goes,” Mrs. Hampton said holding her hands up like she was balancing a scale. The family said it could be closer to May.
Lauren sat between her 16-year-old sister, Briana Miller, and a friend, Robyn McDowell, as family members and friends watched her put the ring on.
She put it on her right hand.
“When you’re at home, you can put it on my left hand,” she told Blake over the phone.
When Blake asked who was with her, she said with a laugh: “It’s just your family and my family and The Jackson Sun.” She had no idea the media knew about the surprise, too.
All in all, the engagement surprise went off almost without a hitch. Saturday night, Lauren’s big brother, Bradley, slipped and told her that she would be getting a big proposal the next day.
Earlier, Mrs. Hampton had hoped to arrange for a satellite feed connection so her son could propose via video. But since she did not know his exact location in Iraq, that was not so easy.
“I think it turned out good,” Bill Davis said.
Later, after the ring presentation, a cake was brought out that had Blake’s photo sitting on top of it with the words written in red frosting, “Lauren, Will you marry me?”
Celesta Miller, Lauren’s mother, said she was pleased with the way Blake asked for her daughter’s hand.
“He called me from Iraq to ask my permission two weeks before he sent the teddy bear,” the Mercer resident said. “I think he loves my daughter. I think he’s very brave serving in the military. I think he’ll take good care of her.”
Blake is a graduate of Liberty Technology Magnet High School in Jackson. Lauren attended Dyersburg High School and South Side High School and graduated from Gateway.
The couple met while she was working as a car hop at a local Sonic restaurant. Blake came in as a customer, and it was an immediate attraction. He asked for her phone number.
Lauren’s mother recalled her daughter’s words when she told her about meeting Blake: “I met the best-looking man I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“That’s my boy!” Blake’s dad exclaimed, to laughter.
Blake’s brother, Ronnie Webb, said “it was cool” the way his brother set up the surprise ring presentation.
“I proposed at my apartment. So it’s a lot different, more people,” said Ronnie Webb, 27.
Any marital advice for his brother? “Listen to each other,” the brother said.
Brandon Webb, 24, told his brother “congratulations” when the cell phone was being passed around the table.
Brandon said it’s “surprising” to see his baby brother engaged. He attended the celebration Sunday with his wife, Maria, and their one-year-old daughter, Patience.
Brandon said he was the first of the brothers to get married. “I guess I started the chain,” he quipped.