When Betsy Jones gets married Saturday, she won’t have to change her name.
Her driver’s license and passport will stay the same. She can keep the monogrammed towels.
She is marrying Christopher Jones.
Since their courtship began 17 months ago, it has been fun keeping up with the Joneses. Betsy’s father has a favorite line when he introduces his future son-in-law.
“They did not meet at a family reunion,” Bruce Jones will say.
It isn’t unique for two people with the same last name to meet, fall in love and tie the knot, especially with a last name like Jones, the fifth-most popular surname in the U.S. behind Smith, Johnson, Williams and Brown.
What makes this wedding special is the storybook romance. It is worth sharing, especially with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.
If you are a lady, you probably will swoon when you read how he swept her off her feet.
If you are a gentleman, please pay attention. (This is not in the manual.)
Betsy is the only child of Bruce and Missy Philhower Jones. She graduated from Stratford Academy in 2007 and earned her degree in journalism from Ole Miss in 2011.
She moved back to Macon after college and has been living with her parents. In May 2012, Missy was ironing clothes when the phone rang. It was her friend, Margaret Berry, who is Christopher’s aunt. (Betsy now refers to her as “Matchmaker Margaret.”)
Margaret was going through the guest list for her daughter Emily’s engagement party and noticed Betsy and Christopher’s names were right there together.
She was curious. Was Betsy dating anyone? She wanted to introduce Betsy to her nephew, who lives in Thomasville, so he would know somebody at the party.
Betsy’s first reaction was she didn’t have the time to go on a blind date, especially with a guy living 163 miles away. She was getting ready to interview for a public relations job in Atlanta.
But Christopher was persistent. After a few months of long-distance phone calls and text messaging across every kudzu patch in seven counties, he asked her to dinner on a Friday night in August.
“Where would you like to go?” he asked.
“I don’t know; how about McDonald’s?” she said, laughing.
Christopher played along and asked what she was going to order.
Still being silly, Betsy said she probably would get something from the nontraditional menu. “A double, triple, quadruple quarter-pounder,” she said.
Missy was out of town that weekend, so Bruce answered the door when Christopher arrived. He sized him up the way any father would scrutinize a young man picking up his daughter for a date. Bruce instructed him to have her home by midnight.
(Later, he would tell Missy how impressed he was with Christopher, especially his manners and the way he made eye contact.)
Betsy was a little surprised when Christopher pulled into the parking lot at McDonald’s on Bass Road. Surely, he had known she was teasing. They were way overdressed to be supersizing French fries.
Christopher ordered for her. “Do you have a double, triple quadruple quarter-pounder?” he asked the woman behind the cash register.
“As a matter of fact, we do,” the woman said, grinning. She reached under the counter and handed him a picnic basket with a blue-and-white gingham cover.
“I was laughing when we went to the car,” Betsy said. “That really broke the ice. He wouldn’t tell me what was in the basket or where we were going.”
Christopher drove behind the Sidney Lanier Cottage, where a table was waiting for them in the garden. Inside the picnic basket was a take-out order from Natalia’s, along with a bottle of wine and a book of Sidney Lanier’s poems.
They talked for hours, laughing and reading poetry. He had majored in comparative literature and was a founding scholar at the University of Georgia. Betsy had never been on a date quite like this. She never knew a citronella candle could be so romantic.
The next morning, they took a trip to the Oconee River near Athens. They sat on the rocks and read “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran. On Sunday, she went with him to Coleman Hill, one of her favorite places.
Before he headed back to Thomasville, he secretly left the book of Lanier’s poems on a table in her home. On the inside, he wrote an inscription, filled with his memories of weekend. He was smitten.
He proposed in May. The wedding will be at First Presbyterian Church, where her parents were married 30 years ago this year and where Betsy was baptized as an infant in 1988.
It is also the church where Christopher’s great-great-great-grandfather, the Rev. William McKay, served as interim minister from 1870-72. A poet named Sidney Lanier once attended First Presbyterian before he married at Christ Church.
Betsy will have her bridesmaid luncheon at the Sidney Lanier Cottage, where her mother’s bridesmaid luncheon was held in 1984.
From the beginning, it has all been pure poetry.