Kimberly Wright's morning started with her waking up to a very nervous stomach; the butterflies were punching to get out because it was the day of her senior recital and she had prepared for this moment for four years.
Wright is a senior music education major with an emphasis in voice at Delta State and as part of the requirements for her degree she had to perform a selection of songs to be judged by a group of teachers for a final grade.
She had already attended her hearing, where a group of professors in the music department listen to her performance to ensure she is prepared to have the recital, and she knew she was ready.
Careful with what she ate for lunch and taking a bottle of water with her everywhere she went that day, Kimberly met her mom and dad at the Bologna Performing Arts Center to set up for the recital.
Every person in the room knew that after tonight, Kimberly would begin an exciting journey with her first love. There were many many smiles but very tight lips throughout the afternoon as everyone tried to keep the big secret.
As Kimberly talked about the songs she performed, she explained how she and her professor discovered almost all of her songs were about love on different levels.
"It's all of my music that I had last semester, I could have chosen songs from my first semester but … sometimes with old music comes old singing habits. I really enjoy the songs I'm singing today and I think that’s what makes the performance so much better; when you can connect to the music itself. When we picked my repertoire we just picked it. All of them do have this recurring theme of love but it's different types of love," she explained.
Wright said one song in particular about finding love connected with her.
"It's so simplistic yet has so much meaning. This character is saying 'come ready and see me no matter how late.' It's a person who's dedicated and longing for that love not yet found or experience. I think when I had it before I was in a relationship it really had meaning. It has more meaning now—I had connected with the love not yet found in the beginning and now I connect since I've found a love."
As she talked about her music connecting with her life on different levels and then moved on to talk about her very first love, Justin Hunsucker, she had no idea that in a few hours he would ask her to be his bride.
She said some of her songs reminded her of Hunsucker, especially the ones sung in French.
"My French songs are all very romantic. They are talking about being with a lover and how I am so content with just lying next to this person that I could die a little death, which means I could fall asleep on your chest and be content with that because that's how much I love you. So Dr. Payton actually makes references to (Justin) in lessons sometimes and asks me how I could relate to the song if Justin were standing right there. Not only do you get emotionally attached and have a personal connection with that song so it's easier to sing and portray that character. Freshman and sophomore year when I had to sing songs about being in love I didn't know how to connect because I had never been in love or experienced that."
With a little pushing and more questions about her music and love songs, as well the connections, a still completely unaware Kimberly explained how she knew she was in love with Hunsucker.
"They say that sometimes it's hard to say why you love someone so much because that's how much you do and that's how I am with him. He goes above and beyond for me. He puts me before himself; he never does anything out of disrespect for me. He respects me as a woman and I appreciate that because it's hard to find; he's still very chivalrous. He's been there through every breakdown, every rant, every musical frustration and every piano proficiency test. When he gave me a promise ring in Gulf Shores he held my hands and said, 'I love you and everything about you, I love your family, and I love what you stand for. But most importantly, I want you to know I'm in love with you and I've never been in love before.' That's when I knew," she said.
Hunsucker, a computer information systems major at DSU, had been nervous for weeks as he prepared for this proposal and acted as calm as could be every time he spoke with her throughout the day.
"I was so nervous I was going to act differently and I'm so glad she didn't think I did," he said.
Hunsucker set his bar high for this proposal because he originally asked Wright to be his girlfriend in a special way. After asking for permission from her parents to date her, Hunsucker set up a surprise for after dinner.
"I asked her parents first and then I put flowers in her house with a card without her knowing and I went to dinner with her family. When we came back the flowers and card were in plain sight and she looked at me all funny. She opened the card and it basically said that she was an amazing person and I enjoy being around her and with her family and if she would like, I wanted her to be my girlfriend," he explained.
Hunsucker said he knew very soon that she was the one.
"I basically knew she was the one for me before we started dating. Passion of 2013 January in the hotel hall after our late night worshiping, I sat in the hall with her, Patricia Thomas, and Mikel Sykes and just confessed to them some personal things and she never changed her opinion of me. If anything, it drew our friendship closer. Then later that month I asked her to be my girlfriend and it was the next day I told Patricia that she was who I would marry," he said.
As the recital came to an end that afternoon and the evening drew closer, Hunsucker left Wright for band practice and promised he would see her later for dinner.
Once Wright, Hunsucker, her best friend Patricia Thomas, and their families finished dinner, Wright went back to her house under the impression that her family was going home. She had said her goodbyes and settled onto the couch with her roommates to discuss the night's candlelight that had recently been announced to the Tri Delta chapter.
What Wright didn't know, was that her family was still in town and hiding out at Thomas' house.
A candlelight is a way for a sorority member to tell her sisters she is engaged. Traditionally, the sisters stand in a circle and pass a lit candle around three times, the first time meaning friendship, the second meaning a new relationship, and the third meaning an engagement.
The third time the candle goes around, the newly engaged sister is supposed to blow the candle out, signifying herself as the reason the candlelight was called.
As is with all candlelights, no one but the president and newly engaged sister know who will be blowing out the candle, so when the time comes it is exciting for all sisters.
However, with this candlelight, Wright had no idea she was supposed to be the one to blow out the candle, and by the time she arrived to the State Room on campus that evening almost every Greek girl in the room knew except her.
"I heard about a time in Tri Delta where the girl didn't know it was her candlelight and the boyfriend walked out of the kitchen to surprise her and I wanted to do that, but I didn't want to steal his idea, so I made it my own. I met with Molly McWhorter, Marley Anne Schiele, and Ashley Clinkscales (the Phi Mu, Kappa Delta, and Tri Delta presidents) and expressed my idea and if it could be possible. Without hesitation they all said yes. So from there, I began the planning, reserving the State Room, picking out the ring, finding the songs, and all the other details. I wanted to do something that not only she would remember, but everyone would remember," Hunsucker explained.
Typically a candelight is for only one sorority and its members, therefore they sing one of their own songs as the candle is passed, however since this candlelight included all three of Delta State's sororities different songs were played.
Once the candle reached Wright for the third time, the song switched to "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz, and after only two chords had played, Wright began to cry.
With her hands shaking she turned around to the main doors of the room and Hunsucker walked in, dressed in his best, with Wright's family, his family, many of her friends, and his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
Hunsucker then tied a blue ribbon around the still lit candle to signify her sorority and her favorite color, and then on one knee, he asked simply and sweetly "Will you marry me?"
The moment the word "yes" came from Wright's lips and Hunsucker blew out the candle, over 200 hundred girls began to scream their congratulations and surround her to do the obvious — examine the ring.
Hunsucker chose a white gold engagement ring from the Vera Wang Love Collection, which Wright had mentioned she adored because a collar of diamonds flanks each side of the bezel, which is set with two princess-cut blue sapphires, the signature of the collection and a symbol of faithfulness, everlasting love, and also her birthstone.
Wright was greeted by her family and friends as more people poured into the State Room to wish her their best.
While the two have no date set, they are incredibly excited to begin this new time in their lives.
"Kimberly has such a kind heart. She never raises her voice but she is still a leader because of how she handles situations. She gets her point across without being rude or disrespectful. I've never heard a bad thing said about her. She is someone that will listen to anyone and truly help them in anyway she can. Most of all, she loves me for who I am and not what I've done, truly living out the Christian lifestyle and how Jesus planned it to be," said Hunsucker.
After everyone had left, tears had been shed, the lights turned off, and the doors locked, Wright and Hunsucker said their goodbyes for the evening, knowing they had found not only their first love, but their one and only love, and now they had the rest of forever to look forward to.