Before love there were a lot of likes

Jayla Moody and Jordan Marshall’s love story might have started earlier if they had only spoken to each other during the time both were attending Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where he was the captain of the soccer team and she was the 2018 homecoming queen .

But they never talked at school, in part because Mr. Marshall, 28, was three grade years ahead of Ms. Moody, 25; He graduated in 2016 and she in 2019.

However, both were involved in Greek life on campus, so had mutual friends and followed each other on social media. “I admired him from afar,” said Ms. Moody.

On November 21, 2018, she took a screenshot of a photo Mr. Marshall posted on Instagram and sent it to her friend Ashleigh Rose to tell her he was the man of her dreams. “I admired his dedication to his photography, his outward and obvious love for Jesus, and his ability to light up a room with his smile,” said Ms. Moody.

About a week later, she and Mr. Marshall both ended up at the Thirsty Turtle Club in Macon, where he has lived and worked since graduating. When Ms. Moody found herself having an awkward conversation with a stranger at the bar, Mr. Marshall rushed in to pretend to be her friend.

“I saw her face screaming, ‘Help me,'” he said.

Neither Ms. Moody nor Mr. Marshall admitted to following each other on social media at the time. “We both laughed and awkwardly walked away,” she said. But they remembered each other.

Finally, a week later, Mr. Marshall asked one of their mutual friends if Ms. Moody was single. She was. Before I made a bolder move, “I went to her Instagram and liked a whole bunch of photos,” Mr. Marshall said.

In return, Ms. Moody started liking some of his photos. Then he liked her even more. And so it went on until he finally sent her a direct message and they soon started texting.

Their relationship was still purely digital when Ms. Moody found out through another mutual friend that both she and Mr. Marshall would soon be attending the same Christmas party at a friend’s house in Smyrna, Georgia. Ms. Moody decided not to mention the party to Mr. Marshall, who wanted to wait until they got there to see his reaction.

When she arrived about an hour after him, “we spent the whole time there together,” Ms. Moody said.

Their first date was the following January, and after that the couple quickly fell into a rhythm that was very natural to both of them. “She made it easy for me to open up and speak my mind. So I wanted to do the same for her,” said Mr. Marshall.

Having started 2019 at the height of their budding romance, the year soon turned into a difficult one for Ms. Moody. In July of that year, a maternal aunt, for whom she had been a secondary caregiver, died of gallbladder cancer. Months later, Ms Rose, the friend to whom she sent Mr Moody’s screenshot, died in November.

Reflecting on that time, Ms Moody said the consecutive deaths “taught me how important it was for me to love intentionally and without waiting.”

The couple began talking about marriage in the summer of 2020. In November of that year, Mr. Marshall surprised Ms. Moody with a proposal at Condesa Coffee in Atlanta, where she was living at the time. As a fan of cafes, she had no idea he’d rented out the space and arranged for friends and family to be there in person and via video call to celebrate.

The following summer, the two moved to Holly Springs, NC together. Ms. Moody is currently completing a Ph.D. in higher education from North Carolina State University, and Mr. Marshall is a football coach at Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC

On March 12, the couple married at the Fall Line Station, a Macon venue, in front of 190 guests, all of whom had to show negative Covid tests before attending. Cleon Henriques, who was ordained from what is now Bridge Pointe Church in Marietta, Georgia, officiated.

Although their first meeting was years later than it could have been, “he completely blew my mind,” Ms. Moody said of the two bonding. “There were no games.” Before love there were a lot of likes

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