Nancy and Tucker Stevens, who met through mutual friends while attending UNC, are the definition of college sweethearts.
Their love story began with Nancy Stevens asking her now-husband on a date to a sorority mixer in fall of 1986, and they say it's only gotten sweeter in the decades since their wedding reception at the Old Well room in the Carolina Inn in June of 1991.
“We had a great time," Nancy Stevens said. "It was fun, special. We were one of the first couples of our friend group to get married. So it was fun for people to come back to Chapel Hill.”
Tucker Stevens proposed to next to the Old Well in the summer of 1990.
“It was a huge surprise for me,” Nancy Stevens said.
She was told that she would be meeting with some friends for dinner.
However, when she arrived at the restaurant, the bartender gave her a letter and a rose and told her to go to Hampton Inn for further instructions.
There, she found roses and balloons that had a note with them instructing her to take the balloons and go to the Old Well.
"This is 1990, so there are no cell phones, there was really no way of documenting this," Nancy Stevens said.
Tucker Stevens said he used the balloons so that he could tell when she was on the way. He had set up a table for their dinner with his grandmother’s fine china on a wooden table he had brought down from his hometown in Pennsylvania.
On July 7 of this year — 32 years after the pair got engaged — Tucker Stevens decided to recreate his proposal.
Just like before, he and his friends led his wife to believe that they were going to meet with some friends at Chapel Hill.
"I was walking with Nancy this time, so we didn't need the balloons to spot her," he said.
He had his oldest son, Drew Stevens, set up the table by the Old Well and prepare to take photos when his parents arrived.
“And, of course, me being a photographer, I wanted to capture the moment, so I got everything set up and then as they approached, I just started taking photos and let them have their little date and yeah, that was that,” Drew Stevens said.
He even brought the same meal that his parents ate during the proposal.
“They've been head over heels for each other since they met each other and raised me and my brother with a healthy relationship in the household and really helped shape me and my little brother to be the men that we are now,” Drew Stevens said.
The Stevens family's love for Chapel Hill transcends generations.
Tucker Stevens’ father went to UNC, as did his sister and brother. The Stevens’ youngest son, Matt, recently graduated from UNC.
“Chapel Hill is such a special place,” Tucker Stevens said. “And again, there's so much that we draw from that experience that we had in not only meeting, but also having our relationship develop from just friendship to, obviously, proposal to where we are right now in our lives, which is again it's always a special thing and I think that part makes it a special story, is that it is really a Carolina love story.”
Tucker Stevens added that every little moment and all the things he and his wife did in Chapel Hill became valuable and precious memories.
“So that would be my recommendation to anybody, is no matter what your end goal is, whatever the outcome might be, is that the ride along the way is what you need to pay attention to,” he said.
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