Brooks and Rogers: Southern students share engagement story

Ted Rogers and Celeste Brooks pose for a photo after announcing their engagement. (Photo courtesy of: Ted Rogers)
Ted Rogers and Celeste Brooks pose for a photo after announcing their engagement. (Photo courtesy of: Ted Rogers)

Written by Frank Canizares

“It was a rainy night and we were out walking,” said Celeste Brooks, sophomore mass communication major, as she recalled the moment when she realized Ted Rogers, sophomore communication and history double major, was the one. 

“He had dropped me off at the girls’ dorm, and he was leaving,” she said. 

At that point, Brooks said, she wasn’t sure if they were going to see each other the next day, or if Rogers was going to ask her out on another date. At that moment, all she knew was she just didn’t want him to leave. 

Southern Adventist University — affectionately called “Southern Matrimonial College” by many students, alumni and employees over the years — is known for being the place where many have found the person they eventually married. 

Brooks and Rogers met during their first week at Southern; and from there, their love story ensued. 

The child of Adventist missionaries, Brooks said she spent her childhood like a fish-out-of-water, as her parents relocated constantly, answering their call to serve. Always the new kid in town, Brooks — influenced by her mother — loved romance movies and western novels.

She said she always dreamt about a movie-like love story; and by junior high, she started picturing her wedding day as a “sentimental day.” 

“A day to take in the moment where everyone and everything had meaning to be there, from the venue to the type of food, all the way down to the guests,” Brooks said.  

She met Rogers on August 22, 2020, at Vespers. Friends had asked her to come out and meet new people. She remembers everybody saying his name, “Hey Ted,” “Have you seen Ted?” But it was dark, and that was that. 

“I had never met a ‘Ted’ before,” said Brooks, as she remembered the day she met her fiancé.

A week later, at the Blue Hole at the bottom of Lookout Mountain, she sat on a bench waiting for friends. Suddenly, a car pulled up, and an enthusiastic guy got out and introduced himself. 

Brooks and Rogers spent the day among friends, hiking and cliff jumping. As she saw him interact, she realized he was real and honest. She would look to see if he was looking. She thought he was cute and wanted to talk to him. 

“There were butterflies,” Brooks said.

“Hey! So, you are from California?” Brooks asked Rogers. 

They had a moment to themselves to talk and connect. 

“She had so much to say about culture, geography, about life,” Rogers said. “You could tell in the way she talked, she was intelligent.”

A few days before Winter break, 2020, Rogers planned a beautiful evening — a romantic night out in Chattanooga. The Christmas tree was up, and there was an outdoor ice skating rink. They spent the night ice skating in the snow. Brooks remembers it being cold, but a fun time. 

“I’ve had such a great time,” said Brooks, as they ran back to their car. “I just love you so much.” 

Rogers didn’t react to it then, not until they were on a plane from Chattanooga to Chicago on their way home for Winter break. 

He asked her, “Do you love me?” 

And she replied, “Yes, I do.” 

On the 30-minute layover at O’Hare airport, they were grabbing bags and running through the station to their respective gates on the other side of the airport. They sat together on a bench. And when her gate called, “To Oklahoma,” they got up, and Rogers finally said what he’d been thinking all along: “I love you.” 

They hugged tightly, not wanting to let go, as they were about to spend five weeks away from each other. 

From then on, their lives started to merge. They would call each other every single night, prioritizing their romance. Their relationship got serious during the time they spent away from each other. 

Last summer, Brooks and Rogers went to Charleston, South Carolina. 

They had made reservations for an upscale restaurant on a particular evening and had plans to watch the sunset on the beach; but it was turning out to be an awful day. It was raining hard and storming, but then the rain cleared up just 40 minutes before they had planned on going to the beach.  

Rogers suggested they stop by the beach to see the sunset and then go to the restaurant. On a local online forum, he had found a secluded spot to see the sunset on the beach. As they were walking out to the beach, which happens to be on a peninsula, they witnessed magic. 

“We could see the ocean on both sides as we walked out,” Brooks said. “On one side, it was all rainy, gray and stormy out on the ocean. And on the other side, the clouds were moving away, and we could see the sunset.” 

The sun bidding farewell to a lighthouse under a feverish sky, emulating a postcard scene, entertained the enamored couple. 

“It was really pretty,” Brooks said. “All orange and pink.”  

Brooks decided to capture the beauty of the moment with a picture. And through the phone’s screen, she saw Rogers as he knelt down and pulled out a ring. She turned as a shaky Rogers proposed. 

“She said she was surprised,” Rogers said. “But she said ‘yes’ to marrying me.”

Brooks and Rogers are getting married on June 12, 2022, in Placerville, California, at Rogers’ family’s property. 

“This place is so pretty,” said Brooks, when she spent this past summer at a nearby summer camp. Brooks had fallen in love with the way California looks.

 “If I were to have my wedding soon, I think I’ll like it to be here,” she said.

The couple is planning on having an inexpensive wedding and building an outdoor sanctuary with pews donated by a local church. 

They will be using flowers, grass and greenery for decoration, cooking their own food and building a playlist. Rogers’ grandmother is baking the cake. 

“Both of us like being artsy and creative in the way we use things,” Brooks said. 

At the moment, the future Rogers are working on a guest list of 350 people. They look forward to their honeymoon in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 

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