The words are always the same—will you marry me? — but the stories of the proposals themselves are like finding meaning in photography: no two images are the same.
For Joliet couple Naurice Moffett and Nicole Graves, who is the owner and dentist at Tooth Company in New Lenox, this moment caught on camera follows suit in a special way for them.
“I guess I kind of thought I wanted to do something different,” Moffett said. “I didn’t want to do the traditional proposal where you go to dinner. I thought it would be a great opportunity to do a scavenger hunt.”
On Jan. 31, Naurice Moffett’s proposal to Nicole Graves included a scavenger hunt with seven stops, first being a trip to the Student Center at their alma mater, Joliet Central High School.
“The scavenger hunt takes us to places that mean a lot to us,” Moffett said. “We met at Joliet Central High School and that’s where our relationship started.”
The scavenger hunt also included stops at Burger King, Oak Valley School, Moffett’s childhood home, Red Lobster, iPic Theatre and Graves’ home. Their friends teamed up to help capture the moments on camera.
She met District 204’s Community and Alumni Relations Director Kristine Schlismann, who greeted her and provided the first clue: a flower and a picture of the couple at their prom.
Graves said it was the perfect proposal.
“I was just really shocked and impressed,” she said. “It was our one-year anniversary. I was impressed that he went through so much.”
Graves said Moffett is known to be rather creative.
For her birthday last year, Moffett made an arrangement with her co-workers to allow gifts to pop up for her throughout the day.
Graves said when she asked her co-workers who was responsible for sending her the gifts, they pretended as though they weren’t aware.
Graves found a number of her favorites, including donuts, a Starbucks gift card, chewing gum and popcorn.
“I didn’t know who the gifts were from,” she said. “It could’ve been from anybody. It was little things I liked. He gave me little clues throughout the day to reveal that it was him.”
When Moffett set up another scavenger hunt for Graves in January, he said he was planning to channel his inner creativity this time around to pop the question.
Moffett said though he often enjoys doing special things for Graves, he knew he could create just enough suspense by doing another scavenger hunt because the night could easily end without a marriage proposal, as it did last year.
“I kept in mind what I wanted her to feel, what she would experience, the story she would tell afterward,” he said. “I want her to feel surprised.”
Moffett gave credit to Joliet Central High School for the two together.
“I would say I wouldn’t have met her if I didn’t go to Central,” he said. “She was part of the Laraway community, and I was part of [Joliet Public Schools District 86]. We probably wouldn’t have met then.”
How they met
During their time as students at Joliet Central, the couple agreed it was clear they were in “puppy love” at first.
“We were freshman in high school,” Graves recalled. “I think we had American history and he used to sit in the teacher’s chair and block the walkway. I had to brush by him [to reach my desk each day]. I would tease him about being a teacher’s pet and stuff, and we went from there. “
Moffett said he took a number of the same classes as Graves did.
But their schedules didn’t always align, Moffett said, noting that they didn’t get to eat lunch together because Graves was in the school band.
“We had lunch together our freshman year,” Graves said. “One girl told everybody I like him.”
“Once I learned she liked me, I flirted with her even more,” he said.
Moffett said the moment they knew it was love became clear over time.
“We dated probably a year before somebody said, ‘I love you,’” he said. “It was probably about our sophomore year when things got serious.”
Moffett said he’s happy to know the effort to surprise Graves went according to plan.
“I accomplished a goal,” he said. “I wanted to make her feel special, and I believe that’s how it came across.”
The Joliet couple is still ironing out the details regarding when they’ll begin planning their wedding.
“We’re definitely looking at six to nine months,” Moffett said.
Graves shared that sentiment.
“I want to get married as soon as possible,” Graves said.