Our Love Story
About the Bride and Groom
Melissa Mary Olney is from Burlington, MA. Melissa graduated from Dana Hall School, studied abroad at the Women's College at the University of Sydney, Australia, and earned her B.A. in Philosophy and Communication from Wake Forest University. Melissa is currently a rising third-year student at the University of Virginia School of Law and hopes to clerk for a judge and litigate after graduation. She is an avid dancer and skier, and has recently been enjoying taking barre and aerial yoga classes. Mark Charles Yates, Jr. (Charlie) is from Greensboro, NC. Charlie graduated from Greensboro Day School, earned his B.S. in Biology from Wofford College, and earned his Pharm.D. from Wingate University School of Pharmacy. Charlie is currently a compounding pharmacist in Winston-Salem, NC. He is an avid tennis player, golfer, and snowboarder, and has recently been enjoying learning to play the acoustic guitar.
How We Met
Melissa and Charlie had each been living in the Nissen Building apartments in Winston-Salem, NC for about a year and had crossed paths many times before getting to know each other. Surprisingly enough, they had also crossed paths years earlier and had attended several of the same parties at Wake Forest when Charlie would visit his brother, James.
On June 11, 2016, Melissa and Charlie were both at the Nissen building's nineteenth floor rooftop pool, each enjoying the gorgeous and sunny afternoon. Eventually, Charlie walked up to Melissa and finally had a conversation with her. Charlie frequently describes that moment with Melissa as being struck by an angel, knowing then and there that she was the one. That same night, they met up again on the rooftop and shared their first dance together, literally “Dancing in the Moonlight.”
One week later, after a few more meet-ups and going to church together for the first time, Charlie asked Melissa to officially date, and their journey together officially began.
Long Distance Lovin'
Melissa and Charlie spent almost every day together for the duration of that summer before Melissa moved three hours away to Charlottesville, VA. Melissa began her first year of law school at UVA while Charlie took and passed his pharmacy board exams and became an overnight compounding pharmacist in Winston-Salem. Charlie's work schedule has allowed him to spend every other week with Melissa, and he has taken her on many fun study break outings while visiting her in Charlottesville, including going hiking and skiing, as well as visiting corn mazes and wine vineyards.
Asking for the Blessing
In January of 2017, Charlie visited Melissa and her family in New England for the first time. After a few days of skiing in New Hampshire, Charlie sat down with Melissa’s father, Andrew, and asked him for his blessing in his daughter’s hand in marriage. Andrew said "yes, of course," and Charlie immediately began preparing for a proposal that would sweep Melissa off of her feet.
During the summer of 2017, Melissa served as a judicial intern to a federal judge in the U.S. District Court of Charleston, SC, and Charlie visited Melissa in Charleston during his off-weeks from work. Charlie knew he wanted to propose to Melissa over the summer, and he had spent the past six months planning and preparing the perfect proposal that would surely wow Melissa. After much consideration of where would be a meaningful location to propose, Charlie decided on Boone Hall Plantation in Charleston, which is where one of Melissa’s favorite movies,The Notebook , was filmed. Two of Charlie’s favorite movies,The Legend of Bagger Vance andRobin Hood , both of which he had watched with Melissa, also served as inspiration for the proposal. On the Fourth of July, Melissa had the day off and Charlie took her to visit Boone Hall Plantation. Because Charlie’s birthday is July 3rd and Melissa’s is July 9th, he was able to disguise the visit and all of the activities he had planned as a “joint birthday celebration. ” After exploring the plantation and coincidentally getting a private house tour, Charlie took Melissa's hand and led her down the Spanish-moss lined Avenue of Oaks. He got down on one knee, presented a ring that he had personally customized, made several meaningful life-long promises to her, and then asked her to spend forever with him. She said “Yes, absolutely! ” and then jumped into his arms for a kiss and a twirl. An undercover photographer captured the entire proposal and then took engagement photos of the newly engaged couple around the planation. Next, Charlie and Melissa headed back to the heart of Charleston where Charlie had another surprise planned. The couple arrived at the Peninsula Grill restaurant, sat in a booth for two, and were offered congratulatory beverages by the manager, compliments of “an anonymous caller. ” This was all an elaborate rouse, of course, to throw Melissa off. Immediately after the drinks were delivered, both Melissa's and Charlie’s parents came out from behind her. Melissa, crying tears of joy, jumped out of her seat to hug them. Both families joined as one out in the restaurant’s beautiful twinkle-lit courtyard to have dinner together and celebrate the engagement of the happy couple. After dinner, as a final surprise, everyone boarded a small boat that Charlie had rented with a captain to watch Fourth of July fireworks over the Charleston Harbor. While watching the fireworks, Charlie toasted Melissa with a specially-ordered bottle of their favorite wine, Autumn Leaf Gold. Not overlooking even the smallest of details, Charlie had designed cups for the wine which said "Melissa & Charlie, The Adventure Begins. " It was the perfect ending to a perfect day, encapsulating their perfect relationship.
As an Engaged Couple
Since the engagement, Melissa and Charlie’s love for each other has continued to grow and prosper, and Charlie continues to visit Melissa up at UVA during her second year of law school during his off-weeks from pharmacy. Charlie playfully asks Melissa “Will you marry me?” every single day. Faith remains a cornerstone in their relationship, and they both strive to strengthen and improve the lives of those within their community, both personally and professionally.
After the wedding, Melissa and Charlie will be traveling to Belize for their honeymoon. The couple will remain long distance for about nine months and then they plan to live together in the Carolinas after Melissa graduates from law school!