RUTLAND, Ohio — As Kenzie Bolin walked through the door of the Gatlinburg, Tenn., cabin with her then-boyfriend Mark Bolin, she thought she was scheduled to look at a timeshare.
Instead, she walked right into her own proposal and wedding ceremony.
Kenzie, 20, said her family had known her future husband, Mark, 37, as a family friend for many years. She got to know him on a more personal level when he asked her to come house sit for him for a few months while he went to work out in the western United States.
And once she stayed, she decided she didn’t want to leave.
“I don’t know when I started to see him differently, but I just kind of thought, ‘Yeah, I’m staying with him for the rest of my life,” Kenzie said.
Mark said that for a while after they began dating, Kenzie pestered him about wanting to get married and said he knew she’d always wanted to get married in Tennessee, so he decided to make that a reality. Once he finally had the idea, he and Kenzie’s family began to secretly plan the Tennessee engagement/wedding. When the couple took a trip down to Gatlinburg in September for vacation, they would end up leaving as husband and wife.
But before the ceremony itself could happen, Mark had to get others on board. He got in touch with Kenzie’s mother, Pam Patterson, and Kenzie’s stepfather, Rick Patterson, about planning out the surprise and getting any and all help he could.
“He approached me about it and said he wanted to get married, but he wanted to surprise her,” Patterson said. “She had no clue. She didn’t know he was proposing.”
Pam said that planning included looking up cabins in the Gatlinburg area, stalking Kenzie’s Pinterest board for ideas of what she wanted in a wedding and finding the perfect wedding dress for Kenzie. The dress came from Bolin’s best man, and ended up fitting Kenzie perfectly.
Pam and Mark said one of the hardest aspects of planning an entire wedding in secret was keeping Kenzie in the dark about what was happening, which involved Mark stopping by Pizza Dan’s, where Pam worked, to plan out wedding details before coming home from work and keeping identities secret. Specifically, Mark and Pam said that the “lady from the timeshare place” who called Mark to have him and Kenzie come look at the cabin as a timeshare in the first place was actually just Pam on the phone having Mark and Kenzie come to the wedding location.
In the end, their hard work paid off: Kenzie said she was genuinely surprised at first.
“(When Mark opened the cabin door) everyone standing there, and you can see my face, I’m like, ‘How’s everyone here?’” Kenzie said. “I looked over at him, he was down on his knee. I was like, ‘Oh my God.’ Everything started coming back to me. Everything was adding up.”
Pam said the reveal was perfect.
“The door opened, everybody yelled ‘surprise’ and after he had her distracted he dropped down on one knee and proposed,” she said.
And within 24 hours of the proposal, on Sept. 25, Kenzie and Mark were married in an outdoor ceremony surrounded by friends and family who secretly made their way to Tennessee to celebrate the big day.
Mark said the day before Kenzie had asked him if they should just get married, but he said they couldn’t because she’d want her parents there for the ceremony.
“I managed to actually surprise her,” Mark said. “I kept it a secret for two-and-a-half months.”
Pam said the wedding went perfectly, with all outfits fitting the bride and bridesmaids, a borrowed altar and good weather. Pam also said that regarding her daughter’s wedding she wanted to have the traditional “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” element.
For Kenzie’s wedding, something old was the diamond in Kenzie’s ring that her father had given Pam when they married, the something new was pearl earrings and a necklace, along with sunflower earrings and bracelets for other girls in the wedding party. Something borrowed was Pam’s wedding burlap, which she used as part of the ring bearer pillow, and something blue was Kenzie’s garter.
Mark said the ceremony was “really laid back” and everyone enjoyed themselves as they made memories of a surprise wedding.
The couple live in Rutland and plan to stay there. Mark owns Bolin Builders and Kenzie works for Imperial Electric, but is hoping to have her own business as well, Mark said.
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.
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