Love in college: A couple that carved their own path to matrimony

Love in college: A couple that carved their own path to matrimony

COLUMBIA, S.C.  – The biggest challenge in getting married isn’t the proposal, the wedding planning or picking the right ring. According to future groom Daniel Conner, the biggest challenge is internal.

Mary Kathryn Thomason made do-it-yourself invitations out of retired library borrower’s cards.

Mary Kathryn Thomason made do-it-yourself invitations out of retired library borrower’s cards.

“The hard part was going from thinking about my future to thinking about our future together,” he said.

Conner, a University of South Carolina student from Columbia who is graduating this May with a degree in computer science, met his fiancée, Mary Kathryn Thomason, while working at a University-hosted summer camp together. They became close friends through their work, and when they returned to the camp the next summer their friendship only grew.

“Both of us view relationships as an extension of a good friendship,” Conner said.

Thomason, originally from Anderson, and Conner both graduate from USC this May and preparing for their futures has been a process that demands very clear communication, he said. Their first opportunity after the start of their relationship, the two sat down to discuss and explain their personal struggles.

Discussing their challenges helped them to grow spiritually as well. They had learned a lot about each other during a mission trip to Miami they took with the Midtown Fellowship, a non-denominational Christian church in Columbia. Discussing their faith and core beliefs became essential to growing as a couple, Conner said.

One of the reasons they became so close, he said, was because it was so rare to meet someone in college he was comfortable discussing his faith with. That level of familiarity made them both more comfortable, knowing that any struggle they might face as a couple could be overcome through their faith and open communication, he said.

After a year together, as the pressures of graduation loomed, Conner realized that that they had always assumed that their future would include one another, and it was then that he brought up the idea of marriage.

Daniel Conner said that there was a very natural progression in his relationship from friendship, to dating, to engagement.

Daniel Conner said that there was a very natural progression in his relationship from friendship, to dating, to engagement.

“We had been talking about it for weeks; we just hadn’t used the words,” he said.

Eschewing a traditional proposal, Conner and Thomason approached becoming engaged the same way they commenced their relationship: They discussed it. The conversation was long and complex, but the proposal was not.

“I asked, ‘Do you want to get married?’ And she said, ‘Yeah,’” Conner said.

The image of a traditional marriage with all the modern commercial aspects was unappealing to the soon-to-be-wed couple. They bought handmade wedding bands online, opting for basic bands instead of diamond rings.

He said simplicity was the goal in planning their wedding. They agreed on a small ceremony and guest list, with only close family and friends invited. Planning their wedding felt, he said, very natural and straightforward.

With the wedding set in Columbia two weeks after graduation, he said the only stressful thing left to face is their search for employment.

Once they have both accepted job offers, he said, they’ll be able to move forward without fear, as husband and wife.