As Elon University students, Ashly Rehak and David Denison never imagined that one day their alma mater was going to bring them together for life.
Ashly Rehak and David Denison graduated from Elon University the same year but had never met during their studies. It wasn’t until much later that their alma mater brought them together and a distinctive Elon feature became part of a special moment in their lives.
After graduating in 2005, Ashly, a corporate communications major, moved to Charlotte and later to Greensboro, N.C., for work. David, a business accounting major, went on to Atlanta and Florida before returning to Greensboro, where his family lives.
On a November night in 2008, Ashly and David met at a Greensboro bar with other Elon friends for a casual social night. He had served as the sweetheart in Ashly’s sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma, when she first came to Elon, but he didn’t remember her. The two started talking and soon discovered they had many other things in common. They kept in touch and became good friends.
With time, their friendship turned romantic. In 2010, David took the next step with an unusual proposal, using a quintessential Elon feature: a brick. “When I knew I wanted to propose,” he says, “I started to think of ways to be unique and cool.”
David called the university to see if he could have a brick engraved. He was told the university had offered a program in the past but had stopped about a decade earlier. Searching for alternatives, he turned to his father, who has worked in the brick industry for 40 years.
He found two unfired raw bricks, stamped the message himself and put them in a kiln. He then painted the stamped letters to match the other bricks around Young Commons in front of Moseley Center. On the Friday before Thanksgiving 2010, he drove to Elon and replaced a wobbly brick with his own creation.
A couple of weeks later, he told Ashly he wanted to visit Elon to take some photos so they could make an ornament for their Christmas tree. It started to snow as they walked around campus. When they reached Young Commons, he stopped and put the camera bag on the ground.
“What do you think of this brick?” he asked her, pointing to the ground not far from the oval garden bed, near the path headed toward Alumni Gym.
She bent down to read it and couldn’t believe her eyes. There, among dozens of other bricks, was a brick with a message especially for her. It read: “Ashly – Will you marry me? David.”
“I looked at him and I looked at the brick and realized, ‘Oh my God, that’s for me,’” she recalls. By now, David was on one knee reciting the words he had stamped on the brick. “I couldn’t believe it at first. I started yelling, ‘are you serious? Are you serious?’ a million times. Then I started screaming ‘Yes! Yes!’ crying.”
“I had no idea he was planning this,” she adds. “It was pretty impressive.”
It took him three months to make it all work, but it was all worth it. He gave Ashly the other brick he stamped; they plan to use it one day when building their own house. “It’s the perfect thing to tie our lives together,” David says. “Although we didn’t know each other while at Elon, Elon was a big part of who we are today.”
They both agree that in a way, it’s better that they didn’t meet as students. “It’s almost like it was meant to be that I wasn’t supposed to meet her then,” David says. “We were very different people.”
The couple comes to campus as often as they can, particularly for Homecoming and whenever Elon’s football team plays Appalachian State. They returned to campus one more time in 2011 to take their engagement photographs and married on Oct. 8, 2011, in Greensboro, N.C.
“We love our brick,” Ashly says. “It’s very special to us. When our friends go to Elon, they take pictures with it. We treasure it very, very much.”
They thought nobody other than their friends and families knew about their brick and are happy it’s still there. “I think it’s a great love story,” David says. “We hope it will be there forever. It’s something we can share with our kids, friends and family going forward.”