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First Proposal at the Fountain

On bended knee amidst rose pedals, flickering candles, and the gurgle of the Mary Kelly Fountain in Emory Village Plaza, Ben Sperling in October asked Ariel Levin to marry him, marking not only the beginning of a new stage of their long courtship but also the first proposal since the fountain began flowing in 2012.

Ben and Ariel met a month into their freshmen year at Emory in 2008. They returned to Saba Restaurant in October 2015 to reminisce about their first date there seven years to the day earlier.

After dinner, they headed to Yogli Mogli for dessert and as they strolled through the Emory Village Plaza, Ariel admired the roses that their friends, unbeknownst to her, had scattered on a white table cloth spread before the fountain. “Then I led her over to the fountain and asked if she would marry me,” Ben remembers. Speechless at first, Ariel eventually said yes.

Ben and Ariel graduated in 2012 from Emory, both with degrees in psychology.  Ben, a former teacher, is co-founder and chief operation officer of Next Generation Men which exposes young men of color to opportunities for success if they earn a high school diploma or beyond.  Ariel is a health exchange analyst at AON Hewitt where she develops health care benefits for companies.

The couple still often drive through the village. “Every time we comment on how beautiful it is now and how much it has changed since we started school at Emory. We love the area—it’s a very special place for us,” Ben says.

The late Ted Kelly, who donated the fountain to the village, would have approved. The fountain is named after the two loves of his life—his mother and his wife.

(Photos by Lisa Hill Photography)