Deviled Eggs, Margaritas and Matrimony
Jocelyn Boulware Bruce ’17 and Nick Bruce ’18
By Tina Underwood
Their relationship evolved organically. From stolen glances across campus, to special moments shared at the amphitheater, to the bond they forged during their involvement as orientation staff members, Jocelyn Boulware Bruce ’17 and Nick Bruce ’18 charted an “intentional” dating course amid their hectic Furman schedules.
“We only dated one year at Furman – my senior year and Nick’s third year,” says Jocelyn. “But we made a point of meeting for lunch at the Dining Hall or grabbing dinner at The Paddock. Doing that type of thing always felt really affirming – that we could take a break from the busyness and just be together.”
With a solid foundation, the two endured a three-year, long-distance relationship when Jocelyn, a philosophy major, received a full scholarship to Vanderbilt Divinity School. A year later, Nick, who majored in music at Furman, would move to Knoxville for a master’s in music at the University of Tennessee.
“After a lot of reflection and assessment, we came to the conclusion that the relationship was worth the waiting,” says Jocelyn. “It just felt right,” Nick adds.
Following graduate school in 2020, Nick returned to Greenville and was already settled in when Jocelyn finished at Vanderbilt and also returned to Greenville.
What she didn’t know was that Nick, with the help of his younger brothers, conspired to purchase a ring, which Nick squirreled away until he could ask Jocelyn’s parents for her hand in marriage. Once Nick received their blessing, his plan to propose began to take shape.
“I decided we’d do appetizers and drinks at my apartment, then dinner at hers,” says Nick, who decided to make deviled eggs and margaritas – two mainstays he knew he couldn’t get wrong. “It was so random,” says Jocelyn, laughing.
In a show of culinary flair at her apartment, Jocelyn prepared red-wine braised short ribs – a dish that took about three hours total to create.
The wait was agonizing for Nick, but he soldiered on through a “Say Yes to the Dress” marathon and a rom-com while the dish was stewing. Finally, after the two enjoyed food and wedding-themed reality TV and a movie, Nick gathered his resolve and said to Jocelyn, “A lot of interesting things happened today. We watched ‘Say Yes to the Dress.’ When I was driving today, the song my parents danced to at their wedding came on. I think it’s ironic that all these things would happen on the day I would ask you to marry me.”
He then produced the ring, with Jocelyn bursting out, “Are you serious?”
“Yes, will you?” Nick repeated. (“It took a little second to sink in,” he remembers.)
But Jocelyn followed that with “Of course I will!”
Married in September 2021, the two now work in education. Jocelyn is an assistant director for Furman’s Center for Inclusive Communities and Nick is a first-year teacher and band director at Southside High School in Greenville. For couples who are considering navigating life together, the Bruces offer some keys to marital success.
“A piece of advice I give any student who walks into my office, whether it’s about a romantic partnership or a friendship,” says Jocelyn, “is this: ‘Do you like who you are when you are around that person?’ If they say ‘yes,’ I always respond with, ‘I think that’s great. Keep being around that person.”
And that, says Jocelyn, is why they decided to get married. “Because even on my worst days,” she says, “I still like who I am when I’m with him.”
For Nick, it’s about setting the bar high.
“One of the earliest bits of advice Joc ever gave me was that I need to be a person that I’m proud of,” says Nick. “She trusts me to conduct myself a certain way, and I never want to fall short of that expectation or let her down. Someone who encourages you to be your best self – that’s the best thing you could ever have or ask for.”
Photo: Becca Grimm Photography