Semper Fi. I do.

By Shane Hulsey

This time last year, Zach Cookson had plans to join the Quincy University lacrosse team in Spring 2020.

Cookson has more important business to take care of now. Cookson left in August to start his training for the Marine Corps.

And he’s getting married…date TBD.

Cookson proposed to Emma Hoyt, his girlfriend of nearly four years, on August 17, just two days before his scheduled departure for San Diego, California.

All Hoyt could muster was that magic three-letter word.

“I was 100 percent shocked,” she said. “We had kind of talked about it, but I kind of assumed it would happen after boot camp. We just hadn’t really been seriously talking about it. I was speechless.”

Cookson proposes to Hoyt at Bob Mays Park, Quincy, August 17, 2019 (photo courtesy Emma Hoyt)

Cookson will graduate from boot camp November 15. Once he completes boot camp, he will have a 10-day leave, then he will head back to San Diego or go to North Carolina for combat training. Job training will follow, then Cookson will be stationed in either of those two places.

Cookson is under a four-year contract, but he will have access to his phone once he is stationed. He does get some leave and can request time to come home if he and Emma decide to tie the knot before his contract expires.

So why now?

“If you’re a single Marine when you get stationed, you’re most likely being stationed in Japan,” Hoyt said. “He has younger siblings, and that’s a long way away for us, so that just wouldn’t work for anyone.”

Cookson’s cousin, Wendell Bias, said Zach wants to not only stay closer to home physically, but mentally, as well.

“He thinks about stuff pretty hard,” Bias said. “If he wouldn’t have proposed (before he left) he’d be struggling right now at boot camp thinking about it.”

Cookson and Bias lived right down the street from each other growing up, so the two know each other like brothers.

“We always saw each other,” Bias said. “We were always at each other’s houses.”

So Bias knows Cookson well enough to say with certainty that he’ll be just fine in the Marines and in married life.

“Right now he’s probably just scared because he’s constantly going to have someone yelling at him,” he said. “He’ll be alright, though. Emma’s step-dad was a Marine, so he taught Zach enough to where he knows what to expect. As for the marriage, he’ll be a good husband and a good fit for Emma.”

Bias (left) and Cookson (photo courtesy Emma Hoyt)

So what’s the wedding going to be like? Nothing is really set in stone just yet.

“Zach has some input, but especially while he’s gone, a lot of the planning is going to be my responsibility,” Hoyt said. “I ordered a wedding planner from Amazon to see where I need to be, but I don’t really know.”

Hoyt has some ideas, though, and they may involve a certain canine.

“We’ve talked about our dog being in it because, you know, we absolutely love our dog,” she said. 

Cookson and Hoyt with their dog, Parker (photo courtesy Emma Hoyt)

“It’s just going to be one of those things that I figure out in time. When girls are young, they think about these big, extravagant balls, but when it comes down to it, it’s like ‘oh my gosh, what do you actually do for this?’”

One thing is certain: there is going to be one heck of a reception.

“We want to have a smaller ceremony, but we want to have a big reception,” Hoyt said. “Both of our families are reception-oriented, so the reception’s gonna be the party.”

Cheers to the future Mr. and Mrs. Cookson. 

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