She Said Yes

The leaves may be changing, but that doesn’t mean love isn’t still in the air. This fall, two of Strong’s digital team members popped the question and set a date. Their stories, while composed of different times, faces and places, share the same raw emotion that anyone getting down on one knee can’t help but feel.


Always one to practice what he preaches, Joey Tichenor harnessed the power of digital technology to find eternal love. Tichenor met his fiancée, Anna, via a dating app last spring. The two had their first date at Cahaba Brewing in April of 2017. Ever since, Tichenor has known that Anna was the one.

With Anna being of Polish descent, Tichenor suggested that the two visit Poland as a late summer trip. While there, Tichenor would have the opportunity to meet his future fiancée’s extended family and practice nodding blankly while they spoke to him in Polish.

Everything coalesced in Tichenor’s mind. A foreign destination, a family gathering, a first-time adventure… it was the perfect place for a proposal. There was only one problem. Anna’s cousin’s wedding was taking place during the trip. Not wanting to steal her thunder, Tichenor had to wait.

The day after the wedding, Anna and Tichenor took a sojourn to a mountain resort town near the Czech border. Tichenor described it as a “Polish Gatlinburg.”

His original plan was to hike the town’s mountain and propose at the top, but once he fully realized its height, he knew neither would be in a condition to be photographed once they reached the summit.

Instead, Tichenor spotted an enchanting garden in the courtyard of the hotel. There was lush vegetation, a koi pond, a quaint little bridge – the perfect spot.

“Let’s take a walk in the hotel garden before dinner,” Tichenor suggested.

As they walked, Anna questioned why Tichenor was unusually silent. She brushed it off as pre-dinner peckishness. Little did she know, Tichenor’s hand was placed over his pocket the entire walk, fearful of misplacing the ring that he had so masterfully hidden for the duration of their trip.

As they stood on the bridge and gazed out at the water’s rippling surface, Anna turned to walk away. Tichenor knew it was now or never.

“Anna, wait!” he called.

She paused and swiveled. As she cast her gaze back toward the other end of the bridge, she found Tichenor kneeling before her, ring in hand.

After a heartfelt proposal and a resounding “yes” on his fiancée’s part, the two eagerly informed friends and family back home before continuing on to the night’s dinner.

The couple is set to wed on Saturday, June 1, 2019, in the ballroom at Roots and Revelry.


Mary-Kate Laird and fiancée Savannah’s meeting was somewhat by chance.

Seated at a table at Café Dupont, Laird was surveying the room when she stopped for a double-take. One diner, in particular, looked strikingly familiar. Pulling out her phone to check, Laird recognized her as someone she had seen on a dating app. She sent a message calling out the dinnertime coincidence to the girl and carried on.

As it turned out, Laird was mistaken. The girl from the app was not the girl in Café Dupont. Rather, she was a few blocks away at Ghost Train Brewery. Nevertheless, the two connected and found they had much in common.

Fast forward almost one year later, and the two are preparing to attend their one-year anniversary celebration dinner at The View.

What better time, what better place, Laird thought, than here to ask.

In preparation, she had asked a former co-worker, Colin, to perch behind the columns outside and capture the moment on camera. Her father and Savannah’s mother attended clandestinely as well.

“Let’s take a minute to go to The Grill and see the skyline,” Laird suggested to Savannah.

As the two made their way outside, Laird paused, searching for a pre-determined bush. The family, unbeknownst to Savannah, was lingering just out of sight on the balcony above. They watched as Laird produced a small, wooden box. In it was the ring.

“We had talked about it before,” Laird said. “She told me that I have to tell her I’m about to ask an important question. I had an entire script written but could only get out, ‘Okay – I have an important question… You know I love you, right? And I want to be with you forever. So, will you marry me?’”

Savannah nodded tearfully, and Laird pointed to the balcony to reveal her mom while Colin emerged from behind the columns. It was a joyous moment with family and friends that she will never forget.

The couple is set to wed Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, at Barnsley Gardens in Georgia.

Dads of SAM Present: Best Dad Jokes

Children Placing Crown on Dad

by Luke Thomas

Dads can get away with a lot. Bad fashion, questionable sandals, embarrassing carpool appearances… it’s all kosher. The most notorious of paternal practices, however, is the one that every seasoned father pulls out from time to time – the dad joke.

In celebration of Father’s Day, we asked some of our SAM dads to reach into the cheesiest pockets of their personalities to produce this fine collection of STRONG’s Best Dad Jokes.

It’s About to Get Dadtastic

Buckle up!


1. “Dad, will you make me a sandwich?”

POOF! You’re a sandwich. – Nate Lytle


2. “Where does a general keep his armies?”

In his sleevies. – Will Giuliani


3. “Two peanuts were walking down the street.”

One was a salted.


4. “When does a joke become a dad joke?”

When the punchline becomes apparent. – Joey Tichenor (not a dad, but has awesome dad jokes)

5. “What do you tell a grandparent trying to dress your kid in cheesy outfits?”

Hey mom, this is NACHO KID! – Chris Jones


6. “Little Johnny asks his father, ‘Dad, how much does it cost to get married?'”

Dad replies, ‘I don’t know, Johnny. I’m still paying for it.’ –Gene Gill


Advice from Dad

While we may groan at our dad’s corny attempts at humor, the advice that they give us is something that we should hold dear to our hearts.

Dennis Johnson has always been a source of wisdom and sagacity within our agency, and today he shares this piece of advice to remind us of the love behind a father’s words.

Listen to your father and what they say about not speeding, wearing seatbelts, and being careful of other drivers – just like my dad told me. Sometimes, you don’t want to hear it. But when it comes from the heart and life experiences, it’s the truth meant for their own children’s good. – Dennis

From all of us at STRONG, we wish a warm and hearty “Happy Father’s Day” to the dads among us and all the fathers we will celebrate this month.

Island Hopping

by Luke Thomas

Amid thick clusters of plumeria, girdled by pineapple groves and capricious volcanoes, there lies an exotic paradise waiting to be explored. From deep within its confines, two very different stories emerged.

Despite an unnervingly-timed volcanic eruption, Team Strong has returned from the islands of Hawaii and is here to share with us the wonders of this offshore neverland.

Setting Sail

Cruises were never the first choice for Accounting Director Sheena Griffin. But when her family planned an island-hopping cruise trip around Hawaii, she left her reservations on the mainland.

Griffin spent seven days aboard the cruise ship, visiting four of Hawaii’s most idyllic islands. Along the way, she filled her senses with the lush flora and natural features of America’s tropical state. One of her favorite excursions was visiting the “Grand Canyon of Hawaii,” otherwise known as Waimea Canyon. The canyon features a river that runs within, as well as countless waterfalls and natural rock formations.

The trip wasn’t all spent on the water, though. Griffin, along with her parents, sister, and brother-in-law, had a boatload of activities to keep them busy. The group visited the Dole pineapple plantation, which included a serving of pineapple ice cream. They also saw a coconut cracking demonstration and learned how to extract the water and meat of the fruit.

Never one to overlook the local culture, Griffin attended an authentic luau ceremony, showcasing the different traditions and dances that resulted from Polynesian influence.

The most exciting moment came from a stroke of luck, however.

“We happened to be on the Big Island the day before Kilauea erupted,” Griffin said. “I was able to get a photo of it spewing lava. We didn’t even learn about the eruption until we were already on another island and got ahold of Wi-Fi.”

Griffin returned from Hawaii with some incredible photos, unforgettable memories, and a bag of pineapple coconut Hershey’s Kisses whose taste curiously mimicked the scent of Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen.

All Over Oahu

While Griffin spread her time among different islands, Digital Merchandising Director Joey Tichenor opted to explore everything that the island of Oahu had to offer instead.

The trip started as a fringe benefit from an optometry conference that Tichenor’s girlfriend, Anna, was attending. The two decided to rent a home once the conference was over and continue exploring Hawaii’s capital island.

While most would exhale a sigh of relief at the thought of a shark-less beach vacation, that wasn’t an option for Tichenor. He instead signed up for a marine biology snorkeling session that allowed him to free-dive with a school of 27 sharks.

“It goes against what you would think, but you’re actually supposed to look the sharks straight in the eye,” Tichenor said. “They’re used to prey fleeing, so this directness throws them off. But needless to say, it was difficult to look 27 sharks in the eye when they’re all swimming around you.”

Back on land, Tichenor hiked the sides of dormant volcanoes and saw some fantastic sights along the way. His advice to those looking to traverse the picturesque paths: bring a good pair of hiking boots.

“I saw plenty of people with sandals on,” Tichenor said. “But it’s no fun getting stuck in the mud.”

Tichenor was safely removed from the slew of volcanic activity on the island chain, but he was prepared to recognize the signs. At one point, the state’s emergency radio announced the possibility of a tsunami.

“I read a book on Hawaii before I went, so I had my eye out for receding water or any of the other signs that it was time to head for high ground,” Tichenor said.

Next time Tichenor travels to Hawaii, he plans to visit the Big Island.

But he may want to let it cool down first.