It’s the kind of news that rings in a New Year in a happy way, with wedding bells to come for two students from Rockmart. Especially since it happened in a once-in-a-lifetime way.

Congratulations go out to Connor Teems and Morgan Bozydaj, both natives of Polk County and graduates of Rockmart High School, who plan to marry in the not too distant future after getting engaged while on a trip overseas to Italy.

Teems took to his knee in the square outside of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice in recent days while he and Bozydaj were in Italy with the Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners.

Teems and Bozydaj began dating when he was a junior and she was a senior at Rockmart High School. Teems said he knew from the beginning that “I wasn't going to leave her ever.”

So he decided when she for sure was coming with the band, that was where he needed to pop the biggest question of their lives.

“She's been all over the place, living in Connecticut, California, New York, Cuba, Kentucky, and Rockmart, whereas until college I had barely been outside the state lines of Georgia,” Teems said. “I figured since she's so well traveled and I'm not as much, she would appreciate me going out of the way to do this while we were in a country on the other side of the ocean with so much culture and pretty sights.”

Teems added that he wanted to propose in Venice specifically because he enjoyed the unique backdrop of St. Mark’s Basilica, surrounded by water and without any cars.

“This was a complete surprise to her,” Teems said. “I did a good job of making her think it might even be another year or two away because of school. We had talked about getting engaged a few times before but every time I was adamant that she shouldn't get her hopes up anytime soon. Very fortunately, she believed me.”

Even with the surprise question on the trip, Bozydaj said yes and made complete a trip for the couple and the Marching Southerners that included two other proposals in the visit to Italy.

It also saw Teems and his fellow band members march for his holiness Pope Francis in the Day of Peace parade at the Vatican in Rome on New Years Day.

Their tour also included Rome, Florence, Pompeii and Milan among others. Two other couples also got engaged during the trip as well, including the mother of a color guard member who was on the trip with the band as well.

Teems is the son Greg and Robyn Teems, both of who are administrators in the Polk School District. Father Greg is an Assistant Superintendent who previously served as interim Superintendent, and his wife Robyn is principal at Rockmart High School.

The younger Teems will graduate from Jacksonville State University in May of this year with a degree in music education. He’ll be a second generation student as both of his parents spent time at the college.

Bozydaj is the daughter of Michael and Michelle Bozydaj of Rockmart. She graduated from Berry College and is continuing her education as a veterinary student at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee.

Wedding bells for the couple aren’t ringing just yet. They haven’t set a date quite yet, but are expected to marry in the not too distant future.

With Teems and Bozydaj both completing their education and two more years of Veterinary school ahead for the future bride, it’ll be some time before they get to truly settle down. Teems said their hope is to return to Polk County when both are finished earning their degrees.

“I would love to find a job within the Polk County school system either as an elementary teacher or a high school band director,” he said. “Morgan is hoping to find a job at an animal hospital in the area as well. Once we both are able to return home the goal would be to find a place to settle down, get started on our careers, and then eventually start a family.”

JSU press officials added that in addition to the proposals, the once-in-a-lifetime tour of Italy served as a means for many travelers to celebrate special occasions – including birthdays, anniversaries and graduations.

It is just one of the latest international trips for the Marching Southerners, who returned home just in time for classes to start on Tuesday.

The band was invited to play for the Queen of England in London's 2012 New Year's Parade and at the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 2016 in Hawaii.