Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly inverted where Mason and Moffett spent the summer of 2012. Mason was actually in Nebraska, and Moffett was actually in Oklahoma. The original article also misspelled the last name of Ellie Erickson. She is Erickson, not Erikson. The Pendulum regrets the errors.

Virginia Claire Mason has seven flower girls, seven bridesmaids, six honorary bridesmaids and the perfect wedding dress.

The date has been set, the location has been booked and the napkins and silverware have been chosen. The only thing left on Mason’s to-do list before the wedding: Graduate college.

But according to her, these final months seem like no time at all compared to the two years Mason spent falling in love with her fiance, Eric Moffett.

The couple met in the summer of 2010, when Mason, a senior music theater major at Elon University, landed a professional acting job in Findlay, Ohio. She was playing the part of Millie in “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” her dream role, and Chiffon in “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Becca Moffett, one of Mason’s closest friends from Elon, happened to live close by in Toledo.

“I joined a Bible study my freshman year at Elon called Crazy Love, and Becca was the leader of the group,” Mason said. “My first Sunday in Ohio, I went to church with Becca and her family.”

Throughout the summer, Mason spent most of her spare time with the Moffett family in addition to attending church with them. During that time, Mason met Becca’s older brother Mark as well as her older brother Eric, who would become Mason’s future fiance.

However, Mason and Moffett’s first date was completely unexpected.

On the Fourth of July, everyone in the Moffett family had left town except for Eric, so he and Mason decided to watch fireworks together. The pair officially started dating Aug. 15, 2010.

“It’s been fireworks ever since,” Mason said.

Living miles apart 

When the pair began dating, Moffett was studying aviation science at Metro State University in Denver, Colo., and Mason was a sophomore at Elon. When the fall semester began, the couple was separated by a time zone.

“We just had to make it work,” Mason said. “We talked and Skyped whenever we could.”

In fact, much of their relationship has been spent in different parts of the world. In 2012, Moffett moved to Ohio to start a new job and Mason was studying abroad in London.

But they maintained their relationship through a variety of romantic gestures, according to Mason.

While Mason was in London, Moffett sent her a care package filled with thoughtful, quirky gifts, like a Ninja Turtle onesie, that were reminiscent of inside jokes.

Additionally, Moffett has demonstrated his devotion by surprising Mason with tickets to see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at the Denver Theatre and taking her on spontaneous swing dancing dates.

Mason said being in separate parts of the world for the majority of their relationship has made her appreciate other things that occur around her everyday.

“I think it was really unique for my college experience because I got to enjoy exactly where I was,” she said.

A storybook proposal

In the summer of 2012, Mason was doing summer stock work at a theater in Nebraska. Moffett, who was nearing the culmination of his aviation science training in Oklahoma, had been discussing the possibility of marriage with Mason’s parents and brothers for two months. He even included her friends in his plan for the proposal.

After passing his final aviation science exam, Moffett drove 12 hours to surprise Mason in Nebraska.

“My friend, who was in on the secret, woke me up at 5 a.m. to go watch the sun rise over a lake,” Mason said. “I was up for the adventure, so we went.”

They drove to the lake, and standing on the end of the dock was a man holding flowers. Mason said she remembers thinking they were possibly ruining someone else’s romantic surprise.

“When I realized it was him, I thought he was just coming to see a show that I was in,” Mason said.

Then, Moffett got down on one knee and popped the question. Mason said yes, and the date is set for June 28.

Perfect timing

Though Mason is getting married shortly after she graduates, she still said her advice to other couples is the age-old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race.”

“There’s no reason to rush into marriage, because it’s a huge commitment,” she said.

But Mason said she personally does not feel her marriage is too soon. She and Moffett, who is 26 years old, will have been together for three years when they get married this summer. She believes their age difference has played a role in their decision to get married right away. Mason, who is 23, said her fiance is more mature than most college guys.

“If he were my age, it would probably be harder to make all this happen,” she said. “I know something important to him was having a steady job so he could tell my dad that he could support me.”

One of Mason’s bridesmaids, Ellie Erickson, said she couldn’t imagine her friend marrying anyone else. She said she has seen their relationship evolve and has watched them grow as a couple.

“Eric is the perfect match for Ginna Claire,” Erickson said. “He is incredibly caring, intelligent and strong in his faith. It’s a little surreal watching her plan her wedding and prepare for married life.”

Mason said she feels people are less surprised when they learn she is engaged because she lives in the South. She said she’s found that young marriage is more socially acceptable in this region than in others.

Still, not everyone feels ready for such a large commitment. Sarah Hoppe, an Elon freshman from California, can’t see herself getting married right after she finishes college.

“It’s great if two people are so in love right out of college, but I personally would want to wait a while because I’m sure life will change a lot after I graduate,” she said.

But Mason isn’t the only Elon student getting married shortly after college. Ashton Wilkstrom, formerly Ashton Vincenty, graduated from Elon in May 2012 and married her high school sweetheart last December.

Like Mason, Wilkstrom and her husband endured a long-distance relationship throughout college. She said she has learned there is no exact science when it comes to the ideal time for marriage.

“It’s all just a matter of opinions,” Wilkstrom said. “It’s a very personal choice and different for every couple.”