Cody Hall of Willard, Missouri, gave his now-fiancé a proposal she will never forget.
On September 24, Hall, 24, took his girlfriend, Makayla Blakey, 19, on a behind-the-scenes tour of the giraffe enclosures at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri. But a special tour of the zoo wasn't all he had in store for his bride-to-be. Hall had been secretly working with the Dickerson Park Zoo for weeks to plan a proposal—one that would include Mili, a resident giraffe at the zoo.
“Giraffes are her favorite animals, and I really wanted to give her an experience she wouldn’t forget,” Hall told PEOPLE. “I figured I only get to propose once in my life, so I might as well make it count!”
On the big day, Hall led Blakey over to Mili's pen to meet and greet the gentle giant. Blakey played with Mili, but didn't notice the tiny box attached to a lanyard hanging from Mili's neck. As the bride-to-be fed Mili leaves, Hall secretly reached up to grab the box—and drop down on one knee.
“I was really more excited than anything. I knew she was going to say yes, so I wasn’t worried about her saying no,” Hall said. “In fact, I knew I was getting ready to make the best decision of my life—I was just ready to get there.”
(Notice the lanyard!)
As Hall popped the question, Mili leaned over and kissed Blakey on the head—giving her own special contribution to the moment.
“She started tearing up, and I told her that I loved her and that I have no doubt in my mind that I was going to spend the rest of my life with her,” Hall recalled. “I got down on one knee and I asked her to marry me, and she said yes.”
Hall said that his fiancé's answer was the best part of the entire event.
“Even though I knew she was going to say yes, it’s a completely different feeling when I actually heard her say it. I don’t really have the word to describe it because perfect doesn’t even do it justice,” he explains. “She’s my better half, she really is. She’s going to be something I’m thankful for every day.”