Daniel Maffett met the love of his life when he was 12 years old. Fast-forward nearly 14 years and he's ready to ask that girl—Brianne Pennington—to be his wife. But, first there's the matter of the ring, the proposal and how to include their love of comic books. And, of course, the dog. He has to be there, too.

Think about the person you had a crush on at 12 years old.

Now, look at the person you share your life with now. Is it the same person? Probably not. But for one Smyrna couple, a chance meeting at summer camp 14 years ago led to friendship and romance.  Soon, it will lead to marriage.

“For me, it was love at first sight,” said Daniel Maffett, now 26 years old and working in advertising and video production. “Brianne [Pennington] was funny, smart and fearless. She really lived with her heart on her sleeve.”

Not that there weren’t stops, restarts and other relationships along the way. But, no matter how much time went by, they always picked up just where they left off. Then, five years ago, they got serious. Finally adults, the relationship wasn’t contingent on geographical happenstance. It was about choice. They knew they wanted to be together.

“I love that we were best friends before we dated,” Pennington said of their relationship. “We have no secrets and can talk openly about anything and everything with each other.”

Then, last summer, Maffett decided he was ready to take their relationship a step further and ask her to marry him. But, first he needed a ring.

“No ordinary ring would do,” he said. “It had to represent us and be something no one else would ever have.”

He met with Tom Sayers at Sayers Jewelers, who he says assured him that anything was possible. Sharing a love for comics and superhero stories, Maffett looked to their favorite—“Batman”—for inspiration. Pennington is partial to Harley Quinn, a female villain whose logo is three diamonds.

“The challenge was keeping the ring elegant and traditional while including the ‘Batman’ themes,” Maffett said. “The next challenge was how to propose.”

Maffett wanted to do something over-the-top so he decided to incorporate the couple’s beloved English Mastiff Zagon into the plan. He needed a bag, though, that he could put around Zagon’s neck. Wanting to be offbeat and comical, he used a bag of coal. But, of course, dogs have their own agendas and Zagon went for his food instead of Brianne. In a moment of panic, Maffett called him back over and tried to get his plan back on course.

“The ring box in the bag actually held the sketches I had done for the ring. The actual ring was in my pocket,” Maffett said, recalling Christmas Eve. “She was really confused from looking at the sketches, though, so I got on one knee and proposed.”

“I had no idea what was going on,” Pennington said, describing what the night looked like through her eyes. “Zagon is a big baby and loves attention. When I finally saw the box, I thought maybe it was an Orbis ring from Sayers that I had previously looked at. I had no idea it was an engagement ring.”

With the engagement behind them, they’re now planning a June 2015 wedding. With Maffett’s big family and a host of close friends, they say they’ll probably have a large affair. They’ve looked at venues but nothing is booked. Ever supportive, the prospective groom says that no planning will be done until Pennington finishes her master’s degree in May. Degree or not, Pennington is ready.

“Daniel is the love of my life and I have known for a few years that I want to spend the rest of my life with him,” she said. “I just never expected that he would propose at that moment. It was perfect.”