Kazz White (right), a member of Phi Mu Alpha, hugs his fiancé, Ben Wingerter (left) after the members of Phi Mu Alpha finish their serenade on Saturday, Feb. 15. "I just wanted [the proposal] to happen the next time I saw him and it just happened to be [after] Valentine’s Day," White said. (Jared Treece | @bisalo)
Kazz White (right), a member of Phi Mu Alpha, hugs his fiancé, Ben Wingerter (left) after the members of Phi Mu Alpha finish their serenade on Saturday, Feb. 15. "I just wanted [the proposal] to happen the next time I saw him and it just happened to be [after] Valentine’s Day," White said.

Jared Treece | @bisalo

Sweetheart serenade: Phi Mu Alpha performs for newly engaged couple

February 16, 2020

Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, SIU’s music fraternity, has performed at hospitals, nursing homes and Saluki Stadium, but on Saturday evening, the brothers gathered to serenade a special couple: fellow Sinfonian Kazzarian Ravine White and his fiancé, Ben Wingerter.

White proposed to Wingerter earlier in the afternoon at Garden of the Gods, which neither White nor Wingerter had not visited previously.

“We’ve always wanted to go to the Garden of the Gods and it was really pretty,” White said. 

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White said his idea for the proposal was inspired by a dream.

“I actually had kind of a scary dream of an ex coming to me with a poster board of pictures of the past and the present and the future of me and him and I was really scared,” White said. “Ben was driving by my house because he comes over after work; he saved me from that.”

White said the poster board in the dream inspired him to do the proposal with a poster board.

“It was a bunch of pictures of us and then I colored in rainbow ‘marry me,’” White said. “On the back it had — we take awful kissing pictures, so I cut them all out into hearts and put in rainbow ‘he said yes.’”

White said he recruited friends to help him with the proposal. He gave them the poster board, as well as a handmade cover made of rose-printed fabric with faux flowers glued on in the shape of a heart.

“My friends went and laid out the fabric and had the poster underneath the fabric,” White said. “I had the one friend on top of the rock formation videoing it and the other friend kind of close taking reaction pictures.”

White said he had Wingerter close his eyes as they approached, and when they got to the heart formation, he had him open his eyes.

“It was amazing,” Wingerter said. 

“He cried a little bit,” White said.

White and Wingerter are both St. Louis natives and met in high school, where they were in the same physics class.

“We’ve always known of each other going through the same school district, but we had a group of mutual friends that were all hanging out together and we got introduced officially through them,” White said.

Wingerter said they have been together since July 2018.

“Three months after officially starting our relationship, we got promise rings, and they were just like $10 promise rings,” White said. “It helped keep us together and go through some stuff and then I got him [the engagement ring].”

White said he wasn’t sure what the center stone of the ring is, but it has six smaller diamonds split on either side and an inscription inside the band.

“Our promise rings have the ‘Love Ben’ and ‘Love Kazz,’” White said. “So on the inside of [the engagement ring,] on the band, it says ‘Love Kazzarian.’”

White said despite the proposal, the couple doesn’t plan to get married soon.

“We don’t plan on getting actually married until the summer after senior year, so a long engagement is okay,” White said.

After the proposal, the couple headed to campus for the serenade. White said the serenade was supposed to be a surprise, but Wingerter figured it out while they were on the way.

The fraternity serenaded the couple with three songs, which were “Brown Eyes,” “Brother to Brother” and their classic serenade, “A Serenade to a Girl,” Luis Prado, Phi Mu Alpha president, said.

Prado said White told him about the proposal a couple of weeks beforehand and they began planning.

“It’s always exciting to see two people that are so happy and if we support that by putting a soundtrack in the background, you can’t beat that,” Prado said.

Prado said he appreciates when the members can perform for each other.

“This is really the good side of Greek life that you don’t hear about, you know, there’s a lot of stereotypes that chapters like ours try to combat,” Prado said. “Things like philanthropy, or doing things like this, or singing on campus.”

Phi Mu Alpha often serenades at hospitals, nursing homes and even to the waiters or waitresses after they go out to dinner.

“We do it all the time,” Prado said. “It’s so much fun, it’s kind of our signature.”

Prado said White is a newer member of the fraternity. White joined in the fall and is Prado’s “little.”

“When a member is rushing and becomes a probationary member in Greek life sometimes they’re called ‘littles’ and they’ll have ‘bigs’,” Prado said. “It’s like a mentorship process. In ten years if Kazz were to call me up I’d always be there for my little brother, or my brothers.”

Prado said White is an incredible aspiring musician.

“He stepped up to the plate and started running music rehearsals,” Prado said. “It gives me great pride in the future of the chapter knowing that my little is doing great things.” 

White is a music major at SIU and said Phi Mu Alpha is very important to him.

“Music is my life,” White said. “Phi Mu Alpha is one of the greatest things that’s happened to me besides Ben.”

Editor in Chief Rana Schenke can be reached at [email protected]

Staff reporter Keaton Yates can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @keatsians.

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