When we asked LN readers to submit their romantic proposal stories for our annual spread, we received endearing, original and touching stories. Below are some of the highlights. We regret not having space for them all, and wish every couple a wonderful future together.
BRIAN MULLEN & LISA PANICO
On Nov. 20 during a vacation in Riviera Maya, Brian and I were relaxing on the beach. The weather was beautiful with the sun shining and waves crashing. Brian had brought all his dive equipment and decided he wanted to go for a quick 10-minute snorkel at the resort. He got all geared up with his fins, snorkel and mask, and I snapped a quick picture before he dove in.
I watched him for a bit, then dug for my headphones to listen to some music. About 10 minutes later, he returned and knelt on both knees in the sand. He was digging through a bag announcing that he found something in the water. He pulled out a wine bottle with a cork in it. Since I had no clue what was about to happen, I responded, “You brought a dirty bottle back from the bottom of the ocean?” I put my headphones back on as he fiddled with the cork.
A moment later, Brian gently tugged my headphones off saying, “Look! There’s a message in the bottle.” He unraveled a rolled-up, dated looking piece of paper and began reading it to himself. This piqued my interest, a message in a bottle! As he read in silence, I finally asked, “What does it say? What is it?” He responded, “I think it’s a love poem…”
He then began reading a beautiful poem he had written for me. At first, I still had no clue and really thought we’d found someone else’s love letter. The poem became more personal as he continued reading, and I felt my heart melt in an instant, suddenly realizing this was it. I was completely caught by surprise.
Brian’s closing lines read: “I promise to love, cherish and protect you from harm, if you’ll grant me just one thing: give me your heart, be my wife, and proudly wear my ring.” He then asked me to marry him and presented a beautiful engagement ring.
MATT JOHNSON & ASHLEY DESMET
Matt invited me to hang out with him on a Thursday evening. When I asked what we were going to do, he replied, “It’s a surprise. Just wear something comfortable and call me when you leave.” I put on shorts, a tee and tennis shoes, left my apartment and called him when I got to my car. He said, “Look under your floor mat.” I quickly pulled the car over and looked under the mat, where I found a note with directions. The note also said his car key was in my glove box. Confused, I drove a few minutes away to a nearby nature park, following his directions. His car was sitting in the lot. I opened Matt’s trunk to find another note, a rose and a bottle of bug spray. I put the bug spray on and read the note. It told me to follow the trail up the bluff, with hearts marking the way.
I hiked for quite some time up a bluff overlooking a creek, following hearts stapled to trees with arrows guiding the path. As I got closer to the top, I found letters in the trees that detailed Matt’s love for me and the many memories we shared over the past five years. I finally reached the top and turned the corner. There knelt Matt, in front of a beautiful backdrop, holding a small box. Italian music played in the background.
As I walked up to him, he said, “Ashley, will you marry me?” I nodded yes through my tears, and he put a gorgeous ring on my finger. He had a vase full of red roses, and roses hanging in the nearby trees. We sat on a rock cliff, sipped wine, and ate cheese and shrimp cocktail. We then played a game of ‘Would You Rather,’ like we did when we first started dating. After talking and watching the sun set, we went to a romantic dinner.
ELIZABETH DAHLBERG & WESLEY PRENTICE
My fiancé and I had been dating a year and a half when last November, he took me on a trip to Italy for my birthday. We arrived late at the hotel, but first thing in the morning we were off to explore the streets of Venice. The first thing Wes wanted to do was take a gondola ride before it got too crowded in the afternoon. I had no idea what was about to happen, perhaps I was still too tired from traveling to suspect anything. We found our gondola, jumped aboard and began floating through the romantic city.
About 15 minutes into our ride, Wes’ face turned white and he had his hand in his pocket, he pulled out a box. I’m sure my heart skipped 20 beats, I was so excited! Then Wes got down on one knee. He didn’t have far to go since we were in a gondola, but he was so nervous, I thought he might fall out. Then he said he loved me and wanted to spend the rest of his life with me, and asked me to marry him.
He had the ring in a box, but I told myself I wouldn’t look at it until after I said yes. I did, and I was conscious of all the people staring at us, taking pictures and clapping. The ring was gorgeous, and we continued our gondola ride through the city. We walked around St. Mark’s Square until we found a small restaurant and had our first authentic Italian meal.
It was the most memorable trip of my life, and Wes and I will always have that special place far away from home. We are planning to get married this June in Los Cabos, Mexico.
EMILY BEUTEL & CHRIS HOSKINS
I work in the wholesale wine business. In March of last year, I arranged for my longtime girlfriend Emily to accompany me on a buying trip to Chile and Argentina. Unknown to her, I was traveling with a diamond ring in my pocket! After several days visiting Buenos Aires and wineries in Mendoza, Argentina, we headed to the impressive Bodega Norton facility, located on a high desert plateau in the shadow of the Andes Mountains. With the help of the winery, I had arranged for entertainment by tango dancers and strolling gaucho musicians, and to have a fantastic, relaxing dinner in the winery’s hospitality suite overlooking the vineyards.
After our fine meal of beef, octopus and 1974 Malbec, I asked Emily to join me on the veranda for a better view of the sunset and the evening’s harvest activities taking place below. And there, with the day’s last light on the Andes and the air fragrant with just-harvested grapes coming in to crush, I asked Emily to marry me. She even said yes…
We were then treated to a lovely serenade from the musicians and a fireworks display over the vineyards.
THOMAS WOOTEN & STEPHANIE BERAN
Tom and I met in 1998 when my best friend Ashley started dating him. We became best friends, even after he and Ashley ended their relationship. When Tom joined the Air Force in 2001, I was devastated, but we kept in touch via e-mails and phone calls. In December 2002, Tom’s unit was sent to Kuwait in preparation for the war with Iraq. Upon learning his fate, he sent me an e-mail telling me loved me. I was shocked! How could he say that? We’d never even been on a date.
In 2003, Tom came home on leave for Christmas. Although we had not seen each other for more than 18 months, within one week, Tom won my love. When he returned in September 2004, he joined me at Missouri State University.
Although Tom had purchased the ring shortly before graduation in August 2007, he had been waiting to find the perfect way to propose. He wanted his proposal to be as special as our love. In November, Tom sent me a text message telling me to pack a bag because we were going away for the weekend. We spent the night at a small inn close to the vineyards in Temecula, Calif.
The next morning, he had planned a surprise hot air balloon ride over the vineyards. The ground crew placed a sign on the ground and radioed our balloon pilot. As we approached the sign, the guide lowered the balloon and suggested we look over the side for a spectacular view. When I looked over, I was shocked to see a large sign on the ground that said, “Will you marry me, Stephanie?” When I turned around, Tom was down on one knee with the ring in one hand and two dozen red roses in the other. I shouted yes as tears streamed down my face. When we landed, we were greeted with a balloonist’s prayer and a champagne toast.
JOSH NEPUTE & PAIGE RICHARD
On the Friday before Christmas, Paige was sitting at her desk at Regions Bank in Nashville when Town & Country native Josh arrived with a letter. He placed it on the desk, waved goodbye and headed out the door. Perplexed, Paige opened the letter, which read, “At 1 p.m., a black Cadillac sedan will pick you up. Don’t worry…you have the rest of the day off!”
When the Cadillac arrived, Josh’s longtime friend was dressed as the chauffeur. After lunch and a massage at a spa, Paige met Josh, who presented her with a black dress and shoes to wear, he had made reservations at Stoney River, where the two had gone on their first date. Afterward, Josh convinced Paige to look at Christmas lights at the Opryland Hotel, a large hotel and convention center in Nashville, filled with gardens, rivers and waterfalls. They walked through a large atrium filled with lights and into one with a river and waterfalls.
Josh had arranged for the two of them to take a private boat ride on the river to enjoy the scenery and lights. As they approached the waterfalls, the boat idled and Josh asked Paige to marry him. “Wouldn’t it be nice if someone could take our picture?” Josh then commented. He told Paige to turn around and smile, at which time she saw both their families standing on a balcony overlooking the river. The evening ended with pictures and champagne.
JAMIE MILLER & BRAD WHITE
On Dec. 7, I woke up to find a bouquet of tulips on the counter with a note that said, “I know your birthday isn’t until next week, but enjoy a day at the spa. Be there at 1 p.m.” I had a massage and manicure, my hair done and makeup applied. When I finished, a spa worker said, “I have something for you.” She brought out a dress, shoes and accessories with a card. I put the dress on and when I got to my car, there was a rose on my seat with rose petals and another card that told me to hurry home.
We had been planning to go out to dinner that night all week. When I got home and opened the garage door, there was a rose petal path leading into the house. I opened the door, and there were rose petals all over the floor, with tea lights everywhere and a dozen roses on the table. I followed the rose petals down to the basement where the computer was sitting on the coffee table with a note to push ‘play.’ There was a video with pictures of us from the year played to music. At the end, it said, “Stand up and turn around.” As I did this, Brad came out of the bedroom and gave me a big hug. Then we left for dinner. I still thought it was all for my birthday. We arrived at the surprise location, Maggiano’s.
As we walked in, Brad directed me to a banquet room where both our families sat. I thought they had all arrived to help celebrate my birthday. Then he began talking, and said, “I want you to be the mother of my children.” He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was amazing, and it was definitely a surprise!
DAN O’CONNOR & EMILY SCHMELZLE
Our daughter’s boyfriend Dan surprised us Saturday evening, Dec. 22, by asking us if he could marry our daughter. Apparently he had been planning this surprise, because he had purchased a ring she knew nothing about and brought it with him to St. Louis. On Sunday, he took Emily to view some new construction at Washington University, his alma mater, and suggested they stop at Kaldi’s Coffee on DeMun. On their first date in March 2004, he had planned a trip to Kaldi’s, with dinner reservations later. Since Emily really enjoyed that first date, he wanted to return to the same spot. While sitting in the front window, he got down on one knee and asked her to be his bride. After much tears, smiles and laughter, she said yes and he showed her the ring, which she absolutely loved. It was a moment they will always remember.
ROBIN RENEE CHRISTENSEN & JOHN PAUL KOVACS
The day of the engagement, we were headed to a family holiday party at John Paul’s parents’ home. I had worked that day and was tired by the time I came home. John Paul told me to take my time getting ready and to look nice so the family could get some holiday photos. I didn’t know it, but he had planned to take me to Tilles Park, where we first met, to propose before the party!
As we headed out, he said, “We’ve got to make it to the park first, before it closes.” I replied, “If the park is closed, we’ll come back tomorrow. No big deal.” We finally made it there, and his eyes glazed over when he saw that the big front gates were closed. With not a second to spare, John Paul said, “Robin, pull over to the side gate. I see police cars parked outside.” I pulled over and with the car still in motion, he jumped out and ran over to the police. He spoke with them for a few minutes, and the gates opened, while the police waved us in with smiles.
As we entered the park, he took my hand and walked me into a grassy area over by the playground. Holiday lights created a romantic glow, and John Paul stopped in his tracks to face me. I felt my heart beat faster and my arms and legs get goose bumps. He got down on one knee, looked up at me with a beautiful smile and asked, “Will you marry me?” I said yes, and we headed over to the family holiday party, which was really a surprise engagement party!
DR. MARY NOEL GEORGE & BRETT SHELTON
A true believer in all things Christmas, Brett looks forward to all its magic, merriment and miracles. I had asked Brett on many occasions not to get me any gifts for Christmas, as we had just returned from a vacation in Hawaii. He reassured me that he had found little things around the house to wrap so we could at least have some fun together opening presents.
During the gift exchange, he handed me the most heartfelt, romantic and beautiful card that featured a couple looking out atop a mountain into a snow-covered valley, a sweet reminder of our trip to Leadville, Colo. The P.S. said, “You have one more gift on the tree.”
I saw many new ornaments and thought they were my gifts. After seeing the third new ornament, two Hawaiians kissing under a palm tree, I realized the ornaments were not the real gifts, I found my beautiful diamond engagement ring on a branch of the tree! Brett said he wanted to make this, and all Christmases from now on, special, especially because I am a Christmas baby and have always had a hard time celebrating my birthday.