Sherri was a teacher in Missouri with a boyfriend, Russ, who taught in Alaska. She was learning how to ice skate, and her father took her to a rink one day in February to see how she was doing. She was skating around the rink when she was suddenly stopped by a strange man whose face was covered in a red-hooded sweatshirt.

To her surprise, it was Russ, who had secretly flown in and had conspired with her parents to set up this moment. He dropped to one knee and asked, “Will you marry me?” She said yes, but she was still in shock as other people skated up to give her roses.

This was just one of many stories that readers sent us this summer in response to a Marriage Memo about creative proposals. I suppose I should keep these stories away from my wife, Merry, because I did absolutely nothing creative for our engagement. But then, I’m not sure if creative proposals were as popular then as they are today.

Keri wrote to describe the night Rob took her to a favorite local tea room “that wasn’t usually open in the evening.” Inside they found 30 of their friends, co-workers, and family members. During the dinner, 11 people brought her single red roses. Then Rob gave her number 12, sang three songs to her, and proposed.

Keri was amazed that one of Rob’s songs was “I Will Be Here,” by Steven Curtis Chapman. “Ever since I first heard that song,” she wrote, “I had imagined that the ideal proposal would be the love of my life singing that song to me. This was years before I had even met Rob. And I had never shared this hope with anyone.”

Dunking contest

One of my favorite stories came from Landen, who received permission to propose to Carli at center court of a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. He entered the dunking contest, and his initial effort in front of 2,500 spectators was less than impressive. I’ll let him finish the story:

For my next dunk, I pulled out a chair and placed it in front of the rim as though I was going to jump over it. I heard a few chuckles from the crowd, and a few [remarks of] “Yeah, right buddy.” Then I spotted Carli out of the crowd and asked her to come onto the court and sit in the chair. “He’s gonna kill this girl” I overheard one boy say in the crowd.

I proceeded by putting a blindfold over Carli’s eyes and backed up while dribbling the ball as though I was getting ready to jump over her. Then my sister, who had the ring, tossed it through the air to me. By this time the crowd was onto what was happening. “Oh my God, oh my God” I heard some woman say behind me.

I grabbed the microphone from the MC, dribbled up to Carli, took the blindfold off and opened the black box. Now I had a little speech prepared which I began to recite into the microphone, but the crowd was so loud that no one, including Carli and I, could hear what I was saying. So I mouthed the words, “Will you marry me?” and she nodded her head and said, “Yes!” She jumped into my arms and the crowd went nuts.

As we walked off the court, the MC asked me if I was going to finish my dunk. I replied, “No thanks, I’m done.” The MC said, “That’s okay, because once you’re married, your legs are gone!”

Following clues

One popular theme for proposals is the scavenger hunt, where the girlfriend is sent around town following different clues. Several readers described some creative variations on the scavenger hunt theme. Derek sent his girlfriend, Alysha, to different locations where she found friends with letters that took her to the next clue. Each note began with the words, “This is where …” As Alysha writes, “Each location was a special place to us–our first kiss, where he told me he loved me, etc.”

The day ended at a beach where Alysha found Derek. He handed her the last letter which read, “This is where … I asked you to marry me.” After she accepted the proposal, they began walking up the beach to a restaurant. Alysha looked up and saw both of their families running out to congratulate them.

For his version of the scavenger hunt, Randy borrowed ideas from one of his girlfriend’s favorite television shows, The Bachelor.

On the morning of our engagement, a limo pulled up in front of my girlfriend’s house, with a cinematographer following. The limo driver rang the doorbell and asked, “Will you accept this rose from Randy”? When she said yes, the driver handed her the first of 12 roses and the first of 12 clue cards. As she answered the clue, the driver drove her and her daughter to the next stop, where her best friend was waiting with the next rose and clue card. Each clue card directed her to the next stop … The stops included places that were important to us while dating and each stop was manned by people important to us as a couple.

Randy flew in his parents to man the tenth stop, and her parents were at the eleventh. He was waiting at the final stop, at the foot of a 60-foot cross by a lake “where we had spent many hours praying and talking about getting married and our future life together.” After his proposal and her acceptance, they returned to the limo, where all the people who had been involved were there to offer their congratulations. Then they went to a local country club to celebrate.

“Everyone said the day was so perfect, that we should have just gotten married that day,” Randy wrote. “This was a tough act to follow!”


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