I remember the day my boyfriend, Jim Larmoyeux, broke the news to me that he was going to be transferred to Little Rock, Arkansas. He knew absolutely no one there and had what he thought was a wonderful idea: I could also move to Little Rock and get a new job and a new apartment and we could continue dating.

Great idea? I say it was more like an illusion.

“I can’t afford to move,” I told him. “And I already have a roommate and a job.”

I don’t recall the exact expression on Jim’s face, but “No” was not the answer he wanted.

“Well,” he stammered, “then … do … you … want to get married?”

It didn’t take long for me to answer, because Jim was a lot of fun to be with and a man of integrity. “Yes!”

In retrospect, I think he was shocked by my answer. And years later I’m stunned by my quick reply.

Although my husband and I still laugh about our engagement story, I’m sometimes a bit envious of others’ carefully-planned marriage proposals. In asking colleagues at work about theirs, I discovered some proposals that put a smile on my face and a sigh in my heart:

Eli and Karen

Eli and his girlfriend, Karen, were students at Southwest Texas University. He had just graduated when he decided to pop the big question.

After agreeing to join Eli for breakfast at a restaurant near campus, Karen was surprised when it was closed. Acting disappointed, Eli convinced his girlfriend that a walk through campus would lift her spirits.

As they neared the Student Center, Eli asked Karen to sit with him on a concrete bench. As he talked and shuffled his feet, Karen saw a huge sign hanging on the Student Center: “Karen Sue, will you marry me??”

Karen hurried to the Student Center and checked the box: “Yes”!

Gabe and Nancy

Gabe and Nancy had a long-distance relationship. She was stationed with the Army in Germany, and he had been transferred with the Air Force from Germany to Maryland.

Nancy mentioned in a letter to Gabe that he was her “knight in shining armor.”  Gabe made a surprise visit to Germany, and placed eight small signs, spaced out along the edge of a road, that said:  Nancy … I … Love … You … Will … You … Marry … Me?

A friend of Nancy’s conspired to drive her down the road with the signs. It didn’t take long for Nancy to spot the unique message. Flabbergasted, she thought, How dare he ask that from 3,000 miles away?

When they reached the last sign, guess who came walking out of the woods? Gabe, dressed as Nancy’s knight in shining armor, complete with shield, sword … and a red rose.

Tom and Anita

When Anita flew to Newport Beach, California, to visit her boyfriend, Tom, one of his roommates picked her up at the airport. The roommate told Anita that she was to go on a scavenger hunt; he dropped her off where the hunt began. Anita walked from store to store, getting clues by purchasing a balloon, an ice cream cone, a toy, etc. The treasure hunt eventually led Anita to Tom. They went together to a nice restaurant for dinner and walked on the beach afterwards.

Tom read a children’s book, The Missing Piece, to Anita as they sat on a park bench, watching the waves crash nearby.

He turned towards Anita, “You are my missing piece. Will you marry me?”

Nate and Marla

Marla and her father were on a scuba diving trip in the Florida Keys when she got the shock of a lifetime. Her boyfriend, Nate, was supposedly in Arkansas. But, on Marla’s second day of scuba diving, Nate made a surprise visit to see her—under the ocean.

At first, Marla didn’t recognize the seemingly strange man swimming underwater near her. He was dressed in scuba diving gear, holding a slate. As she moved closer she recognized Nate and read the words, “Will you marry me?”

She wrote on the slate, “Yes!”

“Now go up so I can kiss my wife to be,” he wrote back.

“We kissed as the waves crashed against us,” Marla says. “Nate thought of everything.”

J.R. and Tammy

André Kole is considered to be one of the world’s greatest illusionists. When J.R. was coordinating Kole’s performance at his church, he had a trick up his own sleeve for his girlfriend, Tammy.

The finale to the evening’s show, attended by more than 700 people, was a guillotine act. J.R. volunteered before the crowd to get into the guillotine. After he was selected, Kole bound J.R.’s hands, put the microphone to the young man’s mouth, and asked if he had one final request.

J.R. nodded. “Tammy, will you marry me?”

Tammy ran onto the stage, “Yes!”

She knew that J.R.’s proposal was no illusion.

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