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Creative Ways To Pop The Question


A memorable proposal's a must for most lovebirds, but how can you make yours unique without breaking the bank? Here, couples of all ages from around the United States share their engagement stories.

By Krista Franks

hen a couple gets engaged, everyone wants to hear the proposal story — and there's some pressure on the person who popped the question to make that story worth telling. However, it's nothing to get worked up over. "Be yourself — try not to emulate or copy what someone else has done," says Marty Younkin, cofounder of LoveNotes, a group of wedding officiants in Dallas, TX.

"The most important element of a proposal is to ensure the person who is being asked appreciates the moment whatever it is," says California-based Chris
It was the most romantic thing ever being so high up.
Robinson, a licensed wedding officiant and the founder of officiantguy.com. "It should be clear that some thought was put into it."

It's important that the proposal be personal, but here are a few frameworks men can use to create a unique experience for their future brides without going overboard:

Revisit a memorable moment from your past
"Many men propose to their fiancées where they first met or had their first date," says Robinson, who works with hundreds of engaged couples each year. Robinson recalls the story of one couple who had their first date at the Santa Monica Pier. Later, they returned to the same spot so he could propose to her on the Ferris wheel. The two eventually married in same location.

Ashley, 23, an administrative assistant and Florida native, has a clear image of her dream proposal: it would take place on the observation deck of Rockefeller Center in New York City, also known as the "Top of the Rock." She and her boyfriend visited the tourist-friendly spot when they had been dating for six weeks. "There was little to no visibility, so when we got to the Top of the Rock, there was absolutely nobody there," Ashley recalls. "It was the most romantic thing ever being so high up, looking down on the beautiful city all by ourselves."

Turn an everyday date into something special
When Nick, a 58-year-old lawyer from Illinois, proposed to 58-year-old Florida native Linda (who also happens to be a lawyer) on their one-year dating anniversary, he took her to a nice restaurant first and then they walked along the boardwalk together. Then, Nick got down on one knee during their stroll and asked Linda to marry him. "I was very excited because I knew we would get married
I didn't think it was going to happen exactly when it did.
someday, but I didn't think it was going to happen exactly when it did," says Linda. "I knew right away that she was The One," Nick adds. Both Linda and Nick already had children from previous relationships and wanted to make sure their kids would be comfortable with the idea before sealing the deal. The two have now been married for 11 years.

Hide the ring somewhere unexpected
Another creative way to propose involves hiding the ring somewhere out of the ordinary. Mark is a 58-year-old doctor who surprised his girlfriend, a 49-year-old nurse named Valerie, with a note in her Easter basket one year. Looking back, Mark says he's not sure why he chose to propose the way he did — maybe it was "because I thought it was a cool surprise," he muses, or "perhaps it was also a reflection of a bit of uneasiness at the thought of getting remarried." Mark's method certainly surprised Valerie, but she wasn't taken off-guard by the proposal itself: "We had talked about it for a long time," she confirms. The North Carolina couple has now been happily married for 17 years.

Take an intimate, off-the-cuff approach
Some couples prefer the proposal itself to be a more low-key affair. Jean, a 57-year-old nurse and Lenny, a 67-year-old air traffic controller were simply watching television when he proposed to her one day out of the blue. The two native Texans' only concern before the wedding was securing the approval of their respective children from their first marriages — particularly from the youngest daughter. "We had to wait until Michelle was alright with it," Lenny explains. "The thing about getting married the second time is that you are a little more laid back and less formal than the first [one]," says Jean.

Patricia Stimac, a Washington-based wedding officiant and couples consultant, believes this type of proposal may be an ideal choice for attention-averse types. "If the couple is more private, then a simple proposal in a comfortable setting is best," Stimac explains, adding: "Notice what your partner really enjoys, and start there."


Krista Franks is a freelance lifestyle writer and managing editor of a Dallas-based business magazine.
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