5 Proposal Stories We'll Never Tire Of Hearing

Photographed by Rhianne Jones Photography.
We've all heard proposal stories — some of them many times over. And, with each tale, we realize anew the ones that stick aren't all fireworks and grand romantic gestures. They're quietly personal moments brimming with sweet, quirky touches. On a mission to shine a spotlight on some of these adorably unconventional stories, we went looking for gems of engagement lore. And, did we ever hit the jackpot.

From a proposal that came with a fully planned ceremony to the woman who reworded a beloved children's book before popping the question, these five one-of-a-kind tales — each ending with beautiful platinum rings — should be bookmarked for repeat reading.
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Photographed by Rhys Haper.
Rachel Grant Meyer, Rabbi, & Sarah Strnad, Operations Manager

When did you realize Sarah was the person you wanted to spend your life with?
"There were two moments. The first was silly. I'm a baker, and I've wanted a stand mixer my whole life. But, since they're really expensive, I always said I'd wait 'til I got married to buy one. I think I told Sarah about this on our first date. The second week we were dating, she took me to Williams-Sonoma to look at stand mixers and told me, 'One way or another, you're getting a stand mixer.'

The second is a bit more serious. I was getting ordained as a rabbi the same week that two of Sarah's close friends were getting married. I told her to go to the wedding. But, one morning, she asked me how I'd feel about that 50 years from now. I realized, She thinks we'll be together 50 years from now. And, she ended up managing to attend both celebrations, traveling all night to make the ordination. It was incredible."

You designed your rings together, so were you at all surprised when she proposed?
"I had no idea when it was going to happen. Sarah had been asking me to walk to work with her for weeks, and she was particularly insistent that morning. Two blocks into the walk, Sarah turned toward Book Court, the bookstore in Brooklyn where she first told me she loved me. When we got there, she started reading aloud from a book called I Like You, but she replaced every mention of the word 'like' with 'love.' Once she finished reading, she pulled a ring box out of her backpack and proposed. She even brought a ring for me to give her."

What's the story behind your engagement ring?
"It has two side stones that came from a pin of my great-grandmother's. The center stone came from my mom's earring. And, the band is platinum, because it's super sturdy. These diamonds are really special to me, and I wanted to make sure they were safe from everyday wear and tear."

What's the most meaningful lesson you've learned from this relationship?
"If you're willing to be vulnerable with someone, you can improve in ways you never imagined."

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Photo: Courtesy of Robyn VanTol.
Robyn Buecker, Head Of Partner Management At Fahlo, & Brad Buecker, Executive TV Producer

Your first date was sort of an accident. How'd that go down?
"We went to the same college and had mutual friends — Brad actually dated my sorority sister. Later, we both lived in Venice Beach, and our friends suggested we meet up. However, they all bailed on our plans, and it ended up just being me and Brad. We totally hit it off, and a year and a half later, we were talking about marriage."

Women often take the reins of wedding planning. You had no interest. Why?
"I had been married and divorced already, so I felt weird about having another big reception. But, Brad is the oldest in a big family, and they really wanted to see him get married. We talked about this on and off but eventually dropped the conversation without ever coming to an agreement."

So, Brad solved that problem with a seriously atypical proposal.
"He told me we were going away for my birthday and then was two hours late to pick me up from work. I was really angry. I didn't know what was going on, but I thought, We can't be catching a flight. We ended up at a park in Santa Monica, where we sat on the grass, and he pulled out a platinum ring and asked me to marry him. We kissed, and I said yes, but I still didn't understand. Then, he asked, 'So, what do you think about getting married tomorrow?' I asked, 'What about our families?' He said, 'Well, they're all here.' I asked, 'What about the dress?' And, he reminded me that he had talked me into buying a white dress a few weeks ago. He'd taken care of the shoes and even made me a hair appointment.

We got married on the beach, and after the ceremony, friends and family from all over the country were waiting at my apartment to have the reception. I couldn't believe he pulled that off by himself. I don't talk about [the wedding] very much because I still can't believe that Brad did that for me. He managed to make it special for everyone."

What's the most meaningful lesson you've learned from this relationship?

"Nothing is easy. You have to work at your relationships and carve out time to connect. Sometimes, Brad and I hide in the bathroom just to have a 10-minute, private conversation. You reap the rewards of investing in something."

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Photographed by Allen Tsai.
Sarah Kee, Wedding Planner, & Austin Jeng, Operations Manager

How did you and Austin meet?
"Through mutual friends — and neither of us really liked the other at first. Eventually, a group of us went out for Korean barbecue, and because I really like to cook, I started cooking everyone's food. That's when Austin started to pay attention to me. He asked me out shortly thereafter."

It must've been intimidating for Austin to figure out how to propose to you, since planning weddings is your career.
"I am rarely surprised. The biggest shock of my life was finding out I'd been tricked into planning my own proposal. Austin hired my event-planning company to orchestrate the whole thing, using his friend, Adam, as a decoy. Adam signed the checks, contracts, everything."

So, what proposal did you set up for yourself?
"I planned a quiet walk in a nature preserve, where Adam and his girlfriend would find a bottle with a riddle to decipher inside. The day of, I got a call from the photographer telling me someone had found the bottle and removed the message, so I needed to fix it before the couple arrived. When I got there, the bottle had been replaced. I picked it up, read the note, and finally figured out what was going on. The next thing I knew, Austin showed up and got on one knee. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing — except maybe to have brought some wine."

How does your ring symbolize your and Austin’s unique bond?
"Initially, Austin wanted the ring to be a surprise, but after thinking about it more, he decided it was too big a decision to make alone. So, we went to a few jewelers together, and I chose a band. He had a diamond in mind, which I didn’t pick out. This way, we knew I would love the ring, but there would still be that element of surprise. The whole experience was about mutual compromise, understanding, and practicality — just like our relationship."

How has this relationship changed you?
"Before meeting Austin, I didn't really make the effort to be thoughtful of others. He's very good at reading people and always thinks before he speaks. Because of that, he has a really strong group of friends. That's taught me a lot about being a considerate person."

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Photographed by Kevin Law.
Annie Kim, Senior Campaign Manager At Refinery29, & Nikki Chawla, Coordinator At Senior Whole Health

How did you and Nikki meet?
"Nikki's best friend from childhood is one of my best friends from college. Through him, I met Nikki at a bar. From the moment we shook hands, he didn't leave my side. When I woke up the next day, he had already texted asking me out for that night."

And, the rest is history. Tell us about the proposal.
"Our favorite restaurant is a place in the East Village called The Smith. Every time we go, we take pictures in the photo booth downstairs. One night, we planned to meet Nikki's cousin, who was visiting from out of the country, there for dinner. At the last minute, Nikki told me it would just be us and that we'd meet his cousin after dinner for drinks.

At the end of the meal, we went downstairs and he started saying these insanely sweet things. I told him to stop, because I would end up sobbing during the pictures, but he didn't. Then, when the lights started flashing, he pulled out a ring. I was crying hysterically. Afterward, he said, 'Okay, we really have to go meet my cousin now,' We headed for the bar, where I found all our family and friends waiting to celebrate."

What's the story behind your platinum ring?
"Nikki's uncle is a jeweler in Thailand, so we sent him a photo of a ring I liked, and he designed one based on that. The prongs are unusual, but otherwise it's very simple. I'm a lot like that — I present myself pretty conservatively but also have a spark of something unique."

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Photographed by Jennifer Trahan
Brynn Elliott Watkins, Stylist/Blogger, & Aaron Craig, Filmmaker

Was there a moment when you knew Aaron was the person you wanted to spend your life with?
"I've always felt like I had to put up this perfect front. Aaron and I met at a rooftop barbecue in Williamsburg, and from the first time we hung out, it just felt different from everything else. I felt immediately comfortable."

Tell us about your Parisian engagement.

"Aaron was traveling to Iceland for work, so we decided to turn it into a vacation, and I booked a few photo shoots for work as well. He bought us both travel journals just before the trip, and we wrote in them the whole time. During a photo shoot at Notre Dame, Aaron coordinated with my photographer to take over the shoot. He pulled out his travel journal and read me a note in the back. At the end of it, he asked me to marry him. The fact that he incorporated our love of travel and spontaneity was really true to our adventurous personalities and made the moment that much more special."

What's the most meaningful lesson you've learned from your relationship?
"Love isn't a feeling; it's a choice. Once the honeymoon phase is over, you realize that you love this person despite all of their imperfections. In fact, the imperfections are what make them who you love. I have my own set of problems, and Aaron has his. And, we choose to accept each other every day."

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