Not-So-Modest Proposals

Before you get to that special day, you need to pop the question.

When I was about seven years old, my best friend, Diane Davis, and I would often play house. Diane, the pretty one, got to be the wife and I reluctantly took the role of the husband. To dress the part, I’d  don my brother’s school blazer and Diane wore a pair of my mother’s high heels. Our make-believe game would always end with a marriage ceremony. But, before we tied the knot, there was a marriage proposal.

It was a simple act, a reflection of our childhood innocence. All we knew is that when a man loved a woman, all he had to do is ask her to marry him. Injecting creativity into our game was beyond our comprehension.

Had Diane and I grown up today, I am certain we’d buckle under the pressure of the elaborate proposal. Nowadays, folks put a lot of effort into asking that simple question.

Leanne Darvill and Dylan Scott, St. Albert

After seven years together, Leanne Darvill and Dylan Scott knew they’d one day marry each other. “We discussed marriage a few times and even looked at rings together,” says Leanne. “So I wasn’t completely surprised when he asked me to marry him.” Nor was she taken aback by his scavenger hunt challenge. “That’s just like him. We definitely like to do things differently.”

June 29 started out as any other Friday. Leanne had a full day of errands planned, but she couldn’t get a start on the day until late morning because she had begrudgingly agreed to wait at home for a UPS package that was being delivered to Dylan. While she waited, Dylan called her to ask if she could search the house for an envelope he had left behind. She found it, but it wasn’t addressed to him. It was for her. Inside the envelope, there was the first clue that would set the treasure hunt in motion.

“There’s something at the foot of the cliff,” it read. Immediately, Leanne headed to the basement. Avid rock climbers, the couple had built a climbing wall in their St. Albert home. At the base of the wall, there was a small, locked box and a second clue: “Enjoy lunch at 12 p.m.”

It was an easy clue. The Enjoy Centre was a favourite spot of the pair so there was little doubt where she was heading. She arrived for the noon reservation and was greeted by her mother and sister, who were in on Dylan’s plan. “We all knew what was happening but no one really said anything.”

 Awkward? “Yes, now that I think about it. The conversation was a bit strange,” says Leanne.

At the end of the meal, a waitress handed Leanne an envelope, GPS coordinates and a note that referenced Olympic hero Michael Phelps. Again, she was certain where to go. “We met on Halloween through friends. He and his friends were dressed like the U.S. Olympic swim team. I knew that it was the pool.”

When she arrived at the Fountain Park Recreation Centre in St. Albert, she opened the sealed letter as instructed. Inside, there was $200 and a note telling her to head to West Edmonton Mall to buy a special outfit for the evening. “Meet back at the house at four.”

Dressed in her new threads, Leanne returned to the house on time to find 10 family members waiting for her. The couple’s Boston terrier greeted her with a small key hanging from her collar. Leanne opened the box and found an engagement ring inside. Before Dylan even had the chance to go down on his knee and ask her to marry him, she shouted “Yes, Yes, Yes.”

Leanne and Dylan were married October 13, 2012.

Tracey Spencer and Tony Flath, Beaumont

Tracey Spencer’s reply when her husband-to-be Tony Flath proposed in a hot-air balloon ride over Edmonton in the summer of 2011?

“I didn’t even say yes. I told him that one day I would marry him.” “What kind of answer is that?” another balloon passenger asked.

“It’s not a ‘no,'” Tony said.

The pair had only been dating for 11 months when Tony popped the question. Tracey loved Tony and she did see a future with him, but what freaked her out was the thought of going through a wedding. 

“I had already been married twice (widowed and divorced). I didn’t want to have a big wedding and have to invite all my family and friends again. You know, it’s the Elizabeth Taylor thing.” 

But six days later, they got married. While in Calgary on business, they decided to have an intimate ceremony in Banff. A quick Google search produced a wedding photographer, commissioner of oaths and a florist. An American couple from Wisconsin witnessed the ceremony, which was held outdoors at Cascade Gardens

“I’m super glad we did it,” says Tracey. “I just wanted to do something without any pressure.”

Three foolproof ways to guarantee the answer will be yes

Start with straight talk

Will you marry me? The question isn’t supposed to be rhetorical, so don’t assume you’re going to hear what you want. Make sure you’ve had prior conversations with your partner and that you’re both on the same page about where your relationship is heading.

Talk retro to her

Whether you’re planning a flash-mob proposal or a simple romantic dinner, incorporate bits of your past to show that you cherish your memories, but look forward to spending the future together. Women are hopeless romantics, so propose at the place where you first met and she’ll be saying yes, even if she means no.

Ask the parents

It seems a bit old-fashioned. But it’s a sign of respect that will score you points, especially if your significant other’s family is close or very traditional. Before you panic, remember we’re not living in Downton Abbey times. The whole point of the conversation to give the family the heads-up, not to seek permission.

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