Engagement Stories

 by Caroline

(this is a portion of a longer piece I’ve written about our engagement)


The proposal hadn’t turned out exactly as Mike had planned. He had carefully thought it all out: a walk around the canals in Venice, CA, romantic dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant, preceded by the event itself – the proposal at sunset, accompanied by a love poem he had written. As we were sitting on a deserted stretch of Venice Beach watching the sunset, I could feel Mike gear himself up to start speaking. I had suspected for a while that tonight – the day after Thanksgiving – would be the night, and despite my feminist convictions, I admit I was girlishly excited to be proposed to.


Suddenly a man with a camera and his voluptuous girlfriend in a thong bikini came running out from the condos behind us and started frolicking in the waves right in front of us. As the woman splashed and bounced around in the surf, with her boyfriend taking pictures, I could feel Mike’s horror. He didn’t want to look at the woman, but she was hard to ignore, with all the squealing and giggling that she emitted. He tried to make small talk and not look in her direction, but I could feel him getting more and more tense. The sun was almost down, and he needed to propose! I could see him wondering why, given the nearly deserted beach, they had to pick the spot ten feet in front of us to frolic.


Eventually the g-string clad squealer and her boyfriend departed, and Mike was able to carry out the proposal. Of course I said yes. We had come to the understanding a couple of months ago  – over the phone, given our long distance relationship – that we would marry in the summer. My mom had actually booked our reception hall the month before, since 2000 the ‘millennial year’ was rumored to be popular for weddings, and Mom was not going to let us get beaten out of a cool reception place just because we weren’t formally engaged…


Other highlights from our engagement:

* the rumor circulating around our families that I would attempt to avoid birthing my own children by bribing other young females in the family to be my surrogate

* a general consensus among family and friends that I was “too busty” for Mike


And so much more…


What about you? For those of you who have been engaged and/or proposed to, do you have any stories that stand out? Or any memorable stories from friends?


Caroline has a PhD in religion and studies Mormon women.

You may also like...

22 Responses

  1. Anita says:

    My husband proposed (14 years ago) on my doorstep, symbolic of stepping into a new life together. Awkwardly interrupted as he was about to get started, by my roommate exiting said door. She had a camera with her and snapped our photo, but later turned out that the camera was out of film (this was long ago, remember). Another highlight of our already rather stressful engagement (we got married the day after graduating from BYU and were busy finishing up our honors theses, moving, etc) was that he went skiing one day up at Sundance, hit his head on a jump, and had a scary concussion and amnesia all day until a father’s blessing that evening. His mom asked him, “Do you remember that you’re engaged?” “Really? I hope it’s to Anita.” Thankfully it was, and I didn’t yet know that the real adventures were not to end with the wedding, but just begin…

  2. Emily U says:

    “Too busty?” Huh?

  3. FoxyJ says:

    Our engagement was definitely not your typical ‘romantic’ thing as other people would see it, but it worked for us. We’d already talked a bit about marriage and looked at rings, but I thought we were going to wait a while before making things official. Then one Friday my husband picked me up so we could hang out and told me were going out to eat. I was actually feeling kind of cranky and not very hungry, so I resisted a bit and told him I’d rather just go back to my apartment and watch a movie. He insisted, which was surprising, and ended up driving me to a park (it was the one where we had shared our first kiss one night). Then he got out a picnic blanket from the trunk, and a whole lasagne, salad, garlic bread, and ice cream in a cooler! I was impressed–we had a picnic on the grass and then he proposed. It was sweet, although I felt nervous because we were in a fairly public place. We had a fairly normal engagement too–I actually didn’t meet most of his family until the day before the wedding, and he didn’t meet most of mine until then either.

    I’ve been trying to remember if I know anyone who has had a crazy story, and I can’t think of one. I saw a video online a while ago where a guy proposed to his girlfriend at a basketball game and she said no. Ouch.

  4. Kaimi says:


    One awesomely disastrous ballgame proposal on video is here: http://gothamist.com/2007/09/12/video_of_the_da_110.php

  5. mraynes says:

    What a fun post, Caroline! Despite my feminist crankiness, I have to admit that I am a bit of a romantic and I love hearing other people’s love stories.
    Poor mr. mraynes, I’m actually surprised that he even proposed at all because I really put him through the ringer. He waited for me to tell him I was ready to get married because I had been so commitment phobic; what he failed to realize that my telling him I wanted to get married was such a huge step for me that I wanted to be engaged immediately. I didn’t want to wait around for him to plan the perfect proposal. I got more and more annoyed as each day went by and he didn’t propose. And he got annoyed that I wouldn’t tell him what kind of engagement ring I wanted. It culminated in us getting into a huge fight one afternoon at his apartment. In the middle of our fight it dawned on him what the problem was and he asked me to marry him sitting on his couch. An hour later I had an engagement/wedding band on my finger (much to his complete exasperation with me). He was a counselor at the summer honors program at BYU so we couldn’t even go out to dinner to celebrate. I spent the evening eating Thai food with my little sister and cleaning an old roommate’s apartment. People think it was a weird proposal and I guess it was, but it was actually perfect for me. The proposal happened so fast that it got rid of all the traditional stuff like getting down on one knee and getting my father’s permission that really bothered me. It also gave me a chance to freak out and then compose myself without hurting mr. mraynes’ feelings. Anyway, it was perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing.

  6. LCM says:

    How about my then boyfriend tossing a calendar at me and suggesting I pick a date. I wasn’t even sure what he was talking about. He’s never going to live that one down…even 13 years later. SO romantic.

  7. breathingmoss says:

    I proposed to my former husband as we held hands and spun around in circles. “Let’s get married!” I said. It was not pre-meditated. “Really?” he asked. We were married for seven years.

    The decision/proposal between my wife-to-be and me was even less formal, and much more organic. We propose and marry each other often, in big and little ways. When the best we can get in our state is a trip to the county office to get a domestic partner license, we have to make our own ceremonies, our own important recognitions, in our own ways. That trip to Massachusetts for a real, live marriage license – we’re definitely looking forward to that.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    I love engagement stories; thanks for sharing these. But too busty? Uh…no such thing!

  9. Caroline says:

    Love all your stories! Thanks for sharing, everyone. It seems like many of us have those awkward, funny moments to look back on and laugh about.

    Kevin, that’s the reaction I’d expect from most men. 🙂

  10. Caroline says:

    Oh, and I meant to add, breathingmoss, that I’m wishing the best to you and your wife. That marriage license will indeed be something special.

  11. Starfoxy says:

    My husband and his roommate constructed a lightboard (similar to these) out of cardboard and LEDs. His roomie did the the hardware and he wrote the software to make it scroll text across. One night he took me to dinner then said in a very rehearsed way “So the lightboard is finished. Maybe we can walk over to my place and look at it from the street.” He called his roommate to inform him that we were on our way and all I heard was his side of the conversation where he said “You broke it!? How did you break it? Well fix it!” We played cards while we waited then after awhile we got a call back and went over there. After a few false starts the text that scolled across was “[Starfoxy] will you marry me?” He then turned to me and said “I wanted to give you a story to tell.”
    Afterwards we went to his room, where the roommate told me about his 15 minutes of panicked troubleshooting. Meanwhile my husband called his mom to tell her we were engaged, which was also the first time she heard that we were dating (my husband isn’t much for conversation).
    Technically speaking the real proposal was a week earlier on a park bench where he said “I’ve thought a lot about marrying you.” This sort of pre-proposal research is the polite and smart thing to do to prevent high pressure, high profile, embarrassments like the basketball court proposal Kaimi linked to.

  12. kmillecam says:

    My hubby proposed by stringing my engagement ring to a foam fish that I reeled in unknowingly as we fly-fished in the river where we had had one of our first dates (and I impressed him with my fish-catching abilities, a real fish that time). His dad was also taking pictures from within a nearby tree. Memorable for sure!

  13. elizabeth-w says:

    I had gone to Portland for Thanksgiving. (He was in Portland, and I was several states away). Later that night after we’d left his parents’ house, we were at his house, sitting on the sofa talking. He started talking about how different we were, most notably being I am LDS and he isn’t. I really thought he was trying to gently break up with me. So when he asked if I would marry him, my mind was trying to cope with dignity to the ending of the relationship.
    To this day he is teased about his lack of finesse. He always blames it on the tryptophan in the turkey.
    We’ve been married since 1997.

  14. rachel says:

    great stories.

    i just got married in september so my story is probably more recent than most. when we dated we lived 200 miles apart. we had been dating for a year when we discussed the possibility of him moving to my small town. he wasn’t going to move unless he knew for sure that we were ‘moving forward’ with our relationship. and since he isn’t lds i had a difficult time with this decision. did i want the relationship to move forward?

    well,last march i told him i’d let him know by april 1st if i wanted him to move to my town. this decision to move the relationship along wasn’t a proposal but it felt like it. i remember on april 1st i got a text from him asking “is there anything you want to tell me?” it took me a few minutes to figure out what he was asking. then i sent him a text saying that i wanted him to move closer. i was so giddy! i felt like i had just say yes to a wedding proposal…in a way i did. i never wanted an official proposal, so i guess this was more appropriate….

    though he did try with an official one…

    a month later we went backpacking. i was in a hurry to get on the trail before another group at the trailhead. in my rush, i took his keys and threw them in the truck. we had a great weekend and spent the time planning our september wedding.

    after months of hassling him about not officially proposing he told me that he was going to propose on that backpack trip. he had made a ring and it was on his keychain….y’know the one i threw in the truck in such a hurry? so he decided not to do it. instead he waited until four days before our wedding to make our engagement official.

  15. I proposed to my husband on Leap Day via e-mail. We were on separate coasts, and since he was the one in the earlier time zone I had to wait what seemed like a million years for his one-word reply (uh, “yes”). He came to NYC the next day and proposed back.

    I didn’t tell him until after we were married that I had reserved the temple before we were engaged. There wouldn’t be any penalty if I had to cancel, and I knew that a Friday afternoon in June would be a hot commodity. I didn’t have to cancel the appointment, and we got married at 1:40 pm on June 21.

  16. MJK says:

    My husband and I had pretty much decided we were getting married by about September of 2001, but we had to do the long distance thing for a year while he was getting his second degree on the east coast and I was at BYU. He officially proposed while he was out for a visit in July 2002, while we were wandering around Temple Square. He got his degree that December and we did the cross-country move during winter break, then bucked tradition by getting married mid-semester in March.

    I must say, reading through this I’m pleased to see how many other long-distance relationships worked out.

  17. Lulubelle says:

    My boyfriend and I were at a family friend’s home for dinner when he unceremoniously leaned over on his way to the kitchen and said “marry me in August.” I literally spit my food out and started laughing because I thought he was joking. “Ha ha. You got me.” Then he said, “I’m serious.” We sort of chatted about it on the drive home and then dropped the topic. A few weeks later, we were driving around and randomly went to an open house. We walked in and it was our dream home and the next day, we made an offer on the house. The whole time I’m thinking that the offer would be rejected. So I get a call the next day at work with “they accepted our offer.” I sat in stunned silence. “Well, I guess we’re getting married since I’m not buying a house with you, or living with you, if we’re not.” So we went into escrow and a month later while we were on vacation in the Bahamas, he gave me ring on our way to dinner. It was exactly what I wanted– a giant pink sapphire with diamonds on both sides. We got home and went to a justice of the peace two weeks after moving into our house (I actually slept up in my daughter’s room until we legally tied the knot). A month later in August, we had a lovely “real wedding” overlooking the cliffs and ocean with about 75 of our closest friends and family, followed by a beautiful and fun reception in our new backyard. About an hour after the reception started, the kids changed into swimsuits and went swimming. One crazy note about the reception is that during the reception, we had a little unanounced visitor – a snake that crawled under the feet of one of my closest friends– and I am TERRIFIED OF SNAKES. Later that afternoon, our family stuck around and we had round #2– a BBQ/swim party. It was super fun, the absolute best wedding ever, beautiful, intimate… I wouldn’t change a thing. For my first wedding, I did the traditional wedding and it paled in comparison to this one.

  18. Anita says:

    as for worst proposals, don’t know if any of you saw this one where she swallowed the ring (of course they’re LDS!):

  19. Kiri Close says:

    In South Korea, night before Rob was flying home to Canada, & I was flying out to China for a short visit, he asked, “So, are we gonna give our kids Samoan names?”. I just smiled, & answered with the question: “Are you asking me to marry you?”, & of course, he answered, “yes” ;o)

    When he flew out the next morning, it was a nice 6-7 months before we saw each other in person again–very needed to really think/rethink our nuptial vows.

    After months of both of us really, deeply thinking/reflecting upon this decision (i traveled, kept on dating other guys, while he was back home taking care of things with his mother who, @ the time, was pushing 70!). That time apart from each other really helped us think things through. However, Rob did his homework, & was the only boyfriend i had that actually emailed, called, communicated with me consistently while we were separated by long distances: me still in South Korea working, & he in Canada with his fam.

    He later flew back out to Asia to be with me, elope, & the rest is history! Gee, we were so poor when we started out. My LDS kids are gonna flip out when i tell them this story! lol!

  20. Kiri Close says:

    -on the bus in Boston (& I was already married!), an elderly gentleman who I learned loved to write started a conversation with me. About 10 minutes into it, he said,”marry me!”. I just laughed it off & let the conversation peter off until I got off the bus (on a stop much earlier than where I needed to go). Whenever I saw him again on the bus, I made sure to ignore him.

    -When I was in Fiji doing some work for the church at the LDS Tech College (really, a middle/high school), this guy I was seeing/kissing (okay, I wasn’t even serious about him!) just said, during a casual conversation in the school office, “I’m looking for someone like you to marry”. He grabs my hand, & I politely try to slither away. AWKWARD. However, for a little while we were kissing friends to each other whenever we reunited in other locations. I think several months later, when I saw him again in Utah & Hawaii, he would lightly repropose & I just said, ‘no’. AWKWARD.

    -another LDS guy in South Korea would often bring up what he was looking in a wife whenever we were alone(??????). Why? I have no clue. He would never bring it up while our other friends were present. And, I kinda made sure I didn’t accommodate his ‘hints’. WEIRD.

    -One other guy I was engaged to (however, we all know i totally wasn’t into it! lol!) thought he sealed the deal by telling me, “You’re the one”, or some such nonsense. Turns out, he only said that to try to sleep with me, & all i could say was, “adios!” Good thing I did, since on one of my trips away, he cheated on me with one of my high school literature students (who was only a jr!). ICK!

    –okay, i’ll stop here, but i do have more crazy proposal stories!!!

  21. Kiri Close says:

    oh, another one! i couldn’t resist:

    -After graduating from BYUH in 2000, I returned home to American Samoa to be with my family. While there, I was seeing a guy I met @ one of those humorous, singles stake dances. He was sweet, but on the first date he told me that we should get married, & that I should quickly take care of all his immigration papers so he can get U.S. citizenship (lol!). I just smiled, & kissed him for a few more dates. And then, let him go (au revoir!). He was kinda mad, actually, when I cut the rope. Oh well!

  22. Caroline says:

    Oh wow. Kiri, you have the best stories!

    And thanks everyone else for contributing. I loved all your input.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.