Home - T Singapore

The Best Wedding-Proposal Stories of 2017

By Vincent M. Mallozzi


Marriage proposals are made in a variety of ways. Some of the best ones submitted to The New York Times this year included a mother-daughter proposal in Manhattan, a blood-chilling proposal in the Bronx, a royal proposal in Washington and a counterproposal in California.

In Seattle, there was a how-to-find-your-future-husband’s proposal, complete with instructions. Not to be upstaged, there were two theatrical proposals, one in an empty theater in Massachusetts and another on a Broadway stage — and that was just the half of it.

There was no shortage of international proposals, either. In Quebec, one man proposed to another man in the company of man’s best friend, and in Italy, one unscripted proposal left a speechwriter, well, speechless.

Here are 10 of our most engaging stories of 2017.

The New York TimesOne of the best proposals submitted to The New York Times in 2017 included a mother-daughter proposal in Manhattan
One of the best proposals submitted to The New York Times in 2017 included a mother-daughter proposal in Manhattan

1. Sophia Tang and Steven DeLuca

From the time Steven DeLuca started dating Sophia Tang in October 2015, he knew he was part of a package deal that included Wilhelmina, Tang’s 7-year-old daughter, a tough, unabashedly honest critic who had a say in all things, including DeLuca’s marriage proposal to her mother.

Exactly a year after his first date with Tang at Bemelmans Bar in Manhattan, the couple returned there — same corner table, same pianist — and DeLuca got down on one knee and proposed to Tang — but he still had some proposing to do.

Two days later, Tang shared the good news with Wilhelmina, and DeLuca followed by promptly dropping to one knee, again, this time to explain to Wilhelmina the significance of an engagement ring, “and how it is really about a commitment to one another,” as he said to her. He then surprised Wilhelmina with a tiny ring of her own, made of hearts and diamonds.

“In the same way that the ring I gave to your mother represents my commitment to her,” DeLuca said to Wilhelmina, “this ring represents my commitment to you.”

That left the outspoken Wilhelmina with just one question: “Are these real diamonds?”

They were married Sept. 9.

2. Uzezi Abugo and Jacob Alderdice

Jacob Alderdice did not want anyone else to know about a secret proposal he planned for Uzezi Abugo back in April 2016, so he took an old ring and a picture of her to a jeweller. From that, he picked out a diamond-encrusted double band as an engagement ring he thought would fit her.

A few days later, having enlisted the staff at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx to assist in his plan, he got down on one knee and proposed, with “Marry Me Uzezi” spelled out in wooden letters covered in flowers behind him.

She said yes, but the ring was not as accommodating.

“It didn’t fully fit,” Alderdice said. “But we had to have the picture of the ring in the proper position with the flowers in the background, so she kind of pushed it on.”

Unbeknown to him, Abugo’s ring finger was a size 8½. The ring he gave her was a 6½.

A few minutes later, Abugo realised that the blood had stopped flowing to her finger, which was turning a dark shade of purple, and after trying and failing to remove the ring, they jumped into a cab and headed for the emergency room at Montefiore Medical Center.

“I told him, ‘If you don’t get this ring off soon, I’m going to lose my entire finger,'” Abugo said, laughing as she recalled the incident. “I told him, ‘I can’t marry you without a ring finger.'”

When they arrived at the hospital, “everyone thought it was hilarious,” Abugo said.

Though the ring needed to be cut off — leaving her with a scar now hidden by a resized ring — Abugo’s finger was saved, as was the painfully amusing memory of the day she got engaged.

They were married June 17.

3. Ariana Austin and Joel Makonnen

Joel Makonnen, an actual prince who happens to be the great-grandson of Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, and Ariana Austin, who is of Guyanese descent and is the maternal granddaughter of a lord mayor of Georgetown, the capital of Guyana, were engaged on Valentine’s Day 2014.

Their marriage had been more than a decade in the making when Makonnen bought a princess-cut diamond ring and showed up at the home of Austin’s parents with the bauble in one hand and balloons in another.

Perhaps a bit nervous, he knocked too loudly, leading Austin to think the house was being burglarised. She called her parents, who were returning home from a dinner party.

“She thought somebody was trying to break in,” said Bobby Austin, Austin’s father. “And it was just the poor guy trying to propose to her.”

Ariana Austin eventually opened the door, letting in her future husband.

“We always seemed to be in different cities following our ambitions and dreams,” Makonnen said. “But despite those long separations, I felt like I had proposed at exactly the right moment in our lives for us to make such a wonderful commitment to each other.”

Austin put less of a fairy tale spin on getting engaged to the prince. “It’s about time,” she said.

They were married Sept. 9.

4. Megan Prichard and Amanda Rubenstein

Megan Prichard and Amanda Rubenstein were engaged to each other twice, in a span of 17 days.

Rubenstein proposed first, on Dec. 10, 2016, sweeping Prichard off her feet with a surprise proposal on the beach in Laguna, California, complete with a gallery of pictures of their travels together and a guitar player singing their favourite songs. After returning from a trip to Bali on Dec. 27, Prichard “counter-proposed” as she put it, surprising Rubenstein with a treasure hunt around their Corona del Mar home that ended with an engagement ring served on a plate with freshly baked cookies.

“It was really important for both of us that we proposed to each other, so that we each had a full say in the matter,” Prichard said. “She’s the love of my life, and I wanted to be sure she wanted to marry me, just as sure as she needed to know that I truly wanted to marry her.”

They were married July 22.

5. Lisa Bridge and Gilad Berenstein

Lisa Bridge was sitting at her desk in Seattle one Saturday when she received a card from Gilad Berenstein that featured a pair of matchsticks hugging along with the words “A perfect match.”

The card read: “Hey babe, change of plans for today. Please Uber to the Fairmont Hotel’s Georgian Room for a surprise. Enjoy! Love, G. Please arrive at 2 p.m.”

Her heart racing, she got into the Uber and told the driver, “I think I’m getting engaged.” She arrived at the Fairmont, “shaking slightly,” she said, and “expecting to see Gilad.” Instead, she saw her two closest friends waving her over to join them for tea.

She was soon handed another card, this one adorned with an image of a fluffy white cat in between chocolate and graham crackers that read “I want s’more of you!” Inside was another note: “Hi babe, I hope you enjoyed the tea and stories. I can’t wait for our next tea adventure! Your next surprise awaits you at 1427 5th Ave. You’ll know it when you see it. Love, G.”

She made her way to that address, which turned out to be her favourite nail salon, and there she saw two more friends who had flown in from Dallas. As they chatted, Bridge was FaceTimed by yet another close friend who shared a few memories. As tears streamed down her cheeks, she was given yet another card: “Congratulations for being sexy and intelligent at the same time.”

That card also recalled the night Bridge helped Berenstein celebrate his 30th birthday at a nearby favourite restaurant, where she found two more girlfriends, who had flown in from Los Angeles.

Bridge was soon handed a final card that read: “You are my bucket list.”

The card instructed her to return to the bar where she and Berenstein had their first date. Once there, she found him holding two glasses of Champagne. He escorted her to a private room with Frank Sinatra songs playing in the background and red roses set on a table for two.

“He looked at me with tears in his eyes,” Bridge said. “He told me how much he loved me and that he wanted to spend his life with me.”

With no more instructions needed, Berenstein dropped to one knee and proposed.

They were married Oct. 7.

The New York TimesOne of the best proposals submitted to The New York Times in 2017 involved some help from Lin-Manuel Miranda on the stage of Broadway's
One of the best proposals submitted to The New York Times in 2017 involved some help from Lin-Manuel Miranda on the stage of Broadway's "Hamilton."

6. Dr. Danielle Saly and Dr. Michael Flaherty

In June 2016, four years after meeting at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts — where the groom was completing his intern year and the bride her third-year medical school rotation in pediatrics — Michael Flaherty invited Danielle Saly to a purported screening of an independent film at the Regent Theatre in Arlington.

Unbeknown to her, he had actually rented the theatre just for the two of them to show a 30-minute video he had created of friends and family talking about their relationship.

The owner of the theatre, who pretended to be an usher, said to the couple: “Business is really tough, it’s hard being an independent theatre, but we actually have two other people coming, so you guys go ahead.”

Just before the movie started, Flaherty excused himself, but Saly was still alone when it began. She knew something was in the works when an R rating — “for romance” — appeared on the screen. Then came the movie’s title, “The Making of the Flalys,” a combination of their surnames, and soon after came a parade of family and friends on screen, including a cameo by her grandparents, who live in Israel.

“I was completely overcome with emotion, laughing one minute, crying the next,” Saly said. “It was unreal.”

As the final credits rolled, Flaherty was back in the picture, dropping to one knee to propose.

They were married Nov. 4.

7. Leah Michalos and Rachel Pitkin

Leah Michalos and Rachel Pitkin also took turns proposing to each other, albeit with a heightened sense of drama.

Michalos, a theatre director, decided to make her pitch on the stage of “Hamilton,” because Pitkin, a history teacher, had a special affinity for the musical.

Michalos enlisted the help of a colleague who worked with Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of “Hamilton,” and when the time came for the event, Miranda led Michalos and Pitkin through the backstage of the set. Then, Pitkin recalled, Miranda discreetly left them alone on center stage after giving a brief description of Alexander Hamilton’s marriage proposal to Eliza Schuyler.

“I did not get down on one knee,” Michalos said. “I could not for the life of me remember what I actually said — my heart was coming out of my mouth and pounding in my chest.”

After the couple left the Richard Rodgers Theatre, they had a glass of Champagne in a Times Square boîte, and then Pitkin, rather than going to the restaurant that Michalos had reserved for their engagement dinner, insisted that the two set off on a different route.

As they neared the Walter Kerr Theatre, Michalos turned to Pitkin and said: “I don’t know if you know this, but the Walter Kerr, that is the night I first realised I loved you.”

They proceeded about 20 feet farther down the sidewalk and there, in chalk that had only partly been obliterated by rain, Pitkin had inscribed almost exactly the same words Michalos had just uttered: “This is where I knew I loved you.”

And, having not known that Michalos’ proposal would precede it, she’d added her own: “Will you marry me?”

They were married Sept. 16

8. Charles Bentley and Drake Carden

When Charles Bentley proposed to Drake Carden in May 2016, he brought along a 3-year-old named Al who carried the ring, which was attached to his bow tie. Al was neither a family member nor family friend. He was, in fact, a terrier mix, the couple’s dog.

“Yes, our dog was wearing a bow tie,” Bentley said. “Yes, this is ridiculous.”

As it turned out, Bentley had beaten Carden to the proposal punch.

“I had planned to propose at the end of the summer,” Carden said. “We were taking a vacation at the beginning of August in Central Europe, so I was hoping to do it there. He really did just beat me to it.”

As for Bentley, he never let on that a proposal was in the works.

“I thought he might be plotting something with this romantic weekend away, but he was very calm the entire day,” Carden said. “He takes a lot of pictures, so it wasn’t that odd that he set up a tripod to take a photo of us on a timer, so I didn’t think he had anything up his sleeve.”

If only he had searched Al’s bow tie.

They were married May 13.

The New York TimesOne of the best proposals submitted to The New York Times in 2017 included a double proposal in Central Park.
One of the best proposals submitted to The New York Times in 2017 included a double proposal in Central Park.

9. YJ Fischer and Daniel Schwerin

In September 2017, Daniel Schwerin, who was the director of speechwriting for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, finished helping Clinton with her new memoir, “What Happened.” The day after the book was published, he and YJ Fischer left for a vacation in Italy.

Not usually an avid social planner, Fischer insisted on choreographing their first full day in Rome. She decided to string together several romantic events — a picnic in the Villa Borghese gardens, a Rossini concert in an old church and dinner in a charming neighbourhood trattoria in Trastevere — so there would be a few opportunities to propose.

No moment seemed quite right until the end of the night. After a full day and a delicious dinner, she pulled Schwerin into a narrow cobblestone side street in Trastevere and got down on one knee. “Will you marry me?” she asked in a bit of a role reversal, rendering the speechwriter momentarily speechless. It took him a minute to realise what was going on, but then he laughed and said yes.

They were married Nov. 24.

10. Mansi Snehal Kothari and Sushil Raja Atmakuri

In December 2015, the couple visited Central Park and stopped at a bench behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art that Sushil Raja Atmakuri’s family had donated in honour of his grandparents — and by virtue of what they both called “a double proposal,” they became engaged there.

A small crowd gathered when Atmakuri, a gold wedding band in hand, went to one knee to pop the question, but the crowd grew considerably larger, and noisier, when Mansi Snehal Kothari, also holding a gold wedding band, took a knee of her own and returned the favour.

“At that point, people started coming over wondering what was going on,” Atmakuri said. “We are firm believers in gender equality, and I really feel that there is a gender imbalance when it comes to traditional wedding proposals, where the guy also asks the girl if she wants to marry him.

“But I have so much respect for Mansi, I felt she had the right to ask me the same question. Fortunately, we both had the same answer.”

They were married May 29.

T magazine

T: The New York Times Style Magazine Singapore's best videos: digital house tours from around the world, behind-the-scenes looks at cover shoots and more.