Photo: Christine LeGrand Photo
First comes love, then comes marriage. But before the joy of wedding planning begins comes the biggest, happiest question of all: Will you marry me? Thanks to HowHeAsked, we found some real, romantic, and ridiculously creative proposal stories that will get you inspired, tearing up, or both!
Long-distance relationships may scare some couples, but Tinsley and Eric may never have gotten engaged without getting through the challenges of one. The couple met through mutual friends when they were both otherwise attached and remained friends for several years, but the timing never seemed right: Eric was deployed to Afghanistan in July 2010, and attended flight school in Alabama while Tinsley was living in South Carolina.
Their one attempt at a date during this time was a failure: What was intended to be a double date took a more intimate turn when the other couple backed out, and Tinsley got nervous and avoided Eric's calls. "I just knew this meant my chances with Eric were over," she says.
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But Eric, who left the next day to return to flight school and was unable to communicate for a few weeks, felt otherwise. As soon as he could, he called and texted Tinsley, much to her relief. During the next four months, they spent hours on the phone getting to know each other better. When Eric was finally finished with all of his training and able to come home, they had their first official date on July 7, 2012. Though they still had to communicate long-distance, they began a relationship, one which Eric filled with flowers, presents, and more.
"It was a long year but we both decided that long-distance relationships really helped with communication, something we had both struggled with in the past," Tinsley says.
She was right to give the long-distance relationship a try. After Tinsley proudly watched Eric receive his wings and graduate from flight school in May 2013, he moved home to Greenville, South Carolina, and they were finally able to date in the same city. The next stop? Engagement.
"We had been talking about getting married for a few months, but I had no clue when an engagement would happen," Tinsley says. "Eric is so romantic and was always planning fun and exciting dates, most of which were surprises, so I just expected that our proposal would occur on one of our dates."
The proposal was definitely a romantic surprise, but far different from what Tinsley could have predicted.
Eric had to report to McEntire Air Base in Eastover for several weeks, so as he prepared to leave Greenville, Tinsley got ready to go to a cookout with her best friend, Ali. "She had to talk me into going with her and even bribed me with the fact that she was sharing big news that night with everyone at the cookout," Tinsley remembers. Thinking Ali might be pregnant, Tinsley got psyched for the event and tried to pry more information out of her friend. When they arrived at their destination, a gorgeous mansion in the South Carolina countryside, Ali asked Tinsley to grab something from the glove compartment—an envelope that said "Tins" in Eric's handwriting.
Confused, Tinsley tore open the envelope and read a heartfelt letter about the location. "He explained that this was the land where he spent a lot of time growing up and it held many special memories for him," Tinsley says. "He wanted to share this special place with me. I finished the letter and finally realized that this was not about Ali's "big news" after all. This was my big news!"
As they went up the driveway, Tinsley saw Eric (who was supposed to be at work) standing in front of the house. Eric poured his heart out, got on one knee, and asked Tinsley to marry him. After they hugged and kissed, Tinsley realized that a friend (who happens to be a professional photographer!) was hiding in the bushes snapping pictures.
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That wasn't the last of it: Shouts and cheers erupted from above, and Tinsley looked up to see their friends and family standing on the second floor balcony—ready to join in as the couple began their happy celebration.
1. Romance is underrated: All those over-the-top viral marriage proposals can cloud their true purpose. Sometimes, a grand proposal can feel personal and like a spectacle, and this is one of them. Tinsley repeatedly mentions how romantic her fiancé is, and we can see why.
2. Pick a personal place: We love how Eric centered his proposal around a place that was meaningful to him. (And now it's meaningful to Tinsley!)
3. Friends are the best co-conspirators (and photographers): Eric wisely gave the couple's friends big roles in the engagement, making it a special day for all.