Our Hands-Down Favorite Proposal Stories from Real Weddings

Happy National Proposal Day!

Updated 03/20/19

Photo by Alondra Vega Photography

National Proposal Day is here! And for all of us here at Brides, this holiday gives us the same uncontrollably excited feeling we have on Christmas morning. Because—let's be honest—is there anything better than celebrating marriage proposal stories for an entire day? We didn't think so!

If you read through our real weddings section on Brides.com, you'll see that many of the couples featured started their journey to the altar with proposal stories that would rival those in the greatest of rom coms. One adventurous duo got engaged on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. Another groom proposed with the help of his three young children. And one groom even pulled off five perfect proposals for his bride. Gahhh!

So, in honor of National Proposal Day, here are our favorite proposal stories from our real wedding features. Pop the bubbly, it's time to celebrate!

Asa & Roy

Photo by Rebecca Denton Photography

After meeting in Stockholm, Asa and Roy spent the next year talking for hours on the phone, due to the distance between Sweden and Nashville, where Roy lived. When Roy visited Sweden again the following summer, Asa agreed to come back and visit Nashville with him. Six months later, Roy asked Asa to join him in Nashville. “He has a way of making everything sound so easy, but I knew it was a big decision that needed to be thought through," she says. "Roy asked how many times he’d need to ask me, and I figured five was a good number." So ask five times he did, and in March of 2015, she packed her bags.

Asking five times became a tradition for the couple, and that’s how Roy decided to propose. First, he asked on a beautiful summer night in Stockholm, by saying that he didn’t have a ring "because he wasn’t quite done proposing yet." The second time was in Cannes, during dinner on a pier beneath a fireworks show. The third was in the Stockholm park where the couple first met, with Roy on his knees in the snow. The fourth was in the hospital, moments after Asa gave birth to their son, Roy. The fifth time—the one that truly stuck—was with a yellow diamond Tiffany ring in their Nashville home.

Gayle & Tatjana

bride wearing sunglasses

Photo by Thierry Joubert

With a wedding in the Spanish countryside, a legal ceremony in London at the Old Marylebone Town Hall, and a spiritual ceremony on top of a mountain in Andalucía, it should come as no surprise that Gayle Noonan and Tatjana von Stein got engaged in a similar globe-trotting manner.

"We had just bought a classic BMW convertible and decided to take it on its first road trip,” says Gayle, describing the leisurely trek to a log cabin by a river. “We arrived via a hidden track through unruly fields of sheep to discover a piece of paradise run only by solar energy.” They popped on swimsuits, popped open a bottle of Barolo, and headed out for a stroll. “We both knew life couldn’t be more perfect,” says Gayle, who had been plotting a proposal when Tatjana surprised her with a “Marry me!” The answer was yes, of course: “We spent the rest of the day repeating the question and the answer to one another,” says Tatjana.

Shannon & Luke

Photo by James & Schulze

Shannon Costello fell in love with Luke Düster’s kids first. Luke was raising his three children on his own, and in August of 2013, he hired Shannon to tutor, coach, and help take care of the kids on the weekends and weeknights when he had them. “After about seven months, I had fallen head over heels with the kids, and the feeling seemed to be mutual,” she recalls. “It was around then that Luke and I started to let our guard down and get to know one another beyond our professional relationship." And by month nine of working for the Düsters, Shannon was ready to quit.

“I told Luke that I’d grown too close to all of them to maintain professional boundaries," she says. "He was relieved—he thought he was going to have to fire me!” It turned out the kids had been wondering for months why they weren’t dating, and with their blessing, Shannon and Luke went on their first date.

In July of 2015, Luke surprised Shannon with a bouquet from their garden, plus breakfast and a proposal with poems he’d written for her. After she said “yes,” he gave Shannon three more letters, each written by his three kids. She says, “He joked that if he’d given me their letters first, he wouldn’t have known if I meant it when I said yes. Because how could anyone say no to all the sweet things they said?!”

Jennevy & Cipriano

Bride and groom main image

Photo by Mallory Dawn Photography

Though Jennevy Opena and Cipriano Macabuhay had many mutual friends, it wasn’t until a friend’s birthday party in April of 2007 that they finally met. Cipriano, though, was smitten from the start, and the pair dated for a decade before getting engaged. After all that time, Cipriano says he knew how to surprise Jennevy. “He planned for my friends and me to go on the Malibu Wine Safari in August of 2017,” she recalls. “I’d wanted to go forever, and thought it was going to be a great day trip.” After meeting the resident wildlife (who have names like Michelle O’Llama and Yak Efron), the tour guide brought the group up to a private overlook of the vineyards, where Jennevy found a flower crown, balloons, and a handwritten letter from Cipriano.

“As I was reading, he snuck out from his hiding spot and proposed!” she says. “It was an amazing surprise, surrounded by my closest friends."

Alicia & Alvaro

Bride and groom outside ceremony venue

Photo by 4Events

Alicia Cabra first met Alvaro Sierra Lopez at a Halloween party in 2013, and she admits that she developed a crush on him that very night! Alicia held onto this feeling for nearly six months before she and Alvaro officially started dating. “It was May of 2014, right around the Champions League final, when we fell in love,” she recalls. After a few years of dating, the couple traveled from Madrid to Paris, heading up to Sacré Coeur to take in the views of the city. “There was a boy playing guitar, surrounded by a huge crowd,” says Alicia.

“He started to play ‘Pretty Woman,’ and that’s when Alvaro grabbed my hand and I realized he was on his knees asking me to marry him!”

Callista & Jonathan

bride and groom

Photo by Lacie Hansen

Callista Sessler and Jonathan Osborn are adventure seekers—after just nine months of dating, the college sweethearts hopped in a car, drove 3,000 miles, and moved cross country. But their greatest adventure took place in September 2014, when they spent seven days camping and hiking up to an elevation of 19,341 feet atop Mount Kilimanjaro. Once at the top, Jonathan got down on one knee. "With six layers of clothing giving me the lovely profile of the Michelin man, hair frozen to my face, and fingers so swollen I couldn’t quite get on the ring, I said a shivering but ecstatic yes," Callista recalls.

(Her dual engagement ring and wedding band is now engraved with the summit height to "serve as a memory of how far it—and we—traveled for that incredible moment," she says.)

Susan & Eli

bride and groom hugging

Photo by Sidney Bensimon

Susan Nugraha, director of design for TAO Group, and Eli Klein, owner and founder of Eli Klein Gallery, dated for two years before Eli came up with a big plan to propose to Susan at Sushi Yasuda in New York City. “We stopped by his mother’s apartment on our way to dinner, and while I was in the bathroom he showed her the ring,” says Susan. “She convinced him to propose right there in her living room!” While it might be unconventional, it’s a memory the couple cherish, as the next day Eli’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she passed shortly thereafter.

“If we could do it all again, we wouldn’t change a single detail of that special night,” says the bride.

Kaitlin & Christopher

cutting the cake

Photo by Andre Maier

More than two years after meeting at the Belmont Stakes, Kaitlin Motley and Christopher McGlynn decided to skip gifts during the Christmas season and instead splurge on dinner at Del Posto in New York City. They made a reservation for January 27, 2018, but before they headed for the restaurant, Chris had a surprise for Kait. “We were having a drink at home before we left, and Chris asked me to grab him a can of cider from the fridge,” she says. “When I reached in, there was only one can in there, and it was wrapped with the words ‘Kait, will you marry me?’ We never opened the can, and it sits on our shelf to this day!”

Tara & Brian

Photo by Lisa Poggi

Tara and Brian Lehrer were party hopping sophomore year of college back in 2008 when they met and instantly hit it off...so much that they talked all night, until the bride's 8 a.m. class! "We pretty much started dating instantly after that," she says. "We've been together ever since." Nine years later, Brian used their anniversary as the prime opportunity to propose. The couple commemorated their dating milestone with a getaway to a Cambodia, where the groom got down on one knee on a picturesque wooden bridge amid rice patties.

But first, he cleverly staged the moment as a photo op. Tara had given him a heads-up that she wanted to take more pictures of him on the trip, so he promptly broke into a series of silly poses. For the last shot, he got down on one knee, played their favorite song from his phone, and pulled out a ring. After a screamed yes, they spent about two hours crying of happiness together. "It was the most magical, surreal, and incredible feeling of all time, especially being totally alone in that moment together in that setting," Tara recalls.

Seema & Sanjam

Bride and groom main image

Photo by Blink & Co. Photography

Seema Bansal and Sanjam “Sunny” Chadha first met when Seema was visiting a friend in New York City in December of 2014, and after six months dating long-distance, Seema moved to NYC to be with Sunny permanently. The same year, the couple founded eternity rose company Venus et Fleur. And in June of 2017, on the terrace of a suite at the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris, Sunny proposed to Seema with the Eiffel Tower in the background. "I tagged him on a photo on Instagram when we first started dating telling him this is exactly where I’d like to be," she admits.

"He never forgot that and re-created it for the proposal."

Clair & Adam

Main Image

Photo by Rebecca Yale Photography

When Adam Londy proposed to Claire Abramowitz the weekend before Valentine’s Day in 2017, she had no idea it was coming. “I love to scuba dive and nerd out on all things marine biology–related, so I wasn’t suspecting a thing when Adam took me to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California,” she recalls. They wandered the exhibits, pausing to watch the seals and sea lions show before Adam insisted they head to the coral reef exhibit for a dive. The diver gave her presentation, then noticed that a piece of trash had made its way into the tank.

“She swam over to grab it, and came back with a big orange sign that said ‘Two less fish in the sea... Claire, will you marry me?’” Claire recalls. “Everyone was cheering and I immediately started to cry!”

Caroline & Courtney

brides kissing

Photo by Thierry Joubert

Australia-based pair Caroline and Courtney Smyth-Lace have their careers to thank for their fated union. Both registered nurses, Caroline transferred to the same cardiology ward as her future wife in 2011, when the pair met and began dating two years later. Courtney, in turn, popped the question in 2017 after Caroline had returned from Ireland for her grandmother's funeral. The two set up a picnic of champagne and cheese on the beach in Sydney, and Courtney pulled out a letter that she claimed had arrived during Caroline's trip.

In reality, the envelope actually contained the proposal itself, made with a series of flash cards. The recipient accidentally opened the carefully thought-out bundle backward, reading the final proposal card first, but looked up to see her love holding a ring box.

Julia & Daniel

Bride and groom dancing

Photo by Tec Petaja

Before Julia Gilliam and Daniel Sterling tied the knot in June 2018, Julia's mother sadly passed away from ovarian cancer in late 2016. After suffering the loss, Julia's now-husband Daniel knew she’d want something to look forward to. “He made sure I had time to heal and planned a trip for us to Chicago for my birthday five months later,” Julia explains. (Little did she know, Danny had also asked for her mother's blessing in marrying her daughter before she passed.) So, before heading on their trip in May 2017, the couple headed to Julia’s childhood home for an early birthday dinner.

“We sat out on my mom’s favorite porch, talking about our trip and enjoying the sunshine," she recalls. "The next thing I knew, Danny pulled out a ring box and got down on one knee!” He’d also planned much more than a quiet birthday dinner, inviting family and friends to join the couple for an engagement party before their getaway.

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