March 3, 2024

First Comes Love

Then comes a wow-worthy wedding proposal
By Ross Boissoneau | Feb. 9, 2019

Correct us if we’re wrong, but marriage proposals aren’t what they used to be — and happily so. While our grandparents might have proposed marriage with no frills and a simple question — or even a statement — the couples of today are turning the big ask into a memorable event in and of itself. Here, a few unforgettable favorites we found:

In the Air — and on the Ground
One of the most imaginative proposals took place at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay. Or rather, in the air above it andon the grounds. Josh Scheur and his girlfriend, Marcy, were up from Portland for a weekend stay, and he decided to propose in the most imaginative and romantic way he could think of, in a hot-air balloon above Black Star Farms, the question spelled out in giant letters on the lawn.
Of course, it wasn’t that easy. First, he couldn’t get a hot air balloon, so the resourceful Scheur booked a helicopter to fly overhead. Meanwhile, back at the farm, the staff discovered that the table linens they’d set out to shape the letters had gotten soaked from the sprinklers, and all had to be replaced. Then, when the twosome were finally airborne, the pilot took them over the grounds of Black Star Farms, all right, but it was the location on Old Mission Peninsula. “I said, ‘We’re at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay — can you fly over Suttons Bay?’ He had to change the flight plan,” said Scheur.
In the end, it all worked out. She said yes, and the two were married at Black Star Farms — in Suttons Bay — the following spring.
In the Restaurant
Sure, proposing at dinner is fairly common. But what if it’s the bride-to-be doing the proposing? “We had discussed getting married,” said Joan O’Neill. “He [husband Scott Gest] is a researcher and planner. I’m more ‘Let’s do this, let’s do it now.’ He finally said, ‘Let me surprise you.’”
O’Neill had her own ideas for a surprise. She bought a ring for him that September and started carrying it with her, looking for just the right time and place. Three months later, she still hadn’t found her moment — until they went to dinner at Hannah (now Bistro Foufou) for her birthday on Dec. 20.
“He gave me a birthday bracelet. He said, ‘I want you to be with me when I pick out a ring.’ I said, ‘Okay, that’s fine, but you ruined my surprise. I was going to propose to you. I even have a ring.’
“I said, ‘Will you marry me?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘Will you get on one knee?’ He said, ‘No.’

“It was pretty sudden and impromptu. I don’t’ know if anyone even saw it.”
The surprises didn’t end there. Ten years and two kids later, O’Neill put together an anniversary party at Arcadia Bluffs and rounded up as many people from their wedding as she could. “It totally surprised him.” Again.
On the Top of the Bridge
Emily Misner of St. Ignace had long been hoping to win a trip to the top of the Mackinac Bridge. She had purchased raffle tickets several times, but had no luck. Then two years ago, she ran the length of the bridge on Labor Day. Those who posted on social media were eligible for a drawing, and sure enough, this time she won. “I said, Oh my God, I’ve been trying for this forever,” she said.
Her boyfriend, Cord Wilson, decided to make the event even more memorable. “We went up the elevator and steps,” she said. “I wanted to be the first, but he said, ‘I’ll go first.’ Before I got there he told the Bridge Authority and photographer. I was looking out — the views were incredible. He called me, and was down on one knee.” She was so taken by surprise that the rest of the time atop the bridge is a blur. “I don’t know what happened after that. Now I want to go again.”
On the Top of the Bridge II
Turns out they aren’t the only couple to get engaged on top of the Mighty Mac. When Sid Hawkins won a trip to the top of the bridge, he naturally enough invited his girlfriend, Jessica Smith, to go along. She had some suspicions — “We’d talked about marriage, and he had cleaned our house, did the dishes, got things all ready for something” — but kept them to herself.
Turns out she was right to be on the lookout. “Everybody knew but me,” she said with a laugh. She was taking photos looking toward Mackinac City when she turned around to see him on one knee with a ring. “I looked at him and said, ‘This isn’t happening.’ He asked, and I said yes. He said he was so scared, he didn’t want to drop the ring.” When they returned to their (freshly cleaned) home, their friends and family were gathered around.
Both couples are planning to get married this summer: Misner and Wilson in July, Smith and Hawkins in September.
On the Slopes
Chris Hale, vice president of sales and marketing at Shanty Creek Resorts, said he knows of several proposals made on the slopes over the years. “We have at least one a year,” he said. Most are at the top, though he said one couple asked to go for a ride in one of the groomers, where the proposal took place. One of his favorites took place on the lift, where he said the groom-to-be was so nervous he kept saying to himself, “Don’t drop the ring, don’t drop the ring.”
He was even part of one such proposal many years ago when skiing with another couple in Colorado. His friend took a tumble, and they all gathered around him to make sure he was all right. “We were all behind him. Then his girlfriend is crying. He holds his hand up, and there’s a ring in his hand.”
On the Water
What better way to disguise a proposal than in a mock wedding? And why stop there — why not get married too? That was Tim Nance’s plan. His girlfriend, Kaitlyn, at the time worked for Orchestrated Grace, a wedding planning service. When the two were enlisted to appear on board the Tall Ship Manitou for a promotional video and photos for Orchestrated Grace, he came up with his idea. He hatched his plan and cleared it with his wife’s boss. “It was cool, unique, spontaneous,” he said.
Not only did he intend to propose while on the water, he gathered family and friends to welcome them with a wedding back on shore — should she say yes. He had only two days to prepare. Adding to the fun was the fact that the shoot (and engagement and wedding) took place the same day the couple was moving. “I had to keep going into the bathroom to text,” Nance said.
He said their moms and Orchestrated Grace owner Chandra Wheeler helped pull everything together. “We got there at 2, sailed at 3, were married by 5 or 6.”
In a Movie Trailer
Lesley Tye, a film instructor at Interlochen, and Tony Bero, on staff at Interlochen Public Radio, had met doing theatre at Old Town Playhouse. They dated, fell in love, and began to talk of marriage. Putting the cart before the horse, the two booked their venue and started planning months before there was ever a proposal. “I was starting to wonder if I was just going to have to send out the invitations without a proposal,” said Tye
No worries. Bero approached their friend Lars Kelto about putting together a video, and Kelto made a short film encapsulating their story. Bero set things up with the staff at the State Theatre and then got Tye to go see a movie. When the film began rolling, “I thought, ‘Oh, this is nice, they’re going to show a local film here.’ Then I started to recognize some things, including clothes of mine, and certain songs, and about halfway through, finally figured it out,” said Tye. “Of course, at the end, the lights came up, and Tony was there with the ring, and the audience freaked out.”
How would you top that? Tye and Bero opted for a Mash-Up Rock ’n’ Roll Musical Wedding that included performances from their friends, and they wrote and performed their own wedding vows as well.


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