Photo courtesy Alea BirdWhile stationed in Afghanastan, Michael Bird used the last eight minutes of his phone card to arrange a special day for his future bride. Written in the and on the Outer Banks were the words,
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Photo courtesy Alea BirdWhile stationed in Afghanastan, Michael Bird used the last eight minutes of his phone card to arrange a special day for his future bride. Written in the and on the Outer Banks were the words, "Alea, Will you marry me." Seen here, Michael and Alea Bird celebrate their engagement aboard the helicopter he'd chartered for the special day.

Valentine contest garners plenty of romance

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From a romantic canoe trip down the Dismal Swamp Canal, to a field plowed with a marriage proposal, the stories in this year’s Valentine’s Day contest were abundant and memorable.

We asked you to tell us how the questions was either popped to you, or how you popped the question to your future betrothed. More than 30 of you responded and while the judges were wooed by the winning story, it was clear by the entries that romance is alive and well in the Albemarle.

The winner of this year’s contest is the first story you will read here. The next two stories represent what we will call an honorary second and third place. Honorary because the prizes go to the first place winners, Alea and Michael Bird. They have won a dinner for two at Montero’s, flowers from Jeffrey’s Florist, a gift certificate from Fight or Flight Fitness and a gift basket from Just 4 You.

So congratulations to the Birds. We hope you enjoy the stories. — Robert Kelly-Goss/Albemarle Life Editor

And the winner is ...

Hand in hand, we soared over the beach as the helicopter banked left. I gazed down and squinted to read the words I saw lightly etched into the sand.

With blurry eyes and a quivering lip, the words fumbled from my mouth. “Does... does that say my name?”

“Alea, will you marry me?” It read.

I turned to kiss him and the shimmer of the ring caught my eye. He moved my headset’s mouthpiece to the side and kissed me, “Alea, will you marry me?”

From 7,500 miles away, serving in Afghanistan, he planned and coordinated every detail of his perfect proposal. Using the eight minutes left on his phone card, he arranged the helicopter flight tour, something I had always wanted to do. Bombings and sandstorms delayed his return and complicated his plans, but seven days later, we both said, “I do” standing barefooted in the banks of a creek. — Alea and Michael Bird

They’re best friends for life

The day our story began was on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2007. The day started early and BJ and I were going to help at his uncle’s house to get ready for Thanksgiving lunch. All of a sudden out of nowhere this helicopter lands in the front yard.

BJ said “let’s take a ride.” At first I wanted to go but then I was terrified. BJ thought he was going to have to drag me onto the helicopter.

What I didn’t know is BJ had spent four hours plowing a field. My soon to be father-n-law the pilot spoke and said someone has been cutting up on our land. I looked down and saw “AMANDA WILL YOU MARRY ME” plowed into the field. I was speechless. I looked at BJ and he was holding my beautiful ring and slid it on my finger.

Of course I said “yes.” When we landed our families were waiting to congratulate us. We both feel like we have married our best friend. — BJ and Amanda Meads

The best night of his life

Michelle had always been a no-frills kind of girl; the outdoorsy type who preferred thrift-store purchases over those from Macy’s. I knew that my proposal would have to be set in nature and easy-going; that pomp and circumstance would be received with skepticism and possibly a “no.” I decided to take her for a home-cooked dinner at my mom’s house in South Mills and afterward I’d ask that she accompany me on an late night canoe ride.

It was a warm July evening and the setting couldn’t have been any more perfect. Steam was rising off the black glassy water, the moon was close to full and the sky was clear. I helped Michelle into the canoe and away we went. I was wearing a small backpack containing a bottle of wine, an opener, wine glasses, a flashlight, and of course, the ring. As we headed down the narrow neighborhood tributary that led to the Dismal Swamp Canal, a beaver swam alongside the canoe and forcefully smacked his tail on the surface of the water to warn his friends that there was something special about to happen. We paddled along for a few hundred yards before Michelle wiped a tear from her eye as she commented on the beauty of her surroundings.

As we reached the Great Dismal Swamp Canal, I steered the canoe to the south. I knew of a small landing a few hundred feet down. When we approached the shore I told Michelle that I had to relieve myself. Her response was to “just pee off the boat” and she reached for a stump to stable our love-vessel. I argued that I was not comfortable doing that and I wanted to be on solid ground. She finally gave in. Once ashore, I began sweating and pacing the small waterfront clearing. I hadn’t planned what to say and was at a loss for words. Even in the dark, she could read me like a book. She walked to me and said, “don’t be scared, I’m here with you.” So, I was now humiliated and emasculated, what better time to drop and pop the question? She finally gave in.

We spent the next hour or so letting the current take us up the Canal as we sipped wine, stared at the stars and whispered about our future. By far, the best night of my life. — Daniel P. Donahue

“Marry me or swim to shore”

My wife and I met at a friend’s home on the Chowan River. We both love the water and love to ride on a jet ski.

When I proposed to my wife, I took her for a ride on my jet ski, stopped in the 
middle of the Chowan River, and turned the motor off.

In this area of the river, it is approximately one and half miles wide. I turned around on the jet ski, facing her, and said “Marry me or swim to shore.” Since it was approximately three-fourths of a mile swim either way, she agreed to marry me. I then placed a diamond on her finger.

We married the next Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 2005. — Fahey Bunch

Best bedtime story ever

I first met Steve when I moved from Indiana to North Carolina for graduate school.

Being in a new city and new apartment I had a lot of trouble sleeping. Steve would come up with very creative bedtime stories to help me fall asleep.

For a while Steve had been hinting about us getting engaged so when he took me to our favorite restaurant for dinner I got excited. We ate, drank and went home — no proposal.

Once we got home, we watched TV then headed to bed. After settling in Steve asked me if I wanted to hear a bedtime story. He told me the tale of a princess who was in love with a solider.

At the end of the lengthy tale he said, “There was just one problem, they weren’t married.” At that moment he jumped out of bed and asked me to marry him. I said “YES!” — Gwen Safriet

The “yeas” have it

Ever the practical guy, I’d been thinking for years what an ideal wife would look like.

So, when I met my future wife in April of our senior year at Rutgers, I pretty much knew what I was looking for: smart, pretty, funny and willing to leave New Jersey.

We had four dates before graduation; three more over the next four months, all long-distance between South Carolina and New Jersey. During Labor Day weekend 1972 I sat down with a yellow legal pad, put a line down the middle, labeled the left side “Reasons to marry Diana McLaughlin.” The right side I labeled “Reasons not to marry anyone at this time.”

The “yeas” prevailed over the “nays,” so I proposed. Of course, she accepted because it made such good sense! The ring came a few days later because, remember, I’m a practical guy.

Over the first 20-plus years of our marriage I fought the idea of Valentine’s Day every February. I lost. I try to do something sappy, sentimental and impractical every year now. It’s worked for 41 years. Be my valentine for 41 more years! — Doug Gardner

Ice Cream was the way to her heart

My proposal to my beautiful wife of 37 years was something very special to me and always will be.

I had just started my new job as food service director at a nursing home in Bluefeild, W. Va. Well after about a week of long hours and very hard work I met this fantastic nurse who worked the 3-11 p.m. shift. Jokingly she said I had a complaining resident that I needed to take care of, as she was complaining heavily to her about the terrible food.

As I was discussing the matter I heard the nurse outside the door giggling. Immediately I knew I wanted her for the rest of my life.

So the next evening I found a way to her heart. Since I ran the food service department I had access to ice cream. When she would come down for her dinner break we would have a cup of ice cream together. That led to me asking her out and after six weeks of dating, I knew I had better act fast before I lost the dream of my life.

So we get some KFC and got to one of our favorite parks. As we laid out a blanket to sit down I said, “Honey, I know we have not known each other very long and certainly there are many things we must learn about each other, …” Then I put one knee on the blanket and held her hand as I looked up at her lovely face and said, “Will you marry me?”

When she said yes I could feel my heart beating so strong it was bumping through my shirt. About one month later we were wed in a small chapel and it is still going strong, closing in on 38 years. And till death do us part still rings heavily in my brain.

I have always loved Rhonda Karen Howington Hypes and will go to my grave loving this fantastic lady of my past and future dreams. — Robert D. Hypes

Good fortune came her way

It was Sept. 29, 2000. He invited me over to his apartment for dinner and casually asked if Chinese was OK.

I arrived to take-out from Hing Ta and we ate at his kitchen table. When we were finished, he asked if I wanted my fortune cookie.

I took it, opened it, and couldn’t believe my eyes! My fortune typed, in red, was, “Will You Marry Me?”

I looked up in amazement and saw him down on one knee with the ring in his hand! Of course I said “YES” and then immediately inquired how in the world he got that fortune inside the cookie and put it back into the sealed wrapper!

Finally, he opened his cookie (that he had NOT tampered with) and inside his fortune said: “Tonight will be a lucky night.” It was truly meant to be! — Heather Conway

It was the perfect night

Philip, my fiancé, flew me to Buffalo N.Y., for New years Eve — all a surprise. Then he took the surprise to a bigger level and told me we were going to Canada. I’ve never been out of the US, and he requested I get a passport a couple months before hand.

We went to dinner on New Years Eve at a place called “The Tower.” It had an incredible view of Niagara falls. We had talked about getting married. I was surprised when he didn’t ask me at Christmas and then on New Years night I was disappointed because I did not see a ring box ANYWHERE.

Anyway, we have a awesome dinner, six-course meal, drinks, great service, everything was just perfect. I had brought my camera along and right before midnight he asked me to “take a picture with him.”

He gave one server my camera and the other server his phone. He asked me to marry him right at 11:59 and I said “Yes” right at midnight!

It was just perfect. There were fireworks and the falls in the background.

Come to find out he had talked to the chef many times. All the servers knew, and he had mailed my ring up before hand.

When I went to the bathroom our waitress brought it to him. The server took a video on his phone and the other server took pictures with my camera. — Sarah Forehand and Philip Treadway

With tears in his eyes …

We attended the same church and were best buddies. After dating nearly a year, he told me to make special plans for Valentine’s Day and he would pick me up.

I was so excited all the way to Elizabeth City.

We eventually made it to the Culpepper Inn and there were only a few cars, and they knew him by name. The room had a fireplace, a beautiful table for two with rose petals, candles, and a piano.

I love classical music and it played in the background. It felt like a love story coming to life!

He asked me to dance. All of the songs were about love and we just smiled until the last song, “Marry Me,” by Train.

He got down on one knee, with tears in his eyes, and asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes!

The wedding was New Years Eve. — Michelle Elmore

It was simple but true when he proposed

I was sitting on my bed over on Maple Street one misty day in May when I got that text message. It read, “Give me a date.” I replied, “A date for what?” He replied, “We’re getting married.”

“Stop playing...” was the only thing my fingers would let me type. He messaged again, “So, give me a date.” My favorite season is fall so I replied, “Oct. 21.” I didn’t even take that stupid message seriously, especially since he always joked around.

But when Saturday came, I knew he was for real. We were outside in the church parking lot eating chicken salad, crackers and drinking strawberry Koolaid. He asked me to come with him to his dad’s office.

I was super nervous because this wasn’t just his dad, this man was also my pastor.

I mean...who dates their Pastor’s son? Awkward!

With his mom there as well, he told his parents what he wanted, he called my former pastor and asked for my hand in marriage, and they all gave their blessing and smiled.

No ring. No fancy proposal. Just a simple text message and a meeting before church.

A friend of mine teased me for this. She flaunted her ring in my face during my engagement as she was engaged as well. I never felt bad nor envied her.

I knew Abel Cornelius Sutton loved me and I could care less about someone else’s relationship. I knew that this man would give me his last, move heaven and Earth for me and that on our wedding night, this man was about to share something with me that he’d never given anyone else, and I was going to do the same in return. I wasn’t going to let this good man go just because his proposal wasn’t wrapped in the pretty little package I’d always envisioned. — Ganelle Gaddy

After 20 years she still feels like his queen

My hubby and I met over 20 years ago.

When we first met we thought that we knew each other so he walked right up to me at my first teaching job. We started talking and I was saying to myself I really don’t know this guy.

But he was nice and boy did he have a sense of humor — he still has.

After a few weeks, I let him take me out to Pizza Hut, yes our first date. The funny thing was I forgot about it. It had been a long day during my first teaching gig so I had fallen asleep. I was awakened to my doorbell ringing.

I sluggishly woke up and peeped out the window. When I saw him, it kicked in that I was supposed to be ready for our date.

To make a long story short, I remember us simply talking about getting married. No big proposal, we simply started planning after dating for about eight months. And here we are three boys and 20 years later. He is still polite and humorous. And did I mention still makes me feel like his queen! — Yvette Swain

40 years later their love was rekindled

We met as children in the early 1950s and he was my first crush. He lived in Richmond, Va., and I lived in Magnolia, N.C. He and his family annually visited in the community in which I lived.

We went our separate ways in the 1960s married to another; however our paths continued to cross randomly over the next 40 years. The tragic death of my daughter brought us together again and we found we were single once more.

The old sparks rekindled and our courtship began. He admits I was his first crush too. There never was a traditional proposal of “Will you marry me?” Rather, during an afternoon walk, our conversation migrated toward the when, where and how we would be married.

Four months later at the age of 59 we were married at Trinity United Methodist Church, my home church and the church we continue to support. — Pat Throckmorton

He was her knight in shining armor

My girlfriend Trisha had always called me her knight in shining armour, so I thought it would be nice if I proposed to her in a knight’s suit of armour.

I did the planning and purchased the necessary accessories from Clowning Around in Elizabeth City. We were planning a family gathering on the beach at Kitty Hawk that weekend so I decided to let that be where I would propose with the help of my daughter and son-in-law and his best friend.

The night before, we buried a post on the beach where we would be sitting the next day and rehearsed our parts. When the time came, we were all sitting on the beach and my daughter and I excused ourselves to go back to the cottage.

When we were gone to get me dressed up with my breast plate and helmet, my son-in-law and his courtier approached Trisha, swords in hand, and announced he was the Evil Knight of the Kitty Hawk Woods and was taking her as his captive and then tied her to the post.

The whole time Trisha was freaking out, not knowing what was going on, all the time wondering why that post was there. Just after that, my daughter, who was my courtier, and I approached and I asked who had taken my princess captive. He announced, “I, the Evil Knight of the Kitty Hawk Woods. She is now my slave.” And I said, “Prepare to die naïve.”

Then we all had a sword fight and we killed the evil knight and his courtier. I untied my princess from the post and got down on my knee and proposed.

That was in 2007 and she is still my princess and I’m still her knight in shining armor and we still tell each other every day “I Love You.” And we lived happily ever after. — Donald Allen

Capt. Jim was the right man for her

Since the day we met, I knew Jim was the right man for me — Nov. 12, 1994.

It was a cold November day and my sister and her husband had won a fishing trip on the bay. Knowing I loved to fish, they invited me to go along.

Capt. Jim Brinlefield was our captain. He was hard working and had a great sense of humor.

After fishing, he asked me out on a date. It was then we realized we wanted the same thing in life: kids raised in a stable environment with lots of love.

For the last 19 years, we have had just that. Together we have raised two great kids with love, respect, and compromise.

I couldn’t ask for a better man! — Jil Howard

His love was the shy girl in the hall

I met my love at Elizabeth City Middle School. I didn’t know her, but for some reason I would say to myself, “I like this young, quiet, shy and soft spoken person.”

Soon I found what her name was. I would speak and say her name. She would speak and smile. This made my heart do a double beat.

Thinking to myself later in life, I would love to have this young lady for my wife. I pictured her being my bride. Later we began to date. Then I told her I always thought of her being my wife. She gave me that smile that made my heart do a double beat.

On June 4, 2011, this young lady from the school hall became my wife. — Devon Mayfield

Her sailor stole her heart

I was only 15 at the time, when I met my husband to be. We dated for a short time.

This is how it all came about.

My friend and I were always going to the skating rink, across town. Town being Washington D.C.

My friend pat, gave my grandmother’s phone number to a sailor she had meet. Hmm!!!! Yes I was in trouble. Especially when I came home from Jr. High and there were two sailors in uniform sitting in my grandmother’s front yard.

This was where we spent our dating time mostly, supervised. We played baseball with my friend and the guy, she gave my grandmother’s front yard as the meeting place.

We spent our time going to the art museum , which was streets, down from my home, and the Washington Memorial and occasionally we went to the movies. This did not happen often which was due to my husbands military pay at that time.

This is how he proposed. He said, “ I have decided to marry you.” That was it. It has lasted this long. He is 74 and I am 71, and we have had hard times, and many good times, we have dealt with many issues, and came through them. — Catherine Witchey

They never got to the fish plate

It was spring 1964. My sweetheart came to date me. I was excited about my boyfriend coming.

My mother asked me if we could go to church and pick up some catfish/mullet plates. So we started down the road.

My boyfriend said we may need some napkins to put under the plates. He said there were some in the glove compartment.

When I went to open the door, I found a beautiful little box. Inside was an engagement ring. We never got to church for the fish.

We will be married 50 years on May 30. — Peggy and Dewitt Pierce

Breaker, breaker will you marry me?

I met my love on the CB radio in 1985. He asked me to marry him on Christmas Eve night, 1987. Then we got married on Dec. 22, 1989 in Mount Herman Church.

We had a beautiful wedding thanks to Jeffery’s Florist for decorating the church for a Christmas wedding. For our honeymoon, we went to the mountains.

We had a wonderful time, we have been married 24 years. We have had a happy 24 years together. I wish we could do it over again. I would.

My Valentine has been good to me and I have been good to him through our wonderful years together. — Sylvia and Dwayne Spry

Circumstances bring her home

March 1968. Military flight from Elmendorf, Alaska, to Saigon, South Vietnam lands at 3 a.m. The TET offensive had begun.

In May 1969 I return home empty-handed and broken-hearted. I had met a person who completes me as no other. I love her. I know she does not yet love me. There is no way I will ever see her again.

I type countless aerograms over six months. Daily, I hope for a reply.

Totally unforeseeable circumstances bring her to the United States. After a week in Iowa, she arrives at Syracuse University in New York. I am in graduate school. In five days she will be in Philadelphia.

The night before she leaves sitting on the sofa, I take her two hands and gently pull her to me. “Don’t you love me enough to stay?” I ask hopefully.

Surprised by my question Ginette surprises herself and says “Yes!” We marry Dec. 22, 1969. — John A. Mitchener III

Keep the date, we’re getting married

I met my future wife on Aug. 15, 1960, who has one year of high school left. After about five or six weeks of dating, we fell in love with each other.

In September 1961 she starts nursing school at Louise Obici, Suffolk, Va. On Sunday, March 1963, I take her to the bus station. She has to go to the University of Virginia for three months. She got on the bus and sat by the window. We looked at each other until the bus is out of sight. Very cloudy day!

Oct. 14, 1963, she takes me to the bus station. I have been drafted in the Army. Again we both look at each other until the bus is out of sight. Faye has 9 months of nursing school left.

Thursday night, Dec. 20, 1963, at midnight, 150 buses leave Fort Jackson. I am on one of them. Faye’s mother and dad are going to a basketball game Friday night. I go with them. We got there a little ahead of the nurses’ bus. Faye sees me; she jumps off the bus and runs to me, wraps her arms around me, and kisses me. Doesn’t care who is watching. Very enjoyable!

In August 1964, out of a class of 27, Faye is one of the 11 that graduate. I have a year and two months left in the Army.

Now in May 1965 we have been dating over four and half years. Faye came to Washington D.C. with some of her friends. Faye and I are riding around D.C. Faye said her mother wants to know when we are getting married so she can put it in the paper. I ask Faye when do you want to get married. She replies she doesn’t know. We decided on Oct. 2, 1965, two weeks before I get out of the Army. (Bad decision.)

About two weeks before that, the Commanding Officer said on October 2 everybody had to report to Fort Meade for training and no one would be exempt. I told him that I had been waiting over five years and two more weeks wouldn’t bother me, but the people that had been planning this

wedding may make some phone calls this way. So he decided it was best that I be exempt. Marriage went as planned over 48 years ago. Just a few days ago I said to Faye, “Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.” — Louis Talmadge Meads

Their marriage is Alaska strong

I met my husband, Joe, when I was 17 years old, a high school senior in Florida. Joe and I dated for three and a half years before we got married.

My husband was in boot camp for the U.S. Coast Guard in 2002. It was very hard to be away from each other for three months. Joe couldn’t use the phone for six weeks so we wrote letters to each other every week.

On his first phone call, he called me and said he was being stationed in Ohio. Then he said the only way you can go with me is if we get married. I said okay!

I planned a wedding in two weeks and when Joe returned home we got married. Three days later he went to Ohio and I went a few weeks later. So we never had a honeymoon.

We’ve been married 11 years. Through those years, we lived in Ohio, Michigan, Alaska, Florida and now North Carolina. We have two beautiful daughters ages 5 and 3.

We’ve had many life experiences and are still going strong. We always say “If we can make it through Alaska, then we can make it through anything!” — Amanda Zemchak

She screamed with excitement

On Oct. 19, l961 my boyfriend (now husband) came to pick me up to go to my high school football game. As usual he was late.

When we got to the ball field all the parking spaces were taken , so we went in the cemetery behind the school to park. As I was getting ready to get out of the car he handed me a box with a beautiful diamond in it and ask me to marry him.

The residents in the cemetery did not mind my screaming with excitement. Nearly 50 years later we are still married. — Margie C. Eure

He knew she was the one for him

Since 2006, Aug. 15 has never been an ordinary day, the day of our first date. One year later, I knew that she was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

I picked her up, blind folded her, and drove her to my grandmother’s dock on the Perquiman’s River. I had already correlated with my parents and my grandmother, on how I wanted things set up. A blanket, chocolate covered berries, and Champaign, were all just the beginning.

As we sat on the dock, watched the sun set over the river, I fidgeted to pull the ring out of my back pocket.

After she said yes we figured that it wouldn’t be wise to drink the whole bottle of Champaign ourselves then drive back home. So we went inside to share the moment with my grandmother. We all toasted together, which was bittersweet, because as healthy as she was that day, she never made it to the wedding just three short months later.

She passed away after numerous complications in early December, less than a month after the “I do’s”. My wife didn’t really know my grandmother till that night and we both are so grateful, that is how that beautiful night turned out. — Brian Chepan

He has a lot to be thankful for

I met my wife Shirley on a blind date to a Norfolk Admirals Hockey game in December 1989. We started dating after that.

In August 1991 I was transferred to Great Lakes, Ill. I knew by then that I wanted to marry her.

Before I left I bought her round trip airline tickets to Chicago. She flew out in November 1991. I bought an engagement ring before she arrived with a very romantic Thanksgiving card.

I wrote and rewrote the letter inside the card that I was going to give to her explaining that I loved her and wanted to marry her. I put the card and engagement ring inside my camera bag when we went to downtown Chicago so she could tour.

She carried the bag all day long while I was taking pictures. We went to the observation floor of the Sears Tower and numerous other places. I had planned on a carriage ride down the Magical Mile of Michigan Ave. We had to wait until rush hour traffic was done in order to take that ride.

So we went to the Hancock Restaurant on the 93rd floor and ate a light dinner and watched the sunset. We were then told that the Christmas lights would be lit for the Christmas season that night on Michigan Avenue.

When we finally got on the carriage, I gave her the card with the letter. She looked at me and said it wasn’t Thanksgiving yet, but I insisted she read it. I asked her to marry me in that letter.

When she looked at me, I was holding the case open with the ring. She said yes through a lot of tears. Needless to say, she never saw the Christmas lights and the Carriage driver was as surprised as she was because he never heard a thing. We married in June 1995. — David Mahler

It was a Halloween surprise

My now husband, Tim Chrisman, and I made plans to carve pumpkins the second weekend in October 2010, which was 10-10-10. We got our pumpkins all ready and our ideas planned for our design, but would not tell each other our plans. We promised to reveal our pumpkins at the very end, exactly how we had done it the year before.

I finished carving my pumpkin, and he said it would be a little while before he finished his, and for me to take my shower, that he would be finished by the time I got out. Coming out of the bathroom door, he met and blindfolded me. He led me to the kitchen and told me to take off the blindfold.

I hesitated, only because his pumpkin was really goofy looking the year before, and I was nervous to see what it would look like this year. Well I took down my blindfold, and the room was dark, him down on one knee and “Will you marry me” glowing through the carved areas in his pumpkin!

A year and one month later on 11-11-11 we got married! — Ashley Chrisman

Good Friday became his best Friday

My future wife and I had only been dating about six weeks. Both being teachers, we had playfully set our wedding date after only dating eight days — circling a Saturday during our Christmas break, Dec. 28.

The night that I officially popped the question was Good Friday, April 5. I had told her that we were going to stuff a giant Easter basket for my sister-in-law.

After a dinner of homemade manicotti, we began filling little plastic eggs with all kinds of candy. After filling about 100 eggs of various sizes, we came down to one more egg — a really large yellow one. When she opened that final egg, she found her ring stuck in the egg with floral putty, and a small note which simply read - “Will you marry me, for real?” We’ve now been married 17 years and Good Friday of 1996, became known as my Best Friday! — Mike Hawkins

Dinner for a Lifetime!

I proposed to my girlfriend (Tamika) the day after her birthday. We were supposed to have gone out to dinner on her birthday, but a severe thunderstorm came through that night.

As you can imagine, she was very upset we didn’t do anything on her birthday. So on the next day, I, she and some close friends went out to dinner in Virginia after work. After eating dinner, we just sat and talked for a while. One of our friends asked us, “When are you two getting married?” I played it off.

As we continued to talk, I moved the dinner plate from in front of her and placed an engagement ring in its place. The same friend asked the same question again. So, I replied, “Do you mean like this?”

She looked down and saw the ring on the table. Our friends screamed and clapped as well as the customers in the restaurant.

Needless to say, she said “Yes.” — Barrera R. McPherson

It was one of his best decisions ever

The day I proposed to my beautiful wife was one of the best decisions I had ever made.

She was living with one of her friends due to the fact her parents did not agree with interracial relationships. I knew I had to make her my wife if she was willing to go through what she went through to be with me.

We were outside talking one day, and during the middle of our conversation, I dropped down to one knee and asked Jennifer Pilley to be my wife. She started to cry and responded yes.

We were married Feb 14, 2004. We have four beautiful children together and have been together for 16 years. — Jesse Jones

They got engaged at Heartbreak Cafe

My husband and I met in March 1991. We were the same ages, 36, and neither one of us had any children and wanted them. We both felt that we made a good match for each other.

I had been married before and it didn’t work out. We met because he needed an apartment to rent and I had one available. You see, I rented myself for 10 years before I married in 1986. I didn’t want to throw any more money away so, I found this two-apartment rental house that I purchased for an investment.

We dated for almost a year. We visited the mountains for my first time and they were gorgeous. It was the perfect time for the fall leaves.

He sent me flowers all the time for any occasion or just because. We did everything together.

The proposal took place at Heartbreak Cafe in Virginia Beach on Feb. 29,1992. They played the good old music from the 70s and 80s which we loved to dance to. I was sitting in his lap and I told him that I believe I could marry him. He said, “Well, let’s get married then.”

On our trip to see our parents and tell them the news, we decided the date. He said, “Let’s get married next weekend” and I replied, “I can’t I’m on call for the hospital. How about the next weekend?” And he agreed. We were married March 20, 1992. — Ann Wilmar

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

I met Jamie when her family moved to my hometown in 1971, and they began to attend my church. We began to date throughout my senior year of high school.

In the fall of 1972, I went to college and we continued to date on the few times I could go home.

In 1973, she moved to Washington D.C. and I was in Alabama. At some point in 1975 we reestablished contact by phone and rekindled the romance, even though we hadn’t seen each other in two years.

That summer, I was at Ft. Riley, Kan., and called her at home in Virginia. By phone, I asked her to marry me and she agreed.

Six months later I saw her for the first time for only a week; and didn’t see her again for another six months until the week before the wedding. One week in three years. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. — David Crumpler

For one night it was the “Love Boat”

Saturday, Dec. 18, 2011 started out like any other day, Froggy and I planned a night out with 35 family members on board the “Spirit of Norfolk” for a pre-Christmas dinner

Celebration. After dinner, Froggy excused himself. Upon returning to the table, the ship’s emcee asked over the microphone if there was a Rebecca Boltz in the audience; if so would she please stand up as there was someone that wanted to ask her something.

I stood up and Froggy got down on one knee and ask me to marry him, giving me a beautiful ring on my finger. This was all done in front of our family members and approximately 400 other people on the ship.

We were married the following April 7, 2012 in Elizabeth City, at Waterfront Park under the hospital dome. — Rebecca B. Thornton

The best decision she ever made

It was a gorgeous fall morning in September. We journeyed out for a ride in the country.

We stopped to rest in a little park. He opened my door, and took my hand.

We walked up the hillside through the forest and approached a tremendous stone. He climbed on top and carefully pulled me up with him.

God’s view of creation was astounding. The colors of the leaves, the chill in the air and the bright sun was the perfect morning with the man I loved. He jumped off the stone took my hand, looked into my eyes got on bended knee and asked if I would be his bride. I leaped into his arms and said yes.

We were married April 2, 1989 and April 2, 2014 will be our 25th wedding anniversary. The best decision I have ever made in my life. — Nita Adams

Always believe in happiness

My younger sister, Colleen, died on April 6, 1996, Easter Saturday. She had been fighting an eight month battle with a brain tumor. She had been a vibrant, active kid and young adult.

Prior to her death, she had been confined to a wheelchair and had lost the ability to speak. I had purchased an engagement ring almost a month prior to my sister’s death but was hesitant to propose given the situation my family was facing. I did bring in the ring to show it to my sister.

Although she was not able to talk, she did hold the ring and gave me the “thumbs up” sign to show her approval. Out of those trying times, we were able to start a new chapter in our lives. Finally on April 12, I asked Angie to marry me. I told her the story of Colleen holding the ring and the sign she gave me.

We honor Colleen’s spirit and determination by always believing that happiness can be found even during the darkest of times. Angie and I were married on April 26, 1997. — Angie and John Lamberson

42 years ago they took a leap

Feb 29,1972. Leap Day. My girl left a homemade scrapbook on the steering wheel. I came into the parking terrace and found it.

It was great. It had all the activities we had participated in for the prior eight months — movies, restaurants, musicals, famous artists, the Hollywood Bowl, museums, parks, square dancing.

The last page was an engagement announcement. The message said, “If you think it’s OK and you think it is time, sign on the line ENGAGED!!”

It nearly scared me to death.

Well I fled to her apartment and got her into the car and we went to the beach to talk it out. After five hours I relented and signed the announcement. Best thing I ever did. Four months later we got married and exactly four years later we had a baby daughter on Leap Day Feb 29, 1976. We have been married for 42 years. — Ron and Gay Pendleton

He wasn’t giving her the business

My Coast Guard friend had moved closer to my home town. Our children were close friends. He made arrangements for a sitter and asked to go out to eat and talk about a business proposal.

After dinner, in the parking lot, he explained his business proposal was marriage. He needed someone to care for his children when he had duty and my girls would benefit from military education and health benefits.

He was so worried I would say no, so he called it a business proposal. We have been married 15 years and are expecting our third grandchild in the fall. — Mary Thompson