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Published: Sunday, 2/13/2005

Will you marry me?

BY RHONDA B. SEWELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Nigel Burgoine, artistic director of the Toledo Ballet, asked prima ballerina Anne Marie Getz to marry him during a curtain call at a local production of The Nutcracker; they wed in May, 2004.

University of Toledo student Kristopher Keating, 22, proposed to UT student Kathryn Sterling, 21, in November, 2004, on campus by lighting a pathway with 200 tea light candles and decorating a tree in the West Courtyard with 1,000 feet of white Christmas lights, singing a song, and then dropping to one knee before popping the question.

Tom Giovanni planted an engagement ring on one of the greens before a round of golf at Sylvania's Cottonwood Creek Golf Course for his proposal to Pam Dobrzynski; they were married in the spring of 2003. For their wedding reception at Tamaron Country Club, at each place setting there was a plastic-enclosed golf ball imprinted with a photo of the bride and groom and a note describing the golf-oriented proposal.

These are just a few of the creative approaches Toledo area men have used to ask that age-old question, "Will you marry me?"

In a recent informal survey, The Blade asked readers to share their stories of unusual marriage proposals. While the responses varied, all the proposals required a well-thought-out plan designed by the men and at least one woman who responded, with attention to their love's feelings, personality, and likes.

Take notes if you're planning to pop the question soon. And if you've been married for years, it's always nice to propose again in a creative way.

Here's more of the many stories shared:

  • Oregon couple Jim and Joan Sigurdson wrote in to tell the story of their daughter, Jenny, and son-in-law Jeremy Jones, who now reside in Millbury, Ohio. Jenny, now a nurse at Bay Park Hospital, was introduced to her husband by her mother-in-law, Barb Jones, when the two worked together at Flower Hospital.

    "Not many girls are picked by their mother-in-law, say the Sigurdsons. "When Jeremy wanted to ask her to marry him, he first asked our permission, which we though was great. He then ordered a brick at the [Toledo] Zoo, inscribed with 'Jenny, Will You Marry Me?' - of course she said yes. She couldn't refuse as it was written in stone! You could say they have a rock solid marriage."

    The Joneses were married in 1999, now have a 1-year-old daughter, Haley Jennifer Jones. Every time the entire family visits the zoo, they stop to look at the brick.

  • Bob Kreienkamp proposed to his wife, Sue, on Thanksgiving Day with both of their families present. "Working in television, I had already taped a football game and then edited in a [filmed] news "bulletin" from Sandusky and the news anchor person introduced me standing outside the house," he says. As Mr. Kreienkamp sat next to his soon-to-be fiance on the couch, watching the taped football game, the taped bulletin of himself proposing appeared. The result: "She said yes!"

  • Chris Schwab, who plans to wed his fiance, Holly Nowakowski, in September, says he proposed to her last year when she came to visit him in Melbourne, Australia, when he was on a three-month business trip. . For the proposal, he incorporated a tradition she started during her youth: A person opens up a fortune cookie, licks the paper fortune, and sticks it on his or her forehead. This "goofy" tradition, he says, is the only way Holly believes a fortune to come true.

    His plan: The couple went out to dinner and were served fortune cookies, and one of them held his own special question. He went to a lot of trouble, too - he heated the cookie to soften the surface, then inserted a slip of paper with his proposal. "So we both broke the cookies open, licked the fortunes, and stuck them on our foreheads . . . we took the fortunes down and she began reading, 'The man across from you loves you with all of his heart. Would you do him the honor of being his wife?' " said Mr. Schwab. The result: After many tears, and slipping the diamond ring on the wrong hand, Holly, who will bring her son, Nathan King, to the marriage, said yes.

  • Tom Cain's proposal story proves that loves is a universal language. He writes: "In Germany in 1962, the girl I loved and I were conversing over a dictionary because she knew very little English and I knew no German. We were together one evening when I offered her my Marine Corps ring by placing it on her finger so everyone would know we were going steady." Mr. Cain put string on the back of the ring to make the large piece of jewelry fit. "She said something in German, and the next day I followed her to a jewelry store where we were looking at engagement rings. It hit me then, engagement rings in Germany were a plain band like I had offered her the day before!" The result: A 41-year happy marriage, "and it all started by a misunderstanding," says Mr. Cain.

  • Pamela O'Connor met her husband, Tim, in the spring of 1989 while both worked at the Airport Highway location of Bally Total Fitness. "The manager was hiring more staff, and I kept telling her to hire some cute guys. One of the guys hired was Tim," says Mrs. O'Connor. The two began to date.

    "Four months after that first date, we were driving down Airport Highway . . . when Tim said, 'What's that?' As he pointed to the huge windows that ran from one end to the other of the entire upper floor, I began to read the [sign in] bright red letters, 'Pamela, Will You Marry Me?' Mrs. O'Connor says that after Tim gave her the ring and she said yes, he told her that his dad helped him stencil and color each letter, while his mother and grandmother cried over the ring.

    The result: The couple were married a year later.

    Fast forward 16 years to the present, and the O'Connors have three children. Mrs. O'Connor says, "He's still just as romantic. I'm so lucky!"

    Contact Rhonda B. Sewell at: rsewell@theblade.com or 419-724-6101.



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