For many people, a marriage proposal involves months of planning, ring shopping, and of course, creating the perfect moment for that ultimate surprise. But when the coronavirus started to spread globally, followed by stay-at-home guidelines and closures of restaurants and public spaces, plans to propose in exotic locales or fancy restaurants came to a screeching halt. Many quarantined couples, however, decided to press on with their plans. Here are a few stories of their proposals.
The Missing Puzzle Piece
We were originally planning to go to Tulum and Bacalar in Mexico. I was going to surprise Emily on March 27, the weekend before, with the proposal at a surprise get-together with 50 friends, and another surprise the next night with our family. With Covid-19 shutting this all down, we began working on a puzzle containing two chairs on a beach. I thought of the idea to hide the final piece. That Friday, she thought we finished the puzzle. Then she left to walk our dog and I sprung into action. I wrote a note and put the ring on the puzzle. When she got back, I surprised her with the final piece. She then put it on the puzzle and found the ring. I also had our families watching live on Zoom. For a final surprise, I received a video of congratulations from her favorite internet celeb, Fiona the hippo. I caught everything on video.
Love on Top (of a Mountain)
The original plan was to propose on a trip we had planned to San Antonio, Texas, at a vineyard in nearby Fredericksburg, Texas. With the nonessential domestic travel advisory, I needed a Plan B. My now fiancée, Isabel, loves the outdoors and was feeling the urge to get outside for a nature hike. I had never hiked a mountain in my life, but thought this would be perfect — and since it was her idea, she would never suspect the proposal. After two and a half hours up a steady ascent filled with deep anxiety of dropping the ring, we arrived at the summit. I scanned the very small group at the summit for someone who looked like they knew how to operate a phone and asked her to take a photograph of us. As we were beginning to pose for the photo, I turned and said “I have something to ask you first.” At this point, I dropped to one knee and asked her to marry me. Overwhelmed with joy and tears, she said yes!
Not an April Fool’s Joke
Greg proposed to me at home with a giant light-up plastic ring. The jewelry store he was working with closed because it was a nonessential business. Clearly we have different understandings of “essential.” Thankfully Amazon saved the day. He knelt down on April 1 and my response was, “Are you serious?” Of course when I realized this was not an April Fools’ joke I said yes.
Lucky in Love
I have been planning for awhile now to propose to my girlfriend, Molly, this spring. I had always planned to take her to dinner at Lucky Lou’s, a restaurant in Wethersfield, Conn., where we went on our first date, and every year for the last four years on our anniversary. However, the current state of the world caused me to make an adjustment to my plans. As news about the coronavirus spread and quarantine restrictions became stricter, I began to worry that if I did not propose soon I may not have the chance to do so for a while. I had friends text her earlier that week to suggest a “socially distant” approved dog walk through Wethersfield. She quickly bought into the idea, and off we went Saturday morning. She was dressed in leggings and a sweatshirt, clearly suspecting nothing, but still looking absolutely beautiful. As we approached our friend’s neighborhood, I took a left rather than going straight and pulled into a parking spot right outside the restaurant. She quickly asked “What are you doing? They live straight!” I told her that we just had one thing to do before our walk, and in that moment, she knew. We got out of the car, she cried, then I cried, then I got down on one knee, and she said yes! Being that we are both extremely close with our families, she quickly followed up the proposal asking if our families knew that this was happening today. Little did she know that our families were in town already, all set up for a car parade past our condo to celebrate. Given the circumstances, it may not have been the typical perfect proposal, but to us, it was perfect and we would not change a thing.
A Proposal for the Books
I had planned my proposal to Clare about three months ago. Clare is always inspiring my creativity, in particular creative writing, so I wrote her a children’s book in the style of one of our favorite authors, Dr. Seuss. The book captured the evolution of our relationship from the beginning to present day, and it ended with the big question. My original plan was to walk her on a (hopefully) warm March day to the North Meadow of Central Park, one of our favorite areas to walk our dog, and propose to her on one of the green benches with the picturesque Central Park lamps in the background. I coordinated with one of Clare’s favorite photographers, Sophie Kaye, and the date was set for Sunday, March 29. Then Covid-19 hit. Clare and I live together on the Upper West Side, so I had to figure out a way to get her to Central Park, with us both wearing clothes other than sweats, in order to make this work. A few days before the planned date, the weather for the weekend was looking awful — low 40s and rain. But Thursday, March 26 looked like it was going to be a perfect evening. To get Clare and I to Central Park in more socially acceptable clothing, I faked a Cornell alumni interview (they wanted to run a feel-good story about an alum who was 10 years out of college, and they liked the fact that we met at work so they wanted her to come along for the photo shoot). Luckily this also meant I could unsuspiciously carry a backpack with my Cornell hockey jersey and sweatshirt while also hiding the children’s book and engagement ring. When we approached the target bench in the North Meadow, Sophie was already hiding nearby (appropriately socially distanced). We sat on the bench, and I came clean about not really having an interview but that I wanted to celebrate my first published book. I read her our relationship story, “Oh, the Places We’ll Go.” The places we’ve been. Oh, the places we’ll go! Together, let’s adventure through sun and through snow. No matter the ups, and no matter the downs. No matter the cities, and no matter the towns. At the end I got down on one knee asked Clare to marry me. She said yes!
Upper West Side
Love on the Front Lines
I proposed April 1 while Ashley, Ashley’s dog, and I strolled through the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center. There was a photographer milling about who I asked to take a few photos of us — and, to Ashley’s surprise, I pulled out a ring. Why now? Ashley and I are both physicians. (I am in emergency medicine, and split time between medicine and business, and Ashley is in anesthesia). I had initially considered proposing in the summer while on a planned vacation. But the vacation was canceled, and Ashley will be likely be intubating and caring for patients in the I.C.U. over the coming months during the Covid-19 pandemic. She is on a brief break between monthlong I.C.U. rotations, and it seemed opportune to propose in case she is quarantined or worse, either of us becomes ill.
Beaches, Beers and You
My fiancé, Matthew, proposed to me in our apartment. His plan was to do it on Saturday, March 21 while on our trip to Sanibel, Fla. We travel there every year together, and Florida is where our relationship started. Because of the coronavirus, I had to come home early from Florida and Matthew had to cancel his trip. He still wanted to do it on Saturday. Instead of on the beach as he had planned, he converted our apartment to “Sanibel” and asked me there (with our matching Hawaiian shirts and all!). I was beyond surprised! It was perfect and meant so much more considering what’s going on in the world.
St. Louis Park, Minn.
Fit for a Fiancé
I am a fitness instructor, and on March 28, I was leading an Instagram live workout. We are currently staying in Cranford, N.J., at Eric’s parents house and I’ve been doing a bunch of these live videos for my clients and friends during social distancing. Eric was working out with me and demonstrating behind me. At the very end, he told me he wanted to stand up and stretch. I was very confused as to why he was being so specific, but once we got up the next thing I know he is on one knee. I was completely shocked. It makes a lot more sense now looking back as to why my entire family decided to tune in to this specific workout. He (with some help from my best friend) did such a good job making sure everyone knew, but also kept it a complete secret from me. It was so incredible and fun to have this happen in a way for everyone to be a part of it even though we are far away from a lot of our loved ones right now.
A First Date Do-Over
I proposed to Jordan at the Williamsburg waterfront in Brooklyn on March 14. We had ended our first date with a walk along the waterfront back in 2015. He tried to kiss me, but I was not 100 percent out yet and afraid to be seen kissing another man. It only felt right to bring him back to that spot, almost five years later, to show him and the world how much he means to me. I asked, and he said yes. Jordan and I had planned on getting engaged sometime late spring or early summer, but the pandemic pushed me do to it sooner. Even though I proposed before the lockdown, the coronavirus still complicated things. I had booked flights for Jordan’s family to surprise him later that evening, but those had to be canceled because of the growing number of cases in New York City. I spent that week wrestling with the thought of proposing: Is it weird to get engaged during a global pandemic? Am I afraid of commitment? Is anxiety a symptom of coronavirus? But I realized there’s no one I would rather be quarantined with. Now we’re social distancing, just Jordan, me, and our corona-induced angst — it’s love in the time of corona.
Love Is Not Canceled
We had planned on getting engaged for months before Covid-19 hit. We had been designing rings, and Langely had a secret flight planned for mid-March to ask my father’s permission in person. Then we all know how the story goes. The severity of the virus began to really hit and gatherings started getting postponed, public spaces shut down, and restaurants closed — everything was getting canceled. But as we all know, life does not stop. Love does not stop. She didn’t want to put our plans for love and life on hold. So she FaceTimed my dad and asked him over the phone. She said she put a lot of thought into how we could properly honor this moment. How could we share our love and come together with our family and closest friends during this time of physical distancing and quarantine? Blindfolded, she walked me back to a candlelit pool, and had 200 of our closest family and friends muted, waiting on Zoom just out of my sight. She asked me to marry her, and then turned me around to see everyone holding up signs that read “Love is Not Canceled.” To hear the shouts of joy and see everyone jumping up and down waving their signs is something I will never forget. It made us all feel like we have each other, and we’re going to get through this. What followed was a variety show, featuring a trumpet performance, a spoken word poet, an acoustic guitar set, and multiple toasts from close friends. Even after an hour, no one wanted to get off the call; it felt so good to be finally celebrating good news.
Dr. Laura Stokes-Greene and Langely McNeal
‘Are You Ready for Love’
For years, we’d been saying, “What’s the rush?” But after Conor’s uncle passed away suddenly in January, we both started thinking, “What are we waiting for?” Conor thought we’d never get engaged, and would simply start planning a wedding. While he started casually looking at venues online, I avoided the conversation and started planning a proposal. The most important piece was family and friends, so I organized a surprise engagement party at a restaurant we both like in our neighborhood. I picked the first Saturday that every member of our families could attend, April 4. The guest list was roughly 50 people, including nearly 20 surprise guests from out of town — parents, siblings, a niece and nephew, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends. But when the coronavirus crisis became a pandemic, it was clear that our in-person party of hugs and toasts wasn’t in the cards. The plan was always to propose privately at home. We bought a one-bedroom condo last summer on the southern edge of D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood. We’ve made it our own, and it feels meaningful to own something together for the first time. Without a party to waltz into, Zoom was the best way to see everyone’s face and celebrate together. Since nobody had to travel, I bumped up the timing and told everyone to meet me on Zoom at noon on March 21. That morning I made breakfast. We listened to a Dolly Parton podcast. We started getting dressed to go on a walk. Looking for ways to not look anxious, I cleaned the counter and folded laundry. Around 11:45 a.m. I turned on a playlist I made the night before with some of our favorite songs, and we danced around the apartment. When Elton John’s “Are You Ready for Love” came on, I directed Conor to a small marquee sign on the top of our bookshelf where I had changed the letters to read “Are You Ready?” When he found two rings I had placed next to the sign, he assumed it was a practical joke. I asked if he would marry me. He didn’t believe me. It took roughly 30 seconds and some tears to get an answer. He said yes, of course! We opened up my laptop to see dozens of our relatives and closest friends smiling onscreen. We toasted, we laughed, we shared stories. We cried talking about how lucky we are to have not just each other, but the love and support of our families. We looked forward to the incredible party we’ll throw someday, once we can gather in groups again. In dark times, I think we all could use something to look forward to. Conor and I have been talking about marriage for years — it was time to make moves. I simply don’t think we could wait any longer. Love is not just a feeling, it’s a choice. We chose each other long ago. It was time to make it official.
Love Wins, Always
Sarah and I met three years ago to the day, April 4. I had planned an elaborate proposal at our favorite restaurant that would be followed by a surprise engagement party where all her friends and family would fly in from across the United States. The original plan was no longer possible, but I didn’t want to postpone. After a restful day at our apartment in Williamsburg, we went for our usual walk along the water at Domino Park to watch the sunset. It was there that I got down on one knee while our good friend (safely) photographed the moment. Everyone around us was wearing masks and keeping their distance, but they all cheered when she said yes. We picked up a bottle of champagne from a local shop and celebrated with family and friends virtually back at home. In this time of anxiety and uncertainty I wanted to show that love wins, always.
A Staycation Surprise
My boyfriend, Kendrick, had been planning a surprise proposal in Vegas for months, but it was canceled because of the coronavirus. He ended up planning a surprise staycation proposal on April 4 at a loft in Atlanta, with takeout dinner from my favorite restaurant, and he even had an engagement brunch planned for the next day with a few friends.
The Right Time Came at Sunset
I’ve been wanting to propose to Mariana for several months but couldn’t find the right moment. We’ve been dating for three years. We currently live in the small surf town of Rincón, P.R. During the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been staying at her beach house. Her family owns an empty lot in front of the beach, where we enjoy the sunsets every evening. On Monday, March 30, I decided that I was going to propose. It felt like the right moment at a random time. Realizing how valuable life can be and watching the death toll numbers every morning only made it more clear. Life is short. I prepared a bonfire that evening and asked our neighbor to take pictures for us. I bought some beers and a bottle of champagne. She had no idea. As my neighbor was approaching with her camera I knelt and proposed to Mariana. It was the perfect moment with the sunset and the bonfire on an empty beach lot. She said YES!
Rincon, Rincón, Puerto Rico
Birthday Party Proposal
My fiancé, Quincy, proposed to me on my birthday, March 27, in Dallas. He planned a surprise birthday party with six other people so we were below 10. He told me afterward that he planned an amazing event for me but because of Covid-19 he had to cancel. However, he still wanted to propose by any means necessary.
A Painless Proposal
My girlfriend, Paulina, and I decided to have a romantic dinner to celebrate us having lived together for three years. Halfway through dinner, Paulina started to say that she was grateful that I came back to New York from Mexico to be with her during the pandemic. My dad had needed surgery and I’d spent a few weeks in Mexico (where we’re both from) to be with my dad and my family. While there, the pandemic broke out. It was important to me that we stay together so I traveled back to New York on March 21. During our dinner on April 1, I had the engagement ring hidden inside a box of Flanax, so I went to get it from the desk drawer and Paulina was confused as to why I needed medicine so abruptly while she was speaking. I got the ring out from the box of medicine and got down on one knee. We both started laughing and crying, I asked her if she wanted to marry me and she said yes.
A Ring Before Fleeing Brooklyn
After years of dating and living in Washington, San Francisco and Boston, we moved in together in July to Dumbo, Brooklyn. This is our home and I knew I wanted to do it somewhere special. We live on Washington Street with the iconic bridge shot that is normally flooded with tourists. We had planned to travel to Florida to be with her family and then my family was coming up to New York City to celebrate my fathers birthday the following weekend. So I wanted to propose before those events so we could all celebrate. Once I had the blessing from her mother and father, and sister and brother, the plan was in place. The challenge was the pandemic forced both family trips to be canceled, with fear of the virus swarming the city and people fleeing the city I decided I wasn’t going to let a virus get in the way of love — love will go on. We made plans to move out to Long Island for a bit so we were still in proximity to the city for work. On March 26, before we left while we were walking our dog, I had a friend in my building hiding out with an N95 mask on and sunglasses. Before we got in the car to leave the city, I pulled her into the middle of the street and asked her to marry me. She said yes! All of the love from friends and family came pouring in. Everyone was saying this is just what they needed after weeks of coronavirus hysteria and that made it even more special that we brought joy to so many people during this extraordinary time.
First a Riddle, Then a Ring
Asya has the nose of a bloodhound when she sniffs intrigue, so I had to layer things in order to keep her off the scent. To begin, she had to solve a few riddles (all related to our relationship) that I had written to get us to Margaret Hill in St. John, V.I. Once there, she had to decipher that map to find the location of a golden snitch, a walnut-size sphere. When she found the snitch, she was pumped up to play some Quidditch, a fictional sport invented by the author J.K. Rowling for her fantasy book series, “Harry Potter,” but too bad for her, that was my final ruse. Instead of high-flying sports fun, the snitch held a silicon ring. When she opened it up and found it, I proposed with the ring my grandfather had given to my grandmother when he proposed. The proposal on March 13, was planned with some things in the works before the pandemic started making news in China. The spread of the virus was a reminder of how quickly things can change in life and the importance of treasuring those you love.
St. John, V.I.
Not Plan A, B, or Even C
Danny had this day planned for months, with family and close friends flying in from all over the country to be a part of the surprise in Atlanta. This was certainly not Plan A, B, or C. Danny pivoted and planned the perfect and most special engagement on March 21, focusing on the simple things and “us.” The living room was transformed when I went to help our neighbor. Photos mirroring our lives on twine, leading up to boards he made himself with pictures of us filled our transformed living room. He built a homemade chandelier of Edison bulbs and hung it over top of the picnic area. Danny ordered takeout and drinks from our favorite local restaurant, Wrecking Bar. The night ended with a bunch of video calls for virtual celebrations with family and friends and dancing in the living room.
A Socially Distant Celebration
I originally planned to propose a few weeks back. The venue we had booked for the surprise celebration party obviously had to be canceled because of the coronavirus. So I decided to hold off on the proposal until after this corona craziness came to an end. But as the days came and went, it became clear that there wasn’t a definite end in sight, so on March 27, I decided to go for it. We’re quarantined at my now fiancée’s parents house in Haworth, N.J. Instead of the Brooklyn promenade proposal I decided to go for a walk in the local woods with my fiancée and our dog. It was still special in a weird way. About two hours after the proposal we learned that some of the people we were quarantined with actually had coronavirus. That meant we couldn’t celebrate with my parents who were quarantining at their house in Connecticut. Instead of an official celebration, we drove up to Connecticut the next morning and decided to celebrate from a safe distance.
A Walk to Remember
I had been working for weeks to plan a proposal that recreated our first date. A walk in Central Park, drinks at Tavern on the Green, and dinner at Strip House in Midtown. After recently taking a fellowship at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, I was living in Cambridge, Mass., and luckily had plenty of time to get it planned out just right. Once the situation started to look more dire in New York, Krysten and I knew we could more effectively distance ourselves from others in Cambridge, so we encamped at the apartment Harvard has generously provided. I should note, after more than a year of dating long distance (me in D.C. and she in N.Y.C.), this was our first time living together. As we saw that it would be a while before we got back to New York, I took advantage of a very nice day outside to pull off an impromptu change of plans. After lunch, I emailed the Kennedy School’s photographer to see if she’d be available to capture the moment for us (at a distance, of course). We had already agreed to a “date night in” with steak and good wine, so the food was ready to go. One other key element of my previous plan was to gather friends for a toast after the proposal. Once I had the photographer all lined up, I set up a Zoom meeting and was able to invite an even bigger group. With the plan set, all I had to do was convince Krysten to come outside for a quick walk. Since the weather was fantastic, and we had been cooped up inside for a few days, she happily agreed. We walked over to the Weeks Footbridge maintaining a careful six-feet distance from anyone around us and avoiding any contact with surfaces. Our photographer was laying in wait and had graciously marked the perfect spot with an X. As we got there and I reached in my pocket for the ring, our photographer had to quickly reposition me to capture the moment well, which gave some levity in the moment and has maintained its hilarity as we’ve recounted the story. To my delight, Krysten said yes. At a distance, I introduced her to our photographer and we proceeded to take a few photos around the bridge. The few other people around remained safely away from us with a couple of nods and notes of congratulations. Walking back, we FaceTimed with Krysten’s parents to share the news. With family informed and the steak ready to cook, I let Krysten know that all of our friends would join us on Zoom after dinner for a quick toast. About 50 people from all over the country joined us and shared in some favorite moments from their own engagements and weddings. It was a bigger and more diverse gathering than we ever could have arranged in person and saved some significant time with phone calls to friends and relatives to share the news. Now we just have to figure out how to plan a wedding while socially distanced.
Love Is Essential
The whole city was on lockdown, so I decided to lock this down too. At a time when everyone has to categorize what is essential in life or not, it’s easy to see who is essential in your own life. We got engaged on March 20, on our apartment building’s rooftop surrounded by the skyline, with a bottle of champagne and zero bystanders.
A Garden Surprise
My partner, Adam, proposed at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Md., to celebrate our four-year anniversary. I had taken off work on March 30 (the day before our anniversary) as Adam plays in an indie-pop band that was preparing to go on tour on the March 31. Our original plan was to spend the day at the National Museum of African American History and Culture as well as the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to see the butterfly exhibit (the location of our first date), and follow it up with our favorite restaurant in D.C., Iron Gate. His tour was canceled, and all of the museums and restaurants closed, which changed our plans. We decided to keep the 30th free for us and spent the morning running on the towpath at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, and then went to Brookside Gardens in the afternoon. Adam proposed at Brookside Gardens. He told me later in the day that Plan A was proposing at the butterfly habitat at the Smithsonian, but Plan B still made me incredibly happy. That night we celebrated at home with sushi from a favorite local spot, Sushi Jin, and a bottle of champagne.
Silver Spring, Md.
A Proposal Without Question
I originally had planned to propose to Cass at the end of April. I am not the planner in the relationship so I knew she would be particularly surprised if I had organized something special from end to end. We were booked to go to our dream resort in Antigua. Everything was arranged besides secretly coordinating with her business partners for vacation time. A couple we’re close to, one of her best friends and her husband, had also helped me plan a surprise engagement party for all of our friends and family for the night we returned to New York. An eternal optimist, I kept hoping that the situation would improve and I could keep the original plan alive. But eventually I caved; the situation in New York continued to decline. Pragmatism was necessary. My family was due to fly in from Australia, where I’m from, and that no longer felt safe. I canceled everything. The ring had been burning a hole in my mind since January when family friends brought it over from Australia. With each passing day the risk of Cass finding it (she is hyper-organized and loves to “purge” the apartment) increased. Most importantly, I didn’t want our life put on hold more than it already felt like it was. I wanted to bring some joy to the situation. It was a couple of days after I made the call to cancel everything. On Friday, March 20, after a particularly draining day working from home, I took Cass up to our building roof on the Lower East Side to watch the sunset with wine and enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. The great weather meant the roof was a little busy with our neighbors. I couldn’t find a private space. One man in particular was hovering around on what felt like the longest conference call of all time. We finished our wine and Cass was growing impatient (and hungry). She started to walk back to the elevator and I practically had to grab her back. I had to make a decision on a location and fast. The best out of site option was between two grills. I dropped down to one knee, at a loss for words for the first time in my life and handed her the ring box. I forgot to “pop the question,” didn’t say anything I had rehearsed, and put the ring on the wrong finger, but fortunately she got the idea. In the end, it was perfect. She said she wouldn’t have had it any other way.