The Proposal

March 20 was National Proposal Day. Somehow we missed it until it was a bit too late to get this written and posted on Proposal Day. But better late than never, right?

We’ve heard a lot of great proposal stories….at the ball park with the announcement on the big screen (what if she’d said NO???), in Disney World with Mickey Mouse in the background, on the beach while fireworks were shooting off on the 4th of July, dropping the ring in a glass of champagne (and worrying that she’d swallow it by accident!), etc. We particularly like one in which the guy had t-shirts made for a bunch of their friends, each with a word from the phrase “I love you. Will you marry me?” and everyone putting them on at the same time and lining up while he got down on one knee. These are actually all real stories we’ve heard from friends or actually been a part of.

There are as many stories about how he proposed as there are engaged couples. Think about it. To be engaged, someone has to ask someone else. And yes, it’s almost always the guy asking the girl.

Now the trend is for someone to secretly photograph the event. Which is usually a bit tricky, because if she sees a photographer or someone with a camera and all of a sudden her boyfriend starts acting a bit strange, well it’s almost a giveaway that there’s something getting ready to go down. And usually the next step is him going down on one knee, and well, you know the rest!

I love hearing stories of how our grooms proposed. It’s one of the first questions I ask. It helps to get to know the couple better, and really gives a lot of insight into how they want their wedding to be.

The trend today for getting engaged, is not just for the guy to buy a ring and present it to her at the right time. Today a lot of proposals are very well thought out and planned in advance. Lots of wedding planners even get involved in planning proposals! While we haven’t done that yet, there’s always a first time!

But back some thirty years ago when my husband and I got engaged, these special event proposals weren’t the trend. In any way, shape or form.

But then again, I do have to say, that my husband has always been very creative, and a bit on the cutting edge, shall we say. And his proposal to me was something I never, ever expected. Sure we’d done the customary looking at a few rings (after all, we’d met at a local mall, and there were a lot of jewelry stores there), but we’d not really talked much about getting married.

The “engagement day” started out like any other typical Monday morning at my office. I was working as a property manager in the Washington, DC area then, and Monday mornings were always office days to catch up on any disasters from the weekend! Monday morning meetings weren’t unusual, either, although I didn’t know there was one scheduled that morning. And I thought my boss was in an unusually good mood, not typical for a Monday morning at all!

But I thought nothing of it. So when he came over to my desk and said we were all getting together in the conference room for a quick meeting, I didn’t think anything about it.


Imagine my surprise when I walked in, and the ENTIRE office was in there. And I was pointed to a chair in the middle of the room full of people and told to sit. Uh oh….what have I done now? Then I saw someone with a camera. I was really worried then.

All of a sudden, the door opens, and here comes a man in a white tux, complete with white bow tie and tails, a white top hat and a cane! (His name was Mr. Wonderful, and was from a company called Eastern Onion! I have a certificate saying that somewhere!) And he came over to me, asked if I were Deborah Chapman, and then said, “I have a message for you from Ben Newell.” Oh. My. Gosh! What now? And before I could even react, he started singing to me about how much Ben loved me, did some dance routine, and then got down on one knee in front of me and said Ben sent HIM to ask if I’d marry him! And he handed me this beautiful ring that we’d been looking at! Do I remember the song? Heck, no! I was in total shock, and speechless, and for those who know me well, you KNOW that is a totally unusual occurrence!

Of course there were pictures being taken, and to this day I have no earthly idea where in the world they are! I would really, really like to see them again!

He ended his routine telling me that Ben was waiting for his answer, and then bowed, and left! While I sat there in shock, and embarrassment (yes!), and wondering what I was supposed to do next, while everyone in the room was applauding and congratulating me! They’d all been in on it, and how they kept it all a secret, I have no idea.

Naturally when I walked out of the conference room, I expected Ben to be there. Well, wouldn’t you? I mean the man had just asked me to marry him! But no, he wasn’t anywhere to be found. OK. Maybe he was at my desk waiting to surprise me. No. OK.

Since it was prior to the days of cell phones and instant contact, all I could do was try to call him at his office. And of course his secretary put me through. I could tell from his voice he’d been expecting my call. And what’s the first thing I say? “Where are you?” Uh….you called me at the office so where do you think I am? “Why aren’t you here?” Why should I be? “I just got a visitor. The one you hired.”

I could hear the smile coming through the phone. “And did you like the visitor?” Of course I did! But why aren’t you here? “Well, I figured you’d call me after he left. What’s your answer?” Well, it’s yes, of course, but did you think I’d say no so you decided not to come in case I that’s what I said? And the ring is beautiful but it needs to be sized!

Oh yeah. I said that. How romantic!

But the rest is history, as the saying goes.

We both still laugh at that story, and it’s been almost thirty years. Ben was certainly ahead of his time in that one. And it’s never been a dull moment since! I may pick on him a lot, but yes, I still love him!

And I’m glad I said “YES!”

Photo Sources: 1st Row: Claire Durkin Photography via; via flickr- 2nd Row:; 3rd Row: Otta;

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