10 Great Ways to Pop the Question

Here are some of the sweetest, funniest and most heartwarming ways that couples who wed in 2023 asked, “Will you marry me?”

Link to The New York Times article

Memorable Marriage Proposals

In 2023, the weddings industry made a comeback.

Love stories from around the world continued to fill the Weddings pages of The New York Times. And while some of the weddings commemorating these love stories were as grand as ever, micro-weddings and elopements were just as popular.

Before the weddings came the proposals. Couples try to come up with thoughtful ways to ask, “Will you marry me?,” but not everything always goes as planned. An education executive had to think fast when a swarm of bees intercepted his plan. A sales director needed to spell things out for his partner when she couldn’t catch a hint. And a limousine company owner postponed his proposal plans after he lost badly in a game of monopoly and was no longer in the mood for it.

Spontaneous proposals are treasured. One couple proposed to each other with calamari rings during dinner, and another couple got engaged with rainbow fabric rings from a souvenir shop that cost $15.99, plus tax.

Here are 10 unforgettable proposals from couples featured in The New York Times Weddings section last year.

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He Acted Out a Charades Clue Three Years Later
In 2019, during a round of charades after Thanksgiving dinner at Adam Purdy’s family’s home in Montclair, N.J., Katie Schad jokingly scribbled a clue on a piece of paper for Mr. Purdy.

It said: “Marry Me Katie,” which he acted out, and then hid in his pocket. He later put the slip of paper in a plastic bag so the ink would not fade.

In February 2022, Mr. Purdy once again acted out the charades clue Ms. Schad had written. He decorated their coffee table with candles and rose petals and placed the old charades clue in a frame and presented it to her.

Mr. Purdy read a poem he wrote. He then got down on one knee, and asked: “Will you marry me?”

They opened a bottle of champagne and celebrated alongside their cat, Max, who died in July 2022.

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The couple married on May 20, 2023.

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Rainbow Rings that Cost $15.99 Plus Tax
In August 2021, Molly Gaebe and Leila Bozorg were staying in a rental in Fire Island, N.Y., when Hurricane Henri swept through the town. The couple evacuated the house and sheltered in a hotel through the worst of the storm.

Ms. Gaebe wanted to turn around the experience, and so she started hatching her plan to propose. She bought a rainbow fabric ring the next day and asked Boudoir LeFleur, one of the couple’s favorite drag queens, to be a part of the proposal.

Halfway through Boudoir LeFleur’s show at Cherry’s on the Bay, a restaurant and venue on Fire Island, she called out in mock innocence: “Is Molly in the room?”

“Leila joon,” Ms. Gaebe said onstage, using a Farsi endearment. When Ms. Bozorg joined her, Ms. Gaebe got down on one knee with the rainbow fabric ring she’d picked up that day from a local souvenir shop.

“I wanted something gaudy, tacky, fun, and gay — something that symbolized the spontaneity, joy, and adventure of love and the romance of being in the moment, exactly where you are and as you are,” Ms. Gaebe said. “Because love doesn’t need a script or a plan or a diamond ring. It just needs two hearts, one crazy idea, and $15.99 plus tax.”

They married on June 24, 2023.

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A Special Scrapbook Completed Six Years Later
On their first anniversary as a couple, in 2015, Karina Rodriguez gifted Andrew Levin a scrapbook that chronicled their year together; half of it was left empty, and it ended with a page that said “to be continued.”

Then, for their third anniversary, Ms. Rodriguez filled the second half with photos of all the places they’d traveled to together since, and ended it with a question: “Where will we go next?” They kept the scrapbook on their coffee table since then.

For the proposal, in December 2021, Mr. Levin taped a ring at the end of the book, answering Ms. Rodriguez’s question from years before: “Anywhere is fine with me, as long as I’m with you.”

He presented it to her a few days after Christmas during their yearly holiday gift exchange. She recalled paging through it and reliving their memories: “We were walking through our relationship from Year 1, and I had no idea what was going on.” That is, until she reached the page with the ring and immediately dropped the book and started crying.

They wed on June 10, 2023.

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A ‘Flawless’ Proposal That Took a Few Tries — and the Fire Department
In 2021, during the holidays, Michael Greene bought a diamond ring and decided he would pop the big question to Tomika Anderson on New Year’s Eve. But after Ms. Anderson “whooped his butt in Monopoly so bad,” she said, he was no longer in the mood to propose. He decided to wait until the next day.

But things went awry the following day, as well. He proposed to her on Jan. 1, 2022, while she was coming out of the shower with her hair “half wet, half dry,” she said. He pulled the ring out of a velvet bag rather than a box because there was an inventory shortage at the time.

“I was looking at him like, ‘Are you serious? This is how you want to propose?,’” she said.

“She was about to beat me up,” he added.

Additionally, when she tried to take the ring off the following day, it would not budge — “not with butter, not with soap, nothing,” she said. They ultimately went to the fire department, and a firefighter clipped it off.

After a disappointing proposal, and a broken ring (they were able to salvage the diamond), she asked him for a “do-over,” she said, which took place on Valentine’s Day.

The do-over was “flawless,” Ms. Anderson said.

Together, they chose a new band for the diamond, and Mr. Greene arranged for a makeup artist, a limousine, a red carpet and a private suite decorated with roses at La Vie in Washington, Ms. Anderson’s favorite restaurant.

On March 4, the couple were wed in Turks and Caicos.

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A Swarm of Bees Harshed Their Buzz
Peter Walters secretly set up a picnic overlooking the Great South Bay for his proposal to Ray Quintero on Fire Island in June 2020. He hid two Cartier rings and a bottle of champagne under leaves and branches, and wrote “Marry Me” in the sand.

But, a few hours later while the two were en route, Mr. Quintero spotted a swarm of bees. Mr. Quintero had been deathly afraid of bees since he was a child, and he bolted.

Mr. Walters walked another 30 minutes by himself to gather everything up, and later resorted to Plan B.

That evening, Mr. Walters got down on one knee on their balcony as the moon rose over the ocean. After Mr. Walters proposed, Mr. Quintero proposed with the other Cartier ring.

“I have since embraced bees,” said Mr. Quintero, who from that day overcame his phobia.

On April 21, 2023, the two were married at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau.

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He Wrote Her a Message in the Sand, But She Ignored It
On a hike during a vacation on the Hawaiian island of Kauai in September 2016, Brooke Rinehart stopped for a snack at a beach when she noticed that someone had written “Will You Marry Me?” in the sand.

“I was like, this is awkward,” she said. “We’re going to witness it and I’ll have to say, ‘It’s OK, I don’t mind not being engaged.’” She was on the trip with Tom Sinnott, her boyfriend of four and a half years.

On the beach, Mr. Sinnot tried to draw Ms. Rinehart’s attention to the message he had covertly written in the sand. But she, believing it was for someone else, adamantly ignored it. “I was stepping over and pretending not to see it,” she said.

Finally, Mr. Sinnott asked her to look. “I said, ‘I guess someone is asking someone to marry them,’” Ms. Rinehart said. When she turned around, Mr. Sinnott was on his knees with a pink sapphire ring in his hand.

Ms. Rinehart worried that he was asking out of panicked propriety. They had learned only a week earlier that she was pregnant. “I started an elaborate questioning, ‘Are you just doing this because I’m pregnant? When did you buy the ring?’,” she asked.

Mr. Sinnott patiently answered her questions — no and six months ago — but people were gathering. “He said, ‘You know everyone’s looking at us, and you haven’t said yes’,” Ms. Rinehart said.

“I was like, ‘Of course the answer is yes, I thought that was a given,’” she said.

The couple wed on June 16, 2023.

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In November 2021, Travis Cronin invited Kevin Barlowski to the Thomas Hooker Brewery at Colt in Hartford, Conn., where they had their first date, under the guise of a Friendsgiving.

En route, Mr. Barlowski, oblivious to the proposal, was greeted by friends, who gifted him with one white rose at a time (in the apartment building elevator, in the brewery parking lot), and by the couples’ parents upon entering the brewery.

55 friends and family members congregated inside, banging on the windows and cheering. Realizing a proposal was underway, Mr. Barlowski clutched his chest and began sobbing. He then saw Mr. Cronin, the last person to hand him a white rose, and said yes.

The two wed on Sept. 15.

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Mr. Barlowski’s proposal to Mr. Cronin, in August 2023, was no less heartfelt. He proposed in the backyard of their home in West Hartford, Conn, three weeks before their wedding was set to take place. (“I owed that man a ring, and I was right down to the wire with it,” Mr. Barlowski said.)

Mr. Cronin was driving to their home, and Mr. Barlowski had left a QR code on the steering wheel with a playlist of their favorite songs. “I cried happy tears much of the way back,” Mr. Cronin said.

Once he arrived home, Mr. Cronin walked up a moss-encased staircase book ended by fairy lights to find a luxurious picnic where Mr. Barlowski played “Everytime” by Britney Spears on a rented piano alongside a string quartet. The quartet performed for two hours, including the songs “What Dreams Are Made Of” by Hilary Duff and “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion.

They married on Sept. 15.

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Zeke Smith and Nico Santos met at the GLAAD Media Awards in April 2018. Four years later, the couple were presenting onstage at the 2022 GLAAD Media Awards, reading off a teleprompter.

Once the script ended, and Mr. Smith kept talking, Mr. Santos’s face broke. “I’m like, ‘Why is he still talking?,’” he recalled.

“Your love has taught me how to love,” Mr. Smith said onstage. “You are my other half, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” He then got down on one knee.

The audience at the awards ceremony, which honors media for their accurate and inclusive representation of the L.G.B.T.Q. community, erupted into applause.

Both Mr. Smith and Mr. Santos are prominent members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community in Los Angeles. Mr. Smith said that the moment was even more special because it happened during a night that celebrates inclusion. “It felt really electric.”

The couple married on Nov. 4.

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Allie Mitchell and Kyle Carlock both graduated from Louisiana State University, and they are big L.S.U. Tigers football fans. In July 2022, Mr. Carlock arranged a tour of the Tiger Stadium for the two of them, along with Ms. Mitchell’s sister and her brother-in-law.

When they got to the top of the stadium, Mr. Carlock managed to snag some alone time, and he proposed.

Ms. Mitchell’s maternal grandparents, Francisco Mendez and Reina Mendez, originally from Cuba, came to the United States in 1962. They had lost all their possessions, including Ms. Mendez’s wedding ring. Mr. Mendez replaced it with a simple band and later with a diamond ring. Mr. Carlock proposed with that ring.

“Wearing it makes me feel like I always have them with me no matter what,” Ms. Mitchell said. “Kyle unfortunately was never able to meet them. It makes me feel like they are still connected.”

They were married on April 15.