Harman Grubisa fashion designer Madeleine Harman on her wedding day. Picture / Fiona Andersen.

Adorable Real-Life Proposal Stories

From the creative to the casual, these unique engagement stories are sure to inspire

Advertising executive Jonathan Kemps proposes to Harman Grubisa fashion designer Madeleine Harman:
“Jonathan proposed to me on top of a mountain overlooking Queenstown. After a seven year dating stint as boyfriend and girlfriend inclusive of two independent bouts of long distance (him for a year in Melbourne and I in New York) he caught me totally off guard and proposed while on a family holiday.

After the daily 7.30am drive up the mountain with my younger brother to get him to his ski team, I was woken with the promise of a day off and the car all to ourselves. He said he had some kind of deal to go in a hot air balloon, but that he had just got it online and I had to get up quickly and put some warm clothes on. There were so many questions but he was in such a hurry so I threw on a jumper, which didn't seem enough at all (he assured me it was which was very confusing) and we were out the door.

Disorientated by this whole plan, I asked lots of questions and he could hardly string sentences together that made sense. He was in some kind of sweat, repeated that he was insanely thirsty the whole way and stopped at the gas station to casually guzzle an entire bottle of water.

Next thing we were in a helicopter — just us two and I somewhat tweaked to what was going on. We landed on top of one of the peaks overlooking Queenstown on an absolutely beautiful day — beaming sun, and snow at our feet. The helicopter pilot absolutely disappeared; I have no recollection of where and I turned around to find him on one knee. He pulled the ring out of his shirt pocket (ripping a huge hole in it) and revealed the most amazing diamond I have ever seen. He said something magical, I wish I could remember what, but it ended in “will you marry me?” and that was it. Of course, I said yes.

Stolen Girlfriends Club’s Dan Gosling proposes to fashion PR manager Emma Cruickshank:
“He went to Las Vegas on a work trip and bought me a Chanel ring that I had been obsessed with for quite some time. It was burning a hole in his pocket for a few weeks after his return, then one night we were just having a really lovely evening at home — he went to get the ring and asked me to marry him. It was nice and relaxed as he knows I hate cheesiness.”

General Manager Red Bull Gavin Pook proposes to M.A.C Cosmetics communications manager Tatum Savage:
“Gavin proposed on the day I least suspected of all… my birthday. We had been dating since 2000. Fast forward 10 years to 2010 and an unsuspecting me went about my birthday completely oblivious to Gavin’s nerves and the ring that was apparently “burning a hole” in his pocket. I had a few of my favourite things planned for my birthday: getting my hair done at Stephen Marr, shoe shopping, followed by dinner with 20 of our dearest friends, at my favourite restaurant Ponsonby Rd Bistro. Apparently Gavin had been intending on asking me during the day, pre-dinner, so we could celebrate with our friends but it seems nerves got the better of him.

After a day of utter indulgence we celebrated my birthday with our friends, over champagne and dinner until it came time for dessert. The night was slipping away from Gav and he still hadn’t popped the question! So, unbeknownst to me, he promptly rushed to our maitre’d for the evening, the beautiful Sophie Gilmour, and engaged her in a cunning plan. Apparently Sophie was so nervous she’d get it wrong she had Gavin write down the message word for word.
I recall seeing Gavin appear out from the kitchen carrying a plate with what I assumed was a slice of cake and a candle on it. Everyone belted out “Happy Birthday” and Gavin laid the plate down in front of me. There was definitely some cake on the plate and a candle, but there was also a message scribed in chocolate which read “Will you marry me?” I was so incredibly unsuspecting that I actually whispered to Gav “You’ve given me the wrong plate!” with which he responded with a shake of the head. At that moment I began to scream and cry, and as the news reached each of our friends (all completely unaware of Gav’s proposal), the screams cascaded down the table until the entire restaurant were on their feet to find out what the hell was going on. So enthralled with everything I forgot to give Gavin an answer for a few seconds but of course yelled out a “YES!” Needless to say we drank the bar dry (literally) of champagne and had one of the best nights of our lives. Ponsonby Bistro is still our favourite restaurant of all time, and every time we head there we reminisce over The Proposal.”

Sony Music publicist and co-founder of Women's Collective Taryn Kljakovic (nee Kerr) proposes to doctor and co-founder of Women's Collective Sasha Kljakovic:
“I knew after dating my girlfriend Sasha for six months that I wanted to marry her. So around that time I started collecting images and references online of rings for her. I wasn't a fan of anything generic, because I wanted the ring to symbolise so many things. Eventually I emailed four local jewellery designers and only one of them picked up the phone to call me, rather than email me generic responses - that was Naveya & Sloane. Rachel Sloane, is an incredible creative with such a sophisticated eye, she took my references and descriptions and put together the most perfect design, based on a wreath, with warm yellow gold and diamonds. One evening after work, (Sasha and I had separate places) I was preparing to cook dinner for Sasha and I checked my emails to find a sketch from Rachel of the design we had been working on sitting in my inbox. For some reason, it made me freak out a little. Like I am actually going to do this! This is real! This ring is perfect!

So, I poured myself a glass of wine and I reached into the top of my pantry to grab a Marlborough Light cigarette (I was an 'ex-smoker') and I called my best friend to tell her everything and to get her help making a proposal plan. The initial plan was to wait until December 30th, our anniversary, and to recreate our first date at Depot in Auckland Central - I had Love Actually moments mapped out in my mind.

However, that plan didn't quite work out. Because when Sasha came over for dinner that night, she noticed I was wearing a towel while cooking dinner (odd?) and I appeared to be a bit tipsy, it was a Tuesday night. I was wearing a towel because moments before she arrived, I had had a shower to get rid of the cigarette smoking evidence (Sasha is a Doctor and abhors smoking). Sasha sensed something was up, and started poking me for answers. Later she revealed that she thought I was planning to break up with her! She persisted in trying to get me to confess, and eventually I cracked, telling her everything - but that I didn't want to ask her to marry me over a chicken stir fry - but later in the month at Depot. So, in my kitchen, wearing a towel, cooking chicken stir fry and a little bit tipsy - I inadvertently asked my girlfriend to marry me. She said yes! (Now I’ve quit smoking for real).”

Student services manager Luke Howson proposes to marketing manager Sarah Howson (nee Barry):
I realised my boyfriend might be about to propose when he took me on a surprise trip to Edinburgh from our home in London. We were wandering through the cobbled streets when I noticed what appeared to be a charming passageway wending its way between two beautiful old buildings. We turned down it to explore and I felt my boyfriend stall then compose himself. I knew this was the moment. We would agree to take our first step towards marriage and create a lifelong memory here.

It was also around this point that I realised we were in what was essentially the back end of a nightclub. A beer can lay in the gutter, a steady drip from an air conditioning unit was creating a mouldy patch on the wall below it and I was picking up the faint but unmistakeable scent of urine. My boyfriend seemed oblivious and the next few seconds unfolded in slow motion as I watched him open his mouth to pop the question. “Actually,” I said, “this alleyway isn’t as nice as I thought. Let’s go.” Fortunately, he obliged. He eventually proposed in a landscaped garden at the base of Edinburgh Castle, a far more appropriate setting.

My fiance had opted to give me an inexpensive ring as a placeholder so we could choose the actual engagement ring together. However, after he proposed, my mother-in-law offered to give me his late grandmother’s engagement ring. My initial reaction was a big no – I wanted my own ring, not a hand me down! But when I saw it, I fell in love immediately. My fiance’s grandfather had proposed on reaching Singapore after six weeks at sea. Apparently he proposed in a hurry after discovering half the eligible bachelors on board fancied her as well! I know they had a very happy marriage and I love the fact that my ring has a story behind it and has seen many warm memories made over the years.

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