What do flash mobs, bowing deer and scavenger hunts have to do with marriage?

Photo by Loannis/Flytographer
Alissa Fricke and Young Paik

I don’t have the sweet engagement story. No one is saying “awww” after hearing our tale. It’s nontraditional and convoluted — sort of like our lives together. We bought a house, announced our plans to marry and then chose a ring and a place for the ceremony and reception. With those details out of the way, Ryan made the official proposal at the Rose Garden in Independence Park. He was, at least, on one knee.

A spur of the moment request can be just as special as a carefully orchestrated marriage proposal with flash mobs, bowing deer and scavenger hunts —  it’s all part of a couple’s story. But those funny, heart-warming and over-the-top marriage proposals sure do make for good reading.

That said, enjoy these 10 engagement stories of local couples:

(1) Melodee Coleman and Mary Wallace

Melodee and Mary have been dating since 2017. Melodee planned an elaborate flash mob engagement proposal at the Urban Garden in Uptown using local professional dancers and friends. It took months of preparation, but it all came together on February 7. They’re planning a wedding for next spring.

Video by Alan Daly of Crown Alley Films

“Melodee totally surprised me. I was in Uptown for a meeting, and I thought we were later attending a friend’s birthday celebration. Instead, a flash mob began dancing to “Somebody Loves You” by Betty Who and “You Make Loving Fun” by Fleetwood Mac. I began filming the dancing on my phone, not realizing the presentation was for me. My friends came up behind me during the dance and handed me Calla Lilies, and then joined the flash mob. After the event, we spent hours giggling and laughing about all that went into the planning, the secret rehearsals and the magnitude of everyone keeping this secret for so long — amazing.”

(2) Morgan Beggs and Katie Coleman

Courtesy of Katie Coleman
Morgan Beggs and Katie Coleman

Katie and Morgan live in Charlotte’s Gold District. They’d been dating more than two years when Morgan popped the question on March 10 at The Battery in Charleston in front of their friends. Katie knew that he had designed a ring and that it was on its way, but she didn’t know when the proposal was coming. The wedding is planned for September 2020.

“Our group had brunch at 5Church that morning, and then we walked along Waterfront Park and Rainbow Row, petting every dog who walked past. After meeting a five-month-old golden retriever, Morgan asked one of our friends to take a picture of us at The Battery. After what felt like forever posing for pictures, Morgan dropped to one knee and I nearly panicked at the thought of him dropping the ring into the harbor. It was short and sweet; Morgan said that the past 25 months have been better than he ever dreamed, and that nothing would make him happier than me agreeing to be his wife. My answer was, ‘Of course.’ After hugs and laughter, we were greeted by more dogs. It was the best day.”

(3) Ryan Bollinger and Margaret Macari

Courtesy of Margaret Macari
Ryan Bollinger and Margaret Macari

Ryan surprised Maggie, his girlfriend of six years, by proposing to her on February 16 at The Ballantyne. They’ll marry on May 9, 2020, at the same hotel. They live in Pineville.

“Ryan spent quite a bit of time planning the proposal. He told me we were going to the hotel for a wine tasting event with my best friend and a couple of other friends. We were early, so we went out on the balcony. Ryan took my hand and told me how much he loved me and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He then reached down to his sock for the ring. It was cute because he struggled to get the ring out. Then he got down on one knee. I’m not sure exactly what he said because I was in shock — but I said yes.

“My dad proposed to my mom by pulling the engagement ring out of his sock, so it has been a running joke for years in my family. Ryan wanted to incorporate that into our proposal.”

(4) Jason Boschan and Carrie Reese  

Courtesy of Carrie Reese
Carrie Reese and Jason Boschan

Jason surprised Carrie, his girlfriend of almost two years, with a marriage proposal on February 28, 2018. They were in Japan for the 2018 Tokyo Marathon. The couple lives in SouthPark and will marry May 11 at the Belk Chapel on the Queens University of Charlotte’s campus.

“We stopped in Nara Deer Park in a quaint town called Kyoto, where the deer are known to bow to you if you bow to them first. After walking around the park and bowing to the community deer, we stopped at an open field and Jason bowed to me and said, ‘I bow to you,’ to which I responded with a polite bow, ‘I bow to you, too.’ Jason, again bowing, continues, ‘Unlike the deer, I bow to you for life.’ Then, he transformed his bow into a proposal-kneeling stance and presented the ring to me. Screaming and crying tears of absolute joy, I exclaimed, ‘Yes!’”

(5) Melissa Cantey and Isa Carnegie

Photo via Marcus Greene, One Deep Photography
Melissa Cantey and Isa Carnegie

Melissa and Isa were engaged on March 12 in Honolulu, Hawaii. They were there visiting her brother and celebrating their one-year dating anniversary. They live in the University area and plan to marry next September in Charlotte.

“We had dinner on the beach where I felt like he was being weird the whole time, but I had no idea what was wrong. After dinner he asked me to walk to the beach with him, even though it was drizzling. Isa told me he had one last anniversary gift for me, and when I turned around he was on one knee. I saw my brother and his girlfriend walking over snapping pictures with a bottle of champagne, and we celebrated right there on the beach.”

(6) Amy Cook and Kevin Kemery

Photo by Kaylee Kemery
Amy Cook and Kevin Kemery

Amy and Kevin live in LoSo (Lower Southend) and have been together for three years. Kevin proposed on Amy’s 40th birthday in Paris in front of the Eiffel Tower on July 6, 2018. They married at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse on February 18.

“I thought we were posing for a picture that his daughter was taking in the distance. We sat down, she counted to three and boom — out came the ring.”

[Related: Planning a bachelorette party? 48 hours in Vegas is just right]

(7) Derek and Millicent Dalzell

Courtesy of Millicent Dalzell

Millicent and Derek live just outside Charlotte in Belmont. They were engaged on January 11, 2015 on the banks of Lake Michigan and married more than a year later in Benton, Louisiana. A journal Derek created during their two and a half years together played a part of a scavenger hunt marriage proposal.

“Millicent and I were 1000 miles away from one another, because we were in graduate schools in separate cities. I couldn’t bear to be without her. Eventually, I started to keep a journal of our conversations and time spent together.

“I had the journal printed and all of our photos placed inside it. I led her on a jogging scavenger hunt in 10-degree weather. Finally, we arrived at the last clue and Millicent read my final journal entry, ‘Asking for your parents’ permission.’ As she read it, she started to cry. I grabbed the ring out of my pocket and got down on one knee. I’m not exactly sure of the words I used, but I still remember her saying yes.”

(8) Alissa Fricke and Young Paik

Photo by Loannis in Santorini for Flytographer
Alissa Fricke and Young Paik

Also pictured at top. Alissa and Young have been together for more than four years. They live in Evansville, Indiana, and have chosen Charlotte for a destination wedding in May 2020 at the Duke Mansion. They were engaged on August 5 in Santorini, Greece.

“Although I thought I had planned our trip to Greece, Young was a step ahead, planning a secret agenda that fit flawlessly into mine. His friends had suggested a specific restaurant in Santorini, which we scheduled for several days into our trip. I was prepared for a fancy meal and delicious cocktails. I told Young I wanted to take photos before the dinner. On the walk to dinner, Young said, ‘Here’s your chance for a photo with the view.’ He asked a stranger to take a photo with his phone, but as soon as Young turned to me and started talking, the man turned into a full-on photographer.

“After Young proposed, he shook hands with the photographer who played the stranger, and said, ‘nice to finally meet you.’ They had been talking by phone and text for a while.”

(9) Chris Hildebrand and Sarah Krikke  

Courtesy of Chris Hildebrand
Chris Hildebrand and Sarah Krikke

Sarah and Chris met two years ago at a local hospital, where they both work. They’d been dating for a  year, when Chris asked her to marry him at the front desk of the operating room — at 6 a.m. on December 12. She wasn’t completely surprised because she’d picked out the ring, but was thrown off by the early morning proposal. They’ll marry at the Terrace at Cedar Hill on June 15.

“I told the people what I was going to do that morning. I asked them to be cool and get their cameras ready. The lady that works at the front desk decided to play music over the loudspeaker.

“Every morning Sarah puts out her hand wanting a piece of gum. That morning when she came looking for a piece of gum with her hand held out, I placed the ring in her hand instead of a piece of gum. She started laughing and tried to walk away, but I grabbed her and said ‘This is happening now.’  So I took the ring and got down on one knee and proposed.”

(10) Megan Reinhardt and Cullen West

Courtesy of Megan Reinhardt
Megan Reinhardt and Cullen West

NoDa residents Megan and Cullen were engaged last year on March 22 at Lazy 5 Ranch in Mooresville, the place of their very first kiss. Their ceremony this June will be at Cordelia Park with a reception at Heist Brewery’s Canteen Room.

“Lazy 5 Ranch was where Cullen took me on our first date. He mentioned in the weeks leading up to the proposal that he wanted to go back there for his birthday.

“We drove around the sanctuary and fed the animals. We walked into a greenhouse with ducks, a pond, and greenery, where he had kissed me for the first time six years before. He kissed me and nervously pulled a box out of his pocket. He told me he brought me there for more than his birthday day adventure and asked me if I would marry him.”

Responses were lightly edited for brevity and clarity.


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