Is there anything better than a face full of happy tears?
Michele organised a really personal surprise proposal to Helena in less than a week, and with the help of all of his neighbours up and down the street -a covert operation! Michele recruited volunteers and neighbours and managed to fill the streets with messages of love and appreciation for Helena, before dropping to one knee right outside their home. To ensure that no surprise was spoilt on the home stretch, he shared his location for me to track when they were about 10 minutes away - just enough time for me to get my shoes on, grab my camera and dash out of the door, and to crouch behind a car on the other side of the road (social distancing maintained at all times!) My favourite part was when Helena burst into tears of joy and surprise! But there’s no one better to tell a proposal story than the couple themselves, so I shall hand you over to Michele and Helena.
Michele, where did the idea/inspiration come from? “Despite the lockdown I wanted to make sure I came up with something special. I started writing down ideas and reading about proposals ideas online, I realised that almost all of the proposals required help and coordination of multiple people. If I wanted to do something memorable I needed help from others. This is where I realised I could help from the neighbours. Although we didn’t know many people on the development (aside our immediate neighbours), I saw how kind, helpful and nice everyone is through the Facebook group for local residents. I also saw that during the lockdown many people showed appreciation for the NHS by clapping on Thursday nights and also by displaying on their windows lovely messages and artwork to thank the NHS. One day whilst walking through the development and seeing all the rainbows and messages about the NHS that the idea popped in my mind. At first I wasn’t sure if it was genius or mad, so I consulted with my future best man and my sister who helped me validate and refine it.“ How long had you been planning on proposing? “I can say that I’ve had it in my mind for a while, in December last year I was already looking at rings and thinking about it. Between January and March I had some opportunities to pop the question (for example a long weekend in Rome… yes I know!), but I kept telling myself it had to be just right and I gave myself reasons to wait and plan something nicer or better. Then the lockdown started. The same day we celebrated our 7th anniversary and with so much uncertainty about when life would go back to normal I realised that I could not keep postponing or waiting for the perfect time, and there was no better time than now.” How did you keep it secret? “Keeping it a secret was tough, coordinating everything whilst being together 24/7 was definitely a challenge. I had to get creative, most of the planning happened in the late evenings or whilst Helena was on the phone to family and friends. I ensured that all proposal-related conversations happened on Facebook Messenger, which I uninstalled from my phone and only accessed from my laptop. I can’t say that keeping a secret felt good but it was for the right reason and I’m very glad it all worked out.” Helena, did you suspect anything was up? “I had no idea he was planning this. We had talked about getting married in the past and I knew he’d eventually propose, but I was completely thrown off because he’d mentioned in the past that he’d want it to be special. I was not expecting that special place to be right outside our home. He’d been nervous the whole day and I became concerned, whenever I’d ask, he said that he’d drank too much coffee and so I didn’t dig further. We were in the middle of making dinner when he insisted that we went out for a walk, I thought he simply wanted to go out before the sun went down, though it was strange, because we’d begun walks later than that time. It was such a big shock to my system how he managed to keep it secret, it took a few days to recover.” What did you think of all the signs as you walked past them? “I had seen the NHS messages around and so I thought perhaps it was a variation of that, a new trend that I hadn’t heard of at first. They were such nice words, I asked myself who’d started this trend, who’d got the neighbourhood all loved up. I had no idea they were about a single person, let alone me and the trend setter was by my side next to me the whole time.” What was your favourite part of the proposal, Helena? “Michele's messages were so beautiful. Once I’d interrogated him on how he pulled it off, my favourite part of the proposal had to be the kindness of the residences of Brookwood Farm Drive. He could not have done it without their help. A big thank you to everyone involved, even those that were not able to put up messages but had wanted to. It’s fantastic what a great community this is.” How did you celebrate afterwards? “We drank the champagne. But I also had to get answers! So the interrogation began and somewhere in the middle of that, We finished making dinner, and we sat down to eat and drink.”
Do you have any favourite signs? “All of the signs were so lovely and thoughtful with a sprinkle of cheesiness. But it’s so like Michele! If I had to pick a favourite it’ll be the sign that said ‘You’re my favourite person in the world’ because we often say that to each other.” Have you started wedding planning/have any ideas for wedding planning etc? “We don’t have a clear idea yet, with family and friends spread over multiple countries and continents we still need to decide where and when. All options are on the table, whether that’s in the UK, in either of our native countries, in a neutral location or even to have 2 separate weddings!”
Ahhh, exciting times ahead, and it’s just so heartwarming to see communities rally together to spread some joy. I’m sure whatever you decide to plan will be amazingly personal and thoughtful, and so much fun! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us all!
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