His grandmother might have had a premonition, because less than three years of dating later, Aaron was ready to pop the question to Miriam, 30, an attorney. “We had been talking about marriage, so I needed to find a way to catch her off guard,” he says. So he told her that a last-minute work event had come up—a cocktail party—and she should come.
As the team was walking to a bar for some after-game drinks, Jodie, 28, an IT analyst, realized she’d forgotten her shirt but decided she was too far away to go back for it. Just then, she saw her teammate Rafal holding an extra white shirt. “I figured it was someone’s from our team,” says Rafal, 28, a private trainer, “and because a few of us were going to the bar, I was going to ask the teammates there if it belonged to any of them.”
So Jodie approached Rafal to tell him it was probably hers. “After the initial conversation about the shirt,” she says, “I asked him if he was headed to the bar because I hadn’t seen him there after our games.” Rafal said he was going, and the two headed on to the bar with the rest of the team.
In January 2008, they were on a cruise to the Caribbean, a yearly tradition with friends. After they’d been dating for almost two years, the thought crossed Julie’s mind that Jeffrey, better known to his friends as Opie, might propose. Despite a 13-year age difference, the pair, who met when Julie’s sister married Opie’s best friend, had hit it off right from the start.
But after formal night on the ship came and went with no proposal, Julie, 24, a contract specialist with the Naval Medical Logistics Command, assumed she was wrong. So when they were docked a few days later in St. Lucia, she was suspecting nothing. Julie and Opie, 37, a Maryland state trooper, spent the morning ziplining through the rain forest with their friends. Later on in the day, the group decided to hike up the side of a mountain to a scenic overlook where the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea collide.
Tiffany Richards arrived at the library at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law at 4 AM on her first day of class. In order to reserve a study carrel for the semester, students had to be there at 6 AM to put their names on the list. Tiffany had picked out her spot the night before, and when she arrived at her carrel, Mike Kudravetz was sitting at the one next door.
“He kept looking over at me, and finally I introduced myself,” says Tiffany, 28. “He had a girlfriend, and I wasn’t looking for anyone, but I didn’t have any friends, so it was nice to meet someone.” Tiffany left some Jolly Ranchers on her desk and a Post-It note for Mike telling him to help himself to the candy. He left a note back: “Good call on the Jolly Ranchers.”
Tiffany and Mike, 29, said hi to each other as they passed on campus over the next two years. The summer between their second and third years of law school, Mike bumped into Tiffany as she was moving things into storage and offered to help. After the semester began again, Tiffany and Mike started seeing each other almost everywhere. “I’d be walking to the YMCA to teach swim lessons and he’d be on a random street,” Tiffany says. “I’d go down a stairwell that nobody ever used, and he’d be there. He was literally everywhere!” Tiffany felt a connection between them, but Mike hadn’t made a move. “As I was getting up the nerve to ask her out, she e-mailed me to ask if I would like to go out sometime,” Mike says. “I called her and made the date.”
Well Chris was interested, and he was completely hooked after Katie gave the waiter her dinner order: red meat. “Not a vegetarian—awesome!” thought Chris, 29, a graphic designer. “Is that steak she ordered medium-rare? Wow.” He didn’t ask for her number that night, but he did successfully stalk her on the Internet, Katie says, finding her e-mail address and contacting her the next day.
Fast-forward two years of dating bliss, and Chris wanted to make sure this one didn’t slip away: “I spent a lot of money on a handmade ring, slept with it under my pillow the night I got it, and bit my nails the entire next morning. I couldn’t wait to get the proposal over with and start celebrating.”
Aaron called Julie a few days later, and they went on their first date to a bar in College Park. “We spent a good chunk of the night playing Pacman,” he says. “I let her beat me, hoping that would make her more friendly toward me. It worked.”
The two dated through the year, and after Aaron graduated, he headed to Philadelphia for a year to work on a political campaign and she went to study abroad in Madrid. “We did the long-distance thing for a while before Aaron was offered a job on the Hill working as a legislative aide, and he came back to DC—to his true love, me, and politics,” says Julie, 25, a third-grade teacher in Potomac.
After catching an early-morning Southwest Airlines flight to Tampa, all La Tosha Lewis wanted to do was catch some shut eye. But as she tried to drift back to sleep, her boyfriend, Aleksandr Plavnik, wouldn’t let her. “He kept bothering me and waking me up,” says La Tosha, 34. So she told Aleksandr, 32, that if he was going to keep her up, he needed to entertain her.
Little did La Tosha know she was in for the show of her life.
While she had dozed off at the beginning of the flight, Aleksandr sneaked out of his seat to tell the flight attendants about the in-flight proposal plan he had hatched. La Tosha, an education lobbyist, and Aleksandr, an architect, were headed to Tampa, her hometown, for a friend’s wedding. “I was looking all over the Internet for different places and ways to propose,” he says. “Then my mom suggested that I do it at the very beginning of the trip on the plane, and as a bonus, those over-seat lights will make this ring sparkle very nicely. I knew it would set the tone for the whole vacation.”
“Tony and I woke up the next day, and he seemed very distracted,” says Theresa, 27, a dance-studio manager. “I thought to myself, ‘The house was flooded, we have to go car shopping because my car was totaled in an unexpected ice storm, and it’s our anniversary, so he must have a lot on his mind.’ ” But the flood and car shopping weren’t all Tony had on his mind. He had a trick up his sleeve the even the flood couldn’t derail. “It put a dent in my pocket, but it didn’t put a wrench in my plan,” says Tony, 26, a superintendent at Arthur Construction Company.
On Halloween 2002, Courtney MacGregor and Joshua Coder, students at James Madison University, got invitations to the same party. Courtney and her roommate, Sarah, had brainstormed costumes, trying to think of famous best-friend duos to dress up as. Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble were the winning choice. “Those costumes were surprisingly easy to put together on a college budget,” says Courtney, 26. “I had a real dog bone tied into my ponytail.”
When Courtney and Sarah arrived at the party, they spotted a familiar face across the room. There was Josh, dressed as Fred Flintstone. Courtney turned to Sarah and said, “I found my Fred!” The matching costumes were a conversation starter, and the two realized they had some friends in common. They took a photo of themselves that night, not knowing they’d look back on their fateful Flintstone matchup for years to come.
Missy, a health-information-technology consultant at CGI, and Brian, a technology consultant at Versivo, met in 2005 when both were working at CGI. They knew each other for more than a year before they started dating, and by the time they reached their two-year anniversary, he was ready to propose.
On their way out to Washington, Virginia, they had lunch and stopped at a few wineries before taking Skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Forest. “I had a list of places where I wanted to propose on Skyline Drive, but there were other people around at the first few,” Brian says. But finally, he found a stop where they were the only two people there.