Marriage proposals may be less of a surprise for women today than in the past, but time-honored traditions such as asking parental permission and proposing on bended knee are still popular today.

 New traditions in today’s proposals include unique, personalized events that signify something meaningful in the life of the couple, choosing rings with a special significance, having a photographer or videographer capture the surprise moment, then celebrating afterwards with a party.

 For many couples, a declaration of love might take place far from home in a specially planned destination vacation.

Jillian and Brian

 Jillian and Brian of Fenton Township, who asked not to use their last names, got engaged in Costa Rica over spring break. “We were wading through a waterfall and he went down on his knee to propose,” Jillian said. “I didn’t know this was going to happen so I was shaking and sobbing. All my little boy wanted for Christmas last year was for his mom to have a wedding ring.”

 The couples’ favorite song is “Diamonds or Twine” so Brian, 53, had a piece of twine wrapped around the ring when he presented her with the diamond. He chose the ring for her from Medawar Jewelers without her knowing about it.

 “He knew I wanted a pear-shaped diamond,” Jillian, 35, said.

 The couple is getting married May 15, 2020 in the Florida Keys.

Lauren and Todd

 This couple’s friendship started six years ago when Lauren Ganapini, now 31, moved into the house behind Todd Beard’s parents’ house in Grand Blanc.

 “We are both very involved in our community, and that is how our ‘algorithm’ brought us to where we are now,” Beard, 38, said. “Lauren had volunteered for a fashion show benefitting the Michigan-based charity, Wigs 4 Kids, and tagged the photos online. I had been donating my hair to Wigs 4 Kids for years, so her posts started appearing in my social media feeds more and more often.”

 He began to notice that he and Ganapini, a regional director for Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy, had a lot in common including activities, friends, interests, faith and family. “We would see each other at various charity events in the community, and I saw that we would both be at the World’s Greatest Office Party benefitting Whaley’s Children again,” Beard said.

 Beard decided to propose to Ganapini, 31, on Dec. 7, 2018, the anniversary of that charity event. He designed a ring with Chip Beltinck at Sawyer Jewelers, taking special note of the things that she liked about particular rings.

 “She was so surprised that I was able to do all this, including getting her friends to the event without her knowing,” Beard said. The couple is getting married Nov. 2.

Liz and Ryan

 Closer to home, Fenton native Ryan Tackabury had a custom record made with a collection of his girlfriend’s favorite songs on it, and ended with him asking Liz Kish to marry him on Aug. 16, 2017. The record also featured a custom album cover with pictures of the couple.

 “I had it hidden at Totem Books in Flint. We went there and I managed to get her to stumble upon it,” Tackabury, 30, said. “We listened to it and she heard the proposal on the record on the front porch of her best friend’s house where Liz used to live.”

 The couple got married Sept. 22, 2018. He is the Digital Services Librarian at the Genesee District Library and was a familiar face at the Fenton library for many years. His wife is the Headquarters Branch Librarian at GDL.

Amanda and Chad

     Amanda Carnes was born and raised in Fenton, but her soaring spirit took her on many other travels as she became interested in sustainability and environmental consciousness.

      She became friends with Chad Montgomery of St. Louis, Missouri, with their varied interests taking them worlds apart. They spent time off the grid in Arkansas, met up again in the Canary Islands and after many travels, realized they were meant to be more than just friends.

    After 10 months, Amanda moved to Missouri. The couple started freely talking about their plans for the future. Within the year, Chad got up the gumption to ask Amanda’s father, Greg, for her hand in marriage. He might have chosen a better time than when Greg was holding a shotgun. Luckily, Greg didn’t shoot, but he did warn that Amanda is a handful.

      For their two-year anniversary, Amanda and Chad headed to the desert and while resting near a beautiful desert spring, Chad got down on one knee and proposed.

      The couple is getting married May 19 at The Oakley in Holly.

Paula and Ronny

      When Ronny and Paula Medawar of Fenton Township got engaged, then married 11 years ago, Paula had absolutely no clue of Ronny’s intentions for the future. “I took her to a piece of property in Flushing that I had purchased, thinking that’s where we would build our home,” Ronny said. “I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. The first thing Paula asked was, ‘did you ask my dad first?’”

      Ronny told Paula he was going to build a house, but to make it a home, ‘I can’t do that without you in it.’” Eight months later, they purchased their home in Fenton, not Flushing, and got married.  “It’s a great story,” Ronny said. “We really, really, love making our home here in Fenton.” Now the couple, who own Medawar Jewelers in Fenton, have grown into a family with two children, Mia, 8 and Sammy, 3.

Pam and Tony

     Pam Cornette and Tony Doddie went to their friend, Bob Cook’s home on Loon Lake in Wixom for a Fourth of July party on June 30, 2018. Tony’s friend, Jacob Agrusa, asked Pam to privately go out by the water with him because he wanted to show her a gift he had gotten for her daughter for graduating preschool, Emilia, 4.

      Jacob handed Pam a tablet and pushed play on a video. Tony and Emilia were sitting in the front yard and he asked Emilia who her favorite person was and of course, she said “Mumma.”  Tony then asked, "If Emilia would like to keep him forever."  Tony then said, to have "Mumma" look at the board." Jacob was holding a large poster board that said, “Will you make Tony my stepdad?”

      Pam turned toward Tony, who was down on one knee, with his arms out-stretched, holding a beautiful ring box.  Tony then proceeded to say, "Will you marry me?"

      Pam responded with tears and said, "Yes!" Tony pointed behind Pam to which Pam turned around and all of their friends were holding large poster boards with the words "Will you marry me?"

      The couple and their friends celebrated with champagne and a sunset boating cruise after the surprise proposal.   

      The couple lives in Warren, and will be getting married at The Oakley in Holly, on Aug. 10.


Proposals by the numbers

• Most popular day for proposals: Christmas Day, followed by Valentine’s Day

• 4 in 10 grooms meticulously plan their proposal down to the last detail

• 4.4 months — average proposal planning time

• $7,829 — average cost of engagement ring in 2018

• 33 percent of couples shop for a ring together

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