Valentine’s Day and Christmas are two of the most common time for marriage
proposals. But what makes a truly romantic proposal? Deirdre Reynolds was bowled over at
the lengths some will go to

When Audrey Mills and her boyfriend of 18 months jetted off to Finland on holiday, she knew there’d be ice — just not the kind you wear on your ring finger.

With a glistening ski slope all to themselves, romantic Simon Sawyer dropped to one knee and popped the big question, before celebrating with champagne by the open fire of a cosy log cabin.

“We were on our third ski run of the morning,” recalls Audrey from Dublin, who’s now ‘Mrs Sawyer’. “I thought he’d fallen, so I skied over to him — then I saw him down on one knee.

“Finland’s not really known for skiing, so there was absolutely nobody around. Simon had brought a little backpack with the ring and a bottle of champagne — he had it all set up.

“By chance, there was a tepee behind us, so we went inside, cracked open the champagne, and called our family and friends to give them the good news,” continues the mum-of-two, who is a director at Havas Worldwide advertising agency.

“On our last night, we stayed in a glass igloo under the stars, and even caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights — it was magical.”

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Ireland’s other real-life Romeos will be hoping to ‘do a Simon’ this Sunday.

After Christmas Eve, February 14 is unsurprisingly the most popular day of the year for putting a ring on it, studies show.

another dramatic proposal by Scott Davenportat the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.
another dramatic proposal by Scott Davenportat the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre.

From flash mobs to fireworks, the proposal is now almost as big as the nuptials, according to one of Ireland’s leading wedding websites.

“With proposals, like all aspects of weddings these days, couples are increasingly moving away from tradition and doing something that reflects them as a couple,” says Susan Gallagher of OneFabDay.com.

“While a trip to Paris and a proposal at the Eiffel Tower is still considered incredibly romantic, couples are now trying to personalise the proposal.

“With such an important question being asked, the key to securing a yes is to do something different that shows you know them better than anyone else.

Under pressure to make it memorable, even the world’s suavest man doesn’t always get the rules of engagement right.

Speaking to Ellen DeGeneres recently, George Clooney revealed how it took almost half an hour to ask his lawyer girlfriend Amal Alamuddin to become his wife over a candlelit dinner at home in LA.

“We now know — because there was a playlist — how long it actually took,” says Clooney, “and it was, like, 25 minutes. Finally I literally said, ‘Look, I hope the answer’s yes, but I need an answer — cause I’m 52 and I could throw out my hip pretty soon.”

Indeed the silver fox could have done with some tips from drummer Gary Nethaway, who enlisted the help of musician Gavin James to pop the question to fiancé Naomh Kirwin.

Captured on camera at the Powerscourt Hotel in Wicklow last October, the tear-jerking proposal has since been viewed almost 2,000 times on YouTube.

“It was a total surprise,” recalls Niamh, a make-up artist from Dublin. “I just thought we were having a night away because we were working really hard.

Audrey and Simon after he proposed on skis in Finland
Audrey and Simon after he proposed on skis in Finland

“The next morning we were sitting in the lobby having coffee when Gavin James walked in singing ‘For You’, one of my favourite songs. I couldn’t stop crying and had mascara all over my face.

“But what really tipped me over the edge was when I saw our one year-old daughter, Bella, wearing a t-shirt that said, ‘Momma, will you marry Daddy?’ and her big sister Bella, 8, wearing one that said, ‘Please say yes!’”

“It was totally crazy — men in business suits were sobbing and strangers were recording it on their phones.”

After getting down on bended knee on stage at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in 2014, American Scott Davenport says his only regret is not recording the moment he asked his now husband Brad Dodson to make it official, but is hoping a mystery member of the audience can help.

“We both still fondly remember the proposal in Dublin, and it has become one of the central stories of our relationship,” says Scott, who, along with Brad, was performing as part of ‘The Big Gay Sing’ hosted by Panti Bliss in aid of marriage equality.

“When I went down on one knee, everyone stood up and screamed — which only got louder when Brad nodded yes.

“Afterwards it took us a half-hour just to get through the crowd of strangers who wanted to wish us well. Even two days later, touring around the city, people stopped us to congratulate us.

“Our only regret is that we didn’t film it. Someone in the crowd said they’d gotten the whole thing on their cell phone, and I gave them my card, but we never heard from them. We’d love to watch it on our second anniversary this September.”

Another dramatic proposal this year was when the director of the Cork Opera House panto’ made sure the final show was one to remember.

Just before the curtain closed for the last time on Beauty and the Beast, Trevor Ryan surprised both the crowd and his girlfriend, Jennifer O Sullivan, by getting down on one knee and proposing using a Haribo jelly as an engagement ring.

And then last weekend, as 29-year old runner Elaine Murphy crossed the finish line of the Clonakilty Waterfront Marathon she was stopped in her tracks by boyfriend, David Mellamphy who fell to his knees, produced a ring, and proposed marriage.

“I knew she’d be too exhausted to turn around and run away, he quipped.

But with an extra day on the 2016 calendar, now it’s the turn of loved-up ladies to pull out all the stops this leap year. One of the capital’s plushest wedding venues, No 25 Fitzwilliam Place, is even offering one couple the chance to do it in style with a champagne dinner for two served by a butler (for more, go to 25fitzwilliamplace.ie/marryme).

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