Happily every after... Four poignant (and very personal) engagement stories
It's a truly milestone moment: your significant other popping the question and asking if you will marry them.
We're not going to claim that women grow up dreaming of big, OTT proposals complete with the likes of a fireworks display. Because, well, obviously not.
But we'd be lying if we said that it's not an incredibly exciting, special, sing-from-the-rooftops occasion. And for many of us, it's also an event that we will remember always.
Here, four HerFamily writers and editors share their own very personal proposal stories...
Alison Bough, 35, a psychologist and a journalist with HerFamily. She is mum to two boys and a girl - her husband proposed in Rome, Italy in 2002.
My other half and I have both harboured a life-long obsession with all things Italian: the language, the art, the architecture, the food and the wine. On a trip to Rome in August 2002 himself suggested that we escape the 28°C city heat by taking a stroll in the shady Villa Borghese gardens at dusk. I agreed, planning to sit down and take the weight off my right foot which was bleeding as a result of walking miles around the Eternal City in a pair of ill-advised sandals.
I was so engrossed with my own hobbling discomfort I failed to notice that he kept stopping for no apparent reason and stating how various spots were “perfect”. We managed to stop at a 3,000-year-old wall leading to the park, a bird aviary, and a pond before I finally became so irritable that I announced (read: shouted at him) I was going to go and sit down - with or without him.
I made it as far as an 18th century fountain along one of the boulevards, and plonked myself down on the edge of it to examine my injured foot. Himself appeared and knelt down in front of me, in my mind to tend to my home-made bandage/sock situation. It transpired that was NOT why he was on one knee.
I think my initial reaction was something along the lines of “oh my god no you’re proposing now when there’s blood all over my foot?!” but once I regained my composure I thankfully remembered to also say yes. I will never forget the moment that he slipped the stunning (yes, I’m biased) ring on my finger in the Villa Borghese surrounded by Rome’s chattering starlings and the scent of lemon, orange, and cypress trees.
We made our way (I limped) to the Via Veneto, the famous Roman street where Federico Fellini filmed La Dolce Vita and celebrated with a champagne dinner. Six years later, we returned to Rome and married in Chiesa di Santa Susanna on the same date we first got engaged, August 6.
Katie Mythen-Lynch is 33 and is News Editor across the Her Channel. Her husband, Johnny, popped the question in 2014 in Co Laois.
People think I’m insane when I say I really didn’t suspect a thing.
There are two reasons I didn’t see it coming: firstly Johnny and I had been together for nine years when he popped the question, secondly he’s very good at planning travel surprises, so the idea of a top secret weekend away didn’t really drum up any suspicion.
In fact, when he told me to pack a bag for a chill weekend away in Ireland in the first week of July, I just threw some leggings, flip-flops and a big white fedora hat in my luggage; I was all set.
Not having a clue where we were off to, I demanded Johnny stop at McDonalds en route. A half-hour later, strawberry milkshake in-hand, he was sweeping me through the gates of Ballyfin Demesne in Co Laois. All I could think about was the leggings. I’ve brought leggings to Ireland’s most exclusive hotel. The staff line out on the front steps to welcome you, a la Downton Abbey. I tried my best to hide my milkshake behind my back.
In a surprise that only he could have planned, there was a Champagne lunch waiting for us in the Picnic House at Ballyfin. He proposed on the porch at the back of the cottage, the sun came out and we had the most perfect afternoon drinking bubbly and staring at the ring. When a waiter arrived to tidy up after lunch we asked him to take a picture.
Afterwards we spent the weekend hanging out in the house (it's like a private paradise behind those big gates) having massages and being waiting on hand and foot before spreading the news.
We spent one of the mornings cycling about the grounds and then, eventually, calling our friends and family to tell them the news. I’ll never forgive myself about the leggings.
Her Channel Editor Gillian Fitzpatrick is 33 and has been married to James for six years. They have two children, a girl aged almost four, and a 15-month-old boy. The couple got engaged in November 2009 in Rome, Italy.
My then-boyfriend of six years, James, and I had decided to go to Rome for my 26th birthday.
November 2009; the midst of our pre-children era – a time in which we enjoyed a couple of trips a year to the Italian capital (what underappreciated bliss!).
We almost didn’t make it; road-works in Drumcondra and our love of a tight turnaround in the airport meant we boarded our Rome-bound flight with only moments to spare. Of course, I didn't understand then the special moment I could have missed out on (I'm sure James would have re-arranged, mind).
We had actually lived in Italy in 2004/2005 for our Erasmus year – taking a break from the UCD campus to live, work, and very occasional study at Universita degli studi Roma Tre.
So of course the city was a natural fit for a proposal. Surrounded by the gentle warmth of early winter in Rome, we went to the stunning Villa Borghese for a picnic: outrageously delicious, simple Italian food and prosecco carried in plastic shopping bags.
When we got to a grassy area close-to to a picturesque pond and the Tempio di Esculapio, I remember James repeatedly patting his inside coat pocket (aka coming across as a bit shifty).
Next he was down on one knee – much to the delight of a couple of shrieking young Italian girls unwittingly bearing witness – proposing with an engagement ring charm for my prized charm bracelet.
I was a bit morto (no Irish person wants to make a scene, after all), a bit shocked (I had definitely NOT seen a proposal coming), and entirely, gloriously happy.
We chose the ring – a classic trilogy set in white gold - once we’d returned to Ireland. And after 14 months, we got married on Stephen’s Green on a gloriously crisp and sunny February afternoon.
Six years and two babies later, Villa Borghese is still just about my favourite place.
Amanda Cassidy, 36, is the Deputy Editor of HerFamily and mum to two girls and a boy - her husband proposed in Marbella, Spain in 2010.
It was Easter; we went for a very long walk on the seafront in southern Spain. My husband kept snapping the ring box open and shut in his shorts pockets... I had thought it was his hip clicking.
And so for the whole time I nagged him for not going to the doctor - and he continued to grin widely.
We got to a little abandoned church on the hill that we always hiked to and while I was peering through the doors he got down on one knee.
I couldn't believe it as we hadn't been together that long. I just kept playfully smacking him about the head saying 'no, no!'
I'm sure I meant 'yes, yes!' but I wasn't entirely sure he was serious (it was also April Fools' Day and he is known to play a prank or two). Finally, I realised he really meant it and we skipped down to the beach hand-in-hand to call everyone we know while scoffing bowls of prawns pil pil and with jugs of sangria. Heaven.
We recently went back to the same place with all three children and had some really lovely moments showing them the place where were we got engaged. It holds such precious memories for us.
Of course, his hip never gave him trouble again...