I used to write articles for a wedding web site in which I interviewed couples about their wedding proposals. I really loved that job. It was so fun to hear all their stories – to hear their excitement, to listen to the parts that were most important to them. Most of the couples were in their mid- to late 20s, although some were in their 30s.
The thing that struck me most — especially now that I’m writing romance novels — is how outrageously sweet and emotional men can be. So many people criticize romance novels as being unrealistic and excessively romantic, but if you heard these REAL stories – about men making elaborate gestures, pointing out ladybugs, breaking down in tears when they propose to the women they love – you’d realize that romance novels aren’t really as far off from real life as you think. …
Some of my faves:
- One young man set up a “beach fishing date” for his intended. He picked her up, swung by to get a pizza for them to share, then took her to a local beach to wander the empty sands on a cool December afternoon. When he found the perfect spot, he laid out the blanket and began putting together his fishing pole. He asked his girlfriend for a hook, and when she opened the tackle box, and began pushing her finger through the hooks to select one, she saw her ring there. He began hugging her almost before she could answer. (She said yes!) Then he opened the pizza box, which held a heart-shaped pizza constructed for their lunch. I thought about all the planning he’d done to put that together and thought it was the sweetest story. (But I especially liked the part where the bride told me she could see him crying beneath his sunglasses.)
- Another young guy took his beloved on a trip to a Calif mountain resort on a supposed photography expedition. He was taking a photography class and said he needed to get some nature shots. They pulled over into a clearing and he took some pictures, then he brought his girlfriend over to sit on a log to relax. He had a card in the back of his shirt (which she stumbled across when he asked her to scratch his back! Plan No. 5), then she read it and it simply said “Will you marry me?” Before she could look up from her surprise, he’d gone down on one knee and produced a ring box. Meanwhile, his camera started snapping pictures, since he’d set it on its timer. He’d managed to capture her surprise and his proposal on film — all perfectly timed. Then they found a cluster of ladybugs — an inside joke they’d shared anyway about a ladybug being good luck — and he took multiple pictures of the ladybugs for her.
As women would tell me their stories — all the tears, all the nervous fiances as they fumbled for rings or hid them in coat pockets in coats that suddenly disappeared, or selected certain dates that meant something to their girlfriends, or selected certain locations that meant something to their girlfriends, or said the sweetest and most romantic things through tears, one thing rang abundantly clear: Men can be much more romantic than we know. And all those people who roll their eyes at romance novel endings? They clearly didn’t have a news job interviewing couples about wedding proposals!
How about you? Do you know a real romance story that seems more romantic than something you could fictionalize?