hidden ann arbor: Ann Arbor's most creative wedding proposals: from the planetarium to the Big House
I was faced with my own proposal dilemma earlier this summer. After dating a special someone for four years, it was time to make it official. Rachel isn’t picky, but she’s particular. I floated a few trial balloons early in the process: Mariachis showing up at the door, a boat full of mariachis landing on the shore up north, mariachis emerging from the woods at dusk. She ixnayed them all. I was out of ideas.
There are plenty of places in Ann Arbor to propose to the one you love. But if you’ve shown an ounce of creativity in life, the expectations are a lot higher. The old ring in the flute of champagne or dog with the ring tied to its collar or “I need to stay in this country, please God help me” proposals won’t work if your potential wife thinks you can do something a little more original. Unfortunately, I’ve displayed this minimum level of creativity and thus had to compete with a window full of robots.
PLANETARIUMS AND PLAYING FIELDS
I corresponded with Planetarium Director Matthew Linke about my Planetarium proposal and over the course of a few emails learned that: a) My idea to propose at the Planetarium wasn’t particularly original; b) The method by which I wanted to propose was pretty much what every guy wants to do; c) If Rachel says no, I will ruin the entire day for everyone in that room.
“We’ve had five proposals total, and all were successful,” Matthew told me. “A few of the proposals didn’t work out logistically and one time the guy just didn’t show up.”
Matthew laments the no-show because he put some work into using his graphic design skills to put a personal proposal message on a rising heart-shaped moon, craters and canyons and all.
Proposals need to happen after the public show to avoid disrupting the proceedings, and, I assume, to save the kids and families from potentially seeing a woman say “no” and a grown man cry. Or vice versa. I opted not to propose at the Planetarium. Partly for scheduling conflicts and partly because they didn’t have any mariachis on staff. (This mariachi thing is a running inside joke. Get used to it.)
I always threatened to propose to Rachel at Michigan Stadium. She’s a Michigan grad and owns a bootleg Denard Robinson T-shirt (Let’s Get Denarded!) but fooseball isn’t her thing. When I take her to a sporting event and the home team scores, she screams “SPORTS!” when everyone cheers. It’s adorable.
Last year, Michigan made the Big House and many of its other facilities available for weddings, parties and special gatherings. Special Events Coordinator Katy Hepner, who arranges many of these events, says that she gets calls from people all the time looking to propose on the field. A handful of couples were engaged on the field last year and a few guys have proposed already this year.
Kyle Travis proposed to his girlfriend at the Big House a little before Halloween.
“I wanted to do it in the biggest, yet most intimate way possible,” Kyle told me in an email. “I thought, where better than in front of 113,000 empty seats?”
Kyle’s girlfriend, Emily, grew up just a few miles from the stadium and is the most passionate female college football fan Kyle knows. He connived to get her to walk down the tunnel and into the stadium with him and then dropped to one knee and proposed before the ghost of Fielding Yost.
Proposals at Michigan Stadium aren’t free—$250 for 30 minutes—but it’s a pretty decent story and a lot more personal than a big-screen proposal, which is available for the same price. Plus you don’t need to be constantly worried that your potential mate might be in the bathroom or checking out Brendan Gibbons when your proposal flashes on the screen.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS AND THE GREAT INDOORS
The great outdoors don’t have to have anything to do with nature. I’m sure there have been plenty of proposals in the concrete sections of the Diag and near that fountain you’re supposed to walk through when you first get to Michigan. I’ve also seen wedding proposals on the marquee at The Michigan Theater (attempts to get specific information on these proposals was unsuccessful, sorry) and I’ve heard of at least one proposal in Liberty Plaza, better known as the site of the highly successful Occupy Ann Arbor movement.
One friend relayed the story of her boyfriend proposing to her after a meal at The Chop House, and I’m guessing that eateries up and down Main Street have been the site of many proposals during all courses of the meal. Not just MainStreet Ventures, but b.d.’s Mongolian Grill, the Heidelberg and I’m guessing a handful of impromptu and non-binding proposals at Rush Street.
In the end, my own proposal was a success. It was creative and meaningful—she was surprised and she said yes. I won’t give particular details because I want to keep the proposal-bar as low as possible for my soon-to-propose brothers out there, but it involved items purchased and rented from multiple Ann Arbor businesses (Shop Local!), sidewalk chalk, and changing into a white tuxedo in front of a Jimmy John’s at 7 a.m. on a weekday. It was pretty magical. And mariachi-free.
Tell me your Ann Arbor proposal stories in the comments below. What’s the coolest love story you’ve heard in our burg?
Richard Retyi returns to AnnArbor.com bigger, better and bigger (he gained a little weight this fall) with his new column Hidden Ann Arbor. Rich will write about the hidden side of Ann Arbor and the things locals take for granted. In his day job, Rich is a social media director for a digital marketing agency in Ann Arbor. Read more of his stuff at RichRetyi.com or follow him on Twitter.