Crazy for Love

At the conclusion of every romantic comedy is an over-the-top proposal, but in real life such an extreme display of affection is only the beginning of the story.

Rock of Love
Make It Better’s own Account Executive Deana Lewis arrived at work one day to find her boss waiting outside. “There’s been a change in plans,” she said as she directed Deana to a chauffeured town car. Deana was handed a small red pouch and the same type of clue card used in “The Amazing Race,” a show she and her boyfriend, Jeff Kaplan, watch without fail. The card, titled “Our Amazing Adventure,” instructed her to go to the location of their first date. Her heart pounded in the car as she listened to Lindsay Mac’s “Seven Stones,” a song she and Jeff heard on their first date. Deana opened the pouch and discovered two stones.

For the next hour, Deana followed clues to spots meaningful to the couple. With each clue came more stones until she landed at Navy Pier. There was Jeff on one knee at the foot of the Ferris wheel as he presented her the seventh stone; a diamond from his grandmother’s ring, set in an engagement ring that he had personally designed.

Grand gestures may not be a necessity, but even if you’re already married, an over-the-top moment can create new traditions unique to the couple. For these couples, the engagement set the tone of what they hoped to build together.

Knight in the Rookery
Does the romance of such a gesture really last? Ten years and two kids later, Chad and Nicole Boomgaarden of Wilmette both still giggle when they recount the tale of Chad’s proposal.

Capitalizing on the beautiful backdrop provided by Nicole’s workplace in The Rookery Building, Chad schemed with co-workers to have Nicole step out of an elevator to discover the first of seven dozen roses. “Seven was her lucky number, from her sports jersey at New Trier, and we had been dating seven years,” Chad explains.

At each turn of the staircase, Nicole discovered another dozen roses with an enclosure that explained the symbolic significance of the color to their relationship. At the bottom of the staircase, holding the final dozen roses, was her knight in shining armor. “The hardest part was finding a costume place that could rent me a suit of armor!”

A Rockefeller Romance
As in marriage, the grace to recover when things don’t go as planned is essential. Ken Jay, of Milwaukee, had called in favors so when his girlfriend arrived in Manhattan just before New Year’s, she would discover a small wrapped box with her engagement ring under the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Hours before she was to arrive, her flight was cancelled. Two days later, Ken proposed to Sharon quietly, on a park bench, and told her of the original plan. While thrilled by his efforts, she claims that “being engaged was more than enough excitement and all I needed.”

The truth is there are rarely fairytale endings. Marriage is filled with difficult moments, tiny victories and even boredom. But romance—even when it’s imperfect—creates a unique story a couple can cherish through the years.