7 Boca-Area Couples With Heartwarming Proposal Stories, And Where To Pop The Question In South Florida
From Iceland to Baltimore to our very own South Florida, these local couples got engaged in front of beautiful backdrops. Here, they share their proposal stories and photos from the special moments.
Ilyssa Beth Sanders & David Jarrod Altman
What they do: Ilyssa, 25, is a first grade teacher for the School District of Palm Beach County and David, 27, is a hotel broker at Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services.
How they met: Ilyssa and David met on Jdate [a dating site for Jewish singles] and had their first date at the Dubliner in Mizner Park. David says he knew then that she was the “one.”
The proposal: The couple spent the entire day hiking at Piney River Ranch just north of Vail, Colorado. As they were finishing their hike, David suggested asking the next person they saw to take a photo of them. To the next hiker they came across, David handed his camera. As she was shooting, David began his proposal. He dropped to one knee, and Ilyssa started to cry. “I was so caught up in the moment that David had to ask twice before I could respond,” Ilyssa says. Next, the “stranger” taking photos pulled out a bottle of Champagne and a blanket. David had set up the whole thing.
Photographer: Erin Lassahn
Ring Designer: Custom design
Proposal location: Piney River Ranch, Colorado
Wedding date: July 7, 2017
Jamie Russell & Vincent D’Aria
What they do: Jamie, 31, is a public relations manager at Lynn University, and Vincent, 30, is a senior national account manager with Granite Telecommunications.
How they met: Jamie and Vincent met at Loggers’ Run Middle School in Boca Raton, staying friends throughout high school and college. After graduation, the two linked back up. “It was like no time had passed at all, and I knew we had something great between us,” Jamie says.
The proposal: The couple had plans to try out new restaurants during Miami Spice before leaving on vacation in Greece. “All of our friends were sure we’d get engaged there,” Jamie says. After having lunch in Miami, the server offered complimentary tickets to a wine tasting at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. There, they were greeted at the gate for a tour. They walked along Biscayne Bay and ended in a beautiful gazebo where Jamie turned around to find Vincent down on one knee. “I was surprised to say the least,” Jamie says. “He arranged dinner and a gorgeous hotel on Miami Beach for that night. It was truly the best day ever.”
Photographer: Rigoberto Perdomo
Ring designer: Rosenberg Diamonds & Co., Boca Raton
Proposal location: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami
Wedding date: Jan. 2, 2016
Rachel Jordan Harris & Cory Alexander Kaplan
What they do: Rachel, 24, is a registered nurse at Memorial Regional Hospital, and Cory, 24, is an athletic trainer with FAU’s men’s basketball team.
How they met: Cory and Rachel met during first grade at Leewood Elementary School in Miami, but “because of cooties and all, we didn’t become friends until sixth grade—ironically at the same time [Cory] and his family moved,” Rachel says. The two would email daily and sometimes meet for concerts in West Palm Beach throughout high school before attending the University of Florida and beginning to date officially during their junior year.
The proposal: To celebrate Cory’s completion of grad school, the couple planned a European vacation. “As the travel agent in the relationship, I had mapped out pretty much everything,” Rachel says. But Cory wanted one day to make his own itinerary. On “his day,” Cory woke Rachel up at 5 a.m. and drove them to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall outside of Reykjavík. “We had the waterfall almost completely to ourselves,” Rachel recounts, “the only other person being some guy with a professional camera sitting at the base of the falls.” The man offered to take their picture, and as he was shooting, Cory said, “So you know how you think I always ruin surprises?” as he got down on one knee. Cory had arranged for the photographer to be there for the proposal.
Photographer: Paul Woo
Ring designer: Jeff Persily
Proposal location: Seljalandsfoss, Iceland
Wedding date: May 12, 2017
Lara Marie Jones & Louis John D’Lando III
What they do: Lara, 27, is the owner and creative director of Gala Tuesday, and Louis, 32, works in commercial real estate.
How they met: Lara and Louis met over a glass of wine during happy hour, but it took some convincing to get Lara to agree to the date. “My best childhood friend said she had a proposition for me: she and her friend Lauren wanted to set me up with Lauren’s cousin,” Lara recounts. “After hearing so many horror stories about blind dates, I politely declined.” But thanks to her friend’s persistence, a few weeks later Lara and Louis met at American Social. “His voice cracked, and I broke out in hives, but it clearly didn’t prevent what was a year of wonderful dates to follow,” Lara says.
The proposal: Lara and Louis would often wake up early, grab coffee and watch the sun rise from the beach. One Sunday morning, the couple set up on the sand and Louis pulled out his iPod, only to discover it wasn’t working. “To say he was panicked would be an understatement, and I began to grow increasingly suspicious,” Lara says. Improvising, Louis began “YouTubing” meaningful songs to the couple in a specific order—ending with the Coldplay song that was playing the night they met. “As soon as ‘The Scientist’ played through his phone, he got on one knee, voice cracking, and gave me the most beautiful speech and took out a ring you could only dream about from magazines,” Lara says. When she said yes, the couple went to the Sundy House for brunch where their families were waiting to celebrate.
Photographer: Lara’s mother, Pamela Jones
Ring designer: Custom design
Proposal location: South Beach Park in Boca with brunch to follow at the Sundy House
Wedding date: Jan. 28, 2017
Tiffany Joy D’Addio & Colin Cilladi
What they do: Tiffany, 29, is a yacht broker assistant, and Colin, 30, is a civil engineer.
How they met: Colin and Tiffany met by mixing up their white Jeep Cherokees in a Publix parking lot. Tiffany had unlocked her car from across the lot, and Colin, mistaking it for his, was loading his groceries. “After what seemed like an eternity of confusion and even a minor disagreement, I hit the lock button on my keys and my horn sounded, proving it was indeed my Jeep,” Tiffany says. “I quickly tried to break the silence by nervously joking that he could leave his groceries, and I would take them home.” Colin’s response was, “Only if you’re going to make me dinner with them.” After two weeks of texting, the couple did have their first date—which consisted of Tiffany making Colin dinner at her place.
The proposal: Tiffany loves Sombrero Reef in Marathon—so much that she had the nautical coordinates for the reef tattooed on her left wrist. Last July, she and Colin drove to the Keys for the weekend and got up early to snorkel at Sombrero Reef. “We were the only boat on the reef, which was extremely rare for a Saturday,” Tiffany says. She was distracted watching a sea turtle while Colin tried to lure her to the back of the boat so the GoPro he set up could catch the proposal. “After a few attempts, he came to the front of the boat, held my arm and guided me to the back,” she says. “When we were making our way to the back of the boat he said, ‘I lied to you. I don’t want to snorkel.’ At that moment I knew, and I lost it.”
Ring designer: Tacori
Proposal location: Sombrero Reef, Marathon
Wedding date: March 3, 2017
Alexandra Bain & Justin Storey
What they do: Alexandra, 29, is an anesthetist at Aventura Hospital and the Memorial Healthcare System, and Justin, 27, is an anesthetist at the Cleveland Clinic.
How they met: Alexandra and Justin met in grad school at Nova Southeastern University. They dated for a year before facing a challenging six months of long distance dating during clinical rotations. “During that time we both realized we never wanted to be apart that long ever again and couldn’t live without each other,” Alexandra says.
The proposal: The couple took a vacation in Greece during the fall. One night, they were having dinner at a restaurant that overlooked Santorini. As they began a wine tasting, Justin asked the sommelier to take a picture of them in front of the beautiful backdrop. They walked over, and as the photos were being taken, Justin got down on one knee.
Photographer: Sommelier at Lycabettus Restaurant
Ring designer: Lauren B Fine Jewelry and Diamonds in New York
Proposal location: Lycabettus Restaurant in Oia, Santorini, Greece
Wedding date: Sept. 9, 2017
Tina Fotini Petinakis & Shawn Christopher Harris
What they do: Tina, 37, works for Weatherby Healthcare, and Shawn, 35, works for FORBBS Enterprises.
How they met: Tina and Shawn met at a restaurant in Baltimore called Bond Street Social. They had exchanged a number of glances before Tina reached her hand out to him and said, “Hi, I’m Tina.”
The proposal: The couple went to their favorite restaurant in Baltimore to celebrate their one-year anniversary. After, they went to “grab a drink” at the Four Seasons hotel on the fourth floor upper deck, which overlooks the Baltimore Harbor. Shawn led Tina down a path of candles and rose petals that led to a bouquet of white roses and a bottle of Dom Perignon Champagne. A cellist played Etta James’ “At Last” and a photographer began taking photos while Shawn proposed. When Tina said yes, he suggested she call her parents who live in Boca, only to find out they were there and had watched the proposal from a hidden spot.
Photographer: Jessica Nearhood, Kreative Photographics
Ring designer: Welsh International Diamond Broker
Proposal location: Four Seasons Inner Harbor, Baltimore, Maryland
Wedding date: May 31, 2015 at The Addison in Boca Raton
Kate Brown, owner of Just Say Yes Proposals, a South Florida-based company that helps plan proposals, gives us her favorite local spots for popping the big question.
The Little Chalet
Get whisked away to the Swiss Alps at The Little Chalet in Boca Raton. The fondue restaurant offers a delectable menu and cozy atmosphere, reminiscent of a Swiss chalet. Make a reservation in the “proposal room” and request your favorite song from the piano player for that “yes” moment.
485 S. Federal Highway, Boca Raton / 561.325.8000 / thelittlechalet.com
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
Built in the mid-1800s, this picturesque Florida landmark boasts unparalleled views of Jupiter. While the lighthouse is only open until 5 p.m., on certain nights, including Valentine’s Day, it gives Moonlight Tours and allows private, two-person trips to the top in 15-minute increments—just enough time to get down on one knee and celebrate with a glass of Champagne.
500 Captain Armour's Way, Jupiter / 561.747.8380 / jupiterlighthouse.org
Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Morikami is a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. With six unique gardens, there are plenty of beautiful backdrops for a proposal, but our favorites are the Woodruff Memorial Bridge and Morikami Falls. For a fee, you can go during off-hours with a photographer to capture that intimate moment.
4000 Morikami Park Road, Delray Beach / 561.495.0233 / morikami.org
Las Olas Gondola
Discover why Fort Lauderdale is called the “Venice of America” on this romantic gondola ride through the Intracoastal. Bring wine and snacks, and the company will provide music and spectacular views of the city. It even offers a “Message in a Bottle” that allows you to pop the question. Once on board, the proposer will present the bottle to his date so she can pull out the message that reads, “Will you marry me?”
333 N. New River Drive E., Fort Lauderdale / 800.227.1390 / lasolasgondola.com