If you’re anything like us, you’re a little sick of seeing the word “unprecedented” everywhere. Except lockdown truly is.
For plenty of couples, this is the first time they’ve been alone together, 24/7, for months on end, and navigating everything that throws at you. While it definitely has its tough moments, it’s also made lots of couples realise how much they want to spend the rest of their life with the person they love.
We spoke to three couples who said ‘Yes!’ during lockdown and discovered what it was really like to get proposed to during a global pandemic. From cancelled holidays where romantic proposals were planned to rings getting stuck in shut-down jewellery shops, lockdown certainly threw a spanner in the works! Add in not being able to hug your loved ones or tell them the good news face-to-face, and lockdown proposals really were – yep – an unprecedented experience.
So, what does it feel like to get engaged during lockdown? How do you celebrate when you can’t see family and friends? Can you start planning when everything is shut? Three brides-to-be shared their stories.
Karina and Johnny
Karina Taylor, 27, and Jonny Allan, 35, live in the French alps resort of Courchevel. They were taking a walk up in the mountains when Jonny popped the question on 25th April, about five weeks into their lockdown. Karina and Jonny have been together for three and a half years.
“During lockdown, we’d been having glorious weather but it was due to change to storms from the Monday, so on the Saturday Jonny said we were going for a big dog walk to make the most of the sun (we have two French bulldogs). After hiking up through the forest we came to a clearing with the most amazing views, where we stopped to catch our breath.
When I said 'This is one of my favourite views of where we live', he shouted my name and when I turned around, there he was on one knee with a ring in hand!
“When I said ‘This is one of my favourite views of where we live’, he shouted my name and when I turned around, there he was on one knee with a ring in hand! I was totally shocked, and walked towards him when he asked, ‘Will you marry me?’ I, of course, said yes, hugged, kissed and just stared at the ring for I don’t know how long! It was perfect.
Jonny told me the ring had actually been hidden in our house for two months! His original plan was to propose up the mountain on a ski day, but then lockdown happened.
“We then walked home where there was plenty of prosecco waiting, FaceTimed our family and friends, and celebrated for the rest of the day. The next day, Jonny told me the ring had actually been hidden in our house for two months! His original plan was to propose up the mountain on a ski day, but then lockdown happened. So, roughly five weeks into lockdown, he finally decided to pop the question! He had the ring made in the UK, and brought out by his friend who came for a holiday with us just before lockdown!
“I knew I wanted to marry Jonny after about one year of being together, so getting engaged is something we’ve spoke about a lot. I knew it would happen within the next two years, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be in the middle of a global pandemic!
“Luckily in France we have been out of lockdown for around a month now, so we’ve been able to celebrate with our friends here but are hoping to get back to the UK in October to celebrate with our family there – luckily technology has helped massively for the ‘virtual celebrations’!
In France, we have been out of lockdown for around a month, so we've been able to celebrate with our friends here. We're hoping to get back to the UK in October to celebrate with our family there - technology has helped massively for the 'virtual celebrations'!
“Jonny is originally from Newcastle and I’m from Warrington. It will be great to have an ‘official’ celebration with all our family and friends who we haven’t seen there for over a year!”
“We know that we are definitely going to get married in France and have a rough idea of the type of venues we would like, so we have started looking but have no set dates or anything yet. At the moment we’re just enjoying being engaged, and having the excitement of planning to look forward too!”
Emma and Phil
Emma Garrett, 30, and Phil Thomson, 29, both work as scientists and are based in the Midlands. They’ve been together for two and a half years and Phil took Emma back to the Peak District spot they had their first date to pop the question.
“We’d been friends for over 10 years since university where we both studied for our PhDs. After moving away for work for a few years, our jobs brought us back to the Midlands where catching up turned into something more. We’ve not been apart since. We moved in together only a few months later and bought a house together last year.
We had planned to go away to celebrate our second anniversary but, due to lockdown, were not able to do so. We decided to take the day off work and walk to one of our favourite places in the area.
“We’d always spoken about getting married but life had got in the way. We had planned to go away to celebrate our second anniversary but due to lockdown were not able to do so. We decided to take the day off work and walk to one of our favourite places in the area, The Roaches in the Peak District. We’d been there on our first date and many times since. The weather was meant to be wet so we decided to take a pop-up tent along with us in case we needed shelter when eating our home-bought picnic. We’d decided to make all our favourite foods to break up the monotony of lockdown!
“The day started a little cloudy but we never saw the rain. We climbed all the way up to the peak putting the world to rights, where we’d laid out our picnic blanket. We had decided to bring a bottle of prosecco along with us to celebrate our anniversary. Just before opening, Phil decided to have a stretch as his ‘foot had gone dead’; I turned away and when I looked back he was on one knee with a beautiful ring in hand.
Just before opening the prosecco, Phil decided to have a stretch as his ‘foot had gone dead’; I turned away and when I looked back he was on one knee with a beautiful ring in hand.
“We spoke about what an amazing team we made and how neither of us could be happier. Remembering the exact words is hard as it was very much a blur of emotion! I was completely surprised and very overwhelmed, I couldn’t believe he could pull this off during lockdown. He asked if I would marry him and I couldn’t answer quick enough, ‘Yes!’ Then I remember him saying, ‘Emma, you haven’t even looked at the ring yet!’
“The ring was a beautiful custom design that he had planned for a while but wasn’t sure could happen with the pandemic. Luckily the jeweller was still able to complete it and a ‘visit to the DIY store’ was actually a secret rendezvous to fetch the ring!
He had planned the ring for a while but wasn’t sure it could happen with the pandemic. Luckily, the jeweller was still able to complete it and a ‘visit to the DIY store’ was actually a secret rendezvous to fetch the ring!
“Our parents were over the moon when we FaceTimed them from the top of the peak! – ‘About time!!’
“We’ve spent the rest of lockdown in our little bubble. It’s been really strange not seeing our families who live a few hours away or our friends to celebrate in the traditional way but FaceTime has become the new normal!
Everyone was still so excited for us and said that our news had brightened up a harder time.
“Everyone was still so excited for us and said that our news had brightened up a harder time. We can’t wait for lockdown to ease and to celebrate our engagement properly with the ones we love and just have a big hug! We have treasured the ability to spend so much time together that normal life doesn’t always allow.
“We were hoping to set a date in 2021 but with the numerous weddings being postponed from this year, we think it may be better to wait another year. Hopefully things will feel a little more normal then, plus it gives us lots of planning time!”
Kat and Rory
Journalists Kat Romero, 32, and Rory McKeown, 32, live in Brixton, London, and have been together for four years. Rory chose Kat’s birthday to take her on a special picnic, which turned out to be more memorable than she ever suspected.
As soon as we found this little bit of grass tucked away, he got down on one knee and presented me with a G&T tinnie. I started laughing and then he took the ring out of his pocket.
“As soon as we found this little bit of grass tucked away, he got down on one knee and presented me with a tinnie. I started laughing and told him to get up and then he took the ring out of his pocket and said “Ok, sorry, will you marry me?” I was stunned. Because of the tinnie stunt I still thought he was joking.
“I kept staring at the ring and trying to take it all in. It was lovely because I’ve always said I wanted an emerald engagement ring as it’s my birth stone and he had the ring made. It was beautiful and felt like the exact thing I would pick for myself.
We FaceTimed everyone and then two of our closest friends showed up in the park and (from a distance) celebrated with us with tinnies. But it was sad because we couldn't hug.
“I wasn’t expecting it at all! Marriage is something we had spoken about and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping it would happen at some point. But given the circumstances, I never thought Rory would do it during lockdown. Turns out he had originally planned to do it when we were in Toronto in early March (before lockdown hit) but he had the ring made and it didn’t arrive in time. So it wasn’t originally his intention to propose to me in lockdown but when it was sprung upon us, he still wanted to do it and opted for my birthday.
The ring is too big and, due to social distancing, we haven't got it re-sized yet so I'm not wearing it. Because of lockdown, it almost feels like it didn't happen!
“It was really odd to get engaged during lockdown. We FaceTimed everyone and then two of our closest friends showed up in the park and (from a distance) celebrated with us with tinnies. But it was sad because we couldn’t hug. The ring is also too big and, due to social distancing, we haven’t got it re-sized yet so I’m not wearing it. Because of lockdown, it almost feels like it didn’t happen! Once we get to see people more regularly and I can wear my ring, it will feel more real.
“We’ve had discussions about wedding plans but we definitely want to wait. We’ve also recently bought our first house, so that’s our big priority as it needs a lot of work. Plus, so many of our friends had to delay their weddings this year for 2021, so we felt it was only right to let them have that year and we can wait our turn!
So many of our friends had to delay their weddings this year for 2021, so we felt it was only right to let them have that year and we can wait our turn!
“We haven’t thought about it celebrating after lockdown yet but I doubt we’ll do a big party. We’re quite laidback so I know for us, the most important thing is getting to see our closest friends and family and be able to raise a glass with them.”