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Proposal via treasure hunt


Mar 13, 2012
Promised someone I'd post this -- here it is :)

On our first date, we went wine tasting. After the second winery we saw a sign that said "new winery opening" and followed it. It was their first or second day of being open. They had a different take on the wine tasting from most of our local wineries... more like doing flights at a bar. They gave us a couple of wooden trays with 4 glasses in each one, and poured us all 8 of their wines, told us to take the tray and a dish of crackers out to the picnic table and enjoy the view of the lake and the hillside. It was a beautiful late-summer day (that happened to occur in October).

We were there a while, enjoying the view and getting to know each other, and one of the winery girls (the co-owner, as it turns out) came out and said something like... "I hate to interrupt, but you guys just look so great together! How long have you been together? We laughed a bit and my adorable redhead said "Actually it's our first date." The lady looked a bit embarrassed, and then recovered and said "wow, that's great... would you like me to take your picture?" (I had my camera out). We agreed, and she did. Then she went back inside, and after we sat down again, and my future fiancee grabbed me and kissed me to within an inch of my life. From there, we grabbed lunch, did some more wine tasting, grabbed dinner, and went to Lake Michigan to watch (and photograph) the sunset.
We pretty much hit it off from day 1. At about 3 months together, she moved in with me, and a few days before our 7th month together, I told her that I was going to be extraordinarily kind and allow her to sleep in on a saturday morning instead of dragging her to an 8:30 AM breakfast at our local farmer's market cafe... instead, we'd go there about 10, and I'd go out and get my oil changed while she slept. She was prepared, but not enthusiastic about, the day of yard work and other chores I'd planned for us to do. Little did she know... :)

A few minutes before she was supposed to be getting up, I texted her and told her to look on the desk in my office, and to have fun.

What she found there, was a grey envelope with her name on it, with the number 7 in one corner. Inside the envelope were two sheets of grey stationery and a photograph. The first one read:
Hello, Shelly-bean!

Sorry, I won’t be around today.

The plans we made? Forget ‘em -- they’re shot.

Instead, I’m hoping you’ll be willing to run a few errands for me, speak with a few people, maybe pick up a couple of things here and there.

I guess you could call it a treasure hunt:

It may just end in diamonds.

But you can’t hunt treasure on an empty stomach. First, you should hunt for breakfast.

If no one is waiting for you there, call xxx-xxx-xxxx to see what’s up.

Love you,
The second one read:
Rules of Engagement

Do not call me unless it’s an emergency. This is a solo adventure for you. I’m just helping facilitate it.

Text me when you arrive at your destination, and again when you prepare to leave.

No cheating! Don’t ask anyone about what happens next. Live in the moment and enjoy yourself.

Wear comfortable shoes, and take an umbrella in case it rains. Treasure hunts rarely occur entirely indoors.

Have fun! And don’t give up until you find your treasure!
And here's the photo -- it's a photo of her shopping in the local Farmer's Market:

So she knew to go to the Farmer's Market for breakfast, as we'd planned to... but instead of finding me, she found my mother. They had breakfast together, chatted, and afterwards, looked around at the vendors, deciding what flowers to plant in the urns in front of our house. Finally, mom gave her the next envelope, marked with a 6. It had a note and a photo as well:

Hello, darling!

So you’ve had a delicious breakfast and your tummy is full. Fantastic!

But some people didn’t get to go to breakfast.

Someone out there is still hungry.

Someone out there needs a snack.

Maybe you should pick something up?

Something yummy.

Something sweet.

Something square.

Any ideas?
The photo was of the Obnoxiously Pink Birthday Cake (caps for emphasis -- it's taken on a title now) that she'd ordered for her birthday recently, from her family's favorite bakery. They make apple square pastries there that her father is very fond of.

So, she said her goodbyes to my mother, and drove to the bakery. She gave the girl at the counter her name, and was rewarded with a pastry box, prepaid, with a half a dozen apple squares.... and envelope 5:

Hey there, beautiful!

What a wonderful idea! I’m sure they’ll be most appreciated.

Why don’t you go ahead and deliver them, now?

Don’t mind the gnome. You know you’re always welcome there.
The photo is of the gnome her dad has next to his house, informing visitors that they should visit someone else instead. Her dad likes to pretend he's a grumpy old coot. But he's very fond of apple squares, and of his daughter, so he agreed to help me out with the proposal.

She chatted with him for a bit, and he gave her envelope 4... and I think I've hit my limit for image uploads, so I'll reply to this to continue. :)

phone screenshot.jpg

envelope 7.jpg

envelope 6.jpg

envelope 5.jpg


Mar 13, 2012
Continuing... envelope 4:

Hey, baby!

Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo.

I do believe it... I do believe it’s true!

Besides -- how can you have a treasure hunt without a camel to help you cross any desert sands you might find (and spit on anyone who gets in your way)?

Just watch out for the lions. I hear they have strong... opinions. And aim a lot farther away than camels.
This one had a photo of some camels we'd taken on a recent trip to the zoo. On that particular trip, one of them, shortly after I took this photo, proceeded to water the sand for about 8 straight minutes, and she'd joked that at least the lions couldn't last that long (since they have a tendency to aim their pungent mess at zoo guests)

She gave her dad a hug, and was off to the zoo! Her brother and his girlfriend were waiting beside the camel enclosure. I'd told them to hold off on the envelope for a bit, because her next stop would't be home til later. So they walked around the zoo together, talking a bit, and looked at the animals, and took some photos. Finally, the time came, and her brother gave her envelope #3:

Hiya Shelly!

It’s been a long day already, hasn’t it? I bet you could probably use a break in your treasure hunting now.

Maybe a cup of tea, with honey?

Love you!
This photo takes a bit more explanation. Her stepfather is a very tall, very broad man, who is called "Papa Bear" by most of his friends and acquaintances. Before he retired, he worked with juvenile delinquents, and was as much a father figure as a parole officer. At Christmas, someone gave him this sign, "An old bear lives here with his honey."

So, she was off to her mom's house, which was a bit of a drive -- about an hour away from the zoo, in rural Michigan.

Her mom pretended, unconvincingly, to be surprised that her daughter had shown up out of the blue. She pretended, more convincingly, not to know all the other things her daughter had done that day, and finally passed her envelope #2:

Heya hot stuff!

It seems to me that no treasure hunt could possibly be complete without digging through the remains of some abandoned building for a treasure chest.

Don’t you agree?

Now where on earth could something like that be...?
Her mom and stepdad's property had originally had a house at the other end of it, next to a big old barn. In the 60s, the house burned down, and since the family no longer farmed or kept animals, they rebuilt the house at the other end of the property, further from the highway and more convenient to the road. But the barn is still there, and we'd toured it a few weeks before. I worked with her mom and stepdad to hide (in mostly plain sight) a treasure chest up there. I had it placed where a beam of light should shine down on it and make one of the cut crystal stones dangling it sparkle around the time she'd be arriving, but also had a flashlight shining a pool of light at the floor beneath it, in case it was cloudy, which it was.

Oops -- I have to take off for a few minutes. I'll continue posting this in a little bit!

envelope 4.jpg

envelope 3.jpg

envelope 2.jpg


Oct 4, 2011
omg - I'm hooked!!!!

don't disappear now......!!!


Mar 13, 2012
Oops. Guess I can't edit anymore. Sorry. Hopefully someone will delete the extra post I had in there as a placeholder!

So, some photos of the treasure chest I made for her:
And in its place (sorry, this one's pretty blurry. You can see the light shining on it though. :)

So she and her mom and stepdad walked out to the barn on this trail:

And she started looking for the chest... and that takes more photos, so I'll do another reply.




path to the barn.jpg


Mar 13, 2012
She finally found it in the barn, and opened it up:

inside, she found the envelope marked #1, sealed with silver sealing wax:

inside it, was another photo and card. I'll note here that she's done a lot of theatre and Wicked is one of her favorite shows (the song I'm quoting in the card is "Defying Gravity"), and that the winery we first kissed at is named Gravity.

Do you feel like a treasure hunter yet?

I hope you’re having fun. I hope you’re happy... hah. How did that “I hope you’re happy now” song from Wicked go?

Together we’re unlimited!
Together we’ll be the greatest team
there’s ever been.
Dreams the way we planned ‘em
If we work in tandem,
There’s no fight we cannot win.

They’ll never bring us down... but we don’t have to defy Gravity to fly.

You just have to embrace it.
I should pause here and note that she's just *known* that I was going to propose to her at this winery. She'd mentioned it several times... "we should go to Gravity this weekend so you can propose to me" and "Hurry up and take me to Gravity already!" And the cards were counting down, and this was number 1.

But you know.. I *hate* being predictable.

So, she leaves her mom's, excited, butterflies in her tummy, and drives perhaps somewhat faster than the legal limit to the winery.
And my car isn't there.
She walks up to the winery, and finally sees my sister sitting at an outside table, reading a book.
As soon as she walks up to talk to my sister, the winery girls rush out: Are you Shelly? we've been waiting for you all day! And they walk her and my sister into the winery, where they've spent the entire day telling everyone who comes in about what's going to happen (since I briefed them the prior day... and the one even remembered us from the first visit ("hey, she was a redhead, wasn't she! I was embarrassed!")). They presented her with a bottle of wine that they'd decorated for her, and posed for a photo:

They were very cool. I highly recommend visiting the place if you're ever in SW Michigan. :)

So, there was my sister... not me. So where the heck was I?

More in the next post. :)



envelope 1.jpg

gravity girls.jpg


Mar 13, 2012
My sister told her how happy she was to be getting a new sister soon, and handed her another grey envelope -- this one was marked #0 -- because rings are round, and I hate being predictable:

Again, this one had a photo inside it, and a card with a note:

Sorry, love.

Treasures aren’t always where you expect them to be.

I didn’t expect to find one here, but I did.

Pick up a bottle of wine and meet me where the sky caught fire.

As I noted above, our first date started with wine tasting, but it ended with us watching and photographing the sunset over Lake Michigan. (where we were sitting, there was a bit of a protected inlet, so we're next to a channel, then there's a peninsula of land, then the lake... so in the photo, the sun is setting over water, but there's some land in between water and water).

And that's where she found me:

I'd been sitting there, on the same driftwood log we'd sat on on that first date, for about 3 hours, monitoring her progress and waiting for her arrival, while discovering that the beach can be cold and windy in May, and that there are lots of biting flies on it. And that taking photos of seagulls gets boring after a while. :)

8 envelopes.jpg

envelope 0.jpg

found me.jpg



Mar 13, 2012
She snuck up behind me. I knew she was there (her car has a fairly distinctive locking noise) but I pretended not to, just kept taking photos. She wrapped her arms around me from behind and told me she loved me and that she'd never been happier and that she was having the best day ever. Then she came and sat next to me, and I made her tell me about her day, each step, til she got to the beach. Then I said something like... "well, you worked hard for your treasure, and now you have a great story to tell... but it's not finished yet, is it? I guess I'd better get this part done, huh?" and pulled the ring box out of my camera bag (and man... sitting there with about 10k worth of ring and about 3k worth of camera gear, I was a little worried about getting robbed while I was sitting there waiting), slid down from the driftwood to put one knee in the sand, opened up the box and asked her if she'd marry me. I don't remember exactly how I worded it, but it wasn't anything fancy. A bit more fancy than "So... you wanna?" which I'd joked with her that I was going to say. Something like "you're worth more than any treasure to me, and with you, I'm happy in a way I never expected to be. Will you marry me?"

A few more photos of the ring:
From below:
From the side:
and from above:






Mar 13, 2012
...and she said yes! :)

hand shots:

I love this one. Caught the reflection of the sun in the stone by pure chance.






Mar 13, 2012
And now we're engaged. :)

I hope everyone enjoyed our engagement adventure :)

engagement photo.jpg




Oct 4, 2011
:appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: thanks for sharing!

AWESOME proposal story!!! How creative of you - loved the treasure hunt idea!!! Congratulations - you'll always keep her guessing ;))


Dec 21, 2011
Great job. That's a proposal she'll be glad to share with everyone. Congratulations.


Jan 28, 2012
You're so creative! I love what you did for her. That's a great story she can tell over and over again. Congratulations on your engagement!


Sep 23, 2011
OP!! OMG!! :love: :love: :love: :love: :love: I saw your prior post on the antiques forum.. WOW!! :love: :love: you are a true romantic! I truly wish you and your new bride-to-be a lifetime of happiness. You are an amazing man to come up with such an elaborate scheme that involves everyone important!! :bigsmile:

and I love what you did with your grandmother's diamond ring! Its beautiful!


Dec 23, 2010
What a great story! So creative, well done! Best wishes to you both! :appl:


May 11, 2009
This is one of the most wonderful proposal stories I have ever heard! Congratulations and well done!! :bigsmile:


Jun 6, 2010
Oh my gosh!! She is a lucky lady to be loved so much! What an awesome legacy you created for her to share for the next 50-60 years!! Congrats on your engagement!


May 4, 2010
I LOVED this story, thank you for sharingit with us!!!! So Romantic and well thought out! She is a lucky lady! I love how you involved so many family members in the special experience of her day...they will all always remember being part of the magic, I'm sure!



Nov 5, 2012
What a beautiful story. Congratulations!

May life bring you many more wonderful memories.
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