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edge staff writer


Modest proposals: The road to ‘I do’

February 12, 2019
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I’ve had the extraordinary opportunity to play a role in the wedding of hundreds of wonderful couples over the last 30-plus years.

I was the DJ. It was my job to set the tone by playing music during the reception, and sometimes during the ceremony, and handling announcements, including the introduction of the wedding party and generally keeping guests informed and entertained.

Every wedding that I worked on was different, thanks to the hundreds of wonderful couples who trusted me to assist in making their day a memorable one.

During my initial meeting with each couple, I would always ask about how they met in addition to details related to the proposal.

If the bride and groom agreed, I would share the story with their guests at some point during the reception.

It might sound like a small thing, but that story segment was a big hit. To this day, I meet people who remind me about specific stories related to a certain wedding they attended where I shared those personalized details of a couple’s coupling.

I recently reached out to some of those couples and asked permission to share part of their story with you. Three of the couples profiled are part of a large group of friends for whom I've been called up for many memorable receptions.

Additionally, our resident genius assignment editor, Allen Adams, shares the proposal story between he and his lovely wife, Sheridan.

(Editor’s note: That’s “Super Genius” to you, Dow. And yes, my wife is indeed lovely – lovelier than I deserve.)


Brandon and Marie Kenney - Married in Sherman on September 26, 2015

Brandon: Marie would say that we met in Microeconomics during her freshman year (my sophomore year) but that I didn’t notice her. We officially met in Ken Stack’s speech class at Husson. The first assignment was to get into groups for a short story reading. I naturally did whatever I could to be part of Marie’s group.

On our first date, we took in a Husson basketball game, where she was exposed to guys like Chris Dalecki, Jon Lange and Tim Nason. I’m surprised she even bothered sticking around.

We went to Boston the weekend following Marie’s graduation and we stopped for the night at the home of the New England Patriots. My plan was to propose on Saturday morning but I couldn’t function with the ring in my pocket, so I opted to do it Friday night in the shadow of Gillette Stadium.

I was as nervous as all Hell, stumbling and stuttering my words. Somehow, she heard what I said, and through tears, I heard a “yes” promptly followed by applause from the waitstaff at the nearest restaurant, which we eventually dined at after walking around Patriot Place.”

Adam and Erin Simmons – Married in Orono on June 14, 2014

Adam and Erin met during their college years at the home of Adam’s parents. Friends Melanie and Lucas were present, and the four of them stayed up all night talking and laughing. Adam drew a map for Erin of how to get back to 1A because she had never ventured out into the wilderness of Holden before.

The proposal: Because of their work schedules, Adam and Erin rarely had the same day off together. On one of those scarce occasions, a series of calls and texts were sent back and forth as Erin worked out at the gym, went tanning and then grocery shopping.

Erin thought Adam was acting a little strange when he asked her to call him once she left the grocery store. When she did, he told her that he had rearranged their newly purchased living room furniture and was anxious for her to see how he had set it up.

As Erin pulled into the driveway, Adam met her at the front door and told her to close her eyes. With some mild hesitation and complaining, she allowed him to guide her up the stairs.

At the top of the stairs, Adam told Erin to open her eyes. She saw dozens of roses scattered about the living room and kitchen, along with dozens of lit tea-lights. As she looked around in astonishment, she turned to Adam to see him on one knee in front of her. Neither remember the exact wording of his proposal but both recall Adam opening the ring box and Erin dropping to the ground to hug him.

Unbeknownst to Erin, Adam had undertaken a dry run several weeks earlier so he would know how long it would take to light all of those candles and how long they would keep burning – hence the many texts and phone calls.

Bryan and Haleigh Jipson - Married in Old Town, January 13, 2018

Haleigh and Bryan met during the summer between their junior and senior years of high school. The enjoyed a four-year courtship leading up to the proposal, which occurred on the summit of Day Mountain in Bar Harbor.

Haleigh says the summit provided the couple with a stunning view of the Rockefeller properties but says she had no idea what was about to happen. Bryan somehow had kept it a secret that he had reserved a private horse and carriage ride for the big event.

They arrived early at the stables that morning with Bryan explaining that he thought it would be a good idea to visit with the horses before heading for the top.

After walking around the stables for 10 minutes, the knots in Bryan's stomach began twisting from nerves. He disappeared for 10 minutes to compose himself, later admitting that he stared at the ring for most of that time, hoping the right words would make themselves known to him.

His cell phone broke the silence; a call from the stable operator, letting him know that the couple's horse and carriage were ready.

Haleigh was speechless when Bryan showed her the horse and carriage that would take them to the top.

Upon arriving at the summit, Bryan suggested they take some photos of the beautiful views from the lookout which is where he dropped to one knee and asked Haleigh if she would marry him. Crying joyous tears, she said "Yes."

Alex and Erica Metcalf – Married in Windham, New Hampshire, September 7, 2018

Erica and Alex met through a popular online dating site. Both were about to give up on online dating. Alex decided to give it one more shot. Erica decided to extend her search region to 100 miles. Alex and Erica lived 99 miles away from each other.

After a period of dating that involved taking turns traveling back and forth between Maine and New Hampshire, Alex came to Maine to meet Erica’s father, Paul, who greeted him in a typical Maine-dad manner: by cleaning his rifle as he said, “We don’t need to have this conversation, do we son?” That was followed by a hearty laugh and a huge smile, much to Alex’s relief.

The proposal: July 9, 2017. Alex and Erica were at the home of Alex’s best man, Andy Sherman, to celebrate the arrival of their baby, Teddy and the birthday of groomsman Ross Laorenza. As a photographer, Erica brought her camera and tripod to photograph the occasion.

After taking a series of photos, including a group shot, Andy offered to take some photos of just Erica and Alex. She noticed Alex’s arm was noticeably shaking and thought, “No way.” Meanwhile, Alex looked at Ross, who nodded a silent “It’s go time.” Alex then dropped to one knee. A shocked Erica said “No!” followed by “This is why you gave me breakfast in bed!?”

Although he had a full speech planned, Alex just about managed to get these words out of his mouth: “I love you so much. Will you marry me?” Erica replied “Yes, of course!”

Matthew and Kate Tomasko – Married at Camp Roosevelt, October 29, 2016

Kate and Matt met through mutual friends while Kate was in her second year of pharmacy school in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 2011.

After much convincing, Kate agreed to have lunch with Matt on her way home for Christmas the following week. Lunch was deemed acceptable and Kate agreed to possibly see him again.

A couple of weeks later, Kate and Matt attended a concert together in Boston, which turned out to be the first of many nights of dancing, laughter, friendship and love.

After graduation, Kate moved to Connecticut to live with Matt as a result of Matt’s refusal to move to Maine. It was “because of his fear of bears,” they told me. Despite that fear, he risked his life by proposing to her in Portland.

Although Kate has many Portland-area friends, Matt insisted on a day for just the two of them, which included a fancy hotel, a couple’s massage and what they deemed “the worst sushi ever served.”

Matt could barely hold his chopsticks together during the meal because of his shaking hands. When he realized that the bad sushi was casting a gloom over his plans, he was desperate for a good “plan B.”

After several accusations that Matt was “acting weird,” Kate suggested beer and nachos, reaffirming Matt’s decision to propose.

After a trip to Bull Feeney’s, they walked to the Eastern Promenade, overlooking the ocean. Matt led her down to the water, revealing the real reason why he had been wearing two jackets that evening: He was concealing a ring box.

As Matt began proposing, Kate was taken so by surprise, she nearly fell into the ocean. Once she regained her balance, she said “Yes!” and has been his first mate ever since.

Lucas and Melanie Simmons – Married in Bucksport - June 22, 2013

Lucas and Melanie met in high school drama club. Lucas was the lighting director and Melanie was an actor. Their first date began moments after Lucas completed his SAT test when he took her to a matinee of the movie “Ice Age 2.”

The proposal: Lucas asked Melanie to accompany him that evening at a “back to school” welcoming reception for nursing students at the University of Maine, telling her that all girls were required to wear a dress while the boys all had to wear a tie.

Melanie chose her dress with help from her future Matron of Honor, Hayley Haskell. While she was getting ready, Lucas arrived fresh from a fishing trip, complete with baseball cap and tackle box. He quickly changed and they both set out for what Melanie still believed was going to be a formal reception.

On the way, one of Lucas’s friends called to inform him that the reception wasn’t scheduled to begin until later. As Melanie chatted on the phone with her friend Kate (the future Kate Tomasko), Lucas drove over to University of Maine gardens, telling Melanie that it was the location of his parents’ wedding ceremony and that he wanted to see it.

Lucas led Melanie down a pathway which was lit up with about 50 lanterns in the trees and on the ground. As she looked at the lights, she said “This looks like something Lucas Simmons would do.” He then said “I love you,” dropped to one knee and asked her for her hand in marriage.

Back story: Lucas never did go fishing. He had had invented several fishing trips that week in order to hang the lanterns and turn them on. There was no phone call from a friend and Hayley was in on the scheme from the start. He had purchased the ring more than three years earlier, the day after they saw it together at the jewelry store. He had been hiding it in the ceiling since then.

Dakoda and Emily Henderson – Married in Hermon, October 1, 2016

Emily and Dakoda met on her first day of work at the Levant Corner Store on July 6, 2012. They became friends while he was training her and started dating that fall. After a failed attempt at catching the movie “Ted,” they saw “The Campaign” at Bangor Mall Cinemas. Emily was impressed that Dakoda let her drive his truck home that evening.

Always striving to visit new places together, Emily and Dakoda’s courtship has taken them to Six Flags amusement park, ice castles, fairs and camping at Old Orchard Beach – now an annual event.

Proposal: Emily and Dakoda were at Old Orchard Beach on Saturday, July 26, 2014. The morning was consumed with shopping while the afternoon saw them on the beach with family. Dakoda’s mother and sister joined them for lunch there when Emily looked up to see a plane flying directly over the beach, pulling a banner that read: “Emily, will you marry me? Dakoda.”

To Emily’s shock, Dakoda dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him. Of course, she said “Yes.”

Kevin and Jessica Davis – Married in Bar Harbor, June 15, 2013

Kevin and Jessica met in October 2007 and shared their first date 14 months later. During my initial meeting with the couple, Kevin described was Jessica wore on their first date. Jessica said “We were friends first and he is my best friend.”

Proposal: Kevin had recently been pulled over in Bucksport for a broken taillight. Two weeks later, he recruited his friend, Sgt. Dan Stewart, to help him pull off his proposal to Jessica.

While out on a leisurely drive on August 28, 2012, at exactly 5:15 pm, Kevin and Jessica drove by a parked police car. The officer asked Kevin for his license and registration before going back to his vehicle.

When the officer returned, he told Kevin that there seemed to be a problem and asked him to step out of the car and place his hands on the roof before frisking him. He noticed that Kevin had something in his pocket and asked him to remove it. Kevin proceeded to pull out a ring box.

Sgt. Stewart took the ring box to Jessica’s side of the car and asked “Ma’am, do you know what this is?” By this time, Jessica was crying hysterically. Kevin said “I’ll take it from here, officer.”

Kevin escorted Jessica from the car, dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him. Of course, she said “Yes.”

Allen and Sheridan Adams – Married in Cherryfield, July 7, 2012

We were taking a cruise that had a stop in Belize. Now, I’ve always been fascinated with ancient structures – temples, pyramids, stuff like that. And one of the things that we could do in Belize was tour these Mayan ruins. I start thinking – how cool would it be if I could propose on the top of one of these ancient pyramids? Pretty cool, right?

I spent weeks trying to figure out how to do it. I pick out the ring, ask for her parents’ blessing, all that business. I invest a little too much time in making sure she knows how important it is to me that I climb on a pyramid. I go over and over what I’m going to say, coming up with just ridiculous stuff. And I wait. We’re on the boat three or four days before we get to Belize, so I’ve got time to think. And think. And think. And hope. But mostly think.

The day comes, we go on this river safari. Turns out there are weather issues and we might not be able to go to the ruins after all. I start to panic, frantically wracking my brain for other potential locales and coming up empty. Basically, I’m freaking out – but quietly.

Turns out, we can go. Hooray! We get on the tour bus and drive to the site, only to immediately have to wait for a guide to give an interminable history lecture about the location; I’m sure it was lovely and informative, but in my head, it was one dude talking like Charlie Brown’s teacher for six hours.

Finally, we get the tour. It’s all very impressive, but all I want is to get on top of a pyramid so I can bend my knee and make this happen. We’re at the final pyramid and the group climbs up and I’m ready to do this. The thing is, there are like 20 other people there. I’m looking for something at least sort of intimate, so I ask one of the tour guides (we had two) if I could have a moment alone atop the pyramid. She informed me that she had to be the last one down and that was the rule and that was that.

As I processed this, my wife-to-be saw me talking to the guide. Before I could say anything to her, she says “Do you want a picture of you on top of the pyramid?” Whoosh. She took off, heading down to try and get this picture that she had every reason to believe I wanted. As an aside, one of the people she ran past on her way down was her dad, who was also on the cruise and probably had some pretty big questions when he saw her fly by him.

She went and stood down on the ground and took a picture and then I went down.

Plan blown, right? So just as the bus is getting ready to leave, I improvised. I told her that I wanted to climb one of the pyramids myself (which is a huge no-no) and I wanted her to be the lookout and take a picture. Since she loves me, she agreed. We went to one of the pyramids and I started sweating and stammering and my whole memorized blather came out in a big dumb jumble and then I asked. Thankfully, she said yes.

And that’s how I wound up proposing to my wife at the Temple of the Sun God in Altun Ha in Belize.

(Editor’s note: That went longer than anticipated. Apologies.)


On a personal note, I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to all of the brides and grooms profiled in this story, as well as all couples, vendors and venues I have had the pleasure of working with over the last three decades.

I have decided to retire from the wedding DJ biz to spend more time with my own bride, who has essentially been a "wedding widow" for as long as I've known her.

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