Well, it was a tough decision, but we did it: We managed to choose a winner from all the seriously amazing, romantic proposal stories that came flooding in as entries in our "Will You Marry Me?" contest. Heidi--who works at Sarasota Memorial Hospital--and her fiance, Patrick, a dentist, won us over with their funny, romantic, Sarasota-centric story; they'll receive a $1,500 wedding package that includes a one-hour wedding consultation with Nicole Kaney of NK Productions Wedding Planning, a one-hour floral consultation with The Naked Florist, an overnight stay and breakfast for two at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, a signature manicure, pedicure and facial from L.Spa, $100 worth of bridal jewelry from La Mariee, and a wedding hair and makeup trial from Ana Molinari Salon and Spa.
In their own words, here's Heidi and Patrick's proposal story:
People talk about love and say how their other half can bring out their best and, at times, their worst. The morning of April 14, 2012, was no exception. In preparation for an upcoming 100-mile charity bike ride, my other half, Patrick, and I went to ride down the Legacy Trail to Casey Key and back. Patrick suggested the route, saying that while it wasn't the best training ride, it would be nice to ride along the coast. Of the two of us, I am the extroverted, overly practical, workaholic type; Patrick is more introverted, considerate and has always been a hopeless romantic. I compromised on the route, but I wasn't about to take it easy. I was ready with my helmet, my Spandex and my snack, but Patrick struggled to collect all his gear and seemed to have his head in the clouds. I brushed it off, but there was no denying that his lack of preparation annoyed me. We parked at the Legacy Trail, got on our bikes and began the ride.
When Patrick and I first met, we found out that we both loved cycling. It's become a part of our weekend routine, so it was surprising that after only half a mile, Patrick sighed and said, "I'm stiff. Can we stop and stretch?" Foot tapping, I waited impatiently as the sun climbed higher in the sky. We got back on our bikes and rode a couple more unusually slow miles when we approached a 7-11.
"I really need to use the bathroom and refill my water bottle. I'll just be a minute," Patrick said, and ran inside. At this point, I began to worry--maybe he wasn't feeling well. About 10 minutes later, he came out of the store, and I asked if he was feeling OK.
"Oh, no, I'm fine! I'm great! It's a beautiful day for a ride!" he answered. What I didn't know at this point was that he was stalling because our friends were setting up the proposal at the beach; all I knew was that he was physically fine but dragging his feet.
I became progressively more annoyed with our slow progress, which Patrick kept calling "enjoying the ride," and eventually my temper got the better of me. I decided he wasn't taking our ride seriously, so I sped off. Patrick caught up with me and made some comments about how we should slow down and enjoy the beautiful day, to which I retorted that if I was ever going to make the cupcakes I planned to bake for a friend's party that night, we might as well turn around, because at this rate we wouldn't be done with the ride until the next day.
For as much as an attitude as I can have, Patrick matches me in patience. He looked at me, smiled and suggested we continue just a little further. Rather than return the smile, I pedaled ahead without him. Again, he caught up, only this time he pointed to something on the beach. He raced past me and got off his bike, grinning. But I rode right past him, leaving him standing in the street. As I zipped by, I heard him say, "There's something I want to show you!" I didn't turn around.
After about a mile, I came to my senses, realizing I was throwing a full-on temper tantrum. Embarrassed but still feeling feisty, I turned back--maybe we could salvage the workout.
Patrick was standing to the side of the road. When he saw me coming, he tried to wave me down, motioning that I join him. I rolled my eyes--he still wasn't taking the ride seriously! I rode straight past him a second time, but then turned around to see his face--he had a strangely determined look I hadn't seen before, and I could tell he was running low on patience. He rode after me and said, through gritted teeth, "I really, really want to show you something on the beach!" I glared at him, turned around and slowly pedaled back.
I got off my bike, with Patrick standing behind me. He seemed excited about whatever was on the beach; I wondered what it could be. As I approached the shore, I saw a colorful quilt covered with seashells and red roses.
Suddenly, I knew what was happening and became very aware of the ugliness of my temper and how ridiculous I had been acting. "Why on earth does this man put up with me?" I wondered. Standing on the beach, looking down at the quilt in the sand, I felt Patrick's deep love for me, and I knew with all my heart that he loved all of me, even my ugly parts, that same way that I love him.
Tears began running down my sweat-soaked face. "Heidi," Patrick said, taking my hands, "there's something I've been wanting to ask you for a long time." He got down on one knee, and before I knew it, he was telling me all the things he loved about me, about us and about our future together. He asked me to marry him, and after asking him whether he was sure, I said yes. Then we were both crying and I was apologizing for the way I'd acted; I was mortified. He poured me a glass of champagne and, laughing, said, "It'll make a great story for our grandkids someday."
Congratulations, Heidi and Patrick!