Six Stark County couples share their heartfelt wedding proposal stories

JEFFREY FLECK and STEPHANIE GRESKO: Just a walk in the park
Jeffrey Fleck planned to surprise girlfriend Stephanie Gresko by proposing at a romantic spot on a sunny spring day. He almost pulled it off.

JEFFREY FLECK: “After weeks of deciding on the engagement ring, the day came to propose. Our two-year (dating) anniversary was the following Saturday, but we decided to celebrate on May 1. I did not fully decide to propose at Reservoir Park until noon, because I was concerned about the weather. After a morning rain, the sun came out, and it was gorgeous. I got off work and stopped at the grocery store to pick up flowers, wine and food. While I was there, I thought it would be cool if we would be able to photograph the engagement. Luckily, I found someone. The photographer and I made a plan to catch Stephanie off-guard at the waterfall. I planned to stop on the bridge and talk to her while the photographer got into position. We arrived at the bridge on time, and I saw someone coming around the track, so I began distracting her with small talk. She looked behind me and asked if my dad was at the park. I immediately said “no,” and looked around. My dad was the person I called to take pictures for us. He popped out from behind the tree, and I knew the gig was up, so I dropped to my knee and proposed.”

JOHN and GREER THOTTAM: Romantic dinner proposal
John and Greer Thottam of Jackson Township will be married 22 years in September. John is a plastic surgeon and Greer is the administrator and cosmetic manager of their practice at 4800 Higbee Ave. NW in Jackson Township. The couple have four children.

GREER THOTTAM: I was proposed to the day before I graduated from Aultman anesthesiology. I met my husband while I was going through the program. It was the day before I graduated, and we went to Lolli’s Restaurant. We loved to go to Lolli’s because they had private booths; it was a romantic spot of ours when we were dating. I thought we were going out to dinner because I was graduating, but then he opened a little box and said, “Will you marry me?” I had tears, weepy kind of tears; it was very sentimental.

BRAD and AIMEE BELDEN: Surprise at a special spot
Brad and Aimee Belden used to joke that they traveled three states just to see each other when he lived in New Jersey and she lived in Connecticut. So Grand Central Terminal always had held a special place for them. But one day, it became a permanent part of their story.

AIMEE BELDEN: I was surprised on a Friday morning on my way to work, having just gotten off the subway and about to catch the Stamford Express, when my husband got down on one knee in Grand Central Station, right in front of the clock tower. Grand Central Terminal had a lot of significance for us. After I stopped shaking, I said yes and gave him a huge hug and kiss, he whisked me off to Cape Cod for the weekend. I had four hours in the car to call everyone I knew and start reading wedding magazines!

JON and KELLY TISEVICH: Straight out of Hollywood
Leave it to Jon Tisevich, the Players Guild’s resident director and an all-around theatrical kind of guy, to concoct a marriage proposal worthy of the movies. The story begins one morning in April 2007. Jon and Kelly returned to Manhattan in July 2007 to take their vows on a hill in Central Park that overlooks the pond where he proposed.

JON TISEVICH: I surprised Kelly by waking her and telling her to pack her bag, we were leaving for New York City in two hours. I had planned a whole weekend based on her favorite romantic-comedy movies. I took her on a rowboat to the middle of the pond in Central Park, which was like the boat ride in “The Notebook,” and I proposed. I sandwiched in one weekend elements from all of her favorite romantic movies, and it worked! She said yes! Then again, I kind of had her stuck in the middle of a lake.

DAVID and SUSAN CORNET: A whirlwind courtship
David and Susan Cornet really don’t have an engagement story to tell. But they do have a remarkable whirlwind courtship and marriage story.

SUSAN CORNET: I was bartending when an old boyfriend came in with a big group of people. One of the people in the group was David. After I got off work, we all went out. A few days later, David left me flowers at work. We went on our first “date” that night and spent the next five weeks together every chance we could. He helped me move back to school, both of us thinking this was the end of the line for our relationship. Well, my whole first week of classes was canceled due to an issue with a professor, so I called David, and we decided to go visit his grandfather in Florida for five days. On the drive down — 23 hours straight through — we fell, hard. We eloped at the courthouse in Punta Gorda on the Tuesday after Labor Day, six weeks to the day of our first date! Our 19th wedding anniversary is this September — and nobody said it would last! I still need to find that professor and thank him.

KELLY and TERRY WAGGONER: A Christmas to remember
Looking back on everything, Kelly now realizes that she should have known boyfriend Terry Waggoner had a marriage proposal planned.

KELLY WAGGONER: “It was Christmas Eve 2007, and I was over at Terry’s grandma’s house for dinner. We were planning on going to my apartment in Canton to spend the night together. Looking back at that day, the way the family acted the whole night made sense. Terry had told his family right before I got there that he was going to propose the next morning. So we wake up on Christmas morning and get through all of the other presents, and we each had one left. Both read “open last” on the tag. I opened mine first. It was a T-shirt. On the T-shirt, it read “Will you marry me?” That’s when he pulled out the ring from his pocket. I started to cry, of course. I was shocked. The last present I got for him was a key to my apartment. So looking back at Christmas Eve at his grandma’s house, everyone was extra happy . … Now I know why.

Decent proposals

Inspired by our local couples to plan a memorable proposal for your intended? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Have a custom love song written for her. After you play it, ask for her hand in marriage. Or, have your proposal included in your song lyrics. (One custom song site is

Put your proposal up with the ads before a movie and take your sweetie early to see the show. Contact your local theater for advertising information.

Find an antique bottle, put the ring inside, have a friend partially bury it in a prearranged spot on a beach, then watch over it till you get there! Walk along beach hand in hand and pretend to notice something that washed ashore.

Gather a bunch of your friends and family for a party. Have each person wear a T-shirt bearing one of the letters in the phrase “Will You Marry Me?” When you walk into the room with your girlfriend, suggest a group picture and let the shirts speak for themselves.

If your girlfriend has good friends where she works, get them in on the fun. Have her manager call a group meeting, then open up a PowerPoint presentation. One of the slides within should be a proposal from you. When she reads it and looks totally confused, you walk in and propose in person.

Arrange a surprise proposal with a street caricaturist. Have him sketch a picture of both of you, with word bubbles. Yours will read, “Will You Marry Me?,” and his/hers will say, “Yes!”

Spell out the marriage proposal someplace unexpected — with alphabet refrigerator magnets, lipstick on the bathroom mirror, glow-in-the-dark stars on the bedroom ceiling.

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