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Marriage proposals put risk into romance

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From jumping out of a plane to scuba diving, some marriage proposals literally sweep couples off their feet. As we prepare to mark Tu B’Av (the Jewish equivalent of Valentine’s Day), we illuminate some weird and wonderful ways that people have popped the question.

When Ricci Kurman’s then-boyfriend, Benny, insisted on taking her skydiving for a second time, she was less than enthused. “Benny was already skydiving as a hobby before we met,” Ricci recalls. “I had done a tandem skydive [together with an instructor] in Joburg, and once was enough for me.”

Yet when they travelled to America to celebrate her father’s 60th birthday with Ricci’s family, Benny convinced her to take the plunge once again – with her parents urging her along. “I was in such a mood because I really didn’t want to go,” Ricci laughs. As they ascended in the airplane, Benny, who is licensed to jump alone, was in front and Ricci and her sister were each strapped to instructors behind him.

“Benny stood up preparing to jump out of the plane, and then he turned around, looked at me, got down on one knee, pulled this ring out, and said, ‘Will you marry me?’” Ricci recalls. Shocked, she issued an expletive and asked what was going on. “He just put the ring on my finger, and jumped out of the plane. My sister just started screaming, and I had to jump.”

As she fell, Ricci held onto the ring for dear life. “It was so big that it was literally falling off my finger,” she says. After Ricci and the ring landed safely, Benny was waiting on the ground, surrounded by her family, and proposed again. This time her response was more eloquent.

When he proposed to his now wife, Zara, Ilan Sher went in the opposite direction – under the sea.

Zara, who has always been mad about water, had to fight to convince Ilan to share her passion for diving, but he was soon hooked. When the time came, Ilan decided that scuba diving in Mauritius would be the perfect setting for his proposal. Yet when they arrived, it was in the midst of a cyclone.

“I went to the diving school to arrange to go scuba diving, and the instructor said he didn’t think we could do it as the weather was terrible,” Ilan recalls. “I explained that this was my proposal, so we needed to arrange it even if the diving was rubbish.”

Under water and wondering what Ilan had been thinking to have planned a dive in such murky conditions, Zara turned around to see him holding a laminated sign saying, “Will you marry me?” She made the “ok” sign that scuba divers use.

“He had this beaded ring for the underwater proposal, but it snapped as he pulled it out of his pocket – there were beads floating everywhere,” Zara laughs. The scuba instructor fashioned a ring from a rubber band that he cut off his suit, and the engagement was official.

When they returned to shore, the hotel staff were waiting with the real ring, and Ilan got down on one knee.

Donna Kedar has a long-running love affair with lions. So, when he proposed, her now-husband, Dani, knew he had to incorporate the creatures into his plan. He arranged a trip to Glen Garriff Conservation, which runs a non-profit sanctuary for lions, and planned a proposal inside its Lion House.

“Lion House is in the middle of a lion enclosure,” Donna says, “So they were our witnesses. To be proposed to with the lions around us was just magical – they’re so majestic.” The story goes that Donna, in fact, proposed to Smokey, rated as the handsomest lion in the sanctuary. Upon Smokey’s refusal, she was forced to accept Dani’s proposal.

Lindi Markowitz Katzoff describes the day her ex-husband proposed as the flight of her life. “Even though the marriage didn’t last, the day was spectacular,” she says. The epic proposal started in the morning and lasted until late that night.

“When I got to work, there was a question on my desk that I needed to answer correctly,” she recalls. More questions and clues followed throughout the day. “At the end, there was a bouquet of red roses on my desk with a silver paper heart that had the ten questions that had been asked throughout the day.” In an attached card from her then-boyfriend, she was instructed to go home and bring the heart along.

“He fetched me, and we drove to Rand Airport, where we went for a flight around Joburg in a small plane.” When they returned, there was a dinner table set with a treasure chest that opened with the code she’d received after solving the day’s clues. Inside was that silver heart with the same questions printed on a Perspex heart. Putting the two together, revealed the words, “Will you marry me?”

When Steph Cohen’s now-husband, Greg, started a new job, he began a game of subterfuge aimed at facilitating a romantic proposal. “A couple of weeks in, he told me that his company was running a competition for a free weekend away,” she recalls. “Six months later, he messaged me to say he had a surprise. I got home from work, and he said, ‘Pack a bag, I won, and we’re off to Cape Town tomorrow morning.’”

Greg made sure they weren’t able to go into their room all day and took Steph on a Waterfront shopping spree. “After a cheese and wine tasting that evening, we went to the room,” she recalls. “I opened the door and saw rose petals everywhere. I thought to myself, ‘This is some amazing work trip.’”

“My feet were sore as I was in boots all day, so I began taking them off. As I turned around, hopping on one foot, he was on the ground on one knee. We got married in April the following year.”

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