How we got engaged: Readers' love stories

More than 260 couples have announced engagements in the JC so far this year. Five of them reveal their tales of true romance to Simon Round

By Simon Round, August 13, 2009
Ruth Fireman and Daniel Bankover

Ruth Fireman and Daniel Bankover

Ruth Fireman and Daniel Bankover

Ruth, aged 30, and Daniel, 27, met at a party and clicked immediately. It was no surprise, then, that they decided to meet up again. But it was more than six months before they could find a convenient date for that first evening out.

Ruth, an employment adviser, was in London to visit a friend. “I’m from Manchester, but one of my best friends lives in London so I came up to meet her — it was November 2007. We went to a party and I didn’t know anyone at all. I probably had a bit more to drink than I should have done and I ended up chatting to this guy. I remember he was taller than me which is a miracle because I’m 5ft 11in. We were chatting for about four hours. Nothing happened that night, but he did take my number.”

A week later, Ruth went on holiday to Kenya. On her return Daniel, who works in television production, looked her up on Facebook. They started emailing each other and then, one evening, he decided to take the plunge. “I just picked up the phone. We ended up chatting for four or five hours that night. I think the conversation ended at three in the morning. That was a Sunday night. We did the same on Monday and Tuesday nights. But I knew that Ruth was going away travelling for six months so we wouldn’t have a chance to meet.”

Ruth went to South-East Asia, but they kept in touch by email, through Facebook and on the phone. Once she was back, they decided to spend a few days together. It was a slightly scary prospect, recalls Ruth. “I couldn’t remember what he looked like, to be honest. It was a little frightening. But then he arrived at Euston station to meet me and it was just so natural it was amazing. We had five days together and really got to know each other.”

From that point, they spent every weekend together. Ruth moved down to London last November and last month Daniel decided the time had come to propose. He wanted to do things by the book. “I phoned Ruth’s parents the day before to get their blessing for the engagement. I knew I wanted to propose at Euston because that was where we met when she came back from travelling. I had to lie to Ruth — I said we were going to meet work colleagues.”

Ruth takes up the story. “When I arrived at the station, he was wearing a suit. I teased him a bit about it. Then he said he wanted to give me a present. I had my hands open waiting and then all of a sudden he got down on one knee and proposed. I was shocked.”

Says Daniel: “It took her a good 30 seconds to say yes, after the crying and shaking had stopped.”

The couple plan a “traditional, intimate” wedding next autumn. “We both have a lot of friends and we want them all to have a fantastic evening,” they say.

Emma Rajbenbach and Paul Sampson
Romance blossomed for Emma and Paul when they were students at Birmingham University, although they had first met as teenagers at FZY summer camp. “I had admired her from afar but it took a while before we eventually got together,” says Paul.

Five years on, Paul decided the time had come to propose, and had a mock ring ready during a holiday in Israel.

The moment came when they were sitting at a restaurant in Tel Aviv.

Emma recalls: “I wasn’t expecting him to propose — I booked the restaurant myself so it hadn’t been set up. But he was acting quite strangely. I had a chocolate soufflé for dessert and I was saying that this was the best part of the holiday. Then Paul said: ‘What would make it even more special?’ He did it properly — he got down on one knee.”

Emma is now looking forward to buying a proper engagement ring. “I’m definitely going to choose my own ring. I want to shlep Paul around town looking for one. In fact, the mock one is very nice — it’s huge so I won’t want to downsize,” she jokes.

Paul and Emma are moving to a flat in Hampstead in a month’s time, and are busy planning their wedding, which will be an Orthodox ceremony. They foresee happy times ahead. “Emma’s an accountant and I’m a lawyer. So we can have long conversations about corporation tax,” laughs Paul.

Abbie Price and James Bott
Abbie (27) and James (25) travelled 12,000 miles to meet each other. It all happened in the lobby of a hotel in New Zealand when they were backpacking. Abbie recalls: “We met through mutual friends we were travelling with. So we all went together and James and I ended up getting together during the trip. We were coach buddies.” Once back in Britain they were both sure that they wanted to carry on the relationship. James remembers: “Abbie had returned before me and she picked me up from the airport. I went from not knowing anyone in her family to meeting everyone straight away.”

The relationship carried on for three-and-a-half years on a weekend basis — James lived in Leeds and Abbie in London. Then, 14 months ago, James moved down south. And on their fourth anniversary they went to Paris for the weekend — it was a surprise trip planned by James and there was to be another surprise for Abbie too. “I’d booked this unbelievable restaurant opposite the Eiffel Tower. I had the ring all sorted, but as I’m a jeweller if I didn’t have a ring ready I’d probably have got a telling off.” They plan to get married in Leeds next May. “It’s out of London, in the Yorkshire Dales — much prettier,” says Abbie. James adds: “We were very lucky to find each other. The way it all happened on the other side of the world was a million-to-one chance really.”

Miri Newman and Lee Duskwick
They are both aged 25, from the same part of London and went to the same primary school. So when Miri and Lee met at a newspaper office where they both worked, they should have had plenty to talk about.

Miri Newman and Lee Duskwick worked together but never spoke

Miri Newman and Lee Duskwick worked together but never spoke

Yet despite sitting only feet apart for six months, they barely spoke. “Funnily enough we had both acted in the same play at school. My dad actually has the video,” says Lee.

He left for a new job but returned for a social event soon afterwards, and belatedly, the pair decided to chat. Miri recalls: “When we were working together, I was going out with someone else. I wasn’t looking for anyone — that was just the way it turned out really.”

The relationship became serious after three months. They went on holiday, then, last year, took the decision to move in with each other. Lee decided to propose last April. “We were in Israel where Miri’s parents live. It was Yom Ha’atzmaut and there was a big celebration. I had an idea that I’d like to propose when the fireworks started. So I got down on one knee and asked her to marry me. After she stopped laughing she said yes.”

Lee was keen to propose in Israel because it would mean a lot to Miri’s parents. In fact, they were present at the moment it happened. “Miri’s dad thought I’d fallen over,” he laughs.

Rob Taub and Vicky Simon
Twenty-five-year-old Rob and Vicky, who is 24, have been together all their adult lives. Rob, who runs a sports website, met speech therapist Vicky when they were at school. This was a problem because Rob lived in north west London and Vicky was from Liverpool.

Rob remembers: “Vicky was visiting a girl who lived opposite me in Edgware. I popped over to say hello. We stayed in touch and six months later decided that we would go out.”

This meant long train journeys between London and Merseyside, but the relationship became easier when both of them went to university in Manchester. “It was not planned that way but it worked out really well,” says Rob.
After university, Vicky came down to London to be with Rob. “It took me a while to adjust, but I made some friends and it was fine,” she says.

In May, the couple went to Croatia for a holiday. Rob said: “My plan was to go to a national park where there was a beautiful waterfall.

“I propped Vicki on a bench under the fall, whipped the ring out of my pocket and proposed. There were a few people nearby and they all started clapping.”

While Rob and Vicky plan to stay in London when they are married, the wedding will be in Liverpool. Says Vicky: “Being engaged to Rob is the best feeling in the world. It’s all so exciting.”

Follow me on Twitter: @sround_JC


Last updated: 2:09pm, August 14 2009


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