When Welland Tribune reporter Maryanne Firth was assigned to cover the story of mysterious pink hearts popping up around Welland, Ont. she never thought she would end up covering her own marriage proposal.
More than a month ago, Firth wrote a story about how no one was coming forward to claim the pink heart signs that had become the talk of the community.
"The signs started showing up and they were hard not to notice around town. They were bright but it's so rare to see signs these days that don't deliver a direct message," she tells Yahoo Canada Shine. "It just started to bug me. Who put them there? What were they for? I thought maybe a charity event."
About a week ago, new signs began appearing beside the existing ones. While the others were posted without a message, the new signs indicated that something would be going on at a local park on Sunday afternoon.
“Luck would have it, or so I thought, that it was my weekend to work,” Firth writes in the Tribune. “ I’d get to find out exactly what the creator of the mystery hearts had been planning all along.”
So on Sunday, Firth joined a crowd of curious people who had gathered at Chippewa Park in Welland. There, Firth saw a man dressed in a suit with a box (complete with pink heart) over his head, handing out flowers.
“He handed one to me – a sweet, but familiar gesture, and then continued passing them out to others,” she writes.
Then – the masked man gathered up the remaining flowers and turned towards Firth. He removed the box from his head. It was Firth’s boyfriend, Ryan St. Denis.
“This was the man who I've loved for the past eight years. Who I've built a life with. This was all for me,” Firth writes. “Ryan got down on one knee and as I tried unsuccessfully to hold back tears, he asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. No pressure, right? Of course I was ecstatic. Shaking. Crying. I was surrounded by strangers taking photos and video of our moment, but in an instant, they all felt like family.”
Her boyfriend had spent weeks working on his surprise proposal and had sworn Firth’s family to secrecy.
Firth isn’t the first journalist to cover her own proposal. Last year, Alabama reporter Jillian Pavlica was tricked into reading her own proposal on air.
This past November, CNBC’s retail reporter Courtney Reagan thought she was doing a holiday shopping segment on engagement rings, but she ended up being surprised by her boyfriend of seven years with a sparkler of her own.
But for Firth and her now fiancé, it all comes down to how well he knew her. She tells Yahoo Canada Shine that she has known Ryan since she was 16 and he was 18. The pair started dating when she was 21, and they've been inseparable ever since.
"I know this is corny and what everyone says, but Ryan and I are best friends," she says. "We do everything together and have created a bond that I've never felt with anyone before. We have the same goofball sense of humour and, like I said in my story, he knows me better than I know myself. I like to consider myself pretty hard to surprise, but he always seems to pull it off. He's thrown me surprise parties for my birthday in the past and always seems to have a special trick up his sleeve. "
While she says her and Ryan had talked marriage before, she never expected a surprise like this."Ryan and I have been talking for a while about getting married, so I was hoping it would happen in the near future but never dreamed it would be anything this elaborate. I can't say enough about his creativity and the work that he put into this. It was absolutely perfect."
So what about the pink hearts (which it turns out were all made in her garage)?
"I think we'll have to incorporate the hearts into our special day somehow. They're a part of us now," she says. "A huge part of our story and the beginning of the next chapter in our journey together."
Congratulations to the happy couple!