Ohio Man Uses Jack-o'-Lanterns to Propose

An Ohio woman got a blend of trick and treat on Halloween this year, thanks to her boyfriend’s clever public marriage proposal — using glowing, candlelit pumpkins to pop the question. “It was the sweetest thing ever,” Lauren Brenneman, who said yes to now-fiancé Zach Stoddard, tells Yahoo Shine. “And he has never been able to surprise me ever in his life!"

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Brenneman, a 29-year-old Irish folk-dance teacher and competitor in Dayton, says she almost skipped out on her night with Stoddard Thursday, as she was delayed at work. “I called and said, ‘I’m going to be late, you might want to go by yourself,'” she recalls. They had planned to attend the city’s annual Stoddard Avenue Pumpkin Glow, in which hundreds of jack-o’-lanterns are set up and lit on a rolling green hill. Stoddard guilt-tripped her into meeting up with him, though, and so they arrived together and began strolling through the display.

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“I was shaking the whole way up,” Stoddard, 28, a digital artist, tells Yahoo Shine. He explains that he’d come up with the idea because October is Brenneman’s favorite month—containing both her birthday and her favorite holiday, Halloween. An added pull was the name of the event, which contains Stoddard’s own. He’d enlisted his best friend Matt to help him carve “Will You Marry Me?” into five pumpkins, letting the event organizer and some other friends and family members in on his plan.

When Brenneman saw the pumpkins, she says she thought the question was meant for someone else. “I read the phrase out loud and a lady nearby said ‘Shhhh,’ and I thought, oh my God, I’m ruining it for someone else!” But then Stoddard pulled his girlfriend aside and asked her to read the question aloud once again, at which point he got down on one knee and presented her with an engagement ring, completely shocking her.

“We knew it was in our future,” she says, adding that they’re thinking about a summer wedding. “But I had no idea.”

The now-engaged couple actually went to high school together but say they had nothing to do with each other then. Three years ago, while attending the wedding of pumpkin-carving assistant Matt (who was marrying Brenneman’s best friend), the two struck up a conversation and really hit it off.

“I was actually seeing someone else at the time, but Zach is pretty amazing,” Brenneman says.

After she accepted Stoddard’s proposal, the two hung around for a while, reveling in the well wishes from the festive crowd. Then they went home and changed into costumes to continue their evening together. And while no one really got their costume, Brenneman admits, it had a sweetly apropos meaning for the couple. “I was a pirate,” she says, “and he was a map, and my treasure.”

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