By now, you’ve inevitably seen or heard of the “Mannequin Challenge,” which has gone viral in recent months on social media. The scenario involves a group of people standing stock still in various positions — as if you hit Pause on a video — while a camera pans across and weaves through the crowd and, usually, music plays in the background.
A man in Hull, England, decided to use the Internet craze as a ruse to trick his girlfriend into thinking it was any old day, when he was actually going to propose, according to the Daily Mail. Stan Hill, 27, wanted to pop the question to Amy Pattinson, 26, in a unique and surprising way, and he certainly pulled it off.
Hill and the members of his band, Bud Sugar — along with a bunch of extras and even a few last-minute volunteers — staged the scene at St Stephen’s Shopping Centre in Hull, according to the article. Various people are seen holding musical instruments or cell phones, or they are just frozen in different positions while the band’s song “Side That’s Ugly” is heard. The camera scans the entire crowd — which includes girlfriend Pattinson — for a few seconds before zooming in on Hill, who breaks character, puts down his ukulele, and starts walking toward his love.
“At first I was more confused that he was moving during a Mannequin Challenge; I thought: We’re going to have to do another take now,” Pattinson told the Daily Mail. But Hill’s moves were totally intentional — and not without a bit of endearing awkwardness. As he walks toward his soon-to-be-betrothed, he reaches into his pocket and visibly struggles to pull out the ring while trying to remain cool. “I decided to put the ring in my top pocket, then struggled for what seemed like an eternity to get it out,” he recalled to the publication.
Meanwhile, a sincerely stunned Pattinson holds her pose while watching her boyfriend getting on one knee and asking her, “Will you marry me?” Her response, “Really?,” shows that he actually caught her off-guard with the idea. She even gives him a playful shove as she’s trying to figure out if he’s serious. When she realizes he is, she giddily accepts, the pair hug, and the crowd cheers. “I was beyond shocked, and it took me a few seconds to catch up,” she told the Mail of the whole moment that’s now captured for posterity.
Organizing the stunt took a bit of effort on Hill’s part. The band solicited volunteers for the challenge on social media and even invited Hill’s parents — though no one informed them of their son’s secret plan. Hill actually piggybacked on plans the band already had to record a Mannequin Challenge. The band’s frontman, Bacary Bax, told the publication, “I had already set the Public Bus Mannequin Challenge in motion when Stan messaged me saying: ‘You got anything specific in mind because I’m thinking of proposing to Amy.'” Bax says he was “shocked, happy, and inspired” to revise his plans so that the challenge could be centered around his bandmate’s proposal. “‘I knew it would be a surreal moment to have us all remain mannequins while Stan proposed and even had two random people ask to join in.”
Hill and Pattinson’s love story has been years in the making. The pair met in their teens, according to the Daily Mail, and “fell deeply in love.” That love crossed continents, as Pattinson’s family moved to New Zealand at one point, and Hill was determined not to lose “the one.” Smitten, he followed her to New Zealand and lived there for two years, until he had to return home to England due to visa issues, says the article. But the couple were devoted: They stayed committed to their relationship long-distance. “‘We would save all year so we could visit each other,” Hill told the Mail. “I remember in the early days of the band, we would have a gig on the Friday night, and I would be up at 3 a.m. on the Saturday morning to go work a 12-hour shift in a cake factory.”
Finally, Pattinson moved back to England in 2014 to be closer to her beau and even lived in the band’s house until the pair were able to get their own place. Says Hill, “It was that level of determination that got us where we are today, engaged to be married.” Hill and Pattinson — and likely their community in England — will make the pilgrimage to New Zealand for their nuptials.
Despite the excitement, bandmate Bax says the experience was “nerve-racking.” But it was even more so for Hill, who says in the article, “I was very nervous, which seems like a strange thing to say when you’re used to getting up onstage and performing for hundreds, sometimes thousands of people, most nights. But I was all alone during that walk, and all eyes were on me.”
Here’s to viral victories, candid surprises, and happily ever after for these two lovebirds.