Jake Fuller had the perfect proposal planned. A beautiful diamond ring, two plane tickets and 11 days in Hawaii, where he and his girlfriend, 32-year-old Stefani Wildman, could get engaged while enjoying their shared love of travel.
The 33-year-old Logan Square resident planned to pop the question on the first night of their trip in early May. But, as things worked out, he would end up having to wait a little bit longer.
Once the pandemic hit, the couple had to cancel their airline tickets and accommodations (they had heard travelers arriving in Hawaii were being forced to quarantine in their hotel rooms for 14 days). To make matters worse, the jewelry store, a nonessential business, closed its doors with Fuller’s ring trapped in its safe.
As days stretched to weeks and then months, however, Fuller realized that if they wanted to get engaged anytime soon, he’d need to come up with a plan B.
Fortunately, the Logan Theater was able to come to the rescue.
The couple had seen “Beauty and the Beast” there on their third date, and the ever since the theater has held a special place for the two movie lovers. Fuller also liked the idea of involving a local business that’s been impacted by the virus.
“I was trying to come up with a way that’s important to us, and that could also potentially help draw attention to an industry or group in the city that’s hurting,” Fuller said.
He reached out and Jennifer Zacarias, the Logan Theater’s special events and marketing director, responded right away to say she’d be happy to help.
Since the shelter-in-place order started, the couple had been talking “happy hour” walks on Friday evenings to get out of the house and enjoy the neighborhood. Fuller figured if he could get a message up on the theater’s marquee, they could pass by on one of their walks and he could pull out the ring.
“We always make room at a small cost for special messages,” Zacarias said. “It is an honor to be the ‘voice’ and backdrop for special moments in our community’s lives.”
Fuller was able to find a way to finagle the ring from the jeweler and, after a last-minute switch on the date due to weather, the couple went for their evening walk on Friday, June 12 and Fuller dropped to one knee.
“We were in a public space on Milwaukee, but I didn’t feel like anyone else was there,” he said. “We found a part of the city that could be just ours for a little while.”
Stefani said yes, the couple kissed, and some local passersby helped to snap a few pics. The engagement also attracted attention social media, with people spotting the marquee and wondering who the lucky couple was.
In the days since the engagement, Jake and Stefani have already been busy looking at local venues. With weddings from this summer getting pushed back due to the virus, there’s likely to be a crunch this time next year.
But Jake isn’t too worried. After all, things have a way of working out in the end.
Featured image: Jake Fuller