Marriage proposals don’t have to cost the Earth in order to be fit for royalty.
In their first official interview since their engagement, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle revealed Harry popped the question during a regular “cosy night” in, while the pair “tried to roast a chicken”.
Their admission has proven once and for all something most of us already knew: romance is not about expensive gestures.
While the nation recovers from proposal fever, we asked couples to share their real-life engagement stories to show true fairytales happen on a shoestring every day.
Charlotte and John, married December 2010
“We were watching The X Factor.”
“My husband proposed on a Sunday morning in November 2009 at about 10.30am,” Charlotte told HuffPost UK.
“We’d been watching ‘The X Factor’ on catchup and were still in bed. I made him get up to make us a cup of tea and when he came back he had a ring with him and said ‘here’s your tea and I’ve got a question as well’.
“I was so shocked to see the ring, as it was such a normal morning; we’d even had the usual bicker over who was going to get up and make the tea.
“But he judged it perfectly and the ring was one that I’d been admiring in an antiques shop months before, so he’d held on to pick the perfect normal moment.”
Mitch and Helen, due to get married in 2019
“We were working from home.”
“Because I work in digital marketing, I am able to work from home. My fiancee also works from home as a digital marketing consultant. We’ve been together for nearly four years,” Mitch said.
“After a three-day weekend in London, we were back in our living room working across from each other on our laptops. It was a rainy Tuesday and we’d arrived home the night before at 2am, so we were both exhausted and neither of us really felt like working. It was a cold, wet, and rubbish morning.
“So, I said to Helen: ‘I know what will cheer you up.’ I got down on one knee, and I proposed without a ring. We then skived off work to go and buy a ring together. Indeed, it did cheer both of us up immensely.
“Romance isn’t the big gestures - it’s the big promise that you’ll stay together.”
Heidi and Luke, married July 2017
“He proposed after I spilt brunch.”
“My husband’s proposal to me was pretty chilled,” Heidi said.
“He proposed over brunch in Norwich. I had dropped half my eggs Benedict on the floor and he said ‘you’re such a mess, I don’t know how you’re going to look after this’ and took out the ring.
“I didn’t even give him the chance to ask properly because I grabbed the ring and put it on my own finger, crying. He refused to get on one knee because of all the food I’d dropped on the floor. He made it up to me on our wedding day by getting on one knee in the middle of his speech.”
Lyndsay and Kyran, married November 2013.
“He forgot his speech.”
“Five years ago, my husband Kyran proposed to me on an empty illuminated bridge, over the river Trent in Nottingham. Although he had been carrying around the ring for a while in his wallet, he had yet to find the right moment for the big question,” Lyndsay told HuffPost UK.
“One March evening we had gone for a walk after dinner, when we came across this gorgeously lit up bridge. Of course, this is the one time he had left the ring at home, so he pretended he had accidentally left his door unlocked and sprinted back to the house to grab the ring.
“At this point I was cold and tired so began to wander home, and took some slight convincing to go back and continue our walk over the bridge, which I am very glad I did! He apparently had a big speech planned, but in the moment was nervous and forgot it all and just said the magic four words. Of course I said yes.
“The proposal was simple, spontaneous and magical, and five years later we are still very happily married, which shows proposals don’t need to cost the earth to be perfect.”
David and Heather, married March 2003
“I was covered in paint.”
“One Saturday morning, doing some decorating in the living room and hands covered in paint and filler, in very much the spur of the moment, I got down off the step ladder, went on bended knee and asked Heather to marry me,” David recalled.
“Through teary eyes, her reaction was ‘do you really want to marry me?’ to which I said ‘of course I do, I love you and want you to be my wife’.
“To this day she is convinced that it was because there was a very good deal for a Honeymoon Lagoon Suite at Sandals Grand St Lucian, St Lucia, and I was killing two birds with one stone!
“That’s where we got married in March, 2003 and nearly 15 years later we’re still happy.”
Lucy and Chris, married July 1996
“We were about to go to sleep.”
“We are both jobbing opera singers who met at work and fell in love - he’s a Brit and I’m an American,” said Lucy.
“He was newly divorced with two kids and was concerned about how and when to remarry so the two little sausages would remain as balanced as possible. I was coping with UK Immigration giving me the third degree every time I went in and out of the country to return to our house.
“We were staying in Brussels in a studio apartment above an Italian restaurant next to La Monnaie Opera House. The big windows looked out over the exhaust fans of the stinky kitchen - not a romantic venue.
“I was heading back to London the next day and before we went to bed, I voiced my worry again about border control. Dressed in his best tatty polka-dotted boxers and a t-shirt, he rolled over with his back to me, turned out the light, and muttered ‘well, I suppose we should get married then…’
“I laughed and didn’t answer. 21 incredibly happy years later I use every opportunity to rib Chris about not ‘asking properly’.”