You’ve planned a surprise proposal, down to the last detail. So how do you keep your sweetheart from figuring out it’s about to happen? For Shea Foley, that was simple. Take her ring shopping moments before popping the question. The partner at the men’s fashion site Apolis spent the morning with his girlfriend, Brooke Sirianni, browsing sparklers when all along he had the one chosen and waiting for its big reveal—him getting down on his knee on a staircase overlooking a Laguna Beach oceanfront, where family hid under seven umbrellas that turned to spell, “Marry Me.” Here, all the details from the special day.
How did you come up with the idea for proposing to Brooke using umbrellas on the beach?
In her apartment in Santa Monica, she always had these really cool landscape pictures from a famous photographer who took bird’s-eye views from a helicopter of beaches in Portugal with all these people and umbrellas and colors. She grew up in Laguna Beach, and I wanted to do it there. So I thought I’d ask her mom and dad for a good beach where you have that setting where you can overlook the beach area. My goal was to have umbrellas set up on the beach that said, “Marry Me,” that she would be able to see from an overhead perspective.
How did you put the umbrellas together?
I got a bunch of blue umbrellas, then I made huge vinyl stickers. On each umbrella, I put the letters to spell, “Marry Me.”
You included your whole family in the surprise, as well?
I wanted to include her family and her brothers, as well as my family, in the whole proposal, just because we both have really strong relationships with our family. So in the end, my mom and dad, my brother and his fiancé, and then her family, including her nephews, were all underneath the umbrellas down on the beach. They were facing west rather than east, where we were coming from. One person waited for me to get down on my knee, and then they all turned the umbrellas to reveal the letters.
Did the plan go off without a hitch?
It’s so hard to get all those people together and have all the umbrellas turn at the same time. I had never done a test run or anything. And because our parents were so excited, they ended up turning the umbrellas a little bit early. But it still ended up working perfectly. It was so cool to see all the letters turn at the same time.
Did Brooke know you might soon be proposing or was it a complete surprise?
We had talked about marriage for a little while. To try and throw her off, I took her ring shopping when I already had the ring in my pocket the whole time! Luckily I picked out the right one. I had talked extensively with her family and friends about what she wanted. I had it for about two weeks before the proposal. I kept it hidden in a MacBook Air box I had in my closet. The plan worked so well, I think she at first had no idea the words on the umbrella were for her. She thought it was for some other couple on the beach. Then I got down on my knee and had the ring and proposed.
What happened after you popped the question?
There was a huge cheer from the beach—everyone was so excited. Then her mom and dad put together dinner on the beach right at sunset under a huge umbrella, which was gorgeous.
Find out how to submit your proposal pics and details at marthastewartweddings.com/submit.