Need some inspiration? Check out these champions of romance and the grand gestures that won their beloveds’ hearts.
For some lovers, the usual wooing just doesn’t cut it. Forget proposals on Parisian bridges or flower petals strewn on pillows. These are the ultra-romantics, who go above and beyond to express their devotion. Here are six true stories of their best efforts, from seafood to skydiving to symphonies.
Christmas Pearls: For Christmas two years ago, one creative guy got his girlfriend 54 pearls—with oysters still around them. She had to get out her gloves and knife to shuck all her gifts free. Even though she couldn’t wear her quarry right away, it’s still a whole lot more romantic than a bauble from the jewelry store at the mall.
Hidden Ring: With his mind on popping the question, this handy fellow spent 200 hours creating a remarkable custom jewelry box with an elaborate hidden compartment for the ring. He crafted “his and hers” keys with handles shaped like hearts, which fit together to create a complete key. The key turned a complex series of gears to open an iris mechanism, under which he hid a wooden ring box with an engagement diamond within. Is it any surprise she said yes?
Parachute Proposal: Lori DeBri was surprised when, on a skydiving trip arranged by her boyfriend, she looked down at the ground to see “Marry Me” spelled out in white fabric below her. He was beside her on one knee as she landed, and she was still strapped to her instructor as she told him she’d be his.
Airport Kiss: In this day and age of vigilant security, there’s nothing more romantically impulsive than busting through the stanchions to say goodbye to your beloved at the airport. A real-life episode of this kind shut down Newark International Airport for several hours in January 2010, delaying thousands of passengers and giving one woman a memorable goodbye kiss.
Birthday Music: Romance looks a little different when you’re a genius. German composer Richard Wagner wrote a symphony to mark his wife Cosima’s birthday. The work, Siegfried Idyll, was first performed on Christmas morning of 1870 on the stairs of the couple’s Swiss villa, with the birthday girl awakening to its opening notes.
Magnificent Monument: When Mumtaz Mahal, the favorite wife of India’s emperor Shah Jahan, died in 1631, the heartbroken ruler decided to memorialize her with what might be history’s ultimate romantic gesture. He erected a shining monument to her: the incredible Taj Mahal, a white marble building so glorious it still draws some 3 million visitors every year.
And no, we don’t expect you to attempt anything even remotely as audacious in order to woo your sweetheart (especially if it involves airport security holdups, thank you very much). In fact, nothing ruins a romantic gesture like big expectations on either partner’s end. It’s just nice to be reminded of the heights to which love can sometimes inspire us.