The Big 10 with Jeff D'Alessio, June 29, 2014

The Big 10 with Jeff D'Alessio, June 29, 2014

A top wedding website reports that the average engagement now lasts 14 months while the average engagement ring runs $5,598. But when it comes to actually popping the question, every couple has a unique tale to tell. Here are 10 of them.

CHAZ EBERT

Host, Ebertfest

"Roger proposed to me in Monte Carlo during a lull in the action at the Grand Prix races. We were at the Cannes Film Festival and Roger took a day off to drive to San Remo and Monaco. There were temporary food stands and tables set up and we bought ice cream and sat down in the bleachers. We were staring into each other's eyes when Roger blurted out, 'Will you marry me?' Actually, I think his first words were 'Will you become engaged with me?'

"He was nervous because he had not planned to propose that day. But he said there was a moment when we were looking into each other's eyes when he could see the whole future before him and knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. So there was no ring until later. That didn't matter. What was there was a tender, sincere heart and the stare into eyes so soulful and true that I said yes."

RICK STEPHENS

Founder, Horizon Hobby

"Jeanene and I were driving from the near north side to Berwyn in my '67 Barracuda to visit my sister. I told Jeanene I needed to move from Chicago to Champaign to start my career because I'd gotten a job there as warehouse manager for a small company. With both of us looking forward, console in between, I said, 'Maybe we oughta get married?'

"No ring. No money. No romance. Just a plan. I'm not proud of it, but thankfully she said yes."

PHILIPPE GEUBELLE

Head, Aerospace Engineering, University of Illinois

"My wife is very competitive. The day before I proposed almost 20 years ago during a weekend getaway along the coast in New England, we happened to play chess and she unexpectedly won a game. When she talked to her father on the phone later that weekend, the first thing she told him was 'I beat Philippe at chess! Oh, and by the way, we are engaged.' "

BRIAN MOODY

Executive Director, Tuscola Economic Development

"My timing was off. I didn't make it to Kate's father's house to ask for his permission, as I had planned, before I needed to meet her. My idea was pretty simple, though probably a bit corny: Her ring was buried in a small, hand-painted flower pot. Upon handing it to her, I said, 'Do you think maybe we can make something grow from this? Will you marry me?' She dug the ring out and said yes.

"Kate told me it was not the ring she would have picked out — it was much better. Ten years later, it still makes me smile."

DICK DUVAL

Football coach, St. Joseph-Ogden

"I don't remember a lot about actually asking Lynda to marry me. I remember more about when we told her mother — and the first thing she said to me was: 'Why do you want to do that?'

"I guess the rest is history. I'm glad she said yes."

ALLEN WILLIAMS

Williams Farms, Cerro Gordo

"My wife asked me one evening as we were in bed, just before falling asleep. I turned over and said 'yes' and asked her if I could go to sleep. We had been living together 19 years at that point."

MICHELLE CLAYTON

2006 Rantoul Citizen of the Year

"Unbeknownst to me, my future husband snuck out to ask my parents for permission to marry me. He also asked my three children. The next day was Thanksgiving. After everyone gathered around to give thanks, Bill started speaking, then had tears running down his face. Everyone was smiling but I was confused. Then he asked me to marry him. He presented my ring, which fit. Everyone was happy for us.

"This was a second marriage for both of us, so to have the blessings of my children was very important to us.

"We've been married 13 years. Most of those years, we have spent managing Bill's Parkinson's Disease. We did not know he had it when we got married but it wouldn't have made a difference."

JIM LEONARD

President/CEO, Carle

"I wanted to make sure the ring was perfect so we had gone north to the big city of Chicago to purchase it together. We had agreed that I would wait a few weeks for a special, quiet time for the formal proposal.

"On the way back to the car, I dropped to one knee and popped the question — at the corner of Wacker and Michigan."

DANA RHOADES

Piatt County State's Attorney

"My husband, Kerry, and I are high school sweethearts. We went to a movie at the Virginia for our first date and there was a bomb threat so we all had to evacuate the theater.

"A month before we graduated from Illinois State, Kerry proposed to me at his parents' house in Monticello. He was very traditional and got on his knee, held up the ring and asked if I would marry him. Obviously, I said yes. We went out to dinner at Dom's in Champaign to celebrate."

DUANE NORTHRUP

Champaign County Coroner

"I planned a day of shopping with Christine around Champaign County, including a stop at the now-closed Pages for All Ages bookstore in the Old Farm Shops. I had picked out a specific stone and had it set in a band. I was supposed to pick it up that afternoon at MJ Reed Jewelers at Old Farm and snuck out of the bookstore to go next door. I had dinner plans that evening at the old TGI Friday's, where I'd planned to propose.

"As it turned out, Christine began not feeling well that morning while shopping and contemplated returning home several times. I was able to convince her to keep our plans — with help from her migraine medicine — and proposed that evening during dinner. She was a real trouper the entire day and said yes."

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