David Carrido had 10 years of dating time and plenty of opportunities to propose to his girlfriend, Jennifer Clarke, but it was a simple plane flight the couple took that gave him all the inspiration he needed for one over-the-top proposal.
“I saw the big letters on the runway and thought, ‘There’s a good idea. I could do it from the sky,’” Carrido, 38, told ABCNews.com.
As a huge football fan, Carrido immediately thought of the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif., as the ultimate destination to ask Clarke for her hand in marriage.
“From the air it’s such a significant landmark,” said Carrido, who owns a cabinetry business but also has a pilot’s license. “After looking at Google maps, it was the best choice.”
If choosing the landmark was the easy part, then convincing Rose Bowl officials to allow him to use the field, the site of events like the college national championship football game, for his personal use was a whole other ballgame.
“It probably took two months of going back and forth with them and being rejected for certain materials,” he said.
Rose Bowl officials eventually agreed to Carrido’s proposal that he use 1,800 feet worth of 52-inch wide rolls of paper to spell out the words, “Jenn Will You Marry Me.” The event planners hired by Carrido to pull off the stunt had to use 500 sandwich bags filled with sand to hold down the paper because Rose Bowl officials who did not want spikes in the field.
On the day of the proposal, last April, Carrido got more bad news when he took Clark out to breakfast and got word from the airport that bad weather was going to ground their plane. He also had to face down questions from Clarke who wondered why they would go on a sightseeing plane flight when there would be no view.
“We’re going to see something. I’ll promise you we’ll see something,” Carrido recalls telling her.
“I kind of wondered why he was so nervous during breakfast and on the phone but he has a busy job so I didn’t think anything of it,” said Clarke, 35, an instructional coordinator at an elementary school.
Carrido’s time on the phone allowed him to coordinate a helicopter that could take them up in the air instead of their grounded plane.
“The back [of the helicopter] had club seating so we could face each other,” Carrido said. “It made the whole experience that much better.”
When the couple approached the Rose Bowl, Clarke was too busy taking pictures and video of the sights to notice at first what the field below her said.
“All I saw was my name at first and I think I blacked out after that,” she said. “Dave got done on one knee to propose while we were flying over it.”
After her initial shock, Clarke managed to say yes, both to Carrido and the diamond ring he placed on her finger.
Now the couple is busy planning a June 2014 wedding at the beach. A wedding that, so far at least, does not include any planes or major surprises.
“That’s an idea. Maybe we’ll drop in a helicopter,” Carrido said. “We’re still in the planning process so we’ll see.”