February 8, 2012

Soup to Nuts:
Some not-so-modest proposals

Our Valentine survey reveals that when it comes to matrimonial intentions, some folks think WAY outside the little black jewelry box for ways to package the question.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

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Tom McArdle worked with Haven’s to plant, in a block of milk chocolate, the ring he intended to present to Susan Giffard when he proposed last month.

Courtesy photo

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A proposal is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're getting

Susan Giffard and Tom McArdle met seven years ago over brunch at the Harraseeket Inn.

He brought her a box of chocolates because it was her birthday.

"Food and chocolate is a really big part of our relationship," says Giffard, who lives in North Yarmouth and works in the banking industry.

Still, she didn't quite understand what was going on last month when McArdle, a food services consultant who designs commercial kitchens, told her he wanted to have brunch with her and her two children, ages 16 and 23, at The Front Room in Portland.

It was Jan. 15. McArdle handed Giffard a package at the table.

"I didn't understand why he wanted me to open a gift in front of my kids at brunch," Giffard said. "I thought it was a group gift. I have an iPad, and I've been complaining that I can't read very well in the sun. So I thought it was about the shape and size of a Kindle box. I was very surprised when it was Haven's."

When Giffard opened the Haven's box, she saw a giant block of milk chocolate that had these words written in white: "Will You Marry Me?" A square was cut out of the center of the chocolate to make room for a blue satin pillow that held a diamond engagement ring.

McArdle had enlisted Haven's in his proposal plans and helped design the chocolate mold because the popular chocolatier didn't have one for popping the question.

Giffard said yes to the marriage proposal. But she was puzzled: Why it was made of milk chocolate, when her big weakness is dark chocolate?

"He got it for the kids," Giffard said. "Isn't that nice? It's very sweet."

The couple has not yet set a date for the wedding, which will be a small affair followed by a big dance party.

And the kids have not yet eaten the Haven's chocolate.

"I won't let them," Giffard said. 

– Meredith Goad, Staff Writer


LOCAL RESTAURANTS offering sweetheart Valentine deals.

"We had one couple, about a year ago, where the young man got down on one knee in a full dining room, his girlfriend crying and the other guests holding their breath for her answer, which happily was yes," Desjarlais said. "We popped Champagne, and the whole room celebrated with the couple."

At Grace in Portland, the staff jokingly calls one table on the restaurant's balcony level "the engagement table" because so many people have proposed there.

"We have had a guest request for us to tie the engagement ring around a bottle of Champagne and have it sitting at the table," said Sabin Beckwith, manager at the restaurant. "We all watched and waited until the woman realized it was there, and then he got down on one knee where we could all clearly see him from the main level."

A proposal at Grace, which is located in an old church, often leads to the wedding reception being held there. Once, the staff hid the bride-to-be's family in the lobby until she said yes, then the family surprised her and they all moved to the lounge for a celebratory cocktail.

There is one common denominator in all of these restaurant proposal stories: Despite the nervousness on the part of the groom, the woman always seems to say yes. (Well, except for one case at Hugo's, where the groom got drunk and never pulled the trigger. The restaurant doesn't count that one.)

"And there's always tears," said Arlin Smith. "I don't think I've seen one without tears." 

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: mgoad@pressherald.com

Twitter: MeredithGoad


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