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Romance Unleashed

Who’s more romantic, men or women? If you said women, you’d be dead wrong. We invited both genders to share the most romantic move their significant other ever made to melt their hearts. We received—count ’em—zero moves initiated by the females of the species. But oh, those sentimental guys! Read on, and prepare to be charmed.

Save the Bunny, Win the GirlSave the Bunny, Win the Girl

Years ago, before Saks and the newer buildings, Bell Tower Shops was surrounded by a grassy field. Steve and I were headed there for a movie date. As we turned toward the theater, he suddenly stopped the car and jumped out. Grabbing a beach towel from the trunk, he called, “I’ve got to save that bunny.” He’d seen a cat chasing a tiny rabbit and knew if he didn’t intervene, the cat would win. As I watched, he tossed the towel over the bunny and released it in the nearby woods. I already knew I loved him, but that moment made me 100 percent sure that we’d always be together. We’ll celebrate our 19th anniversary in November.

Tamara Pigott, executive director, Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, Fort Myers

Cuban CigarThe Cigar Band

Jean-Luc and I had been dating for 10 months when we went to Art Walk in the River District, and afterward joined our friends Lisa and Patrick at the Cigar Bar. Jean-Luc was especially enjoying himself. I saw him remove the foil from his cigar and then he sort of held the band out in front of me. I said, “What are you gonna do with that—propose to me?” Sure enough, he dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him! I laughed and, of course, said “Yes!” Our friends both broke into tears. We hope to marry at his family home in the Loire Valley, France.

—Shelley Porter, Legal assistant, Fort Myers

Diamonds and Pearls Times Two

My husband surprised me with truly outstanding diamond and black pearl earrings on the birth of our daughter. He had forgotten that he bought me nearly the same pair for our first Christmas together.  We had a good laugh, and with his approval I exchanged them for diamond hoops. 

—Kellie Burns, news anchor, NBC-2, Fort Myers

Power of listening: Debi Greenfield’s husband went out and purchased this small statue for his wife after she told him of how seeing it made a bad day better.The Sculpture Caper  

I’d had a rough day at work and was feeling down. I stopped into a little shop and noticed a sculpture of an overweight, weathered, unkempt grey-haired old woman sitting cross-legged and braless in a skimpy dress. With head thrown back and eyes closed, her expression was that of pure joy, as though she hadn’t a care in the world. I realized then that my troubles were small. She inspired me not to sweat the small stuff … to take joy from life, no matter what. That night, I told Jerry about my terrible day, and the lift I got from that old lady’s face.

Soon after, my dear husband came home with a gift-wrapped box tucked under his arm. As you might guess, that carefree woman was in the box.  

Debi Greenfield, president, Greenfield Advertising Group, Fort Myers 

Pieces of love: Michael Sullivan collected items from two years of his relationship with Kelly Creswell and gave them to her in a scrapbook as part of his proposal.A Real Page-Turner

My girlfriend, Kelly Creswell, and I had both received promotions, so I suggested we celebrate with some beach time at Lover’s Key. She didn’t see me tuck the champagne and orange juice into the cooler. She was lounging, listening to music, when I handed her the elaborate scrapbook I’ve secretly kept for two years. When she finished the last page, listing all the reasons I love her, I asked her to marry me.

I gave her two choices: “Yes,” and she could open the envelope containing the diamond ring. “No,” and she’d be walking home. First she cried, and then she said yes. While she called her mom, I uncorked the champagne and made mimosas. I fell in love with the girl on TV, and this month I’ll marry the woman of my dreams.

—Michael Sullivan, executive producer, NBC-2, Fort Myers

Ad man: Art Director Jesse Adams took out an ad in a San Francisco magazine to propose to his girlfriend on vacation.The “Marry Me” Ad

As a magazine art director, I’ve fantasized about seeing the woman of my dreams open a magazine to discover a beautiful full-page ad featuring her name, followed by “Will you marry me?” When I finally found her, on the staff of my own magazine, that moment arrived.

Our upcoming trip to San Francisco inspired a plan. I contacted the publisher of the city magazine there, who was enchanted with the idea. I commissioned a photograph of myself holding the ring, my face blurred in the background and the brilliant round-cut diamond sparkling in perfect focus. I chose an elegant script for her name, Jennifer, in her favorite shade of pink.

The publisher had the magazine placed in our hotel room. Although we arrived late at night, I couldn’t wait for the moment to happen. I casually picked up the magazine saying, “Oh, let’s see what’s happening in town this weekend.” But she was too tired to read. I suffered all night and the next day, carrying that magazine around in my pack, awaiting the opportunity that never seemed to come.

Finally, we found ourselves at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. A perfect setting: winding path, flowers, secluded garden bench. I brought out the magazine for the third time, praying, “Please be in the mood now.” And she was! Only now she had to read every article, while the ring burned a hole in my sweating palm. When she finally got to our page, she sighed over the beautiful art, which she assumed was an ad for a jewelry store. And then she saw the fine print: “Seriously, when you’re a magazine art director and the love of your life is an editor, how else is there to propose?”

At last, she got it, and the waterworks started. It was worth every second of that long, long wait.

—Jesse Adams, art director, Gulfshore Business, Naples

The Car

When I accepted a great career opportunity in Cincinnati, my husband, Bob, was still in working in Washington, D.C., and I needed a car quickly. We looked at used cars, inexpensive cars, jazzy cars and even checked out a rent-a-wreck. When we saw the newly released BMW Z3, it took my breath away. But the price was a bit of a stretch, and besides, it was special order only with a one-year wait. I went with the rent-a-wreck.

Weeks later, while Bob was visiting, the BMW dealer called. A customer had cancelled his Z3 order. There in the pristine detailing shop, surrounded by white-lab-coated technicians, that car was pure James Bond—even the same icy blue color as the one in the mid-’90s movies. After a small silence, my husband finally spoke.

“You have to have it. It matches your eyes.”

I still drive that car—and love that man—today, 16 years later.

—Mary Wilson, advertising executive, Estero

Len and Nancy HallThe Digestive

We met in college. Blond and six-feet-six, Len was the handsomest, most confident guy I’d ever met. As soon as he turned 21, we exchanged plain gold bands. One of the few times I’ve seen him nervous was on a flight to Paris. It wasn’t fear of flying —it concerned a sweetly wrapped confection in the dish on my dinner tray. I assumed it was chocolate, and I didn’t particularly feel like eating it. He seemed especially anxious when the attendant came to remove the tray. I don’t know why, but at the last second, I decided to save the “chocolate” for later.” As soon as I picked it up, I realized my mistake. My handsome husband of 40 years had bought me a beautiful diamond-studded wedding band.

—Nancy Hall, co-founder, Skills Tutor, Fort Myers

The Graduation Gift

On a trip to Maui many years ago, I admired—but couldn’t afford—a fabulous pair of Tahitian pearl earrings. When I began my doctoral studies, my husband secretly decided that for graduation I should have those earrings. After endless research, phone calls, faxes and emails, he tracked down our resort, which helped identify the store. Unfortunately, the store no longer carried the earrings and the jewelry artist wasn’t interested in making more. Geoff persuaded the store to let him plead his case directly. It worked! The artist agreed to create one last pair. 

Geoff managed to keep his secret tucked away for several years. The night before my graduation ceremony, at our restaurant table high above Phoenix, Ariz., he presented the precious box to me. As much as I love these earrings, the real treasure is knowing Geoff’s extreme effort to give me this gift. Just telling this story has made me cry and remember why I love this man so much.

—Dr. Julia East, director, Center for Leadership and Innovation, FGCU, Fort Myers

Paint Fumes = True LovePaint Fumes = True Love

My boyfriend, Larry, knew I wanted to refresh my kids’ bedrooms, but I was just starting a business and had neither time nor money. One weekend I returned home, exhausted, from a National Association of Home Builders convention and was confused by the strong odor of paint. Following the scent, I was shocked to discover that he had completely remodeled both rooms from top to bottom—paint, carpet and all—and put everything back in its place. He did all the work at night after working all day. The kids have now left the nest; Larry and I are still together.

—Marion Briggs, president/broker, Sun Country Realty, Fort Myers

Victoria’s (and John’s) Secret

I was exhausted, stressed out and about to turn 30. My husband sent a huge Victoria’s Secret bag to my office, filled with romantic things. The card read, “Go pack a bag, include your swim suit. You’ll be picked up at 6 p.m.” It was a mystery until we arrived at the Edgewater Beach Resort. John stocked our suite with strawberries, champagne and bubble bath, and pre-ordered room service. All weekend, we lounged in the sun, walked the beach, enjoyed gourmet picnics and just rested (sort of) in our perfect beachfront suite. Thank you for allowing me to reminisce. We’ve been married 22 years, and John has a birthday coming up this month. I’m going to re-enact that weekend for him!

—Liz Sanders, catering and sales manager, Hilton Naples

Forever PinkForever Pink

Apartment hunting several years ago, I found the ideal location at a great price. The problem was, the entire apartment was pink—and not just the walls. There was a pink sofa, pink TV, pink lamps, pink linens, pink everything. I wanted to store all that stuff and put it back at my expense, but the gorgeous blonde woman it belonged to wouldn’t budge. Take all or nothing. I took it. I didn’t love the pink, but I fell in love with the girl. And she still loves pink. For her 60th birthday, with the complicity of her best girlfriends, I orchestrated a pink-and-white surprise party. The guests wore white (even the Motown band) with a touch of pink. There were pink orchids among the white roses. The menus were printed in pink. At her place of honor there was a pink scepter and a choice of two pink tiaras. If Retta likes anything more than pink, it’s shoes. So her friend Shelly, of Grace and Shelly’s Cupcakes, created pink stiletto cupcakes. The look on Retta’s face when she entered the room was priceless, and it was a perfect night. But romance isn’t a onetime event. It is the small things every day and night that say I love you again
and again.

—Elliott Singer, CEO, Fairview Advisors, Naples


Sand Love ProposalThe Art of Proposing


Anyone can write love letters in the sand, but Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort guest Matthew Cavanaugh of Chicago wanted something a tad more memorable. So, with the hotel’s help, he enlisted award-winning sand sculptor Brian Wigelsworth of the famous Sand Lubbers “sandvertising agency” to pop the question for him. The 6-by-4-foot sand sculpture of two hands holding a ring was flanked by a banner, which read, “Bianca, will you marry me?” Bianca said yes.

Meanwhile, Naples Bay Resort guest Dr. Christina Yannetsos from Wisconsin thought she and her boyfriend had randomly stumbled upon an opportunity to help a charter boat explore a new route. They landed on Keewaydin Island just before sunset amidst a pod of mating dolphins. “Jason’s biggest challenges were keeping me out of the cooler where the ring was hidden, and getting down on one knee while I was busy collecting shells. It was so unexpected that my only proof it really happened are two after-the-fact photos: his sandy knee and its imprint in the sand.”


Sometimes it seems kind of like a proposal, but maybe it’s not. Just ask Pam Cronin, co-owner of The Shell Factory, Fort Myers, whose husband Tom is a well-known romantic. But he’s definitely gotten better with practice.

“Tom and I had been dating for several years,” Pam says. “One day we were in the car on our way somewhere when he casually handed me a box. I opened it up and there was the most stunning diamond ring I’d ever seen. I couldn’t stop looking at it. Finally, Tom asked, ‘don’t you like it?’ ‘I love it!’ I answered, “but I’m not sure which finger you want me to put it on.” P.S. It was the fourth finger, left hand.

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