'Ringing' in the new year: Couples share their holiday love stories
While many posts have the ability to surprise us on social media, one thing that is expected this time of year is changing Facebook statuses. News feeds highlight life milestones with a simple update from "single" to "engaged" or even "married."
But what makes the holiday season a particularly popular time to tie the knot?
Four couples share their New Year's engagement and wedding stories, shedding light on how and why they chose the day to celebrate their love.
Propose already... I'm freezing
"When a couple has been dating for (seven) years and both know you're going to get married, it's hard to do something special without it being obvious," says Logan Sonmor, 27, of Underwood, Minn.
Luckily, New Year's Day 2014 created a good excuse for Logan to plan a snowboarding trip to Duluth with his then-girlfriend, Jasmine. The couple was pleasantly surprised to see the town had extended its infamous Bentleyville "Tour of Lights."
After dinner that night, the couple braved the minus 4-degree weather and unforgiving winds to check out the lights.
"I walked around the whole place with the ring and told myself many times, 'This is a nice spot' but couldn't pull the trigger from being so nervous," Logan recalls.
Eventually, the cold set in and Jasmine was ready to leave.
"I told Logan, 'I'm absolutely chilled to the bone. We need to go back to the hotel now.' Logan quickly retorted, saying 'We need to get a good picture, though! Let's go back and find a good spot for one.'"
Having passed up several desirable locations, Logan was forced to pick a spot at the last minute.
"When we got to the destination, I dropped to my knee before she turned around and asked her to marry me," he says.
"I'm not sure if it was due to the below-zero temperatures or because of the nerves, but he barely stammered out, 'Will you marry me?'" Jasmine says, grinning.
Nonetheless, the then-North Dakota State University student was surprised and ecstatic.
"She was very cold, happy and excited. She even brewed up a couple tears but they froze by the time it got to the bottom of her chin," Logan says, laughing.
The two took a "We're engaged!" photo before seeking warmth back in the car.
"People always look to the new year as a time to reflect on the past year and make goals for the upcoming year," Jasmine says. "I think it's a symbolic day to also pledge your life and love to one another."
Sharing a special date
For Nathan Erickson, 26, of Grand Forks, engagement came with a similar lesson: even the best laid plans go awry. With plans to propose on New Year's Day 2014, Nate asked his girlfriend, Bailey, to dress up for dinner at her favorite restaurant. But when they arrived, Bailey could tell something was a little off.
"I could tell he was nervous because he immediately sat down and asked for a beer," she says, laughing. "We ate and then he asked if I wanted to go check out Christmas in the Park."
Little did Nate know, the park was closed.
As a backup plan, Bailey threw out the idea of visiting the Grand Forks County Historical Society grounds, complete with historic buildings and a gazebo. The two walked around a bit before Nate asked Bailey if she would visit the gazebo with him.
"I was thinking, 'Well OK, I guess we could go look at nothing,'" Bailey recalls.
But when they got there, Nate "faced me and said how much he loved me — that we will always make things work out no matter what and that I was his whole world. He knelt down and asked me to be his wife. My parents were engaged on New Year's Day and Nate wanted us to share that day."
Nate has never regretted buying the ring and proposing.
"She's the only person in this world that I couldn't live without," he says. "She's the only thing I have that I can't replace. And I love her more than I've ever been able to find the words to explain."
Surrounded by friends
Knowing his girlfriend was quite the investigator, Drew Schultz, 28, of Fargo, realized a surprise proposal after 5 years of dating wouldn't come easy.
Luckily, the holidays proved advantageous as the two attended an annual New Year's Eve party. Drew knew "by doing it then, she wouldn't have a clue that something was planned," he says.
During the party, Drew and his girlfriend, Heidi, took a picture in the photo booth, holding a prop that read "Ring in the New Year."
"I edited (the photo) on SnapChat to point to my ring finger and sent it to Drew to give him a little guff since we weren't engaged and everyone kept asking when he was going to pop the question," Heidi recalls.
Little did she know that this photo foreshadowed what Drew had planned.
"He had something much more special planned than simply watching the ball drop and (getting) a New Year's kiss to ring in 2017," Heidi says. "We were all counting down from 10 together and when we got to 1, Drew got up from the couch, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him."
Friends celebrated and congratulated the couple, commenting on how calm Drew had appeared all evening.
"I think the whole holiday season really makes you reflect on your family and friends," Drew says. "I had contemplated a summer or fall engagement, but I knew I wanted to be surrounded by the ones close to us when I did it, so the holidays were a great time for that."
New year as Mr. and Mrs.
Even before the two got engaged in May 2016, Parker (22) and Cheyenne (21) Gunderson talked about marriage. Weighing the options of whether to wait until summer of 2017 or have a winter wedding, the couple chose New Year's Eve.
"To us, there was just something so magical about having a winter wedding," Cheyenne says. "And, to be honest, we just couldn't wait to be married. We thought a New Year's Eve wedding would be the perfect way to end the year and celebrate with friends."
To match the season, the bride wore an ivory dress and lacy winter boots paired with cozy wool socks. The couple added pine cones and sprigs to the chairs at the ceremony to accompany an arch lit with twinkle lights — an element which fit the New Year's Eve theme perfectly.
To make the experience even more memorable, Parker played the piano while the couple sang a song during the ceremony.
"Not only did it represent our shared love of music, but how we wanted to serve God and worship together for the rest of our lives," Cheyenne says.
Having a New Year's Eve wedding allowed the couple to start the year off fresh.
"New Years is always a refreshing way to start something new, so why not do that by getting married and with your best friend by your side?" Cheyenne says. "Once the ceremony was over, we had a celebratory sparkler send off. New Year's Eve made that feel even more magical."