Ephraim and Heather

Engagement Proposal Ideas in Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland UK

How We Met

I run a video production company. One of my first clients was a local bank that was very proud of being eco-friendly. They wanted to showcase the many ways in which they had reduced their carbon footprint, and they had hired me to make a video for that purpose. This required that I film the interior of the bank a few times and capture how busy and friendly it was. Heather worked for the bank at the time and happened to be working at that branch the day I was filming. The first time I saw her was through my camera’s viewfinder and I’m not going to lie, I may have paused panning for just a bit to try and get a better glimpse of her.

I finished filming for the day and I made a note to see if I could talk to her. A few days later I got my chance but it was pretty embarrassing. I had applied for a business loan from that same bank and, about a week after I first saw Heather, I had a meeting with one of the loan agents. I had been helping my friends move the day before and had unexpectedly spent the night. So I had my smelly moving clothes on from the previous day and, to make it worse, I had to walk a few blocks to get to the bank from where my friends had dropped me off. So I get to the bank and I’m gross. I have my meeting with the loan agent and everything is fine. Until Heather walks over and gives something to the agent. I just remember looking up from my seat at this vision of pure beauty with the slightest of southern accents and thinking “This woman TOTALLY has a boyfriend. There’s no friggin way you can ask her out.”

Ephraim's Proposal in Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland UK

(Our first photo together in a mud run she had just finished. We look a little different now. ;) )

But then she looked at me and smiles a perfect smile beneath some beautiful brown eyes and I got a little more confidence. When she left, I casually asked the loan agent “Hey, who…who was that?” to which the agent responded, with a really knowing look “Heather? She’s a teller here. Why?” I played it cool and tried to pass it off like I was just getting to know the employees for the sake of my business relationship, but the whole time, Vanessa (the loan agent) was just giving me this “Mhmm” smirk.

I owe that woman a great deal, because after going and filing some papers, she returned and told me “So her name is Heather Falcon, she’s single, she thinks you’re cute, and she likes flowers.” which most assuredly got rid of enough butterflies for me to get in line at her teller window to ask her out.

I still remember fumbling quite a bit while asking her. Trying to be cool and suave, but it all came out as half-sentences about how I didn’t actually LIKE coffee but I wanted to GO for coffee with her but I’d probably end up getting a frozen strawberry lemonade and anyway here’s my business card thanks feel free to text me.

She did text me. Within the hour, as I recall. And we hit it off. I DID get a frozen strawberry lemonade. And I still act like a doofus whenever I see her smile.

Where to Propose in Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland UK

how they asked

I had been thinking of how I was going to propose for a long time and a few different ideas came and went until I finally settled on the idea of proposing at a castle. We had been planning a trip to Scotland and Ireland as a Graduation trip and I began to think how wonderful it might be to surprise her with it then. I had finally saved up enough to get the ring, and I knew that it would be a little less than a year and a half before we got to Scotland. So I had time to plan something epic. My best friends live in Edinburgh, so I asked them to search around for a castle where I could, maybe, bury a treasure box with a proposal note in it. Then I took Heather to a Piano Guys (a pair of her favorite musicians) concert for Valentine’s day and I saw that one of their music videos featured an absolutely breathtaking castle in Scotland.

Marriage Proposal Ideas in Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland UK

Ephraim and Heather's Engagement in Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland UK

I found out it was called Eilean Donan Castle near a town called Dornie in the Highlands of Scotland and it was right in line with our trip route. So I contacted them and let them know my idea to see if they might allow me to bury something on the grounds. They responded that it was a lovely idea and they wanted to help, BUT, since we’d be there in March, it might be rainy out, and best not to include that treasure element. Instead, Rona (the woman in charge of weddings at the castle) suggested that I use their secret hidden chamber that overlooked the loch instead. The passageway to get to it was so small that it is normally off limits to guests, and if I could arrange for wine to be sent up, they could put candles and lights in the room to make it the perfect spot for a proposal.

So after confirming that, yes, that sounded absolutely perfect, I began to plan the details. I had my friends (Anne and Jeremy, who also filmed the proposal on my phone) ship a bottle of wine up to the castle. I also wanted to at least give Heather a chance to figure out. Because all of my surprise romantic gestures to her always gave clues of some kind. So I made an entire fake website “run by the University of Edinburgh’s Anthropology History grad programs” that listed a series of castles in the UK which had legends of secret chambers and passageways surrounding them (almost all of which I made up). It even had a fake “about me” section and photos corresponding to each story. The clue that I was going to propose was hidden in the name of each of the castles. The first letter of each castle on the list, when reading down the page, reads “Heather will you marry me” with Eilean Donan Castle (and its legend of a secret lovers’ chamber) providing that last “E” in “Me”. The website is still up if you’d like to look at my handiwork, btw.

I also bought her, as gifts throughout the year leading up to it, every major item of the outfit (her Frye boots, her leather gloves, her red coat, her socks) I knew she’d be wearing when I proposed, because I wanted to make sure she felt absolutely gorgeous when I popped the question.

The funny thing is that every time I showed her the website, she didn’t want to read it. It turns out that she wanted to have all those cool stories revealed to her when we actually got to the castles themselves. But I eventually managed to read all the entries to her, just to make sure she was, technically, given the clue beforehand.

When we got to Eilean Donan, it was a perfect day and I was incredibly nervous. All of the staff knew we were coming and who we were, and they were all smiling at us as we walked through. It took us FOREVER to get to the main hall (where the chamber is hidden off of) because Heather wanted to (understandably) linger and look at everything.

When we did get to the main hall, a kindly old Scotsman named Ian told us that since they were in the slow season, they were allowing guests to go into the more hidden areas of the castle. He then pulled back a tapestry curtain to reveal a small entrance to a spiral staircase which led up to the secret chamber.

It was magical. Everything kinda went blurry and I remember the same butterflies as the day I first met her, times a million. But I must have asked the question right because she definitely said “yes”. I confirmed that fact. :)

(Heather, me, Anne, and Jeremy, who helped me pull the whole thing off)

Our Video

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Special Thanks

Rona Burstow
Ashley McCormick Photography | 
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