Alex Donahue promised his girlfriend they would skate at the Rockefeller Center rink, but he had more extravagant, covert plans waiting for her to make it “the best day of our lives.”
Donahue, Daejauna Briggs and a ring traveled from State College to the rink on Christmas Eve.
That they would eventually get engaged wasn’t a shock — they recently bought a home together and have gone ring shopping — but it was how he popped the question that left Briggs speechless.
“He definitely surprised me,” she said. “He had our families cheering us on after it happened, but he definitely surprised me because he’s super last minute. For him to coordinate my family and his family and to get everyone there and everything in place is pretty incredible.”
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The marriage proposal was planned for several weeks, beginning when he learned the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree originated from his hometown. He also wanted to propose in New York City, where they had their first date.
Donahue arranged for the rink to be cleared at 1:55 p.m. when their favorite song “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran and Beyonce played. He was given about four minutes to be the lone couple on the ice while thousands watched and told her they should get a photo taken.
Briggs knew her boyfriend was up to something when he didn’t want to leave after the first picture.
“It was getting awkward,” Briggs said. “We took the first photo, and the guy was going to hand back the phone, and Alex said he wanted another. He looked at me and said my full name, which we never do. We call each other super goofy names, so I kind of figured it out. Then he asked, ‘Will you marry me?” And got on one knee with everyone screaming and cheering.”
The newly engaged couple was fortunate — no one fell on the ice, she said “yes” and they took a lap.
“I’d relate it to a football game,” Donahue said. “I’ve never played football, but just the roar of the crowd was incredible.”
Donahue and Briggs, who attended Penn State to become architects, said they often barely missed each other in school, but “re-met” years later at a Penn State football game. Briggs had no idea she’d met her future husband in college.
“If someone had told me that, I’d say they were crazy,” Briggs said. “Alex is amazing. Our first date we laughed the whole time and kind of got kicked out. We ate, paid for it and stayed for a long time at the restaurant, but others were waiting. We just clicked.”
Now the upcoming architects will build on their relationship — starting with a wedding that will likely be in Ireland.
“We understand each other,” Donahue said. “She’s my best friend.”