Rockefeller Center is all about love this week, from the people at the heart of the landmark to the couples who kindled the flames on Valentine's Day. Here's more romance coming your way, with tales of proposals at the Rink and Top of the Rock.
Visiting New York City during Christmastime had been at the top of Shelby Stallsmith’s wish list since she was a kid growing up in Memphis. When her high school sweetheart, Will Tucker, booked a December trip for the two of them as a birthday present in October 2014, she was ecstatic.
Stallsmith had long dreamed of ice skating under the Rock Center Tree. So, when she found herself alone on the Rink with Tucker, their song "Angel Eyes" by Jeff Healey started to play and Tucker dropped to one knee in front of hundreds of people surrounding the ice, she was speechless. "Everytime I opened my mouth I would just gasp," she says, laughing.
Shelby Stallsmith became Shelby Tucker in November 2015.
Approximately 200 couples get engaged on the ice every November and December, with most popping the question right in front of the gold Prometheus sculpture. "Christmas week is our busiest time of year," says Carol Olsen, director of The Rink at Rockefeller Center.
Proposers, like Tucker, can coordinate an Engagement on Ice package ahead of time, which includes a private session on the Rink (complete with an audience, of course) and a rinkside champagne toast. Many hire professional photographers to document the occasion or have friends or family members present to shoot some pictures.
When Brian Luu proposed to Katherine Yin on November 27, 2016, he invited his parents and future in-laws to watch the moment. Luu wanted to recreate the couple’s first date in San Francisco, when they hit the ice at the Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center and had one of those movie-like moments where Luu caught Yin when she almost took a spill.
Luu’s engagement plan didn’t go over quite as smoothly as his reflexes on the couple’s first date. Yin was not supposed to see her parents until after the proposal, but as the couple walked to the Rink from dinner, Yin noticed her mom’s green coat. She asked, "Is that my mom? What are our parents doing here?"
Luu managed to play it off and keep them moving along.
Before their visit, Luu had dropped off a mixed CD with some of their favorite songs, including Charlie Puth’s "One Call Away." He planned to drop to his knee during Jess Glynne’s "Gave Me Something."
Luu booked a package. The couple had the Rink to themselves. Luu anxiously skated in circles with Yin, waiting for his songs to play. They didn’t come on. When the Christmas music switched to Prince, he just went for it.
As he dropped to his knee, the crowd surrounding the rink cheered and applauded. Yin said yes. Luu was so happy and nervous, he was shaking, and struggled to get the ring on her finger. As the couple exited the rink, Yin’s mom met them by the entrance, shouting, "Hey, I know that girl."
For those considering proposing on ice, Luu suggests testing CDs beforehand, but he says, "It truly is an awesome experience."
Although many lovers choose to ask the big question on the Rink, proposals have been known to take place all around Rock Center. Some select the Tree, while others head to the Top of the Rock.
Andres Mora chose the latter when he asked for his decade-long girlfriend Jackie Angela’s hand in marriage. The Atlanta-based couple (pictured) had stumbled across a photo of the NYC skyline from Top of the Rock on Pinterest just before planning their early December vacation—which happened to be the site of Mora’s parents' first date.
They decided to add it to their Big Apple itinerary.
For about an hour, Mora and Angela watched the light shift as the sun set beyond the skyline. A "random" photographer walked up to the couple and asked if he could take their picture. Mora played it cool, pretending he didn’t know who the guy was. They posed casually and smiled. Then Mora kneeled on the deck.
Both Mora and Angela cried. They both called their parents immediately. The photographer snapped photos the entire time on the rooftop—Angela loves the sunset and nighttime shots of the skyline—then down by the Rink and in front of the Christmas Tree. "I was so impressed," says Angela. "The whole day was perfect."
Photo courtesy of Matthew Raney Photography