Autumn is the perfect time to fall in love.
As tree leaves begin their gradual shift to brown and orange, it’s natural to want that special someone by your side to sip cider and step on extra-crunchy leaves.
Many opt to pop the question in the fall, especially around Thanksgiving, but with every proposal comes a dilemma: Where, exactly, do you make that memory?
The Eagle consulted with Suzanna Mathews, founder and president of The Date Maven, a boutique date-making and matchmaking consultancy, to help find some of the best proposal spots in Wichita.
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Overall, if your proposal is sincere and heartfelt, you can’t go wrong anywhere, but if you want to elevate it to the next level, keep reading.
While tastes may vary, here are a few scenic spots in Wichita at which to declare your love:
Chinese Garden of Friendship, Botanica
This option gives you the freedom to have continuity between your proposal and your wedding ceremony. You can make your engagement promise in Botanica’s new Chinese Garden of Friendship in the fall, then take your wedding vows in the same locale months later.
And who wouldn’t want to be proposed to in this garden?
One of the highlights is a small waterfall near the southeast section of the garden. It provides soothing, romantic white noise in the area nearby. Beside the waterfall is a covered pavilion – there’s your proposal spot.
Botanica even bills it on its website as a spot for “assembly, photo opportunities related to weddings and other activities.”
Your proposal would fall under the “other activities” category.
Wooded locations are always a solid idea for marriage proposals, as the trees can symbolize the strength of your relationship. Plus, trees provide ample hiding spots for a secret proposal photographer, if you opt to go that route.
But the problem with the forest-proposal plan, at least in Wichita, is that you don’t want to spoil the surprise prematurely. You don’t want your significant other wondering why you’re leading him or her into a heavily forested area with no real explanation on your part.
So you could say this is a compromise plan, but frankly it’s better than that.
Here’s the game plan: Take your significant other out for coffee, Mexican food or cold-press juice at Wichita’s coolest corner, 11th and Bitting. This will show how hip you are.
If you’re feeling adventurous and if the weather is agreeable, take her on a walk down 11th Street, heading west. This will show how fit you are.
Just to the northeast of the street corner at 11th and Oak Park Drive, you will find a stone arch overlooking a pond surrounded by trees. You can enter from the street, or you can wander into the wooded trails earlier and wind your way to the arch. This will show how knowledgeable you are.
Inside, near the pond, after watching frogs bounce around and looking at all the trees carved with the initials of past lovers, you can pop the question. This will (hopefully) show how marriageable you are.
Sedgwick County Zoo
What proposal wouldn’t benefit from the inclusion of Swazi elephants?
The new Reed Family Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley exhibit is a scenic spot to propose to your significant other, especially if he or she is an animal lover.
Your proposal speech should, in most cases, be appropriate for the venue. This means that if you want to propose at the elephant exhibit, it would behoove you to include some animal references.
Start the speech with some animal-themed puns to lead into the more serious stuff. Elephants are known for their intense devotion to family, and the fact that they like to stay together their whole lives.
There’s your speech right there.
Grace Hill Winery
Before I detail this option, a disclaimer: If you think you’ll have to get your significant other drunk to say yes to your proposal, you might want to rethink your strategy.
Kidding aside, a visit to the Grace Hill Winery in Whitewater is a unique way to propose to an outdoorsy person, or to someone who takes enjoyment in a good glass of wine.
The winery offers free tours (and tastings!) at its vineyard, winery and cellar, “to see the journey from vine to wine,” at 1 and 2:30 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the winery also offers 4 p.m. tours.
It also permits people to bring their own food for picnicking purposes, which will be key to your proposal strategy.
If you’re really into the romantic proposal, buy a wicker picnic basket – which retails for $30 to $100 – and stuff it with appropriate picnic food, meaning sandwiches, fruit or various salads. Though it’s more work, the more homemade the better.
You can bring a blanket and lie on the grass, or Grace Hill has tables to sit at. Make sure you remember plates, utensils, napkins/paper towels and the other picnic essentials.
Then, after you’ve picnicked to your heart’s content, make your significant other’s heart content with a stroll through the vineyard, the ideal spot for your proposal. Make sure to have a photographer on hand to document the scene (secretly, of course).
Bliss Bouldering and Climbing Complex
This proposal idea rocks!
For the discerning, fit couple, Bliss Bouldering and Climbing Complex, near K-96 and Greenwich, would prove an interesting locale to get engaged.
The idea would be to put the engagement ring at the top of the climbing wall, and then challenge your significant other to climb the wall with you.
For best results, string a GoPro or other sort of camera near the top of the wall surreptitiously to record the whole incident. Rock climbers are active people – seeing a stray GoPro camera there may not seem totally out of place.
Make sure your special someone has all the harnesses and safety equipment on properly, because he or she will be in for quite a surprise at the top.
Also, unless you like to take unnecessary risks, ensure the ring won’t fall between any cracks, or worse, off the front of the wall. And make sure it’s at the top of a route you feel comfortable scaling twice.
Your local jewelry store
Often, locally owned jewelry stores will work with a customer more than a national chain might.
If you called the jeweler ahead of time, you might be able to arrange an after-hours private shopping session. You could take your special someone out on a meaningful date/dinner and then stop by the jewelry store afterward to let him or her pick out the ring.
With a bit of persuasion, you might be able to get the jeweler to chill the champagne for you and – if you bought them beforehand – sprinkle some rose petals at the front door.
Think about setting up a proposal spot outside the shop, proposing there and surprising her with the romantic scene inside the jewelry store.
It might cost a little extra to get all of this set up, but that extra level of effort and personalization will say a lot about you and your commitment.
Chisholm Creek Park lake (or any body of water, really)
Lakes are a win-win when it comes to proposals, especially in the hour before sunset, known in photography circles as the “golden hour.”
Chisholm Creek Park (the part just north of K-96) has a sizable lake that’s easily accessible. In the fall, when there’s so much color in the trees, Chisholm Creek Park is a difficult place to beat when it comes to the “lake” option.
The lake at Bradley Fair is picturesque, though you will almost certainly run into other couples there, which is not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re looking for a more private moment at the Bradley Fair lake, drive across to the east side of the lake, near Wilson Estates.