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Pandemic proposal: 'I took out the ring and I looked right into her eyes as she said yes'


A global pandemic will scupper even the best laid plans. But where there's a will there's a way, writes Tom Rowley in New York

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PICTURE OF HAPPINESS: Even though Tom and Leigh were alone in Brooklyn, New York, their famiy and friends were a very real part of this, their most important day... so far

PICTURE OF HAPPINESS: Even though Tom and Leigh were alone in Brooklyn, New York, their famiy and friends were a very real part of this, their most important day... so far

Tom and Leigh in Brooklyn

Tom and Leigh in Brooklyn

Tom and Leigh in Brooklyn

Tom and Leigh in Brooklyn

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PICTURE OF HAPPINESS: Even though Tom and Leigh were alone in Brooklyn, New York, their famiy and friends were a very real part of this, their most important day... so far

It was meant to happen in Buenos Aires. I hadn't picked out the exact spot, but candidates included a gondola, a rose garden, a riverbank walk. We booked our flights together back in January and then I set to work. I chose a ring, set the date for March 23, Leigh's birthday, met her parents and… well, then all of March happened.

With coronavirus cases rising around the world, we rang the airline to check our flight status. I remember the cheerful American Airlines woman telling us, 'Well, there's next to no one on your flight now so, on the plus side, you'd have the run of the place'. Then the US cases rose, and Argentina announced that everyone coming from America would be quarantined for 14 days. We admitted defeat. One evening we went through a list, cancelling every part of the trip - it felt like taking down a Christmas tree, layer by layer - the flights, hotels, Airbnbs and concerts.

From then on I kept thinking, 'OK, we'll plan B!'. The first plan B was to go out to dinner followed by a Broadway show. Then Broadway closed, followed by all restaurants. So it became 'a picnic with her friends in Prospect Park'. It's right by our apartment in Brooklyn, so I reckoned it was safe. Then gatherings were called off.