With all the dazzling marriage proposals on YouTube, it’s getting more and more difficult to be original — how can you compete with flash mobs, scavenger hunts and musical ensembles? Forty-year-old McMinnville resident Daniel Evans found a way — and he used a copy of Eugene Weekly to do it.
It all started with Ashley Jordan, 31, a food services rep with a penchant for crossword puzzles. “I lived in Corvallis for 12 years, and that’s when I started doing crosswords out of the Gazette-Times,” she says. “For a long time I didn’t even know there was a crossword in Eugene Weekly, and I was so excited when I discovered a new one.”
Jordan and Evans met about a year and a half ago at the Peacock Bar & Grill in downtown Corvallis. “When we met, we had both just come out of long-term relationships — kind of neglectful relationships — so after four months, we hadn’t dealt with our shit yet and broke up,” Evans says.
The pair continued their friendship, floating the river in Corvallis every week and getting to know each other outside the context of the relationship as they worked through their baggage. “We liked each other so much as people that we stayed connected during that period,” Evans explains.
Inevitably, the couple reunited in September and have been together ever since. “We knew this was it, that this was right,” Evans says.
Evans and Jordan picked out her engagement ring together, but Evans wanted more subtlety in the proposal itself. “It was very important to me that it be epic and that she be completely surprised, because she is incredibly smart and it’s not easy to fool her on anything,” he explains.
Then he remembered that Jordan “religiously” does the crossword puzzle from EW every week, and he wondered if he could somehow incorporate that into his proposal. He emailed crossword puzzle creator Matt Jones of Jonesin’ Crosswords and asked if he could hide a proposal inside a crossword puzzle. Jones’ crosswords appear in newspapers all over the country, but he’s based in Portland.
Jones and Evans worked out the details over email, deciding which inside jokes to weave as clues into the puzzle in addition to the actual proposal message.
When Evans picked up a few copies of EW in Albany on Jan. 8, he excitedly opened the paper and looked for his proposal — but he couldn’t find it anywhere in the crossword. It wasn’t until he started figuring out the clues that he saw “Ashwilumarryme” diagonally across the puzzle. “I was so surprised and blown away,” Evans says.
The morning of Jan. 9, Jordan’s birthday, Evans left early for work, leaving a fresh copy of EW with a blank crossword puzzle, a Ring Pop lollipop and a birthday card for Jordan to find. Evans texted Jordan throughout the morning, asking her how the crossword puzzle was going.
“I saw the crossword and thought nothing of it,” Jordan says. “I knew he was up to something, especially when he kept texting me, but I had no idea there was something hiding in there.”
It wasn’t until later that evening, when Jordan and Evans met a group of friends for dinner, that Jordan finally saw the question — but only after Evans drew a diagonal line in highlighter across the puzzle.
“Crosswords are up and down. That’s how we think in crossword world,” Jordan says. “When I finally saw it, I was so confused. How is this even possible? It didn’t even come to my mind that Daniel would go through this whole effort of contacting the guy who writes the crossword puzzle.”
Evans and Jordan married in Belize on Feb. 6 and are due back in Oregon as EW goes to press.
“We didn’t pick a day specifically,” Evans said before leaving for the trip. “Ash is very spontaneous, so we’re going with that. Everyone just understands — this is how it works with us.”