5 Heartwarming, Real-Life Stories Straight Out Of A Rom-Com

5 Heartwarming, Real-Life Stories Straight Out Of A Rom-Com

If you still don't believe in romantic fate, even after decades of subtle indoctrination by feel-good Hallmark Christmas specials, consider the following IRL rom-com plots, sure to warm the heart of even the bitterest, loneliest, Costco-ice-cream-drum-on-the-lap-eatingest curmudgeon ... 

Husbands Go The Extra Mile, Bust Their Balls To Build Badass Things For Their Wives

Some people humble us, and we hate them for it. Other people humble us, and we love them for it. The thoughtful husbands listed below are of the latter variety.

In 2017, Joel Pace, the patriarch of a Harry Potter-loving family, constructed a replica of Diagon Alley in the front yard to inspire and cheer up his wife, Amanda Steele, who was recovering from a double mastectomy. The display turned into a local Halloween sensation and a yearly interactive event that drew countless tourists, brightened innumerable days, and raised truckloads of money for various charitable organizations. And in 2020, when the pandemic dampened spirits worldwide, it couldn't rob the Pace family of their infectious, irrepressible joie de vivre.

Knowing that the community (and planet) needed a spark of delight to rekindle pre-pandemic enthusiasm, the Paces recreated Hogwarts at their Austin, Texas, home. They specifically designed the display to be enjoyed from afar and prevent another mass-spreader event of the type that Texas has become so famous for.

In Norco, California, Mattheus "Theo" Zoetemelk promised his wife a windmill. And he built her a charming scale model, which we like to think he unveiled with a lovingly playful "here's your windmill, honey!" She loved it, but Zoetemelk dreamed of building her an authentic, honest-to-goodness, four-story Dutch windmill. The Norco (aka Horse Town USA) City Council voted against it, fearing that it would clash with the city's equine aesthetic.

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But Zoetemelk, a Dutchman who builds boats (is there any other kind?), managed to convince the Horse Town elders that a 40-foot-tall windmill would drum up tourism. And the council, probably rocking new gold watches from an unnamed benefactor known only as M.Z., voted to allow it. Several years later, in celebration of the Zoetemelks' 50th anniversary, he built "Zoete Molen" or "Sweet Windmill," according to the Dutch tradition of naming their mills. And it's not just pretty; it boasts a generator that produces a small amount of electricity

In Japan's Miyazaki Prefecture, a dairy farmer Mr. Kuroki spent two years planting thousands of flowers to celebrate the vibrant, blooming love he feels for his wife of more than 60 years. Mrs. Kuroki lost her sight to diabetes, so he created something she could enjoy in an olfactory capacity. It's now a tourist attraction, drawing 7,000 daily visitors during peak season in the spring.

Ray Smith Hides 148 Marriage Proposals In Pictures With His Girlfriend

Marriage proposals were much simpler in the pre-internet era. A man could take his lady to a little league game, toss back a few brews, enjoy a hot dog, and pop the question with a pawn shop ring that belonged to a heroin addict's grandmother. But now, thanks to viral fame, over-achievers like Ray Smith have upped the stakes for everyone. Smith, of Grimsby, England, planned to propose to girlfriend Claire Bramley in a hot air balloon. But scrapped the idea when the couple received wondrous news that Claire was with seed and they would experience all the frightening, burdensome, and terrifying joys of parenthood.

Unwilling to risk his unborn baby's life in a flame-spouting, helium-fueled death-trap, Smith concocted a master plan of Machiavellian design. He snuck a marriage proposal in as many photographs as possible, holding a little card reading "will you marry me" tantalizingly out of Claire's sight. To shed suspicion, he took the photos under the guise of tracking the pregnancy and his boo's baby bump.

Smith would have been a great war-time double agent because he kept this going for 5 months, stealthily inserting his little card in 148 photos. He took many of them twice, once with the card and once without, in case Claire wanted to view them. Sometimes he held the card in more-or-less plain sight, where a quick turn of his girlfriend's head would have scuppered the whole plan. As autumn descended upon the northern hemisphere, Smith grew cheekier. By Christmas-time, Smith, at this point, an experienced decept-ician, grew ever more eager to pop the question.

Finally, on Christmas morning, Smith revealed his grand, five-month-long secret proposal and explicitly asked for his beloved's hand in marriage. Fortunately, for the status of this article, Claire replied with a resounding yes. Oh, and Ray Smith was probably stoked as well. 

Woman Loses Ring, Finds It On A Carrot More Than A Decade Later

Losing a wedding ring is a crowd-favorite rom-com trope. An exasperated bride-to-be or wife misplaces an invaluable heirloom and spends the rest of the episode pretending to stuff a turkey until the ring turns up behind a dresser or somewhere dull. But reality is stranger than fiction; would you believe that a woman once found her lost ring, over a decade later, wrapped around a carrot?

No? Very perceptive of you because it didn't happen once. It happened three times. In 2004, Mary Grams of Alberta, Canada, lost her 50-year-old engagement ring while weeding on the family farm. She didn't tell her husband because she "thought for sure he'd give me heck or something," which is the most Canadian thing to say ever. Then she spent the next 13 years presumably wearing an oven mitt. Though it's possible her husband was too busy watching hockey in his maple syrup evaporating shed to notice.

In 2017, her daughter-in-law finally found the ring while harvesting carrots. She almost fed the misshapen, dirt-covered carrot to her dog—which would have turned this rom-com-worthy incident into the dog pooping scene from Gone in 60 Seconds. Luckily she kept it and discovered the ring pinched around this creepy carrot homunculus:

And in 1995, Swede Lena Påhlsson lost the diamond-studded gold ring she'd designed herself after a frenzied Christmas baking session. She and her husband Ola performed a thorough search and even checked under the floorboards while renovating their home several years later. 

Then, after 16 years, she pulled up a weakly carrot from her vegetable patch and almost tossed it, like a disappointed Spartan father chucking a puny infant. But upon closer inspection, boom, ring-city. Påhlsson says the ring was accidentally swept into the compost, which was later spread over the veggie patch. Alternatively, the ring and vegetable scraps may have been fed to the family's sheep, which later deposited it in the soil.

Brit Lin Keitch experienced equal elation after finding her long-lost amethyst ring (a 40th birthday present from husband Dave) on a, you guessed it, carrot. Keitch previously gave the ring to her daughter after it "got too small," and Keitch's daughter lost it in the garden in 2006. It turned up 12 years later after Dave dug up some carrots, which sat out for a week before Keitch noticed her beloved ring and probably gave her daughter a bloody good what-for, innit. 

Woman Meets Nice Man At A Club, He Turns Out To Be A Prince

When Lifetime writers run out of ideas, which is often, they fall back on a classic rom-com plotline as old as time itself: a woman falls for (and eventually marries) a dashing man who is secretly a prince. But this eyeroll-inspiring twist isn't as unlikely as it sounds, as Ariana Austin found out after unknowingly falling in love with Joel Makonnen, the prince of Ethiopia. The two met in 2005 at the Pearl Nightclub in Washington D.C. They instantly became quite fond of each other, and within five minutes, Makonnen, with princely swagger, told Austin that she'd be his girlfriend.

Makonnen's royal heritage was revealed without much romance several months later. Austin and Makkonen were enjoying dinner with his friends when one unceremoniously blurted that Joel, aka Prince Yoel, was actually a royal. And not just any royal, but the great-grandson of Haile Selassie: the last emperor of Ethiopia, who ruled from 1930 to 1974 and is known by western audiences only through Bob Marley songs. Wow, what an anti-climactic way to discover your date descends from the world's oldest monarchy, stretching back 3,000 years to the biblical King Solomon and Queen of Sheba.

Prince Joel Makonnen at the 51st Annual Meridian Ball in Washington, DC, October 2019.

Jdmakonnen/Wiki Commons

This is him. It's not a cardboard cutout, we promise.

But Austin descended from distinguished stock herself as the granddaughter of the Lord Mayor of Georgetown, Guyana. Her mother is the Executive Producer of Humanities DC, and her father serves as the president of the Neighbourhood Associates Corporation—defying rom-com logic which dictates that princesses-to-be come from a humble background and run a struggling small-town inn. 

Over the next decade, the two spent time apart, each focusing on their studies and career, again thwarting rom-com logic, which mandates a temporary lover's rift after a public tiff with the prince's bride-to-be at a lavish Christmas ball. 

Then in 2014, Makkonen, brandishing jewelry and balloons, surprised Austin at her house and popped the question. They married on September 9th in 2017, as close as possible to Enkutatash, the Ethiopian New Year, which falls on the 11th because why not? Time is made up anyway. The two donned fancy hats and entered into blissful matrimony in front of about 300 people at the tongue-twisting Debre Genet Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Temple Hills, Maryland. The ceremony was presided over by 13 priests and numerous clergymen, which seems like overkill to us, but we're not Solomonic royalty, so what do we know?


Couple Find Each Other In Old Photos 11 Years After They Fell In Love

Destined lovers Xue and Ye realized they each took the same picture, in the same place, at the same time. It's inexplicable as anything other than cosmic serendipity:

While visiting his mother-in-law one day, Mr. Ye, presumably looking for anything else to do than make small-talk, perused a family photo album. He broke out in goosebumps when he recognized a handsome chap in one of the photos: himself. In July 2000, Xue and Ye both posed for the same shot at the May 4th Square in Qingdao, in front of the "May Wind" sculpture, which (with all due cultural respect) apparently represents a menstrual tornado.

Ye was visiting with a tour group, and only because he took his mother's ticket after she fell ill. Xue was also there at the same time, on a much-needed vacation with her mother, who was recovering after an operation. And 11 years later, the two met and fell for each other in Chengdu, population 14 million, which is a 1,100-mile and a 20-hour drive away from Qingdao, population 9 million. 

It's literally like two needles in a haystack finding each other, making out, and giving birth to twin baby needles. Twin needles they plan to take to Qingdao when they're older to commemorate their moment of divine kismet.

Top image: Denny Müller/Unsplash

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