June 20, 2008

Face to Facebook: Man Pops the Question on Networking Site

By Jennifer Mooney Piedra, The Miami Herald

Jun. 20--Jonathan Harmeling spent more than a month dreaming up the perfect way to propose to his girlfriend.

Should he pop the question before thousands on a big screen at a New York Yankees game? Maybe he'd surprise her on a concert stage. Or he could ask her as the sun set on the Hudson River.

"I wrote lists and had a bunch of crazy ideas," said Harmeling, 23, a West Point graduate from Plantation. "I wanted it to be original and memorable."

He also wanted to share the special moment with their friends and family. Two popular websites -- Facebook and YouTube -- made that happen. Last month, Harmeling professed his love to Kari Weston, 24, on her Facebook page. When she finished reading his message, she turned and he was behind her on one knee, with a ring in his hand.


The proposal was captured on a hidden camera -- discreetly placed behind an orange juice container on a windowsill in his room. This week, Harmeling posted a video of the proposal on YouTube for the world to see.

"We wanted other people to share in our joy," he said. "We hope it puts a smile on their faces."

On May 9, the big day, Harmeling spent three hours hammering out the logistics of his proposal.

He turned off the phones in his room at West Point to avoid interruption. He repeatedly tested the camera angles to make sure he had the perfect shot and checked the battery. And he convinced a younger cadet to stand guard at his door to make sure no one came in.

Then, he posted the message on Weston's Facebook page.

It was the perfect place for his proposal, he thought, because they met on the social networking site a year earlier.

That rainy afternoon, just as Harmeling anticipated, Weston -- who was in town from Virginia for a visit -- sat at his desk and opened her Facebook page.

Then, it was silent as she began reading his message:

Kari, you have exceeded any expectation I have ever had about a Godly woman. I am humbled to call you my best friend, and I look forward to the day I will call you my wife.

With his heart pounding, Harmeling pretended to pick up clothes from the floor as Weston read on.

Before we reach that part in our lives, we still need to take one more step together. If you could turn around now, I have a question to ask you.

She briefly paused, then looked behind her.

Dressed in Army fatigues, Harmeling was on one knee.

He reached toward her, with a diamond ring in his hand and asked, "Kari Weston, will you marry me?"

They spent the next few minutes hugging, kissing, laughing, and kissing some more.

Weston calls the proposal the best surprise of her life.

"I have not caught my breath since," she said. "This smile hasn't left my face."

It was a "magical moment" that the couple wanted to share with friends and family so they posted a five-minute video on Facebook and YouTube.

Harmeling and Weston, who say they are anchored by their Christian faith, hope their story inspires others.


They also look forward to the day they can show their engagement video to their children and grandchildren. "To actually have a video to look back at is very cool," she said. "We'll have it forever."

For now, they're focusing on planning their New Year's Eve wedding in Weston's Virginia hometown.

They've completed the guest list, picked a venue and are getting ready to send "Save the Date" cards.

Harmeling, who graduated from West Point in May, is enjoying two months off at his parents' home in Plantation until he reports to Fort Sill, Okla. as an Army second lieutenant where he'll receive training in field artillery. Weston will remain in Virginia, pursuing a career in neuromuscular therapy. Early next year, the newlyweds will settle in Fort Carson, Colo.

"We are truly blessed," Harmeling said. "This is the best time of our lives."


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