IT has to be among Hampshire’s most romantic proposals.
When Andrew Bennett decided to pop the question to his girlfriend of seven years, he knew he had to make it one to remember.
After all, Domonique Jenkins spends all day every day hearing proposal stories from Southampton’s loved-up couples because she works in a jewellery shop selling engagement rings.
So Andrew, a personal banker, spent months secretly planning an elaborate treasure hunt around the city involving his 24-year-old girlfriend meeting friends, family and receiving kind gestures from strangers.
The romantic day started before breakfast when Andrew’s brother, John, went to the couple’s home in Bitterne to play a video message Andrew had recorded.
In it the 27-year-old revealed Domonique would be driven a number of different and would receive instructions in an envelope telling her what she had to do, who she would see and where she’d go next, but urged her to take a lot of photographs along the way. He ended the clip by putting on the tie she had bought him for their first Christmas together – one he’d always said he’d wear for a proposal.
The day started at 9.30am with a trip to Starbucks to catch up with her girlfriends and then she took in various shops where she simply had to tell the assistants who she was before picking up a present and the next clue.
On the video, Andrew said he had to work, but actually he ensured the day ran smoothly and watched the love of his life from a distance.
The stops included Clintons where she received balloons, Thorntons where she picked up chocolates, Millie’s Cookies where Andrew had designed a treat making reference to their first holiday in Egypt, a florist where she got a large bouquet of red roses, Waterstones where she picked up her favourite childhood book, Hairy Maclary, and even The Glass Lady in East Street who handed her a vase.
It read: “Our love is the most powerful magic of all. 21.05.14 – the day it got stronger.”
Domonique, says: “It was beyond exciting I was going from place to place and I didn’t know where I’d be going next. I wanted to savour every second, but at the same time couldn’t wait to get to the next stop! The lady in The Glass Lady cried and people were just so friendly to me.”
But it didn’t stop there.
Domonique, who works in Pravins, in WestQuay, met up with her grandparents for lunch and then her mum at the Grand Harbour Hotel Southampton for afternoon tea.
At 5.30pm, mum Andrea then drove her daughter to Royal Victoria Country Park where she had instructions to get to the chapel tower.
She explains: “Mum was a bit late and she said I had to run! There were so many stairs to climb and I could see Andrew was at the top dressed in a suit.
“He told me how much he loved me before he got down on one knee. Of course I said ‘yes’. I was just totally amazed. We were happy beyond belief, we couldn’t stop smiling.
“It was the best proposal ever. I couldn’t imagine a better day ever in my whole life.”
After taking in the views of Southampton docks and the city from the tower, mum Andrea was on hand to congratulate them and take them out for a family dinner to celebrate.
Domonique says: “I always hear people’s engagement stories with my job and I love it, but I haven’t heard a better story than Andrew’s. I just couldn’t believe all the effort he went to. I will appreciate it and remember it forever.
He’s not normally as romantic. On our first Valentine’s Day he said he was watching the football!”
For Andrew though, seeing Domonique’s beaming face made it all worth the effort.
“She means everything to me and I wanted to do something a bit extra to make her feel special.”
The couple first met when Andrew, a former manager at Argos, gave Domonique a temporary job there when she was 16 and they went on their first date for a walk in the park in Southampton.
They have already booked to get married next July at East Close Hotel in Christchurch.