When Daniel Frye set out to surprise his girlfriend Lauren Williams with the marriage proposal of her dreams, he thought he’d planned for every possible scenario, according to People.
Setting? Check. Frye booked a trip to America’s largest home — the Biltmore Estate — a castle fit for his princess, and a place she’d always wanted to visit.
Ring? Check again.
“It was the first thing I bought with my own hard-earned money,” Frye told WCNC News. The 29-year-old Marine-turned-welder saved aggressively until he was able to purchase the $5,000 dazzler Williams picked out.
Frye even let Williams’s family, friends and a photographer in on the secret.
“Her parents were even supposed to drive up and meet us and jump out and surprise her right after I proposed,” he told WCNC.
But what looked to be one of the happiest days of their lives quickly turned into a nightmare. When the time came for Frye to drop to one knee, he realized the ring he’d been carrying in his pocket was gone.
“I looked over and saw complete panic on his face,” Williams told People. “I saw him reaching in every pocket and it just clicked. I knew right then he’d been planning on asking me and that the ring was gone. I just knew.”
The couple frantically retraced their steps, enlisting the help of their family and staff at the Biltmore, but the ring Frye had worked so hard to procure was nowhere to be found.
“I felt like I was chained to a wall watching someone hurt someone I love,” he told WCNC. “That’s the best way to describe it. I felt so helpless.”
Williams took to Facebook in a desperate attempt to locate the lost ring.
“Last Saturday, January 7th, my boyfriend was going to propose to me at the Biltmore in Asheville, and he dropped my engagement ring (still in the helzberg box), somewhere on the estate, or in the house,” she wrote in an emotional post. “We’ve done absolutely everything to try and find my ring but no luck. Please share in hopes that SOMEWAY my ring will find its way back to us!”
For Frye, who suffered from PTSD following two tours of duty, the proposal represented the life he’d almost lost. When he met Williams at a South Carolina restaurant two years ago, he was in a bad way, according to People.
But Williams changed all that.
“I went from sleeping in cars to great success,” he said. “I have a really good job now, and she’s the reason.”
Williams’s post quickly gained the attention of friends and strangers alike. The original post, which included a picture of the ring, has nearly 4,000 shares. And four days later, the couple received the news they’d been hoping for.
Another tourist who’d been at the Biltmore that fateful day had several shopping bags with her on the shuttle bus to her car, Williams explained in a Facebook post. As luck would have it, the shuttle was the same one Frye had been on just minutes earlier.
“When we were getting off (Frye) bent down to ask the driver when the lights would be lit up because that’s when he was planning on proposing,” Williams wrote. “When he bent down, it fell out of his pocket, and without knowing, he got off the bus.”
A man sitting behind the woman with the bags found the ring box and, assuming it had fallen out of one of her shopping bags, tossed it into one of them.
“At the time I didn’t look to see what it was,” the woman, a widow from Athens, Georgia, told People. “Then I was going through my bags and saw the ring box.”
The woman’s son had heard the couple’s story on Facebook and helped his mom get in touch with Williams, who couldn’t have been more thrilled.
“I am still in complete shock and so grateful! We prayed so hard and had faith!! We knew God had a plan!” Williams wrote in an updated Facebook post. “Thank you to everyone that shared my post, thank you for all of the positive comments and most importantly thank you for all the prayers! God is SO GOOD! #whatamiracle.”
Frye drove from South Carolina to Georgia to pick up the lost ring and didn’t waste much time popping the question he’d so desperately wanted to ask the week before.
This time, the setting was the couple’s living room.
“I know this isn’t how we dreamed, obviously, but you know through this whole thing you showed me so much more about you and that I want to marry you even more,” Frye says in a sweet video of the proposal, posted to Williams’s Facebook page.
The disappearing ring likely won’t leave that finger anytime soon.