By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
What’s an unforgettable way to propose?
Meet Xin Li, who just surprised his girlfriend. How he popped the question, “Will you marry me?” was quite original in the Chinese community. It was the first time in the past four decades that someone placed a proposal advertisement in the Seattle Chinese Post (SCP).
But that’s not it. Li, a swimming coach in Bellevue, wrote a script from the beginning till the end. He wanted the whole world, including his family and friends, to know except his future bride. The setting was in a Japanese restaurant. A diamond ring was made in China.
Li placed a front-page advertisement in the Jan. 27 issue of the SCP. His act wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment impulse as he had contacted our newspaper last October. This isn’t the first time a marriage proposal has made news, according to Huffpost.com. It’s happened before in the United States and other countries as well. Usually, it’s the future groom who proposes.
What was unique in Li’s proposal was his plot. The newspaper ad was only part of it. All the details for the proposal were impeccable. His “partners in crime” were not his friends nor his family—they were strangers who had no idea that they were part of the surprise.
On the morning of Jan. 27, Li came to the SCP and Northwest Asian Weekly’s office to pick up ‘hot off the press’ copies of the newspapers. He looked at the advertisement and was happy with the outcome. Then he went to Wa’z, a Japanese restaurant in downtown Seattle. There, he enlisted the help of the chef and a waitress to set up the whole proposal.
Renee Wang was wondering why her boyfriend, Li, was telling her to wear something nice. She had no clue, but she wore a dress, business casual.
“I didn’t suspect a thing,” she said. Wang had never been to Wa’z Japanese restaurant before. “He mentioned that he forgot to make a restaurant reservation. That didn’t sound like him as he’s a detailed guy.”
After they were seated in the restaurant, Li excused himself to go to the restroom. As she sat there looking at her cell phone, a waitress placed a copy of the SCP on her placemat.
“I pushed it away as I was thinking the waitress was trying to sell me something.”
Then Wang noticed it was taking Li longer than usual to use the restroom.
She decided to look at the newspaper and her eyes landed on the proposal ad. Then Li came out from the restroom in a suit and walked to her seat.
Li knelt down and asked in Chinese, “Will you marry me? I want to spend our lives together, rich or poor.”
“I was so surprised,” said Wang. “I never thought that I would be in a newspaper proposal. I have never been featured in a newspaper in my whole life. It’s a beautiful ad. When he knelt down, the chef came out with a camera, and congratulated us.
“And all the guests (about 10) in the restaurant applauded and cheered. The waitress and chef congratulated us and gave me flowers. He (Li) used his heart to think about all this occasion. I said ‘yes’ to him in Chinese and in English ‘Yes, I will.’ I am so happy.” When asked why he picked Wa’z to pop the question, Li said, “Both of us love Japanese food and W’az offered quality food with a quiet environment.”
A former journalist in China, Li came to the U.S. in 2015. His parents founded and own the Pacific Dragon Swim Team club in Bellevue. Li still writes stories about Seattle for his hometown paper in Sichuan.
Li said he spent a lot of time researching which Chinese papers to use for his ad as Seattle has several Chinese papers. He picked SCP because he liked the content and reporting.
“The proposal ad is a great way to share my good news with as many people as possible,” he said. “During Covid, it’s not a good idea to have a large party to propose. All my family and friends knew about the proposal, except Renee. And the diamond ring was ordered from my friend who is in the jewelry business. Everything proceeded smoothly. The ad did surprise Renee.”
Wang, a Canadian, works for a nonprofit organization.
“The newspaper proposal is a good idea as I had already sent the SCP’s electronic version to all my former classmates and friends. I am so moved about the whole proposal.”
Li said he and Wang met two years ago. Their parents are good friends. “That’s how we met,” said Li.
Valentine’s Day is on Feb. 14. Yet, Wang has already received the best Valentine’s gift in the Year of the Tiger—a marriage proposal. The couple plans to have their wedding in March in Issaquah.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.