EDMONTON — Laurie Moring had an inkling something was up by the time she and her boyfriend were on their way to a Valentine's Day lunch.
Her suspicions grew stronger when Mike Dagenais unexpectedly turned off a busy Edmonton thoroughfare to where news cameras were waiting.
Just ahead was a digital billboard emblazoned with Moring's face and the message: "Laurie M. I adore you. You're my best friend. And my true soulmate. Will you MARRY me? - Mike D."
The billboard, which also included a link to Dagenais's photography business, had been there a few days. Moring hadn't seen it, and she hadn't come across any mention of it on the news or social media.
But colleagues were dropping cryptic remarks.
"My co-workers have been very curious about how I've been lately and how my drive to work was," Moring, 43, said Thursday.
"I knew something was going on, but I didn't really know what. This was a huge shock. It was a good shock, a good surprise."
And the answer?
"I said yes, of course."
Dagenais and Moring got together more than three years ago after he inherited a rare antique chest and went to get it insured. Moring was at the counter.
"No word of a lie — the moment I walked in and I saw her, it was like she had this white aura, this white glow of goodness about her and I just couldn't help but notice her," said Dagenais, who is 55.
About a month later, he was still thinking about her and made a wish while sitting on his back porch. Within days he got a handwritten card from Moring through her work, so he used that as an excuse to get in touch again.
For their first date, they went for a walk in a park.
"It was freezing cold and we can't remember what the conversations were about," said Dagenais. "But we both remember the turnaround point when we shared a nice kiss and I steamed up her glasses — twice."
Dagenais said he originally wanted to propose last summer, but his dad's health was declining and he passed away soon after. Dagenais was hoping to propose to Moring under the billboard earlier this week, but she had a migraine.
He chose a billboard proposal because it combined his two loves: Laurie and photography, which he's pursuing more these days because his regular work in the oilpatch has slowed down.
A painted billboard was beyond his budget at $3,000, so he went for the digital one at about $450.
"I was pretty sure she would say yes, but you never know until you put it out there. And I really put it out there this time — oh, my Lord."
The couple is hoping to get married this summer on Vancouver Island, where they have family. Moring said she'd like something small on a beach or in a park.
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