A dive to remember: Bluffton man surprised scuba-loving girlfriend with underwater proposal

abredeson@islandpacket.comAugust 19, 2012 

Freddie Ward holds the sign he used to propose to his wife, Mona, while the two were scuba diving in Bonaire. The two have been married for almost 25 years.

JAY KARR/STAFF PHOTO

Freddie Ward was in deep water when he proposed to his girlfriend, Mona.

But that was the plan. The two loved scuba diving and had been on 20 dives together.

So when Freddie decided he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Mona, he thought, "What better way to pop the question than 45 feet under the ocean?"

He said he spent a year planning the proposal and making payments on the ring.

In November 1986, the couple, who lived on Hilton Head Island at the time, took a trip with friends to Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean.

A few days into the trip, they went diving at a site called Old Blue. Freddie went down ahead of time and set up a laminated sign that read "Mona: Will you marry me?" He placed the ring box next to the sign. The box was held down with sinkers, but he asked a friend to hang out with the ring to make sure it didn't get eaten by a fish.

Then Freddie swam up to Mona, who was about 100 yards away. He led her arm in arm to a coral reef, where the sign and ring awaited her.

"I kind of went, 'Who would litter down here? Why would someone leave trash down here?' " Mona said. "All I saw was this big white piece of paper. Then I get closer. I'm like, 'What?' "

Mona said she was oblivious to what was going on, but she was thrilled once she figured it out.

"It was absolutely amazing," she said. "I was crying in my mask."

The Wards, who now live in Bluffton, still have their dive logs. Mona's log for that day reads: "Without a doubt the best day of my life. Who would have ever guessed that a great dive would turn into an engagement proposal?"

The couple got married almost a year later at the First Presbyterian Church of Hilton Head Island. They had their reception at the Port Royal Clubhouse. Their cake, of course, was a reflection of their unique engagement. The bride and groom figures on top wore scuba diving gear. And underneath the cake was a bowl with a mechanical swimming figure.

The Wards will celebrate their 25th anniversary

Mona said she couldn't have asked for a better proposal.

"I wouldn't change a thing," she said. "It was perfect because diving, for us, was really big."

Freddie said he did have a few other ideas on popping the question. Since they are both baseball fans, he considered asking her on the big screen at a game, but he decided that had been done too many times. Then he thought about proposing while parachuting. But scuba diving was the way to go.

"It worked for us," he said. "I'm not one to give out advice. I guess you just go from the heart."

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YOUR STORY: Did you have an interesting or unusual marriage proposal? Email details to features writer Amy Bredeson at abredeson@islandpacket.com.

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