Ryan Leak had never even told his girlfriend of five years, Amanda Roman, that he loved her when he first started planning their surprise wedding almost two years ago. “I wanted to wait until I knew with every fiber of my being,” says the 27-year-old from Dallas. "I wanted it to be special." Mission accomplished.
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Within the space of minutes on June 7, 2013, he told the bewildered, beaming Roman, 25, that: a) he totally loved her, b) wanted to marry her, and c) surprise! the wedding he’d planned off of her My Dream Wedding Pinterest board was happening that day, and over 100 of their nearest and dearest had flown to Miami to celebrate with them. Leak had overheard Roman tell a friend that she thought it would be romantic to get engaged and married on the same day.
It was not easy. “I almost pulled the plug, like, 20 times,” Leak admitted to Yahoo Shine in his first interview since news of the wedding went viral. It took over a year and a half of careful covert planning, complete with clandestine calls from his heavily password-protected cell phone and masterful string pulling. “Honestly, if Amanda had ever asked if I was seeing someone else it would have made perfect sense, because I was acting so suspicious for so long,” says Leak. “The hardest part by far was getting a hundred people to keep the secret for a year. I basically threatened them at the same time I was telling them about it.” Equally challenging, if not more so, was not being able to discuss with Roman the typical annoyances of planning a wedding. “She’s my best friend, and on really tough days I couldn’t talk to her about it,” he says.
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Ingeniously, Leak looked to Pinterest for insight into his unwitting bride’s every wish. Right there was the blueprint for everything he needed: from the ideal seating arrangements for the ceremony to the dainty crystal teardrop earrings Roman wanted to wear. He purchased them in advance and presented them to her after she accepted his proposal. “Amanda had already planned her dream wedding without even knowing it,” says Leak. A bit of creative cajoling on his part a year ago prompted Amanda to go ahead and purchase her wedding gown (so that’s why it fit so beautifully!). A friend of hers covertly nabbed it from her closet and brought it down to Miami for the big day.
Of course, as is bound to happen when planning a wedding both in secret and in a different city, plenty of stumbling blocks arose in the final 24 hours. Namely that Roman’s flight to Miami from Dallas was — get this — canceled. Leak had already flown into Miami under the guise of work in order to take care of the inevitable last-minute crunch of details. He admits he flipped out when he learned of the delay but pulled hard on every string he had to get his girl to the arrival gate. Which she did, landing at 12:21 a.m. It was the five-year anniversary of their first date, and, unbeknownst to her, their wedding day.
Other snafus included nosy housekeepers at Roman’s airport hotel who blew the proposal by loudly asking Leak (who had a cameraman following him and Roman around) if he was famous. (Leak nervously blurted out that he was proposing to Roman, only to be commanded by the women to do it then and there in front of them.) Also in the mix, a surprise tropical storm, which nixed both Leak’s “plan B" proposal in a helicopter, and then shifted the ceremony from outdoors to indoors, and then again forced the reception to change locales at the last-minute due to flooding. But in the end the emotional ceremony went off without a hitch — in lieu of presents, guests were asked to make a donation to theA21campaign.org — and the couple left a day later for their honeymoon (yes, Leak had already planned that as well.) Next stop — Internet superstardom. We couldn’t image a better ending.