Credit: Zakk Toh

When Ms Tee Wei Kian, 27, asked her boyfriend of almost 10 years when he was going to propose, he was non-committal. Besides, their Build-To-Order flat had been delayed and would be ready only in June next year, reasoned Mr Zakk Toh, 27.

Little did she know he was planning an elaborate proposal for his school sweetheart.

The pandemic halted his initial plan to hold it in the snow in South Korea last year, but the engineer found a creative way to surprise her multiple times during a staycation.

Ms Tee, a human resource executive, followed her boyfriend to The Barracks Hotel Sentosa on Jan 29, thinking they were going to celebrate her birthday there.

The hotel had arranged for the couple to be ferried in a black Jeep to and from Marina Bay Sands, where they spent the afternoon dining and shopping while The Barracks’ staff and Mr Toh’s decoration team set to work.

When they returned, it was time for the first surprise – a simple celebration on the hotel’s Barracks Lawn, with cake and a birthday song.

The couple headed back to their suite. Mr Toh had decorated the front section of the room with birthday-themed decor so his girlfriend had no idea that the big reveal was just behind the plantation shutter doors leading to the television area.

She opened the doors and laughed in delight as a shower of rose petals descended around her. Vines of fairy lights illuminated photos scattered on the table that chronicled their journey as a couple. Two signs delivered his message loud and clear: “Will you marry me?”

Her tears flowed as he played a montage video showing, among other things, how he asked her parents and aunt for permission to marry her. He had even asked her grandfather in Malaysia to give his blessing over a video call. She became so emotional that she started shivering.

“I was nervous,” he says. “When I saw her shiver, I also shivered. There’s a feeling I cannot explain.”

After that, he got down on one knee and proposed with a diamond ring he had spent three months customising with a jeweller. Ms Tee, clutching a huge bouquet, nodded her head vigorously.

But there were still more surprises in store. As dusk fell, Mr Toh led his fiancee, blindfolded, to the lawn to unveil a 10-minute drone light show from 65Drones.

He had to obtain special permission for the drones, which he wanted to use because of the “very dreamy” effect. He paid a discounted fee of $4,500 for the customised show as his videographer had connections with the company.

His last surprise was revealing that he had booked a two-night stay at the hotel, so they could enjoy the decor for longer. In all, Mr Toh spent about $10,000.

“I’m so happy and touched,” says Ms Tee. “I had told him I wanted his proposal to be recorded so I could look back, but I didn’t expect him to engage a videographer and do those decorations.”

Mr Toh had approached three hotels for his proposal staycation, but one did not allow decorations, while another did not reply.

The team at The Barracks, on the other hand, responded promptly and even let him visit several times to recce the room and plan the logistics.

“Everything went smoothly,” he says, adding that the proposal day was the only day that week when it did not rain.

While the couple say the circuit breaker period did not affect their relationship much, Mr Toh thinks it taught him to “treasure her more”. They plan to marry in August next year and hope to do so at The Barracks if their budget allows.

“My initial plan was to make her tear,” Mr Toh says.

“We’ve been together for almost 10 years, so I didn’t expect that she would cry.

“Every time she sees me, she will laugh because I always joke around. So, it was a success.”

This article first appeared on StraitsTimes.com.