Straight out of the movies
Buffalo man stages Hollywood-style marriage proposal
By Miriam Orr
Standing on Fridley High School's theatre stage 24 years ago, never in a million years did David Ulrich anticipate he would ask his good friend to marry him. Especially with a full Hollywood production camera-crew focused on the two of them.
However, it happened on October 4, 2017.
24 years in history
David Ulrich, event planner and a now resident of Buffalo, remembers performing as Buddy Holly in his high school's musical production of "Buddy," Then a senior, his close friend was Jodi Dinsmore, a freshman, who was cast as a dancer in the same production.
"We were really close friends," Dinsmore explained. "And we had lots in common, even back then."
Jodi explained that she'd heard bits and pieces about David after graduating and moving on, but never anything more as she pursued her career, which now has led her to North Memorial where she has been a Medical Assistant for two years.
It wasn't until a post on Facebook a year ago, that drew both of their attentions, that they "came on each others radar."
"Mutual friends of ours posted on Facebook, and I remember seeing him there and thinking 'Wow, it's been 24 years,'" Jodi expressed.
Quickly connecting online, June 2017 brought on a conversation that was as simple as deciding to go to lunch.
Being in love like the movies
On July 3, David met Jodi. It was the usual "interview," as David remembered. Mutually, they asked all the typical, awkward questions one encounters while on that first date, mostly to catch up.
For David, however, he knew right away that Jodi was the one.
"It was a 20 year recap of history," David remembered, "but I knew from that lunch that she was the woman I was going to marry."
After lunch, David confessed that he sat in his car outside the restaurant as Jodi left, jotting down everything they had talked about over their time together.
"I knew I was going to ask Jodi to marry me, so I wrote down everything she had said - and she had mentioned that she'd never 'been in love like the movies,' so I didn't want to miss anything to make that come true."
For Jodi, the realization didn't come right away.
"For me, it was just going to lunch with an old friend," she explained.
What Jodi didn't know, however, was that she was falling in love like in the movies, and Hollywood was really just right around the corner.
Bringing Hollywood to home
From his notes after that first date on July 3, David would spend six weeks preparing his "straight out of the movies" marriage proposal to Jodi - and, as David recalls, it was a process.
"I knew that the [Fridley] high school stage was the place," David said, "and I wanted it to be big, like out of the movies. Who better to do that than people who actually make movies?"
Being an event planner has given David contacts all across the region - Hollywood, Cal., included. Ulrich stated that he knew people in the "Hollywood business," but he really got the ball rolling by getting the school in Fridley involved, as well getting individuals from their high school years, and others, in on the event.
"I had to be pretty sneaky," David explained, "to make it look real. I did everything from create a fake production company, logos, and a documentary series to actually pull it off. It all had to look real."
Creating a fake production company and writing up official-looking documents for a "documentary series" broadcasting in Fridley took both a lot of work, and coordination. There was no doubt in Jodi's mind that the documentary would be real. But, she did have doubts as to whether Ulrich was going to pop the question during filming.
"David's not a really good secret keeper," Jodi disclosed.
She explained that multiple times during David's charade, he had slipped up here and there, which only continued to confirm her suspicion that David would be asking her to marry him during their documentary interviews.
The day of the production was when Jodi really observed David's growing anxiety. She explained that over the day he had been fidgety and acting "a bit weird," walking around with an expensive production set microphone clipped to his back.
"I knew something was up when he was walking around with the mic pack," Jodi jibed, "knowing a bit about movies like I do, I highly doubted any producer or director would let him just walk with a mic."
She continued, "That's when I got nervous. I was thinking, 'Is he really going to ask me during the interview on stage during production?'"
It still had not crossed her mind that the proposal was the very production she was worried about.
Jodi remembers the ride over to Fridley's high school, where filming was to occur. It was Oct. 4, and David was growing more anxious by the minute.
The elaborate set up is set to the song "Perfect," by Ed Sheeran. After purchasing rights to use the song on camera, it was a matter of staging the production within the song's time-frame.
"It's like a four minute song," David said, "and when we realized it had taken two minutes to actually walk into the auditorium, our plans sort of bottomed out and we had to just wing it from there."
All nine cameras that the production team had brought were rolling, and by that time, Jodi already had an idea that things were not exactly as they had seemed. With a display of over 200 candles and lights, Jodi remembers being overwhelmed when David took a knee and asked.
"I was totally flabbergasted," Jodi remarked, "I couldn't believe it was all happening. I was completely floored."
Having a Hollywood production team and crew actually create the moment came with an added bonus for the couple - they gave them the advice to put up a Facebook page and post a video online to garner attention and "really take it somewhere."
Jodi explained that it had traveled a bit farther than she had thought. While she was at a dentist appointment, one of the ladies there had recalled seeing something online about a man taking his girlfriend to Fridley's high school to propose marriage to her - and that there were Hollywood cameras filming the whole thing.
"I was like, 'That was me!' And she said, 'No way!'" Dinsmore said.
Knowing that her engagement was one of those special ones that people look up online is still surreal, Jodi went on to say. As a professional event planner, however, David saw it as a matter of fulfilling the dreams and desires of someone special.
"I wanted to give her the romance she'd always envisioned," David said.
Ulrich and Dinsmore currently reside in Buffalo. Their wedding date is anticipated sometime in 2018, with nothing currently set.
THE DRUMMER WELCOMES YOUR STORY IDEAS
The Drummer aims to feature interesting stories each week. Stories about unique