Arlington resident Andy Brown employed a fake sweepstakes, a homemade website and the help of a local grocery store when he proposed to his girlfriend, Faith King, last week at Oakwood Lakes State Park. Courtesy photos
• This marriage proposal began in a chip bag
ARLINGTON – What began online also came to fruition online, in a way, for an Arlington-area man and his now-fiancee.
Andy Brown, 22, met Faith King, 20, through the dating website ChristianMingle. That’s partly why, when he decided he would propose marriage to her last week, Andy’s creative plan involved a flier for a fake sweepstakes that led Faith to a website he created just for her.
The story begins during the couple’s late-night chats.
Faith, a Florida native, currently lives in Thornton, N.H., and works as a restaurant hostess. Andy lives in Arlington and works on his family’s mink farm, W. Brown Farm.
Because of the distance, much of their time together has been spent talking on the phone or video chatting. After dating for a while, they decided they were headed for marriage. That’s when Andy cooked up an elaborate proposal that included creating two websites.
“The process started a while ago, just working on the websites and designs and keeping a secret,” he said. “I bought the domain names, registered them, and then I started designing while we were talking. Didn’t know quite what I was going to do yet, but I just worked with it.”
He had worked a little with Web design in the past, building a site for the youth group he leads at Brookings Bible Baptist church, and with photo design for the church.
Next, he created a flier advertising the Summer Love Sweepstakes: “Enter to win a free honeymoon, expenses paid for you and one guest.” The flier said this sweepstakes was funded in part by Dakota Style, the Clark-based maker of potato chips, popcorn, jerky and seeds. His plan was for Faith to find the flier inside a bag of her favorite Dakota Style chips.
“(I) talked to Dakota Style chips. They don’t bag their chips, otherwise they were going to put (the flier) in,” Andy said. “So, I had Allegra (Printing & Imaging) print out a flier that looked pretty official, that it would be a sweepstakes to enter or something. After they printed it out, then I actually found out how to open up a bag of chips and put it in there.”
He asked Allegra to print the ad on several types of paper. Then, he felt all of them while asking himself, “What would they put in chips? You know, something that’s cheap enough but still durable enough to withstand.”
With a little trial and error, Andy found inserting the flier and re-sealing the bag was a fairly simple process.
“The best way that I found that it would look un-tampered, is I opened it up very carefully, put it in their package nicely, and then I put some super glue on the top and started pressing it,” he said. “Then, right before I finished it, I blew into it to kind of give it the new chip-bag look, and finished. And I found out that it all looked normal when you opened it up.”
Finally, he contacted the staff of Handi Mart in Arlington to ask for their assistance: If he gave them this bag of chips, would they set it on the shelf on July 17 so his girlfriend could buy it? They would.
“It was the only bag they had,” Faith said, when asked why she picked it up.
“I knew she would pick that style of chips because it’s unique to this area, since she was out here and it’s Dakota Style chips, and she really liked the Dill Pickle flavor when she tried them,” Andy said. “I worked with Handi Mart in Arlington, and they just pulled all the other Dill Pickles off so there was only one left.”
Just a picnic ...
As far as Faith knew that day, they were just going on a picnic to Oakwood Lakes State Park. She had come to South Dakota for a visit July 16, and this was July 17. She was expecting a proposal at some point but thought it would be down the road a ways.
Faith almost spoiled the plan by looking for her favorite potato chips in another grocery store, earlier that day. Fortunately for Andy, the store didn’t sell them.
“He’s like, ‘Oh, we’ll just get them at the other store,’” she said.
Then, after eating her sandwich at the park, Faith wasn’t really hungry for any chips. She wouldn’t have eaten any just then, if Andy hadn’t encouraged her.
“He was like, ‘Oh, just have one chip.’ And I was like, ‘OK, to make you happy,’ I would have a chip,” Faith said.
That’s when she found the flier – a brightly-colored, index card-sized advertisement that showed a couple walking along the beach. The flier directed Faith to a website, summerlovesweepstakes.com.
From her cell phone, Faith pulled up the site and suggested they enter Andy’s name. He convinced her to use her own, because he had programmed the site so that no other name would trigger a special pop-up window created for Faith.
“It’s like, ‘You’re a winner’ – I don’t remember what it said,” she said. “And then it’s like, ‘Faith, will you marry me?’ And I was like, ‘What?’”
As they describe it on their website, “In shock she looked over at Andy who, now down on one knee with a rose and ring, proposed to her. She said ‘Yes!’”
Looking back, a few things didn’t quite add up to Faith, including why there would be only one bag of Dakota Style Dill Pickle chips on the shelf, when ordinarily there would be plenty. And, how often do you find a sweepstakes flier in chip bag?
“I would think it would say on the bag, ‘You can enter to win a sweepstakes.’ I kind of thought of that afterward,” Faith said.
“At the time, she had no clue. When you have time to think of things afterward, it’s like ‘Wait a minute!’ But in the heat of the moment…” he said.
Andy will leave the proposal site, summerlovesweep-stakes.com, online for a while and people are free to check it out – though no one will win a free honeymoon. He also created a second site, andrewlovesfaith.com, that now tells the story of their engagement and shows a few photos. That site will become their wedding Web site soon; they are planning a fall wedding.
Contact Charis Prunty at firstname.lastname@example.org.