Love Conquers All in this Proposal

Emma Frankart Henterly

We've all heard horror stories of proposals gone wrong. But Meagan and Andrew Sowders are here to reassure you that even when something unthinkable happens, all hope is not lost.

In October 2014, Andrew planned to propose to Meagan during a trip the two of them were taking with Meagan's father, Sam Williams, to Philadelphia for a family wedding. “I had been doing some Googling about how to [fly] with a ring, and one of the things was to place it in your carry-on,” Andrew explains. “Basically, I had put the ring box in a pair of socks and then around this pair of socks I put this note [to security officials] that said, ‘This is an engagement ring. She doesn't know. Please be discreet.' ”

Andrew made it through airport security without incident, but due to a mix-up at the car rental counter, the backpack containing the ring ended up in one rental car … and the trio of travelers in another. It was a full 45 minutes before Andrew—fatigued from a late flight that didn't land until after midnight—realized the bag was missing. “The nausea is setting in and I'm not able to form coherent thoughts or words,” he recalls. After pulling the car over and determining that the bag was not inside, Andrew insisted that they return to the car rental facility.

He describes the next hour or so as being like a scene from a horror movie: He ran through the facility's parking lot, chasing down every car that looked similar to the one the bag ended up in. “I honestly must have searched something like 15 cars, easily. I ran through a car wash,” he says.

Despite his panic, Meagan didn't suspect that anything was amiss. The couple's iPads were in the pack, and she assumed that Andrew's reaction was in response to losing the electronics. She turned on Apple's “Find My iPad” feature, sending a message to the devices asking anyone who found them to call her.

As Andrew was steeling himself to break the news to Meagan that he'd lost her engagement ring, her phone rang. Someone had found the backpack.

“I almost started crying then, because it was just so much relief,” Andrew says. The trio met with the good Samaritans and retrieved the backpack, ring still safely inside, and finally made it to their hotel in the wee hours of the morning.

The following day, they headed to John F. Kennedy Plaza to see the reproduction of Robert Indiana's iconic LOVE sculpture, where Andrew finally carried out his proposal plan.

“I was completely caught off-guard,” Meagan says. “I was 100 percent convinced [the proposal] was going to be at my birthday,” one month after the Philadelphia trip. After an initial “stomach-turning” moment of realizing that the ring had almost disappeared forever, Meagan said yes.

“I still get choked up talking about [the incident], because it was such a gut-wrenching experience,” Andrew says. “You just spend so much time trying to make things as perfect as possible because you love this person so much, and then … you lose the ring.”

Meagan, of course, made sure her 2-carat Tacori engagement ring was insured as soon as possible (see Page 47 for our tips on selecting ring insurance), and she and Andrew tied the knot on April 30, 2016, at the Ivory Room in Downtown Columbus.

As for Andrew, he has just one tip for anyone planning to fly with an engagement ring: “Never let the bag out of your sight; never put the bag down.”