More than 54,000 people came to see the Arboretum’s Winter in Bloom Winter Lights display in November and December, and at least two of them got engaged. Lisa Culhane and Michael Blake, who went on one of their first dates at the Arboretum three years ago, got engaged in the Wedding Tower on Dec. 21.
The couple met in high school, graduating from Irondale High School in New Brighton in 1988, and they started dating in December of 2016.
“I saw that there was going to be winter lights [at the Arboretum], and I thought it would be a festive and romantic evening for us,” Culhane says. “Actually, one of our first dates was to the Bruce Munro: Winter Lights at the Arboretum back in 2016. We really enjoyed that!”
Culhane had no idea just how festive and romantic it would be. When Culhane suggested winter lights, Blake thought it would make the perfect opportunity for proposing marriage.
But when they arrived at the Arboretum, Blake was surprised by how busy it was—with people milling everywhere, he was searching for a quiet spot to ask a very important question. “He didn’t know where he was going to propose, but I think fate took its course,” Culhane says. “He saw the lighted wedding chapel display, and knew right then that was meant to be the place.”
As they waited in line to take a photo at the Wedding Tower, a white two-story wooden structure adorned with lights overlooking the herb gardens, Culhane said, “Well, it looks like we need to get married now.” Blake thought to himself, “Oh, you just wait!”
Culhane had no idea Blake had a ring at the ready. “When it was our turn at the front of the line, I was trying to hurry, due to the number of people waiting,” Culhane says. “Mike kept trying to get down on one knee. Not knowing what was going on, I kept trying to hurry him along. Soon it dawned on me, and then every single emotion happened to me all at once. Mainly shock. Of course I said ‘YES!’ A crowd gathered and people were clapping and taking photos.”
The couple hasn’t set a wedding date, yet, but they’re considering a small wedding at the Arboretum.