My Dearly Betrothed

Love is in the air! This month, Expatriate Lifestyle is getting into the romantic spirit – and what could be more romantic than a couple’s marriage proposal story? We talk to three expatriate couples who made the decision to spend the rest of their lives

by / Published: 3 Feb 2016

My Dearly Betrothed

Love is in the air! This month, Expatriate Lifestyle is getting into the romantic spirit – and what could be more romantic than a couple’s marriage proposal story? Here are some of our favourite expat ones.


 Patrick & Kim
Mission Impossible: The Element Of Surprise
Patrick and Kim are an expat couple who lived and worked together in the UK before deciding to make the move out to Malaysia. At time of writing, they are only very recently engaged with Patrick having just proposed to Kim at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve this year.

The couple radiates a calm confidence that almost seems infectious, making spending time in their company thoroughly enjoyable. While discussing the proposal and their relationship, the loving side glances and genuine joy that spread across their faces clearly underlined why they are getting married: they are content simply to be together.

EL: How did you two first meet?

P: We’re both teachers, so we met back in the UK when we were newly qualified teachers at the same school, and we kind of hit it off from there.
K: At first, it was just nice to be able to have someone at work to share your day with. As time went on, however, we ended up being really comfortable [with each other] and enjoying spending time together over most other things.

EL: So what brought both of you out to Malaysia?

P: Well, at the time, there were a number of changes at our school. The old headmaster – who was fantastic – left; we got a few stand-in replacements, but by the time everything was sorted, the school felt very different to us and we decided to move on.
K: We had been travelling in Southeast Asia the summer before, and so I started sending out CVs to see if there were any opportunities out here as we thought we might as well give working abroad a try.
P: I think that approach sums us up quite nicely – we’re quite laidback as a couple and willing to give anything a go really.
K: So when I got an offer out here at Sri KDU, Patrick followed me out and got a job there too, but he’s now moved on to a position at HELP.
P: Kim just got given the Head of Department for Design and Technology, so she’s the brains; I just do P.E. [laughs]

EL: When did you know that you wanted to spend the rest of your lives together?

P: We’d known for quite a while if I’m honest, because we’d been together for five years before I actually proposed to Kim and other people had been asking when I was going to. A few couples we knew – who had been together for less time than us – had got married, and Kim was trying her best to subtly bring up the idea…
K: Who, me? I didn’t say anything – I don’t know what you‘re talking about! [winks]
P: I guess I just felt so secure in who we were that it didn’t really cross my mind to make it official, but when I realised that we should, it suddenly hit me how difficult proposing would be as we share bank accounts and everything, so I wasn’t sure how to keep the proposal a secret.
K: I know everything that goes on and he’s a terrible liar, so I was actually really impressed that he managed to surprise me the way he did.

EL: How did it happen then?

P: As I mentioned, Kim kind of knew it was coming, but I still wanted to surprise her and I also wanted to ask Kim’s dad for his blessing. However, when they came out here, that didn’t exactly go to plan as we went out drinking and the subject never really got brought up.
K: To be fair, you two had be drinking throughout the day.
P: So when Kim’s parents left, I kind of decided to just do it – but I still hadn’t bought the ring! We then went on a mini holiday to Langkawi and we were on the beach on New Year’s Eve. With the fireworks lighting up the sky and Kim looking so beautiful, I thought I couldn’t have planned a better moment if I tried, so I got down on one knee and proposed there and then.
K: It was so lovely because we had a whole part of the beach to ourselves, there were fireworks going off and what he said made me feel incredible. It was a brilliant surprise, I kind of knew he was going to propose but I thought he was going to do it on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
P: The only thing we didn’t account for was the ring, so when we got back from Langkawi, we had to run around and find one just so Kim had something to show everyone – other than the makeshift one we jokingly made from the wrapping on the top of a wine bottle!


Felipe & Paula
The Master Plan
Love first blossomed overseas for Felipe and Paula, who met while they were pursuing higher education in London. With Felipe originally from Portugal and Paula hailing from Malaysia, the stars must have aligned to bring these two together and they are both clearly smitten with one another.

Paula is the more talkative of the two but often looks to Felipe for reassurance, which he gladly provides.

EL: How did you meet each other?

F: I’m from Portugal and Paula is Malaysian, so we actually met while we were studying abroad in London.
P: We went to the same university, which wasn’t a big deal at the time, but considering how it worked out, it is amazing to think about now.

EL: And how did you decide on which country to go back to after that?

P: Well, when I finished my course, I needed to go back to see my family and he followed me. I didn’t want him to! [laughs]
F: Sorry… what?!
P: I’m joking! I’m joking! We were only dating at the time and when it came time for me to go back to Malaysia, I was really hoping he’d follow me and he did!
F: I thought I would see what it was like for a holiday and I ended up falling in love with the country as well as Paula.

EL: So when did you know that you wanted to get married?

P: It was quite early on, actually. We had been dating in the UK for two years and then another year in Malaysia, and we talked about it together and we both agreed we were ready.
F: I had the advantage of having my wife-to-be come out with me and pick the engagement ring so I knew I had the right one.
P: It’s so lovely; we got to kind of design it ourselves and the woman who was making the ring was really lovely.
F: The only difficulty was that I wanted to surprise her with the engagement, but she would know if the ring came while she was in the house.

EL: So how did you hide it? Paula, did you have any clue?

P: I didn’t at all. Felipe proposed on my birthday – we went to the Hilton with my whole family, and I honestly thought it was just a birthday thing – he even got my family in on the secret!
F: Yeah! The ring lady came to the house to deliver the ring, and I got Paula’s mum to lie to her and say that she was apologising that the ring was going to take a little longer to be ready – her mum’s a really good actor!
P: So when we were at dinner, everything was wonderful and we were having a great time, then some of the waiters came out with a big box, the type you might put a small animal in. And all I could think was ‘oh God I don’t want a rabbit for my birthday!’
F: [laughs] It wasn’t a rabbit! What I planned was for the waiters to bring out the box very carefully so that when she opened it, there would be a giant cuddly panda, holding the box which would have the ring in it.
P: It was amazing. I was so shocked because my mum had told me the ring wasn’t ready and Felipe was in front of me proposing with it! I’ll never forget how happy I was in that moment.


Alvin & Carol
The Secret’s Out
A wonderful couple from the Philippines, Alvin and Carol are the proof behind the phrase ‘opposites attract’. Carol is a very confident, outgoing, people-orientated person while Alvin seems to be far shyer and quite introverted, but they are both a genuine pleasure to talk to and get to know.

While their dynamic might seem hard to picture, it is highly enjoyable to watch as Carol showers Alvin with effusive affection and Alvin reciprocates in his own much quieter way.

EL: How did you originally get to know each other?

A: Back in the Philippines, I worked as a Foreign Service Officer assigned in Public Relations for the Foreign Minister. Carol, at the time, was a diplomatic journalist so we would see each other in the press room quite often.
C: And because of the positions we held, when we first started dating, we had to keep it a secret as people would have raised concerns about Alvin leaking government secrets.

EL: So how did that work?

C: Well, we just continued dating like normal couples do, but we met in quieter areas. I was going to work in  journalism forever but I really liked him and felt it was the right thing to do.
A: We had a very short dating period actually; I think we both knew early on that we were meant to be together.

EL: What made you so sure?

C: I went on holiday for a month and when I came back, he proposed, so I think the decision was more on Alvin’s shoulders.
A: I was kind of at a loss while she was away, and that really struck me as a sign that I wanted to be with her more than just in secret.

EL: So how did you propose? Carol, did you know he was going to?

C: It came completely out of the blue to me! It’s not that I didn’t think Alvin would propose, I just thought it would take him a lot longer to do so because he’s so shy.
A: When she came back from her holiday, I took her out especially to a hotel with a nice restaurant and a great view. So I brought Carol up to the top floor to enjoy the skyline and propose. I was so nervouse that I couldn’t bring myself to kneel. My hands were shaking, and I’d not done anything like thus before so I whispered my proposal into her ear because I was so shy. Afterwards we had a great lunch, but when we went back downstairs we found out that a colleague of Carol's was also there as part of her wedding, so we had to hide! 
C: It was so adorable! I thought it was the sweetest thing in the world, and Alvin bought the ring himself – he really knows my taste in jewellery.
A: But because Carol was still working in diplomatic journalism, we had to sneak back downstairs to keep our engagement a secret – we had met each others’ parents before but we couldn’t tell them about it yet.
C: Oh, but it was so exciting when I finally switched jobs and we got to tell everyone – even the Foreign Minister was very supportive of our engagement!