Groom-to-be, away for Coast Guard duty, teams up with hotel to hatch his plan
Lakewood, New Jersey (July 7, 2014) – On June 7, 2013, James Daly was a groomsmen at the wedding of two of his closest friends. On the day of the wedding, he met Jillian, the bride’s cousin. After the wedding they sat talking all night in a private section of the lobby at the Hilton Garden Inn Lakewood, New Jersey.
One year later, James teamed up with the Hilton Garden Inn Lakewood and devised an elaborate plan to propose to Jillian in the same hotel lobby where they spent the night talking and falling in love.
“I couldn’t imagine asking her anywhere else,” said James. “I called the front desk of the Hilton Garden Inn on a whim not knowing what to expect or even if anyone would be able to help me.” James connected with Jessica Iafelice, Front Desk Agent and Assistant Sales Coordinator at the Lakewood hotel, and Jessica became his enthusiastic co-conspirator.
James is in the United States Coast Guard, and when he started planning the proposal he was stationed 1,200 miles away. As James explained, “Needless to say I had my work cut out for me.” Jessica stepped in to help him plot the surprise from afar. They picked a day and booked a restaurant for a pre-proposal diversion. They planned to stage the lobby with flowers from Narcissus Florals in Toms River, a blown up photo of the happy couple, and Jenifer Rutherford Photography ready and waiting to capture the moment.
As a rouse to get Jillian to the hotel and avoid suspicion, Jessica sent her an email offering a complimentary hotel stay. James emailed or called Jessica ever time his boat anchored to keep her apprised as the plans developed.
On the big day – Saturday June 7th, 2014 – the ring was hidden under a sofa cushion in the Hilton Garden Inn Lakewood lobby. The day was timed down to the minute, and everything was in place. When the moment came, the hotel staff and everyone who had assisted with the top secret plot watched and waited. “I held my breath the whole time,” said one member of the hotel team. James got down on one knee… and Jillian said yes!
James expressed his thanks in a letter to Hilton Garden Inn. He wrote, “This letter to you isn’t about what Ms. Iafelice did for a perfect stranger. It’s about how a guy who serves his country finally found someone who shared his common belief for going above and beyond. I spent my entire life waiting for a moment like this (being quite the romantic) and more importantly a woman like Jillian to come into my life. After years of waiting I had everything I needed with only one huge obstacle. Convincing a random hotel… I stayed at once… a year earlier to send my girlfriend a fake email inviting her back for a complimentary stay, then let me hire a photographer to shoot the whole thing, have flowers delivered (to Jessica) on my behalf, set up a poster board and most of all–ask the woman I love to marry me in the only place I know will make her the happiest girl in the entire world. The private room in the hotel lobby where we fell in love exactly 1 year earlier.”
The story attracted attention and praise from Hilton Worldwide®. Adrian Kurre, Global Head of Hilton Garden Inn®, sent the happy couple two gift certificates for complimentary stays an any Hilton Garden Inn hotel worldwide. Jessica Iafelice was awarded special honors from Hilton Worldwide for her extraordinary service and for going “way above and beyond” to exceed the guest’s expectations. James wrote, “I’ll sing high praises for the rest of my life as Jillian and I tell of the Hilton where we met.”
Julia Coppock, Marketing Director