CONYERS - When Conyers electrician Jonathan Matthews, 22, decided it was time to pop the question to his girlfriend, he knew he wanted to do something out of the ordinary.
"I'd thought of a couple different ideas, but this one was the best," he said.
The idea combined his love for Christmas lights with his love for 23-year-old Ashley Loden. Spelled out with lights in 6-foot-tall letters in the front yard of the home he shares with his parents on Garland Way are the words "ASHLEY WILL YOU MARRY ME."
Matthews, a graduate of Philadelphia Christian School, said the display took him about six or seven hours to complete, made all the more difficult because he wanted to make it a surprise for not only Loden, but his parents as well.
"I fooled them into thinking I went to work Friday (Dec. 19), but I had prearranged that I'd be off work that day," he said. "I waited for my parents to leave and got started."
That evening, Matthews took Loden, a Heritage High School graduate, out to a nice dinner and then brought her back to the house for the moment of truth.
"She had absolutely no idea. ... I blindfolded her and took her out to the front yard, and I kneeled down with the ring."
For those readers who are sitting on the edges of their seats, the answer, Loden said, was "Yes."
"I cried," she said. "It was very amazing."
Loden said that Matthews' proposal was a big hit with all her friends and church members at Heritage Hills Baptist Church.
The only downside to the whole affair may be that Matthews has set the bar pretty high for himself when it comes to Christmas decorations in the future. But Loden thinks he's up to the task.
"He's pretty good with the lights," she said with a laugh.
Colin M. Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.