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From Paris with love: Eiffel Tower proposal surprises Conyers native

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

When Kristin Bellinger traveled to Europe, she expected to go on a sightseeing tour of London and Paris with her parents and sister.

Part way through the vacation, she witnessed something a bit more captivating, at least for her, than Big Ben and the Louvre -- her fiancee on bended knee proposing to her at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

"You're half way across the world and I had no idea he was going to be there," said the 25-year-old Conyers native. "I was in shock."

Bellinger's fiancee Will Manget chuckled when he recalled the reaction of his then wife-to-be.

"She stopped dead in her tracks and thought 'What is this guy doing?'" he said. "She was so shocked she didn't say anything, I had to ask her a second time."

Needless to say, Bellinger said yes.

Though Manget and Bellinger had known each other since grade school, they didn't begin dating until their senior year at Salem High School in 2004. Manget noticed Bellinger's beauty. He also appreciated her close circle of friends and supportive family.

"She is a really genuine person. She's just a real sweetheart," said Manget of Bellinger, the daughter of Gayle and Jim Bellinger of Conyers.

They continued to date as Manget earned a degree in business management from Georgia Tech and Bellinger a bachelor's degree in sociology from Kennesaw State University.

"We had been together so long, it was always my intention to marry her," said Manget, the son of Kim and John Manget of Conyers.

Manget landed a job at the Center for Transportation and the Environment, a nonprofit promoting alternative fuel transportation. He usually accompanied Bellinger on family trips, but opted out of the European excursion because he was too busy.

Manget's mother suggested he surprise Bellinger by showing up in Europe with an engagement ring.

At first, he dismissed the idea because of the expense, but when he got a buddy pass for a flight from his aunt who works for Delta, it all came together. His friends from work chipped in too, and encouraged him to go.

The 24-year-old asked Bellinger's parents permission to marry her the night before they left for Europe. They offered their approval and supplied him with an itinerary. The plan: to meet Bellinger under the Eiffel Tower between noon and 2 p.m. on May 13.

Manget flew into Paris the day before the rendezvous date. The next morning, he stuffed all of his belongings into a knapsack and began his wait for Bellinger at 11:30 a.m.

The tour only provided vacationers with a window of about 20 minutes for a visit to the Paris landmark. With no international cell phone service, Manget was left to scan the hundreds of people milling in and out of the area.

About 1:30 p.m., Manget spotted the family. He tried to sneak up on them but Bellinger spotted him.

"I just dropped down on my knee, whipped out the ring and asked her to marry me," Manget said.

After everyone finished with their tears and hugs, Manget joined the Bellingers for the rest of their trip.

"I just wanted to do something special," said Manget who thanked his family and work friends for their support. "I was just glad it worked out."

The couple married Feb. 12 at Roswell United Methodist Church. After a honeymoon on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico, they'll live in Marietta while looking for a house in Decatur.

To view a montage of their engagement, visit YouTube.com and search for "Surprise engagement Will and Kristin under the Eiffel Tower."