Black Pearl Ann Arbor’s Private Event Room has been used on many occasions but never has it been the location of a unique live performance which has forever changed the lives of a couple.

The Players

One of our valued customers, Ivan, had planned a surprise proposal for his girlfriend, Melinda, on the night of Monday, August 29, 2016. A surprise celebration with 30 of their close friends was to follow in our private event room. Melinda knew they had made a reservation at Black Pearl to celebrate one thousand days of being together, but was otherwise unaware of the proposal and party.

Set The Scene

The plan was for the guests to wait patiently in the private event room, enjoying the buffet table and cocktails, while Ivan and Melinda ate dinner at table 3, in the front of the restaurant by the window.

It had been twenty minutes since the start of the reservation and it appeared they had not yet arrived. All of the staff wondered why they were late, until they realized, in horror, that Ivan and Melinda had been seated at the table directly next to the one reserved for them.

Upon their arrival, a hostess in training had accidentally informed the couple that the table was reserved for a “surprise proposal.” Ivan, thinking the beans had been spilled on this long awaited special day, was understandably not happy. Melinda, still unaware that the proposal was meant for her, was intrigued with the prospect of witnessing the surprise unfold before her.


The managers on duty scrambled to find a solution. It had been about a half hour since Ivan and Melinda sat down and the table next to them remained empty. Shortly after they received their entrees, a man, woman, and a girl who appeared to be their daughter were seated next to them, at table 3.

In a stroke of creative brilliance, the kind that can only arise in a situation of imminent disaster, a solution was proposed by one of our managers. A proposal at table 3 had been promised, and a proposal there would be!

Yes, we were going to fake a wedding proposal.

It was decided we would try to ask the man if he would fake a proposal to the woman with him (who turned out to be is wife of nearly 30 years). Trying to be discreet, Ivan and Melinda were at the adjacent table after all, our manager approached the man at table 3 with a most unusual request: re-propose to your wife, make a small show of it, and your entire bill would be on the house.

The man, after taking a small moment to realize that it was in fact a manager speaking to him, and not some maniac off the street, was amused by the situation and (luckily for us) was willing to play along. He informed his wife, via text, that he would soon be proposing to her once more. She too found the situation amusing, and agreed to help us out; after all, who doesn’t want a little extra romance in their life! Our plan was in motion.


The wife slipped her wedding ring back to her husband, and in a performance worthy of an Academy Award, he proposed to his wife for the second time. Ivan and Melinda witnessed our manufactured proposal and gave their congratulations to the “newly engaged” couple. Our original problem was solved! Melinda had seen the proposal she was promised. However, we still needed a way to lead Melinda to our private dining room, where her and Ivan’s friends (who were not yet aware of the night’s mishaps) were waiting to celebrate.

Act Two

While Melinda was in the restroom, an impromptu meeting between our staff, the married couple, and Ivan was carried out. It was decided the married couple would invite Ivan and Melinda to the back room to celebrate the occasion with “their” friends. Upon accepting the invitation and entering the room Melinda was shocked to find her own friends waiting before her. Ivan immediately dropped to one knee and proposed, for real this time, to Melinda.

She said yes!

What had began as a possible disaster had become a story everyone involved would remember for the rest of their lives. We heard from both couples the next day.

The Reviews Are In and The Critics Rave On!

To everyone involved in the wonderful wedding proposal of Monday, August husband Rob (29 happily married years together), daughter Liza (U-M student) and I had a wonderful time getting inadvertently involved in Ivan and Melinda's engagement night event at Black Pearl. Thanks to the warmth and super good-natured spirit of Matt, Jen and the servers Mark and Michael, we had a night we won't forget. Something somewhat similar happened to us over 30 years ago in Ireland, and we've enjoyed that precious memory ever since. Anyhow, applause to your fantastic people and the way they rallied together to create a positive experience for us lucky "guests." And people wonder why we never tire of visiting Ann Arbor? Can't wait to return in September!

Hillary Rosenfeld
Glencoe, IL

And luckily the “real proposal couple” (Ivan & Melinda) were more than satisfied with how the night went:

Everything was phenomenal - we are both extremely grateful for you and your staff that made our night extra special! And I think that we can both agree that, in hindsight, the mishap at the beginning set us up for the most memorable night of my life, providing the story for the ages - which is the best possible outcome one can hope for :) Thank you! See you around :)Sincerely,Ivan & Melinda