We’ve seen many couples celebrate their love at our Hugs & Fishes dinner and sleepover, held every year around Valentine’s Day at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, but this year’s event marked a first.

Candice Hird, 26, wasn’t the only one surprised when her then-boyfriend Darrell Fraser took a knee in front of the BMO jellyfish display on Feb. 13 to ask for her hand in marriage. The couple’s engagement (she said yes!) is the first proposal we’ve seen in 15 years of running the annual event.

“He got me good,” said the soon-to-be bride. “Darrell usually isn’t the romantic type, so it was above and beyond of how I thought it was going to happen.”

After making it through a trip to Ikea, this couple knew they could make it through life together.

After making it through a trip to Ikea, this couple knew they were meant to be together.

The couple, who have been together for two-and-a-half years, met through Candice’s sister and fell in love after Darrell volunteered to help Candice get a new bedframe at Ikea. “We ended up going there three times that day. I knew a man that could handle a trip to Ikea three times in one day was a keeper,” she recalled. “We’ve never parted since.”

In the last year, they started getting serious about spending their lives together. They recently moved from Surrey to Nanaimo where they’ve started putting down some roots, and the idea of marriage was definitely on the table. “We had been talking about marriage for some time and even had a wedding date in mind, so I knew I had to get on it,” said Darrell, 27.

Even though the idea was already out there, Darrell was determined not to let anything give away his secret plan to pop the question at Vancouver Aquarium, which has always been a special place for Candice. “She loves the Aquarium and was a member before we moved. We also had never been to the Aquarium together, so I thought that would make it more special,” he said.

Darrell kept her suspicions at bay by telling Candice he didn’t have money for a ring, and keeping mum on every aspect of the plan. “Even going to the aquarium was a secret; she had no idea until we pulled up out front.”

Well, there were a few people who knew, such as the Aquarium event planning employees who helped Darrell pull off the heist.

“Everyone there was so great and helpful to Darrell. He told me afterwards,” Candice said.

We’re so glad we could be a part of this couple’s journey. Congratulations Candice and Darrell, we wish you many happy years together. The couple plans to tie the knot on July 30 in Nanaimo.

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