Surprize Proposal For Marriage Takes Place on Dressage at Devon's Big Night

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Steve Alvater, a Lumberton, NJ resident, chose Dressage at Devon as the time and place to propose to his girlfriend, Melissa Collier, a dressage rider who has been attending the show for 13 years.  Although the couple had often joked about the silliness of proposals at Phillies and Eagles games, Alvater decided on Dressage at Devon to ensure that the occasion would be a memory for life. "I had kicked around some of the usual things like dinner, but none of those sounded special enough," Alvater explains of the decision. He contacted Nan Daley Demchur, the USEF Show Manager, with his idea and hoped that his proposal could be arranged. "I was happy to present the request to the DAD Committee for approval as we are always looking for unique and fun ways to entertain and include the audience," Demchur recalls. "The idea was accepted with enthusiasm, and yet the people involved in the orchestration kept it secret all week. The surprise factor for both Steve's girlfriend and the audience greatly added to the already magical feeling of Saturday night at DAD."

With the Committee's blessing, Alvater was soon busy planning the details with Demchur and announcer Brian O' Connor. A carefully orchestrated ruse ensured that Collier believed that Alvater was out of town. When she was called to the Committee Stand just after the last ride of the Grand Prix Freestyle on Saturday night, she was completely in the dark about the reason. Alvater headed into the Dixon Oval, where he was met by his stunned girlfriend. Kneeling, he asked her to marry him, and of course, she said yes. "It was fantastic," Alvater says of the experience. "The crowd was cheering and Melissa had absolutely no idea." The couple was escorted into the Committee Stand where they were met with a champagne toast and dozens of well-wishers. "The whole thing was incredible," he says. The pair plan to marry in October of 2010.