“Will you marry me?” I was gobsmacked. My boyfriend of only five months had not only gotten down on one knee to propose, but done it on a stage in front of 700 people. And, not just any stage, but the one on Strictly Come Dancing!
I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I went with my husband to see the second live show of Strictly, in October 2013, and that he somehow managed to arrange the proposal without me knowing.
We’d been discussing marriage, so I already knew he was trying to plan the perfect proposal. Little did I know it would be in such a dramatic fashion! It all came down to so many factors aligning on the day. Nolan, who is now my husband, only had an afternoon to make it happen and hope it would all pan out.
Luckily, I knew someone involved with Strictly who had managed to get me two tickets. We only found out on the Friday, so I immediately booked a hotel room in London and began planning what to wear. A sparkly sequin dress, of course!
While on the train to the studio I was already getting excited, while Nolan looked somewhat nervous. He convinced me to lend him my phone to ‘check the football results’ as his battery was low, so I thought nothing of it. In fact, he was frantically trying to contact my friend at the show to ask whether she could help him.
On arrival at Elstree studios all audience members had their phones taken off them so as not to record any of the show. Nolan sent a final text to my friend to let her know we’d arrived, and now it was all in the hands of fate.
After waiting in the bar area and then queuing outside the studio for what seemed like an age,we were eventually let into the studio; it seemed so much smaller than it looks on TV! Our seats were fantastic, only a few rows from the front in the VIP section where friends and family of the performers sit. Surrounded by celebs and in the audience of my favourite show in the entire world was just incredible. I had no idea it was about to get a whole lot more exciting!
Nolan was holding my hand for most of the time and his palm was sweaty. He’d been told by my friend, who’d received his message and been only too pleased to help, that the compere would ask for volunteers before the start of the show, so he had to make sure I put my hand up. But there was no stopping me from standing up and jumping about to get the compere’s attention when he asked for someone to come and sit in Darcey’s chair. “You really want to do this don’t you?” the compere said as he looked over in my direction. “Tell you what, I’ll come back and use you for something else later on,” he said, much to my disappointment as I felt surely he’d forget.
And so we sat through the rehearsal and long two-hour live show, my bum getting sore and feeling rather sweaty in my sequin dress. But I was on cloud nine so I didn’t care.
Finally, there was a break in proceedings; we had a mere 15 minutes to go to the loo before they began filming the Sunday results show. I was too excited to even contemplate a toilet break which was fortunate as the compere again began chatting to the crowd and got me up out of the audience.
“Follow me up onto the stage” he said. Wow, I was getting to go and meet the band. I shook hands with Dave Arch, the band leader. Then it got even better. “Ok, now I’m going to let you do something no one else from the public has ever done before,” he said, and walked with me up those infamous curved stairs to the top of the set. Once he’d descended again, he announced: “Ladies and gentleman, it’s Katy Evans!” to which the band played the Strictly intro music and I pranced down the steps, stopping to pose here and there and milking this one-in-a-lifetime moment. At the bottom I even did Bruce’s little ‘shuffle’ dance across to the centre.
“Ah, but now you need a Bruce to dance with,” said the compere. “Who are you here with?” I gestured to Nolan.
“Let’s get him up here!” the compere shouted. Horror struck me. ‘Nolan hates attention; and he doesn’t dance; oh my God, what if they get us to do a dance in front of everyone? He will be mortified,’ went the thoughts in my head within a split second.
So, when the compere handed the microphone over to Nolan I was flummoxed. The next thing I knew, he was down on bended knee presenting me with a gorgeous ring and asking for my hand in marriage. By now I was in another dimension, my sense of hearing ceased temporarily and it was all too much to take in. Shocked, I grabbed the ring and then hugged Nolan. The compere said ‘So was that a yes then?’ to which I replied ‘Yes, yes,’ into the microphone.
Apparently the audience were all whooping and cheering but I didn’t really hear them until we were walking back off the stage, and head judge Len Goodman was coming back onto the floor. He came over to me, took a look at the ring and kissed my hand. I hugged him and said ‘I love this show!’ and then we went back to take our seats.
It all happened so fast and I was in a daze. Had I been prepared (but who can be for something like that?!) I’d have run over to the judges chairs and held up Len’s 10 paddle!
Fortunately, my fabulous dancer friend had been able to sneak up to the gallery to take a few pics of the big moment. Nolan and I got to attend the after-show party, meeting many of the contestants and professionals.
So, that’s my Strictly proposal story. And, not only did Nolan do that in front of so many people, he also let me teach him a dance for our wedding, which actually made him more nervous than the proposal! The things you do for love…
Katy Sunnassee lives in Colchester and teaches FITSTEPS, the new Strictly Come Dancing-inspired ballroom and Latin workout. For more information, visit www.strictlyfunfitness.com or www.facebook.com/fitstepswithkaty.
Also on Twitter @katyfitsteps