WEDDINGS
07/10/2017 07:32 pm ET Updated Jul 11, 2017

For Years, He Hid Notes For Her Around The World. This Was The Last One

Who knew airport Starbucks could be so romantic?

Austin Mann and Esther Havens are travel photographers whose work takes them around the world.

They were good friends before striking up a romance; about six years ago, Mann was passing through the Amsterdam airport and realized Havens would be there a few days later. He hid a note for her in the airport Starbucks and texted her a riddle to help her find it. The pair later started dating, and continued hiding notes for each other at airport Starbucks around the world, weaving their own little secret trail of love notes in otherwise very public places.

The notes often consisted of encouraging messages taped under a table or slipped between cushions in a booth. Sometimes, Mann would arrange to have a drink waiting for Havens after she found the note. Then, in May, he left the biggest note of all: a love letter, which he followed up with a seriously sweet proposal.

We're getting married!!! Since before @austinmann and I started dating we have left notes for each other hidden in airports around the world. The first of those special spots is in the Amsterdam Schiphol airport where we had our first international date. I was headed back from Tanzania this weekend with a layover in Holland and Austin reminded me to check for the note he left me at our @Starbucks. I landed in a different terminal from where I needed to be and I wasn't sure how I was going to get the note. I almost gave up and left. But I found a way to transfer. I walked up to our spot and there was a note sticking out behind a chair. My heart started pounding because this had to be a new note not something he left on a past trip. It told me all the things he loved about me and then said If everything had gone as planned there would be a drink waiting for me at the bar. I stood up...rounded the corner and there was Austin with a bouquet of tulips and the most beautiful diamond ring. 💍🙌🏻😭 I kept saying "what are you doing here" probably 5 times or more. He said he loved me and then got down on one knee right there at the Starbucks in the airport and asked me to marry him. I said "YES" and everyone watching in the terminal cheered! I then looked over Austin's shoulder and my little sister @anna_havens was standing there taking this photo with an SLR and Telephoto lens. He flew my sister to Holland! I was in complete shock and couldn't be more thankful. We took a few moments to ourselves - praying and thanking the Lord and then walked out of the airport to all of my Dutch family standing outside of security with balloons and flowers singing and cheering. I mean whaaa!!! I was completely surprised and blown away. I could not have dreamt up a more perfect proposal to the man I love so dearly. I have never felt more joy! God is so faithful and I'm so thankful for the perfect plan He has always had for us and I can't wait for the journey He has for us as husband and wife!

A post shared by E S T H E R H A V E N S (@estherhavens) on

On the proposal day, Havens was landing at Amsterdam Airport after finishing up an assignment in Tanzania. Mann texted her to stop by Starbucks to hunt for a note, as he’d done many times before. Upon arrival, Havens noticed something unusual: the note was sticking out from behind a chair, a much more obvious hiding place than usual. 

My heart started pounding because this had to be a new note, not something he left on a past trip,” Havens wrote on Instagram. “It told me all the things he loved about me and then said if everything had gone as planned there would be a drink waiting for me at the bar. I stood up...rounded the corner and there was Austin with a bouquet of tulips and the most beautiful diamond ring. I kept saying ‘what are you doing here’ probably five times or more. He said he loved me and then got down on one knee right there at the Starbucks in the airport and asked me to marry him.”

Mann flew one of Havens’ sisters in from Los Angeles to document the proposal. Her other sister lives in Holland, and her mom happened to be there visiting relatives. The whole gang came to celebrate at the airport afterward, Mann told HuffPost.

When Mann left Havens that first note in 2010, he “actually didn’t [have a crush on her], at least not that I was aware of,” he told HuffPost. “We had talked a lot and shared a lot in common, and she was a really close friend at the time. I knew that it’d make her feel warm to have something on the road while she was out traveling, because I know it gets lonely. I was doing something nice.”

Things picked up when the couple started teaching a photography workshop together in 2011, and they started dating. Two years into their relationship, they established a “two-week rule”: if either one’s project lasts more than two weeks, the other joins them on location so they can be together. When not on the road, they’re based in Dallas. 

The Starbucks website featured the duo’s story last week, and we haven’t stop smiling about it since. Congrats!

HuffPost

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