A surprise proposal in the Carolina Dining Room


Paul Herrington proposes to Emily Ruppel during dinner at the Carolina Dining Room on Tuesday.

It was a moment weeks in the making.

Paul Herrington and Emily Ruppel had just finished dinner at the Carolina Dining Room and it was time for dessert.

But an apple cranberry crisp or brownie sundae simply wouldn’t do for an occasion like this. Paul called ahead to request a decadent red velvet cake with chocolate icing. He had a question to deliver and a special cake was in order.

IMG_0967As the server placed the cake in front of Emily, her eyes lit up and her smile widened. Seconds later, Paul was down on one knee, ring in hand. The icing on the cake spelled out our four words: Will You Marry Me?

Emily’s answer, of course, was an enthusiastic yes, but first there were tears of joy.

“We were both very flooded with emotions,” Paul said.

“The whole thing kind of crescendoed,” Emily said.

As the couple celebrate with a kiss, the dining room broke out in applause.

A few moments later, they were dancing to one of their favorite songs, “Every Man Needs a Companion” by Father John Misty.

Paul arranged for the Carolina’s pianist to play it when the cake was delivered, but he was actually surprised to hear it. The song was written for guitar and had to be translated for piano, a task he wasn’t sure the musician would be up for.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” Paul said.

“A part of me registered the song before we recognized it,” Emily said.

It was an evening the couple will never forget.IMG_0980

“It was so beautiful, I loved it,” Emily said. “Paul is absolutely the love of my life.”

The couple met at Bellarmine University and remained friends as Paul headed to Wake Forest and Emily to MIT for graduate school. Their romance didn’t begin until they both returned home to Louisville, Kentucky before Emily got accepted into a doctoral program at the University of Pittsburgh.

After dating about over a year, Paul knew he wanted to propose to Emily. He decided to pop the question at Pinehurst because it’s a special place for his family.

Paul was here for the 1999 U.S. Open and has returned with his family almost every year since. In fact, his parents love it so much they bought a condo on the lake and became members of the country club.

“It’s just a really calming place,” Paul said. “I love it here.”

Emily’s first trip to the Sandhills will no doubt remain her most memorable.


Paul and Emily enjoy their first trip to Pinehurst as a couple.