NEVIS, Minn. - There are any number of grooms-to-be across Minnesota who are cursing Gavin Becker today.
He just set the bar too high.
Becker, soon to graduate from the University of North Dakota in aviation, recently proposed to his high school sweetheart Olivia Toft by taking her up in an airplane. In truth, it was his family that did the heavy lifting in this elaborate plan, carving a huge message in the snow on the surface of Eighth Crow Wing Lake just outside of Nevis. It read 'Marry Me', over a gigantic heart.
Gavin's dad Ed Becker says the idea came about as the family sat around chatting about how he should propose. Ed recalled how his son asked Olivia to prom by painting rocks and spelling out his invite with a message that read something like "Olivia, you ROCK." That invite was a ground-based affair, and Gavin figured he needed to step up his game while asking his girlfriend to spend the rest of her life with him.
"He's such a high achiever," Ed explained about his son with a chuckle. "Never asks for help, kind of a do-it-yourself guy."
But this time, the Becker family figured Gavin needed the help. Ed, his wife Sara, daughter Katie and her boyfriend Austin paced out a design on the lake in front of the family's In-We-Go Resort, fired up the snowblower, and let 'er rip. Ed Becker figured it took them about 4 and 1/2 hours to finish the message, whose letters were a whopping 25 feet tall. While farmers use GPS to execute their corn mazes, this one was extremely low tech.
"It was totally eyeballing it," Ed laughed, "not as as hard as you'd think."
At that point Olivia was supposed to see the proposal from the air from a plane Gavin had rented, with him at the controls. Problem is, it almost didn't happen. The plane Gavin rented was extremely resistant to starting due to temps that were double digit below zero. Ed Becker said the story mirrors his own: 30 years ago he hatched a plan to take Sara out in a boat on Eighth Crow Wing Lake to propose to her, and the outboard motor wouldn't fire up.
In Gavin's case, the Cessna finally started, the couple took to the sky... and Olivia said yes.
While carving a large-scale marriage proposal on a lake was a bit of work, Ed Becker says it was a labor of love for a woman they are excited about welcoming into the family.
"We are definitely fond of Olivia," Ed said. "They're a good faith-based couple trying to figure out what their future is."