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A mural of love: Luke’s unique proposal

Laura Peppas

If men all over Canberra are now feeling pressured to come up with an original way to propose to their girlfriends, they can look no further than Luke Gemmill.

The Mix 106.3 producer has set the bar for all future proposals, surprising his girlfriend, Vanessa, with a personalised wall mural in Dickson with the help of local artist James Small.

“I lived in New York for a while and there’s a famous street artist from the UK who did a couple of murals near the building where I was living on the upper west side,” says Luke.

“I was just looking for something that was reflective of both our personalities, and street art seemed like the best thing to do.”

Luke arranged for one of his friends to film the proposal, which shows him drop to one knee in front of the mural and a shocked Vanessa saying “yes”, prompting a cheer from onlookers at a nearby café.

Luke and Vanessa during the proposal.

Luke and Vanessa during the proposal.

Luke admits the process of pulling together the mural, a “fridge” with personal photos of the couple set as magnets, was a “bit of a logistical nightmare.”

“It took a few months to pull this all together and plan it out, because I had to speak to the owners of the building who were based in Hong Kong to get permission to use the wall,” he says.

“The mural itself took about two days, and included personal details, for example when I first told Vanessa I loved her we were standing between 8th and 14th street in New York, so we had those numbers included in there – all those little things that were tied back to our relationship.”

The fridge even included a post it note with “yes or no” boxes, with Vanessa raised by a scissor lift on site so she could tick “yes”.

Luke also organised Vanessa’s parents to drive down from the central coast to join them for a celebratory breakfast after the proposal.

“We actually go to [the café opposite the mural], Good Brother, every Saturday morning before I play football so getting Vanessa down there wasn’t an issue because it’s part of our ritual, so we got ourselves ready as usual and strolled down to the café, it was just like any other Saturday beforehand,” he says.

The couple say they met over a year ago on a flight home from Brisbane.

The ring.

The ring.

“Vanessa works for Virgin Australia and I play football semi professionally, so I was coming back on the plane from a match I was playing in Brisbane and she was the flight manager, which was an interesting way to meet,” Luke says.

He admits his friends “were a bit worried” after hearing about his grand gesture.

“The friends who are already engaged or married are super stoked they got it out of the way before my proposal, but the friends who haven’t yet progressed to that stage in their lives are sort of saying ‘what are you doing to me mate’ – I think initially they were really feeling the heat after that,” Luke laughs.

“I don’t think every proposal has to be a grand gesture though, I think it’s important to do something reflective of your personality, if you’re not the beach guy there’s not point going down to the beach, you should do something that’s reflective of who you are as people and what your relationship is about, because I think that’s more special than whether you make a grand gesture or not.”

Luke says he and Vanessa hope to get married next year. As for the mural, it has now become a tourist attraction, with Canberrans posting selfies alongside it.

To view Luke’s proposal video, head to his Facebook page here.

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Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author

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