Melissa Steele agreed to marry Ben Okuly in a very public proposal at the McCartney concert.
McCartney fans stage ultimate engagement
By Susan Whitall / The Detroit News
Friday, October 21, 2005
Ben and Melissa. Remember those names. They might become as familiar as Tom and Katie ... Rob and Amber ... even Sonny and Cher.
Ben Okuly and Melissa Steele are two crazy kids from Findlay, Ohio, who became engaged -- very publicly, with Paul McCartney as their enabler -- at the Paul McCartney concert last Friday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Ben, 26, is employed at the Findlay library, and Melissa, 25, works in a local hospital's emergency room.
Ben was thinking of asking Melissa to marry him when they drove up to Detroit for the McCartney concert. "We haven't had the best time for the last 18 months," he says. "I lost two grandparents in three months, and in July, Melissa lost her sister. I was trying to think of a way to do this and make it a memorable occasion, really special."
Little did he know.
During the show, McCartney spotted a sign Ben was holding up from his fourth row seat: "'CAN BEN ASK MELISSA TO MARRY HIM?'" McCartney read out loud.
"Well, go on, get down on your knees and ask her, Ben!" the former Beatle ordered. Ben did, and Melissa said yes.
"Well, that's a first for me," McCartney quipped of the in-concert engagement. "And I hope it's a last for you, Ben."
Later on, McCartney had different sides of the arena sing the "Na ... na na na na na na" chorus to "Hey Jude." First one side of the arena sang, then the other side, then the men, then just the women. "And now just Ben and Melissa," McCartney suddenly yelled, pointing to the fourth row
Ben and Melissa screamed the chorus at the top of their lungs, but no one could hear a word.
"To have Paul McCartney be there and start the proposal, I really don't have words to describe what that was like," says Melissa.
At the end of the show, when McCartney and the band bent over in deep bows to the audience, they pointed at Ben and Melissa and bowed one more time.
"That just blew me out of the water," says Ben. "We came to see them, and here they are giving us a special bow."
The couple returned to the Palace on Saturday to see the show again, and although McCartney mentioned their engagement, they were too far back for him to see them waving and screaming.
But this Saturday, they'll be at his concert in Columbus, Ohio. Maybe they'll make another sign. Maybe McCartney will once again mention "Ben and Melissa."
Maybe the firstborn Okuly heir will be named "Paul"?