Hey, it was just a little white lie — except it came out on national TV.
William Polen III, better known as Tripp, had told his girlfriend, Julie Loven, that they were going to New York to celebrate her birthday and the one-year anniversary of their first date, but also to be on "The Bethenny Frankel Show."
"I told her the producers wanted to hear about her new lifestyle blog -- www.effortlessandexquisite.com -- and discuss new women in business," says Polen, 32, a Chattanooga native and 1999 graduate of McCallie School.
The show, which aired Tuesday, actually was titled "Ditch Him or Date Him." Sitting in the audience during the discussion on stage, Polen stood up, faced Loven and said: "So I lied to you about coming; we're not here to talk about your business." He then reached into his jacket and got down on one knee while Loven's expression shifted from a bemused smile to a stunned, mouth-open look of shock.
"I had a whole paper written out about my blog. ... I bought an outfit," she told Frankel after the proposal, which she called a complete surprise, especially since "we had an argument last night."
Polen said the argument was "one of the funniest things" about the whole situation. In the past few months, he and Loven had discussed getting engaged, he said, and she figured a proposal was coming while they were in New York. They arrived on Saturday and by Monday night, the last night before they left for home, "she was incredibly irritated that we weren't engaged," he said.
"I knew she was about to get the royal treatment," he said.
Producers of the show were part of the fake-out, too, although on air Frankel acted shocked. Loven said she had been talking with the show's producers for several days before the show, going over what was going to be discussed and doing a dry run the day before filming.
So when the proposal came, "I was very confused how it all dealt with my blog. It didn't make any sense," said Loven, 36, who was born in Chattanooga but grew up in North Carolina.
As for the actual proposal, "I honestly don't remember it," she said.
While Polen proposed, Steve Santagati, author of "The Manual: A True Bad Boy Explains How Men Think, Date, and Mate -- and What Women Can Do to Come Out on Top," was onstage in the TV studio, repeating "Say no! Say no!" Two days later on his show, late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon even showed a clip of Santagati's reaction.
"How can you say 'no' to a guy who proposes on morning television after admitting that he lied to you?" Fallon joked.
Loven and Polen both think Santagati was just joking and playing his role as a "bad boy" when it comes to relationships. In scenes that were cut from the final broadcast, "he said some really nice things," Loven said.
Polen and Loven now live in Charlotte, N.C., where they met. He's in global human resources at Bank of America, while she has her blog and also is co-owner and operator of a concrete company. The wedding is planned for the spring and the Frankel show is sending the couple to a resort in the Dominican Republic for their honeymoon. Afterward, they'll be making a return appearance on the show, Loven said.
Back home, friends have been "incredibly supportive," Polen says. "I've had some people that said it took a lot of courage to do it, but they used other words."
Loven described it as "all such a surreal dream."
"I'm happy; it's an exciting time."
Contact staff writer Shawn Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6327.