Woman dons absurd costume to surprise sister at engagement: 'It totally made the moment'

A Wisconsin woman surprised her sister with a hilarious costume during her engagement last week. 

Therese Merkel, 23, took to Twitter last Monday to share photos of herself dressed as a bush in order to capture the moment her sister, Rachel, said yes to her boyfriend's proposal.

"Sister got engaged this weekend and I dressed as a bush in the wilderness to watch/capture the moment," Merkel wrote. "We are 1 yr apart ... why are our lives so different rofl."

According to BuzzFeed, Therese and Rachel's boyfriend, Andrew Philibeck, planned the stunt in advance, since Rachel had reportedly requested that Therese be at her engagement, should there ever be a proposal.

"We came up with a ton of hilarious ideas that were totally ridiculous," Therese recalled. "We were like, 'How funny would it be if I was a bush or something?'"

Two weeks ago, Philibeck followed through with the plan and ordered her a ghillie suit — a type of camouflage outfit meant to blend in with the wilderness. Therese, however, was worried that the prank would wreck the couple's special moment.

"I even told Andrew, 'Is this going to ruin the vibe of the romance?'" she said.

Philibeck assured her it wouldn't, and the two surprised Rachel at a local conservation site.

"She was so well hidden with the ghillie suit in the bushes that I couldn’t find her, so I was nervous that she wasn’t even there," Philibeck told BuzzFeed.

After Rachel said yes, Therese jumped out of the bushes, to her sister's bewilderment.

"She was so confused, she was like, 'What are you, a weird bush?" Therese said. "It totally made the moment."

Therese's post has since gone viral, garnering more than 21,000 retweets and hundreds of people tagging their better halves or relatives to do something similar.

"It just exploded, and it’s really hard to concentrate at work now," she admitted.

RELATED: Couples share their proposal stories: 

Destination Proposals: Real Couples Share Their Stories
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Destination Proposals: Real Couples Share Their Stories

Wedding date: August 20, 2011
Proposal spot: Mount St. Helens
Their story: This adventurous couple was climbing Mount St. Helens when Scott proposed. They'll wed this summer on Mount Hood, taking a chairlift up to the ceremony and getting married on the mountain.

"Climbing Mount St. Helens had always been on our to-do list. We love to hike, snowboard, camp and enjoy the outdoors in the Pacific Northwest. This was the summer! We booked permits to climb the active volcano for August 14th, 2010. We started the climb just around 6 am. After hiking for hours, the wind was picking up and hiking became more and more difficult. By the time we made it to the top, six hours later, the wind and blowing ash were barely tolerable. Scott quickly asked another couple to take a picture of us and the next thing I knew, he was down on one knee. (Actually two knees, because the wind almost blew him over!) The wind was howling so loud I could barely hear him, but the ring certainly gave me the idea!"

Married: 7 years
Proposal spot: A cruise off St. John, US Virgin Islands
Their story: Doug had nightmares about dropping Jill's engagement ring into the Caribbean, but pulled off his proposal without a hitch. The happy couple eventually said their vows in St. Lucia.

"I actually proposed to my wife twice. The first time I gave her a watch and asked for her hand in marriage while strolling the Pont Neuf in Paris. Then, I surprised her with a ring and formal proposal while sailing a sunset cruise off the coast of St. John in the Virgin Islands. I was so scared that I was gonna drop the ring in the Caribbean that I had nightmares about it, and they continued long after the engagement. I still think about it and shiver. I remember in my dream thinking, 'Look for a landmark so we can send a diver down, mark the location.' It was ridiculous. When the time came, I walked so cautiously on the boat. I was sure that ring was never going to make it to her finger. What a relief when it did.

The boat was called White Wing, and the Captain's name was Clark Beam. He was in on the secret before my wife got the ring, but he was very slick about it."

Married: 2 years
Proposal spot: Isle of Palms, SC
Their story: Karin's boyfriend took her on a last-minute road trip which led to the pier where he would pop the question.

"CJ asked me if I felt like taking a random road trip back in September 2007, which I jumped all over. He got me up at 4 am to get on the road, which I was not happy about. I told him to let me sleep, and like the smart man he is, he did. The next thing I knew, we were in South Carolina! (We live in DC.)

He said that he 'Saw some signs for this one beach' and thought I might want to stretch my legs a bit. We arrived at the Isle of Palms in South Carolina and walked around a bit. It was super windy that day and packed, despite it being late September, so we walked to a more secluded/less windy part of the beach. There, he proposed right on the pier. He then surprised me with an overnight at the Francis Marion Hotel, where we had Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries waiting, a couples massage, a horse-drawn carriage ride and the best meal ever at Magnolia's. I was none the wiser that he was a) going to propose, and that b) had every last detail planned out like he did!"

Wedding date: September 3, 2011
Proposal spot: A windmill in Holland
Their story: Jaclyn thought she was getting proposed to in Italy but her boyfriend Brian had other plans – the pair will wed this coming fall in Tuscany.

"In June 2010 Brian and I embarked on a European vacation: Italy's Amalfi Coast and then Amsterdam, Holland to visit my family for a family reunion. The day before the large reunion in Amsterdam, Brian suggested we go biking in Het Twiske, a nature reserve that is home to "my windmill." It's a place I go to every time I'm in Holland and it's very dear to my heart, so it seemed like a no-brainer idea to me. We biked around for over an hour before stopping at my windmill. Brian took out his camera and said, 'Let's take a picture in front of it.' He put on the timer and placed the camera on the wooden railing of a bridge. He said, 'I have a question to ask you' and got down on one knee.

The windmill has been there since 1584 and because it's in a protected area, it'll still be around when I'm old and gray. Afterwards we biked back and my immediate family was there, ready with Champagne."

Married: 17 years
Proposal spot:On stage at Carnegie Hall
Their story: The author of the blog The Vacation Gals was shocked when Dave got up onstage at Carnegie Hall to ask for her hand in marriage. They still touch the building every time they visit NYC.

"My mom and her singing group performed Handel's Messiah at Carnegie Hall around Christmastime. During the intermission, my boyfriend Dave excused himself to go to the restroom, and a few minutes later my dad asked me if Dave knew a member of the orchestra. 'No,' I replied, 'why do you ask?'

Dave got on stage, walked to the middle and got down on one knee with a ring in his hand. 'Get off the stage,' I yelled as I sank, mortified, into my seat. 'Not until you say you'll marry me,' he said. People behind me started poking my back and saying, 'Say yes!' I did, he jumped off the stage, and put the ring on my finger (his hands were shaking). People around us were applauding and my dad had a tear in his eye. The chorus came back on stage and my mom noticed there was a fuss in the first few rows. I held up my hand and she jumped up and down. A few minutes later, Handel's Messiah recommenced, and I laughed to hear the famous refrain of 'Hallelujah.' Dave and I had been dating for 5 years – Hallelujah, indeed."

Wedding date: July 2012
Proposal spot: A castle in Ireland
Their story: This 6th grade science teacher from New Jersey got the surprise of her life when her boyfriend popped the question in his homeland – in front of a castle.

"My fiancé Eric was born and raised in Ireland – he moved to the US when he was 3 years old. In August of 2010, we planned a trip to visit Eric's family. We started off in Dublin, then we moved on to a night in Galway, a night in the Aran Islands and then we were to visit County Mayo for the rest of the stay. County Mayo is where most of Eric's aunts, uncles and cousins live. But Eric surprised me with a one-night visit to Ashford Castle. We arrived and it was breathtaking. I truly felt like a princess, or a character out of Harry Potter.

We spent the day roaming grounds, which were situated on a lake, with gardens and a real life moat! Eric asked a nice gentleman to take our picture in front of the big fountain they had out back. We posed for a photo, and Eric turned to me, got down on one knee, pulled out the most beautiful ring I've ever seen and asked if I would marry him. Needless to say, I started to cry. One million bonus points to Eric for proposing to me at a castle!"

Married: 1 year
Proposal spot: Graceland
Their story: Brian channeled the King when he asked Jessica to marry him at Graceland – the pair celebrated one year of wedded bliss on February 20th.

"Everyone that knows us knows that we're big Elvis fans, so it surprised no one that Elvis Presley played a significant role in our engagement. In August of 2009, we were in Memphis for Elvis Week, where I was serving as a judge for the Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Finals. Every August 15th (the eve of the anniversary of Elvis's passing), tens of thousands gather in front of Graceland for a candlelight vigil. While the mansion grounds are closed to the public, we were allowed to walk through the property and settled on the front steps of the house to watch the candles being lit on Elvis Presley Boulevard and the procession up to Elvis's gravesite. At 10 pm, alone on Graceland's front steps, and with the candlelit street in the background, I pulled out the ring, dropped to one knee on the bottom step and proposed. We're very grateful to our friends at Elvis Presley Enterprises for giving us such an incredible memory."

Married: 12 years
Proposal spot: Bronx Zoo
Their story: A trip to this world-famous zoo was part of Myk's proposal plan but Laurie wouldn't stand still long enough for him to get the ring or his words out – until he cornered her on the monorail.

"My husband proposed to me on the Wild Asia Monorail at the Bronx Zoo in July 1996. He tried to propose in the butterfly zone but apparently I wouldn't stay still long enough. I guess I was confined in the monorail so he did it there. He read a list of rules posted in the car: 'No standing, no sticking your arms out, no this, no that...' He added at the end, '...and no asking you to marry me?' I said 'What?' So he asked me again and gave me my ring. Everyone in the car clapped. I didn't say yes till the car ride home. I was so excited! We have a cute after proposal pic taken by the guy that runs the camel ride. Ironically enough I have a picture of Myk in front of the butterfly zone and you can see the outline of the ring box in his pocket!

Wedding date: January 20, 2012
Proposal spot: Hvar, Croatia
Their story: Amy unknowingly carried her own engagement ring to Croatia where her fiancé Ryan proposed.

"My fiancé is in Afghanistan for a year doing rule of law development. He was away for the first three months when we met up for a vacation in Croatia. I didn't expect a proposal in the least because he had been in Afghanistan and there was no possible way he could have gotten the ring. Turns out I was wrong. He worked with my mom to have the ring made and she hid it in the box of something I was bringing to him.

In Hvar, Croatia he surprised me with a boat ride to a secluded cove that had a restaurant. It was a single table on the top of a cliff -- the restaurant just brings you seafood dish after seafood dish. Still, I thought he did this just because he missed me -- but he proposed! I was stunned."

Married: 6 years
Proposal spot: A waterfall in Nicaragua
Their story: This travel writer surprised himself by spontaneously proposing marriage to Sutay, a registered nurse, during an exotic trip.

"Sutay and I sat on a boulder at the edge of the chocolate-colored plunge pool, tiny specks in the greenery. I had not planned on proposing marriage but suddenly, everything was clear and I was popping the question. Then several seconds passed. She looked at me, confused, and said, 'No, honey, I'm not mad at you.' It took a moment to realize I'd been misunderstood -- a chance to back out. The falls thundered in my chest. Sutay's eyes were green; her brown hair crashed over bare shoulders. I tip-toed a precipice while my question hung in mist. 'That's not what I asked,' I said. Perhaps she sensed what was coming even though it was as unexpected for me as it was for her. The falls were white; the sky was white and warm, the air close. We were alone. Nobody in the world knew where we were, not even the dozing caretaker up the trail, slouched in his wooden rocking chair. I looked at her – no rhyme, no reason, no ring. I said, 'Will you marry me?'"


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