Together for 11 months, Chad Horn and Claire Givens had already begun to discuss the idea of getting married.
So Horn, 31, of Somerville, knew that if he was going to surprise Givens with his proposal, he would have to pop the question in a place where she would least expect it.
Wednesday evening, in front of several stacks of 80-pound wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a free sample table at the Cambridge Whole Foods Market in Fresh Pond, Horn found just the spot to make his move.
After leading Givens to the sample table under the guise that he was hungry, Horn read to Givens a poem of sorts he’d written called “Recipe for Relationship Surprise,” which calls for one barrel of laughter, one cup of encouragement and two tablespoons of thoughtfulness.
Then he dropped to one knee, told Givens he wanted to experience life with her and asked her to marry him.
When she said yes, Whole Foods employees erupted in applause.
Smiling and pressing her head to Horn’s chest, Givens said she was completely surprised.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” said Givens, 29, of Watertown. “I thought we were cooking a very late night dinner for a lot of people.”
Lynay Smith, the marketing team leader for the Whole Foods Store in Fresh Pond who said she was more nervous than Horn, said Horn’s proposal was a first for the Cambridge store, though another couple did get married in a Whole Foods in Florida.
Horn had approached the store with the idea a little more than a week ago and Smith said she jumped at the opportunity. The store helped Horn plan the proposal down to the free cheese that would be at the sample station, which was serving up Camembert cheese.
“We were just thrilled,” Smith said. “It kind of shows that we’re really that type of community store.”
Whole Foods also set up an impromptu engagement party for Horn and Givens, and family members who were clued in on the plan were secretly waiting at the front of the store to greet the newly-engaged couple.
“We really didn’t know quite what to expect,” said Given’s father John Givens. “We came here ready for just about anything. I think it’s pretty cool.”
Horn, who met his new fiancé while playing board games with friends, said he chose to propose at Whole Foods because he shops there with Givens once or twice a week, and they are both "foodies."
“I really like that we’d be coming here again frequently and it would always be a reminder of the proposal,” he said.