Now that’s a latte love! It was 2008 when Austin Mann first met Esther Havens in Waco, Texas. The two strangers seemingly had much in common right from the beginning: Both were busy freelance photographers who worked with nonprofits, and their line of work required them to travel hundreds of thousands of miles each year.
Mann and Havens formed a friendship that eventually developed into interest as their correspondence progressed—in the form of letters. One day, while passing through the Amsterdam airport, Mann decided to leave Havens a clever letter in the terminal’s Starbucks.
“That for me was the start of, ‘Who is this guy? Could I see myself with him?’” Havens said in a press release. Soon after, they started dating and the notes continued to flow. Mann would leave letters for his girlfriend in Starbucks locations around the world, and clue her in on where to find them—under a table, tucked behind a cushion. He left them in Starbucks locations around the world (Houston, New Delhi, and even Cambodia), where she would eventually pass through to discover his sweet gesture.
The sentiment was reciprocated. “Austin’s notes were always filled with something to make me feel special,” Havens added “My notes for Austin were many times filled with encouraging words about how awesome I think he is.”
So when it came time for the actual proposal, Mann carefully chose the Amsterdam airport Starbucks, where he left his very first note for Havens. The timeline was tight. Havens was supposed to land in Amsterdam from Tanzania at 7 in the morning, local time, while Havens had booked a flight that was supposed to land at the terminal at 6 a.m.
Havens’ family members were also in on the plan and mapped out their flights to celebrate with the couple at the airport after the proposal took place. “I told all the baristas,” Mann said. “I showed them a picture of Esther and introduced [her sister] Anna. They were all very excited. I gave them my iPhone 7 Plus to take video and got a Starbucks bag, poked a hole in it and put another iPhone shooting video in it on a table next to where I was going to propose.”
While there were some complications, Havens made her way to the original spot. She took a seat and found another love letter from Mann. In it, he asked her to order a drink. Waiting around the corner was her boyfriend holding a bouquet and a ring. “I thought it was just us,” Havens said. “Everyone cheered. I had no idea anyone was watching.”
The future bride said she adored her fiance’s elaborate proposal plan. “There are things we can dream about forever, but that’s what I love about Austin is he does it,” she said. “He makes it happen. He’s like, ‘Why not? I’ll fly to the other side of the world.’”