Joey Lancianese and Alex DeLoia had dinner plans on Saturday evening. Little did she know, her boyfriend had something much more elaborate planned outside the restaurant.
“I wanted to surprise her," Lancianese said.
Lancianese, 25, a Canton, Ohio native now living in Sewickley, said he originally wanted to propose on an upcoming trip to Las Vegas, but decided he didn't want to wait until Labor Day. But while most men spend time stressing over the right ring or the perfect restaurant, Lancianese kicked up his marriage proposal a notch and organized a flash mob.
“It felt like it was perfect," he said afterward. "It went well.”
At least 200 people packed the sidewalks, some holding cellphones to capture the moment, as the happy couple made their way down Beaver Street outside the Sewickley Hotel. One guy started dancing spontaneously, then one by one, others joined in. DeLoia smiled as she watched the dancers moving simultaneously, and soon became emotional as it all sank in.
Lancianese joined in the dance troupe, followed by about 50 others, who had worked hard to remain inconspicuous throughout the day. After “Marry You,” by Bruno Mars ended, he got down on one knee and popped the big question: “Will you marry me?”
DeLoia, of course, said yes.
“I’m speechless,” the teary-eyed 25-year-old said after the proposal.
Alex's mother Cora DeLoia, who co-owns in Sewickley, knew her daughter would be impressed.
“She’s going to be amazed,” Cora said prior to the flash mob.
Lancianese said the idea came to him one day as he walked on a nearby cross walk. He decided to ask Borough Manger Kevin Flannery about closing down the street briefly for a flash mob marriage proposal.
"It kind of evolved from there," Lancianese said.
But keeping it a secret wasn’t easy. Lancianese said he had to come up with excuses to secretly attend what he called “underground dance practice" to learn the choreography. However, he said the hardest part was that DeLoia recently became the social media strategist at Village Green Partners, a nonprofit that works to promote businesses and events in Sewickley.
When DeLoia saw barricades and no-parking signs on Broad Street, she asked Flannery if there was something going on in town she didn't know about. He told her there was going to be a little music, but of course, he was in on the plan the whole time.
“I think it’s great,” said Flannery, who congratulated the couple afterward. Flannery said he plans to put the proposal on the borough's website and air the video on PEG TV, Sewickley's public access television.
Despite being shocked, Alex said she wasn’t surprised Lancianese put his own twist on the traditional marriage proposal.
“I wouldn’t have expected anything less,” she said with a laugh. “It wasn’t going to be a restaurant proposal with him.”
This story first appeared on Sewickley Patch.