Proposal Follows the Plunge

She said yes. Shivali Khetan may have had cold feet after plunging into the icy ocean at Main Beach on New Year’s Day, but she had no hesitation when it came to accepting Spencer Granelli’s marriage proposal. Durell Godfrey

When Spencer Granelli was making plans to surprise his girlfriend, Shivali Khetan, with a marriage proposal after the Polar Bear Plunge at Main Beach on New Year’s Day, he had one nagging doubt. He said he was certain she would agree to become his wife, but he wasn’t sure he could convince her to jump into the frigid ocean waters with him. “She’s usually just a supportive bystander on the beach,” he said of their past plunge experiences. This time, however, she said yes!

Mr. Granelli and Ms. Khetan, who are 26 years old, attended the University of Pennsylvania at the same time and graduated in 2014, but didn’t meet until the summer after college when they were both working in New York City. A friendship developed over the following months, and, that December, Mr. Granelli decided to invite her and other pals to his parents’ house in East Hampton to take part in the plunge, which had become a tradition in his family.

Since the outing required an early morning Jitney ride after celebrating on New Year’s Eve, Ms. Khetan was one of only two friends who took Mr. Granelli up on his offer. That worked to Mr. Granelli’s advantage because he’d had a change of heart. “I decided that I wanted it to be a date with Shivali,” he said. 

The third friend was promptly disinvited and the trip to the plunge raised the relationship level to budding romance. “The two of us were on the Jitney sleeping on each other,” recalled Mr. Granelli, who also remembered giving her a kiss on the cheek that night, after they had spent the afternoon at the beach, and attended a plunge after-party at his parents’ house. The couple, who now live together in London, have returned to East Hampton for the event ever since. 

Although they have had discussions about getting married, Ms. Khetan assumed that “a proposal would be farther out in the future,” said Mr. Granelli.

Before making arrangements for the surprise proposal, he called her parents to let them know what he was planning. He asked Ms. Khetan’s mother, Vibha, and her sister, Anjali, for help in choosing a ring, but neither knew what style would be best or even what size would fit. Still, Mr. Granelli was confident in his choice. “I think what I like is what she likes,” he said beforehand. “Fingers crossed.” 

On Tuesday, the Granelli and Khetan families gathered on Main Beach with a throng of other plunge-goers. Mr. Granelli’s mom, Janine, was designated the keeper of the ring. After her son emerged from the surf, she handed the jewelry box to him. He held his soaking-wet girlfriend’s hand, got down on his knee and proposed.

Ms. Khetan first looked bewildered, then shocked, and ultimately overjoyed, her eyes welling up. She looked at the ring and said, “I love it.” 

A cheer rang out from swimsuit-clad spectators. 

“I couldn’t be happier,” said Ms. Khetan. “This is where we started four years ago.” 

Mr. Granelli said last month that he intended to keep the proposal short and sweet. “I’ve rehearsed a few lines in my head, but it’s mostly going to be spontaneous, and not last that long because it’ll be hard to ask her to stand there in the cold,” he said.

Ultimately, he said exactly what his girlfriend had wanted to hear. “He told me how much he loved me, and he asked me to marry him,” said Ms. Khetan. “It was fantastic.”