A hapless fiance accidentally burned down he and his partner’s flat when tea lights he had arranged to spell out ‘Marry Me?’ in a romantic wedding proposal set fire to their living room.
In a grand but ultimately ill-fated gesture, Albert Ndreu, 26, arranged 100 mini-candles on the floor of his flat so he could pop the question to his girlfriend Valerija Madevic.
The besotted waiter then left to pick-up his unaware sweetheart from work and planned to surprise her when they returned.
But Valerija had a very different surprise when the couple returned to their flat in Sheffield, South Yorks, and found smoke coming through the door.
The couple called the fire brigade who rushed three crews down to the scene.
Yet all was not lost for ambitious Albert, who decided to get down on one knee anyway outside their burnt-out flat.
Remarkably, plucky Albert’s proposal paid-off when Valerija said ‘yes’.
The disastrous episode took place after Albert had spent two weeks meticulously planning his perfect proposal after buying a ring for Valerija.
He had decided to surprise his sweetheart by filling their living room with over candles and around 100 tealights and roughly 60 balloons.
Some of the lights he used to spell out ‘Marry Me?’ on the floor.
Albert then went out to pick up his love to bring her home for the surprise – but after he left it caught fire.
Three fire crews rushed to the scene at roughly 8.30pm after Valerija saw clouds of dark smoke emanating from their flat’s door.
But Albert was undeterred and got down on one knee and asked the love of his life if she would marry him.
With sirens wailing in the distance and their flat engulfed in flames, the love struck girlfriend said the all-important ‘yes’.
However the couple’s studio flat was gutted by flames and smoke damage.
Albert said: ‘I was planning the proposal for over two weeks – I kept struggling to find the right thing to do to mark the special moment.
‘I wanted to do something from my heart even if it didn’t go exactly as planned.
‘Valerija always says the most important thing is the small gestures every day – but I wanted to do something special for the proposal.
‘I bought the most important thing, which was the ring, and I just needed to make sure the day was perfect.
‘It didn’t go exactly as I thought it would but she said yes, so I think the day took an unexpected turn but ended up exactly how I wanted it to.’
Albert spent over four hours preparing his romantic setting – two of which were spent blowing up the 60 balloons and lighting up the candles.
He also had a bottle of Chianti waiting for them, and had a non-stop romance playlist playing on a speaker.
Of all the things that Albert worried could go wrong, he never expected to find his home left in ashes.
He said: ‘I put balloons and candles everywhere, I had to go all out.
‘I wanted to say something like she was the light of my heart, but maybe that was too much light.
‘I was so nervous, this was the first time I have ever proposed and I hope it will be the last.
‘I was so worried about everything going wrong I never imagined I could set the house on fire.
‘But it will always be an unforgettable day for us and a story which will be amazing to tell our children.’
Albert and Valerija have been together for just over a year after meeting on a dating website.
The pair say they believe strongly in destiny and they happened to log into the app for the first time on the same day.
He says she was his first match and after a short chat they exchanged phone numbers, organised a date, and he confidently deleted the app.
He said: ‘I believe that people have a destiny and there is someone you’re meant to be with – and for me that’s Valerija.
‘We found each other on an app and it was my first match and I immediately knew I didn’t need the app anymore.
‘We spoke for hours and hours and talked about anything and everything.
‘We got on like a house on fire, but maybe we took that a bit too literally..’
He added: ‘I hope this serves as a warning for others that maybe there is such a thing as too much love, or too many candles.’
Valerija says her fiance greeted her at her work with some flowers which led to her being suspicious that he’d done something stupid and was groveling.
She said: ‘When I got the flowers I thought he must have broken something or destroyed something in the house.
‘Little did I know he had destroyed our entire living room.
‘We walked up the stairs to the flat and there was smoke everywhere, I told him to call the firefighters because our house was on fire.
‘I was in total shock, I was shaking because it looked like it was really bad.’
But Valerija was about to get an even bigger shock after she walked down the stairs to find Albert down on one knee.
Valerija said: ‘He pulled out a box from his pocket and I was just speechless.
‘He said that he messed up – our house was literally in flames – but asked me if I would marry him.
‘And I said yes.’
The pair are currently bunking up at the home of Albert’s cousin and are waiting on more information relating to their insurance in the flat they moved in just a month ago.
Thankfully only a laptop, a speaker, and some books were lost in the fire.
They’re not sure when it will be safe for them to return but said the most important thing was that they were together after the ‘most beautiful’ day in their lives.
She said: ‘It’s such a beautiful day, the most beautiful day in my life.
‘You can replace things in the house, but not our love for each other.
‘In the end we’re in good health and we’re together, and that’s all that matters.’
She added: ‘But Albert is banned from candles and balloons for a while, even with his birthday coming up.’
Albert insists that he’s normally ‘very responsible’ but was overcome by his love for his fiance.
The pair are hoping to tie the knot on the anniversary of the fire and said they’d invite the fire brigade as a special guest – both to thank them and as a preventive measure.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service shared shocking pictures of the damage caused after tackling the blaze to warn people of the dangers of lit candles.