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A longstanding couples' tradition in Paris, transplanted to Nashville

Big locks, little locks, padlocks and Ottoman style handmade locks.

For years, lovers from around the world have attached locks to the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris, and tossed their keys into the Seine River as a symbol of their unity.

On a recent backpacking adventure to Europe, Michaela Jackson and Alan Poizner spent time enjoying the ambiance on the bridge around sunset and after nightfall. Even more recently while back home in Nashville, Poizner brought the tradition stateside.

Jackson, a Vanderbilt Law School student, has fond memories of the evenings they spent together near the bridge. “Sitting on that bridge was our favorite activity in Paris and is one of our favorite memories of the entire trip. In particular, the symbolism of the lock tradition made a huge impression on us - not to mention how striking the scene is visually.”

Mal Langsdon / Reuters

A handful of the thousands of padlocks clipped by lovers onto the railings of the Pont des Arts bridge over the River Seine in Paris on Monday, Mar. 7. The Pont Neuf bridge and the Ile de la Cite island in the river Seine can be seen in the background.

Poizner, a freelance photojournalist who has been with Jackson since 2006, knew he'd found the perfect way to propose to his then-girlfriend at the conclusion of her final exams in December of last year.

“After dinner, we parked in the neighborhood and trekked a mile to the top of the bridge,” Jackson recounts. “As we approached the bridge's first landing, Alan pulled me toward the railing, held me tight in the 15-degree weather, and proposed. After I said (read: screamed) yes, he pulled out the beautiful antique lock. We locked it onto the bridge, together, and threw the key over the side of the bridge into the river. Our special encounter with the "lock bridge" made Alan's proposal truly 'us.'"

Although their lock is all alone on the Shelby Street pedestrian bridge over the Cumberland River downtown Nashville, it may not be alone for long.

Courtesy Alan Poizner & Michaela Jackson

Alan Poizner and Michaela Jackson, both of Nashville, secured this lock to the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge and tossed the key into the Cumberland River after the couple got engaged in Nashville, Tenn., in Dec. 2010.

The couple is planning their wedding for May of 2012.