Ashley Boalch and Michael Darby in Dubai. (Courtesy of Ashley Boalch)

Engaged: Ashley Boalch, 24, and Michael Darby, 52. She was Miss D.C. 2011; he’s the high-flying developer who co-founded Washington’s Monument Realty. They started dating early last year, not long after she interned at his company, but broke up for a few months while she was gearing up for the Miss America pageant. Back together, he surprised her a couple of weeks ago with a trip to NYC. On a romantic helicopter trip over the Hudson, he handed her a card (the only way to communicate over the noise) with a message asking her to marry him. And then?

They went to Tiffany & Co., where, she tells us, she got “the ring of my dreams.” Aiming to exchange vows next year, it will be a first marriage for Boalch, a Beltway native now finishing her teaching degree at U-Md., and the second for Darby, a native Australian, who has two kids.

Read earlier: John Kelly’s toughest assignment: Judging the Miss District of Columbia Pageant, 1/10/12

Miss D.C., Maryland and Virginia vie for Miss America crown, 7/17/11

Former real estate giant Monument Realty is working on a comeback, 1/26/11

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