Yesterday, I talked about how modern consumers desire more individuality in their engagements and weddings. A good illustration of this is the small but growing number of people whose job involves coaching future grooms how to pop the question.
Take Sarah Pease, whose official title is proposal planner for her New York City–based company Brilliant Events Planning. She began as a high-end wedding coordinator but then started looking at the engagement aspect. “I heard about a friend of a friend who got engaged, and the proposal involved a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken with a ring at the bottom of it,” she says. “I thought: There has got to be a better way.”
Six years later, she has worked behind the scenes on hundreds of proposals, and business is growing by leaps and bonds. “I did more proposals this December than I did in my entire first year.”
She notes that, in this age of elaborate YouTube proposals that get millions of hits, many hopeful husbands-to-be want to put their own twist on popping the question.
“People want to get outside the lame dinner marriage proposal with Champagne,” she says. “They want something different.”
And many of the engagements she stages are indeed different, built around themes like Harry Potter or CSI. In a recent one, a man invited his girlfriend to watch a short film on a jumbo screen on the side of a New York City building. It turned out to be a slide show of their lives together, which ended with, “Will you marry me?”
But she stresses: “It is sort of a misconception that all I do are these elaborate proposals. By and large, the types of proposals I do are very intimate and very small and beautiful.… A good proposal doesn’t have to be something expensive or elaborate. It has to be something personal.”
And so far, no woman has ever declined one of her proposals, but that is “always a risk,” she says.
Of course, her business would certainly seem to be a perfect fit with a jeweler’s, and she occasionally gets referrals from retailers for her services. And while she says most of the proposals do involve a ring, sometimes she does use a placeholder.
Pease is not alone in this field. There are now proposal planners in Great Britain, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles. (Perhaps not surprisingly, the lives of the U.K. proposal planners may be turned into a reality series.)
Still, she cautions it’s not a field for the fainthearted. “It’s very stressful. There is no room for error. For the couple, this happens one time in their life. If something gets messed up, there is no chance to fix it.”
But as any jeweler involved in the engagement process can tell you, when everything works out, it is also quite gratifying.
“I don’t think anyone has witnessed more proposals then I have. If we do our job right, the fiancée is completely taken by surprise, which is a fun process to observe. I think I have the best job in the world.”