`I do,' but ask me in Hawaii

December 04, 2007|By SUSAN REIMER

Memory fades and the brain plays tricks, but my friend Betsy and I are pretty sure we proposed.

Apparently, the guys said yes because we are both married. But, as you can tell, the proposals were not particularly memorable.

Today, however, we could hire "proposal planners," a new job description added to the burgeoning wedding industry.

Then Betsy could have lured her beloved to a tree stand in the forest, using deer hunting as an excuse, and arranged for a 16-point buck to drift into his sights with "Marry Me" painted on its flank.

Or I could have nabbed a couple of end-zone seats to a Steelers game, arranged for Hines Ward to catch the winning touchdown and leap into the stands to present the game ball to my sweetheart, and painted the pigskin with "Marry Me."

Since we'd be traveling to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, it would qualify as a "destination proposal." And we could hire "proposal paparazzi" to capture the moment.

But things were simpler then.

Now there is an attempt to balance the wedding scales, which have long tipped heavily in favor of the bride.

"Guys are really understanding that the proposal is something they are solely responsible for," said Marilyn Oliveira, senior editor at weddingchan nel.com.

Forty percent of all wedding proposals occur between November and February, according to industry statistics. But apparently, popping the question Christmas Eve by the fire or over a Valentine's Day dinner isn't good enough anymore.

"I think men understand that the proposal is something that gets talked about for the rest of their lives. In their 80s, their grandchildren will be asking, `How did you propose to Grandma?'

"They really want to make sure it is done right, and it is memorable, and they are getting some help."

Or going over the top, depending on your point of view.

Oliveira said this trend started with celebrities who planned elaborate proposals, setting the bar higher for regular guys. Seal proposed to Heidi Klum in an igloo on a mountaintop, and Star Jones was proposed to on national television at the NBA All-Star game. "It's been snowballing ever since," she said.

Oliveira says her favorite proposal story involved a bachelor who took his girlfriend to Hawaii, arranged with the hotel staff to "hide" a ring at the bottom of a lagoon-like pool, and, calling her attention to something "shiny" in the water during a romantic stroll, jumped in with his clothes on and emerged to present her with the ring.

"I'm still talking about that one, and I wasn't even involved," she said.

You can propose to your girl over dinner at a nice restaurant, but that tends not to be as memorable, Oliveira said.

Certainly not as memorable as the proposal where the bride-to-be came home from work to find a note on the door (notes on the door are big in proposals) instructing her to go directly to the airport, without packing.

The groom flew her to Mexico where a car was waiting to take her to a hotel, where a beautiful dress and roses were waiting. (There is always stuff "waiting" in these proposals.)

Another car took her to the beach, where a path of rose petals (rose petals are also big) led to the groom, a romantic picnic, champagne and a ring.

"And when they went back to the hotel, her family was there waiting for her. She was stunned. She had no idea he had it in him," Oliveira said.

Destination proposals, like destination weddings, destination bachelor parties and destination bachelorette parties, are all the rage, Oliveira said.

Wedding planners, event planners and hotel staff are the go-to people if you are planning a fabulous proposal, she said. And, of course, weddingchannel.com has lots of advice, too.

Negotiating to have the proposal photographed might be a little more difficult.

Neal Freed, who has studios in Baltimore and Bethesda, said a prospective groom hired him for three or four hours to shoot scenes from his elaborate proposal charade, and he charged $750.

That was nothing compared with the $15,000 the groom spent, including hotel suite, limos and a celebration dinner.

But the photographer was there when the groom got down on one knee and presented her with the ring. "The business side of this doesn't allow us to come and spend 15 minutes, take three pictures and charge $50," said Freed.

Marriage proposals like this are putting a lot of pressure on the guy who figured all he had to do was rent a tux and, on the big day, stand where he was told to stand.

"After we give these grooms all this pressure to make it fabulous, we should say that it is hard to go wrong if she really loves you," said Oliveira.

Just ask me and Betsy.

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

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