Everyone’s first question, as soon as you sport a ring on your finger, is “How did he propose?” The available answers seem to grow increasingly complex: a quick internet search reveals choreographed dance routines with professional performers, day-long scavenger hunts where the couple’s friends pop up with clues, private rooftop dinners accompanied by string quartets or even salsa bands. Websites abound offering guidance on creating the “perfect proposal,” and there are event planners whose sole focus is designing not weddings but “proposal packages.” The “Plan Your Proposal” button on one such site leads to a menu that not only strongly encourages hiring a pro to document the event but also includes a “Book a Flash Mob” link and an “Ask the Expert” option, where you can “run your proposal ideas” past a “proposal expert” and get a response in three days.
Um, how exactly does one qualify to become a “proposal expert”?
Bold public proposals or creative, extravagant approaches are genuinely romantic when they fit the couple. My brother proposed to my sister-in-law in front of a crowd packed with friends and members of an organization that had changed his life; they were the very people who’d encouraged him to live large and dare initiate the relationship in the first place. ❤ And if you’re a professional actor wooing a producer, it makes sense to stage an actual live lip-dub street production to pop the question! But so many “big” proposals seem less an outgrowth of a couple’s personal history than a product of growing social and market pressures to manufacture a “perfect” but artificial moment. After all, most of us aren’t professional performers, and how dreamy is it, really, to purchase someone else’s pre-packaged idea of a romantic gesture, or, for that matter, to tell not only your friends but also a roomful of random flash-mob dancers that you want to marry Susie before you tell Susie herself?
Somewhere along the way, proposing marriage has become a kind of competitive spectator sport. The big proposal now rivals the big wedding. Full of flash and splash, scripted and staged, it’s a public performance of your commitment, recorded for posterity. Because, of course, someone is always there filming these über-events. Otherwise, what’s the point?