Real Proposals

Outrageous Proposals

Guys today are popping the question with flair to spare

Natalie Abreu, 26, was excited about the helicopter tour her boyfriend, Justin Firestone, 28, had planned as the grand finale of their trip to Maui. But the flight over the black sands of Hono Manu ended up giving her the shock of her life—"Will You Marry Me Natalie" was spelled out on the beach in giant letters made from hundreds of coconuts painted white. Stunned at the sight, Natalie took five minutes–and a second pass over the beach—to find her voice and say "Yes!"

"We were checking tide charts and scouting locations for weeks," confides Shermaine Rodrigues, the concierge at the Four Seasons Maui and Justin’s key accomplice. Over the last couple of years, she has gotten used to coordinating proposal concepts that take months of planning, teams of assistants, and split-second timing.

For the modern would-be groom, whose viewing habits undoubtedly include reality TV and Monday Night Football, asking a girl for her hand has become a competitive event. Think Prince Charming meets
Jackass’s Bam Margera: Today’s wedding proposal is part romantic gesture, part clever stunt.

Male competitiveness is undoubtedly at play here, notes Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington and relationship expert at, a lifestyle site. It’s all part of the social climate these days. "There’s an overall pattern of show- iness in our celebrations now, from fancy bar mitzvahs to lavish weddings," she says. "It was only a matter of time before it trickled down to the proposal."

Entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the trend by setting up businesses that offer assistance with intricate proposals. The mission of Go Get It!, in New York, is "to create one-of-a-kind proposals that make your loved one feel like the most important person in the world," according to its Web site. Samantha von Sperling, of Polished Social Image Consultants, also in New York, helps well-heeled clients orchestrate proposals that involve flights to Paris, rooms at the Ritz, and rings from Cartier (her services include providing the proposer with breath strips and special lotion to de-sweat palms). But she doesn’t feel the price tag tells the whole story. No matter what the cost, she says, "the proposal is the only area, from the first date to the wedding, where the man is in total control—it’s his moment."

But it’s not just professionals of the human variety lending a hand—even marine mammals are getting into the act. At Discovery Cove, a theme park in Orlando, Florida, 231 proposals were delivered by dolphins last year. Each personalized message was lettered on a souvenir buoy that the animal pushed up to the designated girl.

This whole concept may seem showy, but the mega-proposal resonates with grooms. Ubie Sullivan, 27, who pulled off an elaborate proposal in the air says, "I wanted to prove to Tasha that I was willing to do extraordinary things for our relationship."

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from