Recently I read a news story about a Calgary man who decided to propose to his girlfriend in the modern way of things. Rather than ask her to be his wife privately, he decided to stage an elaborate sing-along proposal at a local karaoke bar. It was a complicated affair that necessitated casting sessions and rehearsals as well as strict M15-style secrecy.
Gentle reader, she said yes. Gentle reader, I groaned throughout the article.
The over-the-top public proposal isn’t just a novelty act, a brief embarrassing bit of amateur theatre that occurs during intermission at major sporting events anymore. A recent article on Slate.com reveals that grandiose proposals are only increasing in popularity and scale.
According to writer Elizabeth Weingarten, men are now employing a variety of methods—Groupon, flash mobs, Twitter—to proclaim their love and devotion (possibly their poor grasp on the definition of romantic). One man created a movie trailer proposal for his girlfriend, which he subsequently played while she watched a film (Fast Five!?) at her local theatre. Another decided to get down on bended knee in front of a Cinnabon (dammit, all the good ones are taken).
Weingarten cites a survey from wedding site The Knot that found a 13 percent increase in public proposals (or a significant bump in numbers of embarrassed women, depending on how you see these things) in just one year.
Why have so many men opted to go public with their proposals? The Slate piece implies the trend isn’t necessarily evidence of the triumph of love as much as it is the triumph of marketing. Weddings are a full-blown industry, and TV shows, magazines, websites, and even YouTube fuel the consumer fires with new ways to customize the union. The wedding industry is kind of like Apple computers; it understands the appeal of novelty. (Think you’ve nailed the bouquet? Think again!)
In such a culture, it’s only logical that proposals would begin to take on extra-special significance too. Writes Weingarten, “Naturally, once weddings morphed into theatrical events, proposals followed suit.”
But what does the public proposal mean to women? A quick scan of Slate’s slideshow of the “best of the public proposals” indicates it’s on par with getting your period in gym class in the sliding scale of female humiliation. And yet, perhaps it’s the universe’s way of squaring accounts. Ask a bridesmaid how she feels after bridal shower No. 5 and she might congratulate herself for having the foresight to encourage your groom-to-be to organize that flash mob proposal after all.