Pop­ping the ques­tion

No idea how to pro­pose? Pay some­one to help you

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FEATURES - BY LINDA NGUYEN Fol­low Linda Nguyen TO on Twit­ter.

TORONTO - When Tu Le de­cided to pop the big ques­tion to his long­time girl­friend last year, he didn’t want to just get down on one knee in a restau­rant.

The 27-year-old wanted his mar­riage pro­posal to hair­dresser, Phuong Tran, to be cre­ative and mem­o­rable- so he en­listed pro­fes­sional help.

“Some peo­ple like it sim­ple. Some peo­ple don’t. I guess I’m the type of per­son to be a lit­tle bit ex­tra,” said Le, an ac­count man­ager for a Van­cou­ver tech com­pany.

“I wanted to make it re­ally spe­cial, some­thing that would be mem­o­rable not just for us, but for our fam­i­lies as well.”

Three months and $2,000 later on New Year’s Day, Le was on Grouse Moun­tain, a pop­u­lar ski hill over­look­ing Van­cou­ver, stand­ing in front of a cus­tombuilt arch­way com­prised of gold leaf gar­land, il­lu­mi­nated by string lights and sur­rounded by pho­tos from the cou­ple’s fouryear re­la­tion­ship. Hang­ing by their heads in gold cur­sive writ­ing was the ques­tion: “Marry Me?”

Pro­fes­sional pro­posal plan­ner Karen Lee, who or­ches­trated the pro­posal, says there’s been growth in the niche in­dus­try.

Lee, who launched Luxe Pro­pos­als in 2015, helped ar­range 30 mar­riage pro­pos­als in her first year. Last year, the com­pany planned 47 and has since ex­panded to Mon­treal and Toronto. And no, there haven’t been any re­jec­tions, she said.

The pop­u­lar­ity of hir­ing a pro­fes­sional to help with an en­gage­ment is in­creas­ing among the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion who not only want a pic­ture-per­fect pro­posal, but one they can doc­u­ment on so­cial me­dia, Lee says.

“There is pres­sure on the guy to cre­ate some­thing that hasn’t been seen be­fore be­cause ev­ery­body wants to share it on In­sta­gram,” said Lee, who co­founded the com­pany with a friend.

“Shows like ‘The Bach­e­lor’ and YouTube vi­ral videos are mak­ing women think, ‘Oh I want that.’

Lee says most of her clients are busy young pro­fes­sion­als who don’t have the time, or ad­mit­tedly, the creativ­ity or or­ga­ni­za­tional skills, to plan an elab­o­rate mar­riage pro­posal.

So in­stead, they pay some­one like her to do it. Luxe Pro­pos­als charges be­tween $1,000 for a prepack­aged plan to around $3,000 for a cus­tom plan. It can take any­where from a few weeks to a few months from start to ‘I do.’

Lee’s first client paid $15,000 for a pro­posal that in­volved string­ing a pier with 200 pho­tos of the cou­ple, set­ting up props to pay trib­ute to their favourite trips and an in­ti­mate can­dlelit din­ner set up by a pri­vate chef.

Vanessa Or­tali, the owner of Toronto-based A Man’s Pur­suit, says the con­cept be­hind pro­fes­sional pro­posal com­pa­nies is to give clients an ex­pe­ri­ence they won’t for­get.

Since launch­ing a year ago, she has helped more than 50 grooms-to-be with pro­pos­als in­volv­ing ev­ery­thing from a he­li­copter ride around the city harbour to one that spanned mul­ti­ple days.

“I think TV shows and so­cial me­dia def­i­nitely put on added pres­sure. It’s about eas­ing the process for the groom. It can be a lot of work. Now, peo­ple aren’t as pri­vate as they used to be. Some of the first ques­tions peo­ple ask is, ‘Let me see the ring and how did he pro­pose?”’ said Or­tali, a for­mer event plan­ner.

On Grouse Moun­tain, Le did end up drop­ping down on one knee be­fore he asked his fi­ancee to marry him.

The young cou­ple plan on ty­ing the knot in Au­gust 2018 in Van­cou­ver in front of as many as 600 guests.

CP PHOTO

Tu Le, left, sur­prises Phuong Tran with a mar­riage pro­posal on Grouse Moun­tain in Van­cou­ver re­cently. The 27-year-old wanted his mar­riage pro­posal to be cre­ative and mem­o­rable - so he en­listed pro­fes­sional help.

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