Proposals joined by new trends and traditions

It used to be that when a guy was ready to pop the question, all he needed was a ring and a ready knee. Engagements today are evolving into an event almost on par with the wedding itself.

"The only thing we see consistently is just the four words 'Will you marry me,'" said Regina Bagdasarian, owner of The Bridal Bar in Bird Rock.

Every new customer who enters her shop shares her engagement story, and Bagdasarian said some of the proposals are extreme.

"Some men arrange destination proposals and even have a videographer follow along," she said.

With TV shows and celebrities flaunting flamboyant proposals, Bagdasarian said she believes there is some pressure on men to make their own proposal distinctive.

"Men are very ego driven and they know their story is going to go down in history…so they want it to be special," she said.

Pamela Ann Noxon, creator of the Wedding Party Bridal Show, SanDiegoWedding.com and Pamela's Parasols, shared some of the proposal trends she's been hearing about: a surprise "proposal" party with friends and family, travel proposals where the bride-to-be is literally swept away to a romantic destination and women proposing to men.

While Noxon has her doubts about some of these trends, she said the important thing is that the proposal fit the personality of the couple.

Noxon said there is something to be valued in both spontaneous proposals and those that are well planned.

"There's a lot to be said for the power of being in the moment, being caught up in the moment because you're…so swept away by love for this person," she said. "But there's also a lot to be said for the man who goes to great effort. Men communicate love through action more than through words."

Wedding and event planner Paul Bott said proposals have changed dramatically, even in the last three years.

"I see more and more (men) taking time out to plan the actual proposal," Bott said. "I think men more and more are coming out of the emotional closet. Men have just as much emotion as women and they're starting to show it. I approve it; I applaud it."

Some elements that seem to have remained consistent include the most popular days to propose - Valentine's Day, Christmas and New Year's Eve - as well as most women wanting to be surprised. According to TheKnot.com, 88 percent of women surveyed said the surprise factor was important.

When preparing to propose, all three wedding experts agreed that the event should contain elements important to both the man and woman, such as a favorite dating destination or the location of the first date.

Bott said he sees today's engaged couples abandoning the prepackaged proposal standards and creating their own traditions.

"Focus on what's in your heart and that will be what guides you," Bott said.

Dazzle her with a stunning proposal

If you're ready to ask for her hand in marriage, follow these tips from the experts:

-Know yourself and know your girl. Does she like surprises? Does she embarrass easily? Does she like to be the center of attention? Does she like elaborate occasions?

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