‘The average spend on a marriage proposal with us is £2,500, they start at £1,000 but we’ve planned proposals that have cost £800,000’ says Daisy Amodio, founder of proposal planning company The Proposers, ‘we plan between 10 and 25 per month, just in London, but we do them all over the world.’
Daisy founded her proposal planning company after helping her brother propose back in 2011, and since starting her business her team have planned 1,200 proposals. Her profession was brought into the spotlight last week when an image of a proposal went viral on social media. Dennis Brown got down on one knee for his now-fiancé Atara Dallas, presenting her with six-possible ring choices. ‘I didn't win 6 rings like @jumpman23, but I won at life with her, so she deserves 6 Rings to choose from,’ the caption read.
The image spread like wildfire across various social media platforms and was picked up across multiple news platforms commenting on just how extreme it is. For Daisy however, extreme proposals are part and parcel of her everyday 9-5. In fact, earlier this year she planned a proposal that cost £800,000.
‘We hired out Disneyland Paris exclusively for them, flew over 40 of his friends and family on a private jet and they surprised them at Disneyland. They all went up the walkway, got to the end where the castle was and their faces were beamed onto the castle, then all of the fireworks went up around it, that was actually just where he said “happy anniversary”, he didn't even propose there.
‘After that he decided he wanted to do something that was a bit of a prank, he wanted to catch her out,’ Daisy continued, ‘so they flew to New York straight after Disney and we'd hired all of the screens in Times Square. We had fake NYPD police officers arrest her, and they said she shouldn't be in the country and was going to jail, just as they were about to put her in the cop car all of the screens in Times Square went to her face and he said "haha happy anniversary" again. So, she's like what is going on?
‘Then they flew to Canada and went to Niagara Falls and we hired the most incredible venue with Niagara Falls behind them, and as she walked into the room we had Will You Marry Me in roses and candles and fairy lights and he proposed there, it was pretty epic.’
Extreme as it may be, this is just one of many outlandish request’s clients ask of Daisy on a daily basis. Alongside being asked to plan proposals with deadlines as short as two hours, which Daisy has to do often, she has also had to say no to more than one ridiculous request. ‘The most ridiculous one was a guy who wanted the Queen at his proposal, he actually thought if he paid £1000 she would come to his proposal, he was being serious and hung up on me when I told him that was never going to happen’ she tells me, ‘another was adamant we had to get a squirrel that we trained to bring the ring to him, you can actually train a squirrel but it takes 6 months and you have to hire the trainer, they only really do it for movies and this guy had a budget of £1000 so it was never going to happen.’
And even for the demands that aren’t unreasonable, Daisy finds herself planning a lot of proposals hidden under the veil of a prank, ‘loads of people want to prank their partners before the proposal,’ she said, ‘we did a fake drug arrest once, another guy made his girlfriend study for an interview for two weeks, she flew across the world to go to this interview, it was a big one for her business and it was all a prank, I don’t know how some of them get away with it.’
And all of these, of course, cost a lot of money, with the average spend at The Proposers around £2,500 to cover the venue, photographer, videographer, planner and singer- with most of these happening at The Shard, Tower Bridge or London Eye. For £1000 the proposal would have to be public, ‘For a grand you’re not going to get a venue in London, they start at £500 so you’re not going to get much else for £500, you're not going to get a planner, photographer, videographer, singer.’
According to Daisy, having all of those things are the bare minimum for many clients, not only wanting to plan a big proposal in a beautiful venue with bespoke décor and a singer to serenade them, but also have footage to share afterwards. ‘Most people want footage because they want to upload it to social media,’ she said, ‘they want that amazing ring shot with a great background, they want a lovely story and all the celebs do it so they want to do it as well.’
So, is that really all that this is about? Spending thousands to plan a proposal purely for social media recognition? Daisy thinks it’s 50/50, with some taken in by the draw of their social media personality and others simply wanting an extraordinary story to tell for years to come.
‘This one guy had been married for 40 years, he said she's ridiculed him at every single dinner party they've ever had and she's totally embarrassed by the proposal because it was so unromantic,’ she said, ‘So he found us and said “I need to pull it out the bag on our 40th wedding anniversary, what can you do?” We hired a stately home, they arrived in a Rolls Royce, when they got out all of these pictures of them were beamed onto the home and then a scrabble board came up - their favourite game - and it said 'Linda, turn around' and as she turned around, in fire spelt out 'Will you marry me again?' and then fireworks went up and he re-proposed.'
It’s stories like that that give you faith that this isn’t all just for the show of social media, however according to Lisa Hoplock, post doctorate fellow who studies marriage proposals, an increase in lavish proposals could all be down to their impact online. ‘Technology has made it easier to record and share proposals than ever before,’ she says, ‘Because they’re so easy to capture now and because they make for good human-interest stories, they’re probably covered in the media more than before. It’s possible that people see and hear about proposals on YouTube and in the media and think that that’s what they have to do.’
However, she too affirms that recording proposals is as much about remembering the moment as it is sharing it. ‘Some people have said that they don’t remember what happened during their proposal because they were so surprised,’ she said, ‘Having the recording helps.’
But why the excess of money spent? Lisa thinks it’s a lot to do with conveying investment. ‘Money spent can convey how much the proposer is able to invest in the relationship as well as how serious the proposer is about marrying,’ she said, ‘So the proposer may want to have a lavish proposal to communicate to their partner - and others - how much they love their partner, how much they can invest in the relationship, and their seriousness about getting married’
If this is true though, there’s something quite uncomfortable about it. In the same way that public proposals often pressure the proposee into saying yes, does this huge investment in time, effort and money not force the hand of a lot of people who would feel far too uncomfortable saying no? Knowing your partner has spent £800,000 on a proposal, how do you possibly turn that down without doing irreparable damage to your relationship?
For the most extreme proposals, where family and friends are involved or it’s public, Daisy does worry about the pressure people feel to say yes. ‘You do feel under pressure because they've gone to such an extreme and every body is there for you because they think you’re going to say yes and you're going to party,’ she says, ‘So a lot of people potentially might say yes and then when they go home say no because they feel that pressure, that’s one thing that we look at here, we want to make sure they're doing the right thing.’
And in doing that, she’s actually turned down a client before because she didn’t think his partner would say yes. ‘They were both 19 and were going away to different universities, they'd been together for 3 years and hadn't met each others parents,’ she tells me, ‘he didn't have much money so I said “I think you need to come back in 5 years when you've finished university and you’re still together” and he agreed. We have a 100% success rate so I don't want to get a no, it would be bad for our business and the client and I never want to see them upset because someone said no.’
For Daisy, proposal planning is less about putting pressure on a proposal being too good to say no and more about making sure it actually goes right. A lot of her clients, she says, just want the pressure to pull it off taken out of their hands, plus ‘if they’ve spent the money they have to actually go ahead with it’.
So, is the proposal industry becoming as big as the wedding industry? It’s definitely on its way. ‘I think it will become at least half as big as the wedding industry,’ says Daisy, ‘and that’s a billion-dollar industry.’ At least in the US the proposal industry is booming, with The Proposers leading what’s currently a smaller UK market. However, with the trend towards engagement photoshoots on the rise, and social media always awash with more and more lavish wedding ceremonies, we wouldn’t be surprised if the US trend flew over here and the proposal was one day as big as the wedding. Gear up ladies, one day we’ll all be attending ‘pre-proposal parties’ and be invited into group chats with prospective bridesmaids, like the hen-do group chat isn’t bad enough…