No idea how to propose? You can pay someone to help you before the 'I do'
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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 custom-built archway comprised of gold leaf garland, illuminated by string lights and surrounded by photos from the couple's four-year 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 Toronto with plans to launch in Montreal next year.
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 co-founded 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.
Follow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly stated that Luxe Proposals had expanded to Montreal.
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