Matt Singh wanted to do something over the top when he proposed to his girlfriend Rabbani Singh (they have the same last name). The couple had been together since high school and it was difficult to surprise each other.
After buying a two-carat emerald-cut diamond ring, Mr. Singh, 26, had to figure out where and how to give it to her. He settled at Dear Irving on Hudson, a bar atop the Aliz Hotel in Manhattan. The room had two separate sides with a beautiful view of the city. He rented the entire space.
On November 27, Mr Singh told Ms Singh to dress up for a networking event in the city. During their Uber ride, he couldn’t stop checking his phone. Mrs. Singh thought this was strange.
“She was like, ‘Why are you so tense going to this networking event?'” said Mr. Singh, a real estate developer in Jericho, NY.
What Ms Singh didn’t know was that not only was he going to propose to her, but 40 friends and relatives were waiting to celebrate with them. When they arrived at the site, Mr Singh blindfolded Ms Singh and escorted her upstairs. When he released the blindfold, she gasped. Rose petals were scattered around the room, along with photos of the couple over the years. A violinist played an Ed Sheeran song and a photographer took pictures.
As Mr. Singh bent down on one knee, their guests trickled in. He asked her to marry him; she said yes. “He put on the ring and everyone cheered very loudly,” said Ms Singh. “It was a beautiful way to involve everyone we adore.” The couple and their guests spent the next three and a half hours mingling, eating hors d’oeuvres and drinking cocktails.
No, nothing is more private, not even one of the most profound questions one can ever ask. Many proposals have evolved from something between a couple into something that now often includes family and friends. Not to be confused with the engagement party, which takes place after the proposal and before the marriage, the marriage proposal takes place simultaneously with the proposal, or shortly after.
It can be held anywhere — at home, in restaurants, outdoors, or via Zoom — and it’s usually arranged by whoever asks, although a flood of proposal planners has sprung up in recent years as well.
Of course, this can be tricky, especially if the person being introduced says no. But if that happened, the petitioner could “go solo to the party and gently brief the guests,” said Kim Forrest, editor in chief at WeddingWire. (Nothing beats the comfort of friends.)
“Most proposers will choose to have 15 to 25 guests attend their proposal to celebrate afterward, and most aftermaths require some type of meal, whether that’s an appetizer for a more casual setting or a seated dinner with a scheduled menu,” Megan Bicklein, a proposal planner and head of customer relations at The Yes Girls in Trabuco Canyon, Calif., wrote in an email.
According to a recent poll by the wedding registration website Zola, about 23 percent of the 568 couples proposed marriage. The Knot’s 2021 jewelry and engagement study found that 33 percent of couples had invited family and friends to witness the proposals, up from 27 percent in 2019.
Part of the appeal has to do with the pandemic, which “showed people there is no time to lose,” said Tatiana Caicedo, who helped plan Mr Singh’s proposal event. “People want to get married faster and merge the proposal and the engagement parties.”
Or, in simpler terms, they want another excuse to party.
The relentless brilliance of Instagram and TikTok — and the urgent desire for heavily curated content — are also factors. “You create this special environment for the proposal that also looks really good on social media,” said Ms. Forrest.
Then there’s the simple joy of sharing the moment with the people closest to you, like Will Beckham did when he invited a dozen friends over to celebrate his proposal to Josh Cole.
Mr. Beckham, 42, took Mr. Cole to Fells Point, a waterfront neighborhood in Baltimore, where they each acknowledged that they were in love with the other on their second date in August 2020. The couple, both dressed in pink and blue shirts and ties, walked to a table on a dock. ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’, their favorite song, was played softly.
When Mr. Beckham proposed to Mr. Cole, a handful of friends and family surrounded them, including Mr. Cole’s twin sister and Mr. Beckham’s son from a previous marriage. After that a few more showed up for food and drink.
“It was a great way to instantly engage people we love and be intimate too,” said Mr. Cole, 36, an intelligence analyst and graduate student in the MFA program at the University of Baltimore.
Ms. Bicklein suggests choosing a contact who is knowledgeable about proposal plans and after-party, who can confer with family and friends on the day of the event. “Otherwise, the submitter’s phone will explode and can ruin the surprise,” she said.
She also advises submitters to put all the information in one document, including a timeline, point of contact information, instructions for where to go upon arrival and clothing preferences. “Whether the petitioner pays for food and drink or expects guests to pay their share, this should also be noted,” she said.
Some couples roll the marriage proposal to another scheduled event, which is how Renee Ybarra has suggested Beverly Kearney, now her wife. Mrs. Kearney turned 44 and Mrs. Ybarra decided to throw a surprise party.
Ms. Kearney, now 47 and a social worker in Antelope, California, suspected something was amiss earlier that day when Ms. Ybarra suggested she spend the day with her cousin. When Mrs. Kearney came home in the afternoon, 25 people jumped out and shouted, “Surprise!”
But Mrs. Kearney had no idea how surprised she would be. “Renee brought in the cake and everyone said ‘happy birthday,'” she said. “She had a funny look on her face and her hands were behind her back.”
Mrs. Ybarra took Mrs. Kearney’s hand as Faith Hill and Tim McGraw’s “The Rest of My Life” began to play through the speakers. “Will you stay with me for the rest of my life?” Mrs. Ybarra asked, offering a ring.
“I was in a bit of shock,” Ms Kearney said. The party went wild. The couple married on November 13 at the West Shore Cafe and Inn in Homewood, California.
And then there are those who have had to come up with a plan B when plan A collapses.
Rachel Tucker and Andrew Bobbitt moved from Dallas to Boston in 2020 and didn’t have a core group of friends.
Originally, Mr. Bobbitt, a law student at New England Law, wanted to fly to Texas and propose marriage, but it was December 2020 and Covid rates were high. So he moved on to do something else.
While Mr. Bobbitt proposed in Harvard Yard, a neighbor decorated the couple’s apartment in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. “We came home and she walks out of our house, and I was like, what are you doing here?” said Ms. Tucker, 27, an office manager for an accounting firm.
The neighbor had blown up pictures of the couple from Ms. Tucker’s Instagram page, along with streamers and balloons. Then Mr. Bobbitt brought his laptop for a virtual marriage proposal for Mrs. Tucker’s family and closest friends. “We had a cute Zoom party,” she said. “It was so sweet. It was a really nice clear time in a pretty depressing 2020.”