'Grand gesture' proposals

"[These 'viral proposals'] create an expectation that a proposal with less work involved to pull it off would be ... ...

"[These 'viral proposals'] create an expectation that a proposal with less work involved to pull it off would be ... less meaningful, less important, less loving, less special." Photo: Via weddingclan.com

I first noticed it on YouTube.

Before I got myself betrothed, I was taken in by a certain video that went absolutely wild, or in media-speak, viral.

After seeing this, I was hooked. I wanted more.


More weird wedding dances down aisles, more shocked-expression engagements, more squealy-pregnancy announcements that have been recorded, uploaded and consumed.

It’s like eating a box of deep fried chicken and a diet fizzy drink. The euphoria quickly followed by a filthy self-hatred not even the diet drink could weakly compensate for.

After watching a solid block of these ‘announcy’ sort of videos, I got it in my head that I needed a grand gesture. I needed a proposal that was indeed YouTube-worthy – or at least worthy to make a filler appearance on The Morning Show.

Imagination would turn to reality – holy shenanigans – what if my boyfriend’s proposal wasn’t up to YouTube expectations?

After that now-famous 2009 clip of the JK Wedding Entrance Dance, there has been a flood of similarly-choreographed videos.

A while ago now, there was a one-off TV show called Mobbed.

It was the nail in the normal-proposal coffin.

The first episode followed Justin who wanted to surprise his girlfriend, Nikki, with a proposal.


With the help of choreographers, and – literally – a cast of thousands, he was able to bring Nikki to tears right before he proposed in the middle of the flash-mob social swarm.

Not cute. Terrifying.

It was a rollercoaster of a program. The poor girl was subject to every emotion possible, including the suggestion that her fella wasn’t the nicest of chaps when it came to an ‘ex-girlfriend’ (an actor for the show).  At the end, face strewn with non-waterproof mascara and utter confusion she had to decide, then and there, to marry on the telly.

Fight or flight? I honestly think I would run.

More recently, another one became ‘viral’. This one tipped me over the edge.

Not just because the proposal reeks of a commercial for Honda CRV (the words prefacing the video tingles my BS radar), it creates an expectation that a proposal with less work involved to pull it off would be, well, less.

Less meaningful, less important, less loving, less special.

I’ll be honest, this video made me feel bad about my own.

Then I realised that what The Mister did was very much his style. It was reasonably private, no one witnessed it except a handful of suits having a boozy Friday lunch.

At first I thought he had fallen over between a chair and the next table, but then I realised what was happening.

It was a serious but heart-bursting question.

I gave him a serious, considered, almost inaudible answer of ‘absolutely’.

All that YouTube stuff went straight out the window. This was our beautiful, private moment.  

I think we need to take a breath before we try to orchestrate and commodify these life events.

When we do this, it essentially says ‘look at us, look at us, look at ME, ME, ME, dammit! And if you film it just for the sake of uploading it, while memorable and – the holy grail, goes viral – kind of suggests that a low-key proposal doesn’t mean as much.

Bollocks to that.

A little bit of reverence and restraint shouldn’t be confused with being unromantic.

The same way that a grand gesture shouldn’t be confused with being romantic.

Both can be incredibly overwhelming.

YouTube proposal videos will always claim this or that video is the ‘Most Romantic’ or the ‘Most fun’ or the ‘Best Ever’. It’s not.

Yours is the best ever.

The truth is, I would have said yes in the 12-items-or-less aisle at the supermarket.

But if you find yourself in public and everyone starts dancing, flash-mob-style, it would be totally OK with me if you made a run for it.

Pippa blogs at The Wry Bride.




  • There is way, WAY more to it than that.

    A grand gesture proposal puts the proposee in front of potentially dozens of people all waiting on her response. It is a way to guarantee she says yes, regardless of her actual feelings. While I'm sure most guys do it with the best of intentions, it works very well to trap someone if the guy doesn't have the best of intentions, and even if they do it still has that connotation - that she is unable to refuse because of the sheer amount of pressure on her.

    If it were me, anyone who pulled a stunt like that, regardless of my feelings, would be getting a 'no'. It's too manipulative.

    Date and time
    July 17, 2012, 11:47AM
    • I take it you haven't actually had a "grand" proposal yet?

      Don't knock it till you try it.

      Still not married
      Date and time
      July 17, 2012, 3:01PM
    • Well said Emily.

      If a guy feels he's got a better chance of a "yes" in front of a crowd makes you wonder what his motives are for getting married in the first place.

      Date and time
      July 17, 2012, 3:07PM
    • A way to guarantee she says yes? Have a gander....

      Went with a deserted beach with no-one in sight, myself, so no such pressure there. Tho I suppose I was the one who had the keys to the boat....

      Papa Romeo
      Date and time
      July 17, 2012, 5:25PM
  • My proposal was very grand and public, but still incredibly touching and personal. It was the absolutely perfect proposal for me (I'm not a "top of the Eiffel Tower" kind of girl). And it's not on youtube.

    But I recon after ten years and two kids, we needed a grand gesture for posterity's sake: a proposal once you have already created new life has to be pretty amazing in order to compete in the milestones stakes.

    Still not married
    Date and time
    July 17, 2012, 12:55PM
    • How utterly vile, and yes like @Emily said, manipulative. Made me feel just a little bit nauseated.
      Thankfully my fiance decided that quietly, simply and privately at home was the way to go, and much more "him" Would have keeled over dead if he pulled some sort of grand gesture stunt.
      Pip-your proposal sounds lovely.....

      Almost Mrs J
      Date and time
      July 17, 2012, 5:28PM
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