• SumoMe


Recently, I talked to Elizabeth Carter, the founder of Bespoke Proposals, a marriage proposal consulting company that helps men tailor their  proposals to their relationship with their significant other. Without a doubt, the wedding industry has had tremendous growth in recent years. As a girl who has recently been proposed to, I was curious to find out why someone would consult an outside party before proposing. It seems like it would be simple, right? You just get down on one knee somewhere nice and ask her the question.  Apparently, it’s not always that easy. While this service won’t be right for everyone, if you’re one of those guys who wants to Go Big with his proposal, this may be worth taking a look at. Andrew has his own take on the matter, and his response is below.

Maria: To start, introduce yourself and your company to our readers. Who are you and what do you do?

Elizabeth of Bespoke Proposals.

Elizabeth of Bespoke Proposals.

Elizabeth: I’m Elizabeth Carter, Founder of Bespoke Proposals, a company determined to help men propose to their girlfriends in a way that they can be proud of, without having to deal with all of the frustrating details.

M: So why would someone need to hire a company to help them propose? What types of guys contact you most often?

E: I believe that proposals are more important than a lot of guys think. Every woman knows the drill – as soon as you hear someone has gotten engaged you ask to see the ring and then, BOOM, the second question is always, 100% of the time, “how did he do it?” Women love having a good story to tell when this inevitable question is asked.

Our specialty is creating this story so A) the guy looks good, and B) the woman has a story she can be proud of. The story always lies in the details, so we focus on those. Oftentimes men hire us because the detailed questions are the things that they can’t quite grasp themselves. Questions like: where to propose, what exactly to say, who should be around when it happens, what time of day should I do it, should we do something afterward? A common misconception about the proposals we create is that they are always expensive or elaborate and that’s just not true. We encourage our clients to give us as much information as they can about themselves, their girlfriend (or partner), and their relationship, and then we get to work implementing meaningful details into a proposal scenario for them. Oftentimes integrating these details is super inexpensive or even free. Couple that with the perks and upgrades that come from the relationships we have with our vendors, and you may actually save money by using us!

A Chicago-style question-popping arranged by Bespoke Proposals.

A Chicago-style question-popping arranged by Bespoke Proposals.

The guys we help most often fall into one of three categories:

1. The details discourage them from proposing the way they envision. Many of the men we work with really want to wow with their proposal, but they just don’t want to deal with the frustration of the details. They come to us with a broad vision but can’t quite boil it down, or don’t have the time it takes to coordinate so many things at one. We live in a world where everyone is busy, but feel honored to be helping bring the romance back in creating happy memories for even the busiest of people!

2. Proposing can bring a lot of pressure, and they don’t know where to start. The wedding business has grown drastically over the last ten years. The typical reception hall event is being replaced with weddings that pay attention to every single detail, have a character or theme all their own, and strive to be the party of the year or the best day of your life if you’re the bride or groom. Weddings, honeymoons, bachelor parties, and diamonds are all getting bigger. This can put a lot of pressure on a guy! We love big proposals, but we are actually here to guide men through this set of expectations that they may be feeling despite how simple or elaborate his proposal is. Consider us a consultant with a set of steps that help the big picture look a lot more manageable.

3. They need a woman’s perspective. Most men know how women talk (and how bad we are at keeping exciting secrets), so they end up without a sounding board off which to bounce proposal ideas. These guys just need to know that what they’re cooking up is going to be something their girl or partner will like. Discretion is one of our top priorities, and it will be like we didn’t exist unless you take it upon yourself to tell others.

M: I definitely agree with you that women love telling the story of the proposal. Next to “Can I see the ring?”, “How did he do it?” is probably the most common question women will get after it happens. With the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, most of your friends and family will also know when, where, and how he proposed almost instantly. So you’re absolutely right that this puts a lot of pressure on the guy. Because of that, do you ever think guys (or girls for that matter) have unrealistic expectations of how the proposal should go?

E:  Plenty of guys and girls just want a proposal that is meaningful, but if unrealistic outlooks are involved, it is more often it is the girl who has unrealistic expectations. This is a big part of the reason I started the company. The thing I stress the most to guys is personalization. The more appropriate the proposal to the couple, the less stressful it is for you and the better chance she will be happy with it. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t make it a big deal, you absolutely should, but don’t go completely out of your comfort zone. If you two aren’t outdoorsy, then don’t propose while camping. It will just stress you out and she will just wonder why in the world you’re going camping!

 M: Have you ever had to turn someone away because their proposal idea was too over-the-top or just completely unfeasible?

E: I haven’t ever had to turn anyone away! There are probably things out there that are just totally unfeasible, but I haven’t come across any examples yet. I will always try to work with guys to get to the proposal they are envisioning, so imagine if someone came to me with a way too far out request, I’d try to insert some reality into the situation by offering other more doable alternatives.

M: So I have to say the idea of your company is a pretty novel concept. Until Andrew told me about it, I had never even considered the idea that a company that helps men propose would exist. Needless to say, it’s not a common aspect of the wedding industry yet. Where do you see your company in 5 years? Do you think that hiring a proposal planner will one day be as common as hiring a wedding planner?

E: Thank you, I’m glad you think so!

In five years I would like to see the company expanded into other related event planning/consulting areas for men. These opportunities may take us beyond romantic events like proposals and anniversaries and into niche, almost concierge-like areas that larger wedding/event planning suppliers aren’t yet involved in. I would like to see us fill the niche between the wealthy who have personal assistants to do their planning and busy people who struggle to do it all on their own.

To answer your second question, proposal consulting will probably never be as widespread as wedding planning, but we hope that it will increase dramatically, and the market research we’ve done supports that happening. Previous generations put a much higher premium on self-reliance than people do these days. People are starting to have a stronger tendency to let experts help them get it right, whether that be a personal trainer or a stock broker, and areas of personalized consulting are expanding. The internet is getting bigger and bigger every day and the world is THIS CLOSE to being over saturated with a never ending increase in choices and options. People have less time but expectations keep growing, and folks need help sorting through it all. Look at all of the niche services out there these days that people happily pay for – green-living consultants, color consultants, closet organizers, personal shoppers, the list goes on. These are all things people could do on their own, but they’d rather pay an expert to help them so they get it exactly right. 
Another happy proposal by Bespoke Proposals.

Another happy proposal by Bespoke Proposals.

M: I think it’s amazing how much weddings have changed in the past few decades. 20 years ago, the majority of weddings were no where near as detailed or complex as they are today. I remember being extremely overwhelmed when I first started the planning process. The wedding industrial complex can be a scary thing to navigate if you don’t know what you’re doing! I know I’m not alone on that, so it makes sense that the wedding-related consulting field has grown and will continue to grow. 

It’s kind of funny that months of planning and thousands of dollars starts with one little question; so, for good measure, what one piece of advice would you give to a guy who is getting ready to propose?

E: I got married last year and even after being in the business for almost a decade, definitely got overwhelmed with the options, details, etc. I can definitely relate to that sometimes strange pressure to make every detail count. When are you getting married? Good luck! I’m sure it will be perfect.

It’s so hard to choose just one! If all else goes out the window, just make sure not to wing it. No matter how simple or elaborate you end up making your proposal, be sure to show her that you put thought into it. Most proposals gone wrong happen when men pull the trigger without asking how, when, and where. I get how nerve wracking it can be, and the tendency may be to just get the question out, but this is a big question that is going to lead you two down a serious path, not to mention one that she has been excited about being asked for probably quite some time, so give it the attention it deserves.

Below is a short response from Andrew, giving his take/a dude’s view on the conversation:

Proposals are important, but one thing which wasn’t mentioned was the preparation beforehand. The question of whether you should propose at all is something nobody can answer for you. This will take some reflection, meditation, and great consideration before you even start planning anything. Additionally, you’ll need to ask for her/his father’s blessing before you propose. It’s an old tradition, but it’s necessary. No discussion. Do it.

Where Maria was asked to become Miss Electrogent.

Make it sincere: where Maria was asked to become Miss Electrogent.

As far as the actual proposal goes: just make it genuine. Mean it. Focus less on the pomp and circumstance and more on the meaning. I proposed in an empty field at sunset, on an old bench. It was free, it was intimate, and it meant something. If you feel you need to craft a perfect moment through valet parking, a photographer, and elaborate plans in order for the proposee to say “Yes,” then reconsider the original whether question. If you feel you want to craft this perfect moment, that is entirely different. Personally, I neither wanted nor felt the need to create some elaborate scheme to propose to Maria, simply because I knew she would agree even in a pool of hungry sharks.

Bespoke Proposals is unique, helpful, and original in its concept. I suggest using Elizabeth as a neutral third-party to whom you can bounce ideas off of. This is a great service, especially if you’re busy and you want (not need) to create some special photographic moment. However, in general, you shouldn’t feel too much pressure in crafting a perfect proposal event because if the time and person is right, it won’t matter in the end–just make it mean something.

What do you think of Bespoke Proposals? What would you use the service for? Leave your thoughts in the comments.