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Russian man Alexey Bykov faked his death in a fiery crash before proposing to his girlfriend, Irena Kolokov.
TODAY contributor
updated 12/31/2012 11:43:22 AM ET 2012-12-31T16:43:22

When it comes to popping the question, what’s more romantic: a Tiffany ring delivered over a candlelit dinner, or a fake death?

The year 2012 was full of over-the-top marriage proposals, from lip-dubs and flash mobs in huge public places to memes, but perhaps no trend was more extreme than the "fake-out" proposal, in which would-be grooms used scary shock tactics to get their girlfriends to say yes.

Take Keaton Hatch, the Canadian man who convinced his cop friends to threaten him with deportation and jail in front of his girlfriend.

Hatch, 23, staged the fake arrest in October, panicking his now-wife Kaitlyn, 21, by having the police cuff him and march him to a squad car. Once out of sight, he quickly changed into a smart suit and returned to surprise her by getting down on one knee.

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Just say yes: When wedding proposals go public

Then there’s Ryan Thompson, who took girlfriend Carlie Kennedy up in a plane over the Chicago skyline in September, only to start jolting the controls mid-air, convincing her they were about to crash.

He then ordered Kennedy to read the emergency checklist, which revealed the terrifying ordeal had just been an elaborate ruse for a proposal.

“Pilot in command,” the instructions read. “Determine if he is a good mate. Note: he will always love and honor you...Will you marry me?”

But the prize for most terrifying marriage proposal goes to 30-year-old Russian Alexey Bykov, who faked his own death in a fiery car crash before popping the question to girlfriend Irena Kolokov in September.

“I wanted her to realize how empty her life would be without me and how life would have no meaning without me,” he said, according to The Sun. Bykov employed a stuntman, make-up artist and director to create a horrific car accident, which he ensured unwitting Kolokov witnessed. There was even a “medic” on the scene to declare him dead.

The love story that has TODAY readers crying

Amazingly, when her seemingly dead boyfriend jumped up and proposed, Kolokov didn’t write him off for his crazy stunt, instead saying yes.

While saying “no” never crossed her mind, Kaitlyn of the fake-arrest proposal told TODAY.com that the shock of the experience initially left her confused and made her cry.

“Keaton had asked me when we were dating if I wanted a novel or romantic proposal,” she said. “I said novel, but I didn’t think it would be that memorable. I guessed I asked for it!”

kramerica7 / YouTube
Keaton Hatch staged his own arrest before getting down on one knee to surprise his now-wife.

These women were won over by their shocking proposals, but many who heard their stories weren't impressed.

"Fake accident scenes, fake plane crashes and now a fake arrest/deportation? I guess a great engagement ring and a healthy does [sic] of sincerity are no long enough,” one commenter wrote after watching the video on YourEngagement101.com. “When will the first sponsored proposal appear?”

Another commenter called Carlie and Ryan’s plane proposal “creepy.”

Lip-dub proposal's bride-to-be: 'I was speechless'

Yet for all the cynics, there are countless others who find the idea of an extreme proposal wildly romantic.

“Love it!” commenter IronSheik wrote of the plane scare on TheBlaze.com. “My guess is they’ll both be laughing about it for the rest of their lives.”

Relationship expert Gilda Carle believes the effort it takes to come up with an elaborate plan goes a long way, and could be a good indicator for the road ahead.

“There is nothing like that romantic overture to make a woman think, ‘Wow, if he would go to these kind of extremes to ask for more my hand, imagine how he will provide and protect [me] for the rest of our lives together?'" she said. “Boredom is the No. 1 complaint of all couples...so here’s a guy who is more creative, who will go to extremes and will inconvenience himself. These are great traits for the future.”

Wedding by Denny's: Get hitched over eggs in Vegas

But extreme situations can provoke extreme responses that may not bode well down the line. If the man you’re dating spends tens of thousands of dollars on a space flight to woo you, you might mistake your heart-pounding adrenaline-rush for feelings of long-term love.

“You don’t want to end up with someone who is impetuous and looks for the excitement more than having his feet on the ground,” said Carle. “Remember that often the things that we fall in love with and are so exciting at first are often the same exact things that begin to turn us off.”

So guys, if you are planning an extreme proposal, make sure she is 100 percent likely to say yes. You don’t want to go to the effort of faking a road traffic accident, and have your relationship crash and burn as a result.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Video: Is this the worst wedding proposal ever?

Photos: Celebrity weddings of 2012

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  1. Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum

    After meeting on season 7 of "The Bachelorette," J.P. Rosenbaum and Ashley Hebert wed in front of family and friends at The Langham Hotel in Pasadena, Calif., on Dec. 1. The couple is the third in “Bachelor” history to tie the knot after the show’s season finale. Their outdoor ceremony was filmed by ABC and later broadcast on television. (Neilson Barnard / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Mario Lopez and Courtney Mazza

    TV personality-slash-actor Mario Lopez and Courtney Mazza got hitched on Dec. 1 in a ceremony that later aired as TLC’s "Mario & Courtney’s Wedding Fiesta." The couple has a 2-year-old daughter together. Famous friends like Eva Longoria attended the nuptials, which took place in Punta Mita, Mexico, at “Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis’ estate. Lopez previously wed Ali Landry in 2004, but their marriage was annulled two weeks later. (Imeh Akpanudosen / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Evan Rachel Wood and Jamie Bell

    Actors Evan Rachel Wood and Jamie Bell tied the knot in a small, secret ceremony in California on Oct. 30. Wood wore a custom dress by Carolina Herrera and later tweeted, “"Words cannot describe the happiness I am feeling. Overwhelming." The 25-year-old actress was previously engaged to Marilyn Manson in 2010. (John Sciulli / Getty Images for LACMA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel

    After a 5-year courtship (and a high-profile breakup), actress Jessica Biel and musician Justin Timberlake wed on Oct. 19 in an Italian ceremony with 100 guests. “It was a really special evening,” Timberlake told PEOPLE after the event. The bride wore a petal pink Giambattista Valli Haute Couture gown, while the groom donned a Tom Ford tux. (Larry Busacca / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Alfonso Ribeiro and Angela Unkrich

    “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star Alfonso Ribeiro wed longtime girlfriend Angela Unkrich on Oct. 13 at the Lakeside Golf Club in Burbank, Calif. He tweeted the day after, “Last night I got married to the most incredible woman in the world.” (Valerie Macon / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Audrey Murdick and Jeff Dunham

    Comedian Jeff Dunham and fitness model Audrey Murdick tied the knot on Oct. 12 in a ceremony at a vineyard and winery in Santa Ynez, Calif., after dating for three years. The bride wore an Eve of Milady gown paired with Vera Wang shoes. “No matter what the day, we go to sleep laughing, and we wake up laughing,” the couple told PEOPLE. Dunham has three children with his former wife of 14 years, Paige Brown. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Jack Osbourne and Lisa Stelly

    Former reality star Jack Osbourne popped the question to actress Lisa Stelly back in Sept. 2011, after 4 months of dating. The couple, who has a 7-month-old child together, married in a ceremony at the Four Seasons Resort in Hawaii on Oct. 7. Three generations of Osbournes were present at the seaside event. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Amber Tamblyn and David Cross

    Actors Amber Tamblyn and David Cross wed in a rustic, lakeside ceremony in upstate New York on October 6. Tamblyn went barefoot in a canary yellow gown, while the “Arrested Development” actor wore a dress shirt and sweater vest. Roots drummer Questlove DJ'ed the reception. (Michael Buckner / Getty Images for Activision) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Audra McDonald and Will Swenson

    Will Swenson and former “Private Practice” actress Audra McDonald exchanged vows on Oct. 6 at their home in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. “Well that was just the best day ever #SadieSadiemarriedlady,” she tweeted after the ceremony. (Mike Coppola / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cat Deeley and Patrick Kielty

    Longtime friends Cat Deeley, host of “So You Think You Can Dance,” and Patrick Kielty married in a secret ceremony in Rome with close friends and family on Sept. 30. (Michael Buckner / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Anne Hathaway and Adam Shulman

    “Les Miserables” star Anne Hathaway wed actor and jewelry designer Adam Shulman in a private ceremony at an estate in the scenic California enclave of Big Sur on Sept. 29. The 30-year-old star swapped vows while wearing a romantic, gauzy white dress designed by Valentino. Prior to Shulman, Hathaway dated entrepreneur Raffaello Follieri, who pled guilty in 2008 to defrauding investors out of millions of dollars. (Dave M. Benett / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Mark McGrath and Carin Kingsland

    Former Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath married longtime girlfriend Carin Kingsland on Sept. 24 at San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara, Calif. "After 18 years of breakups, makeups, beautiful twins and an unwavering love that provided some pretty damn good song lyrics, we are happy to announce that we are finally married," the rocker and his bride told PEOPLE. The couple has 2-year-old twins. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively

    After a yearlong courtship, actor Ryan Reynolds married actress Blake Lively at the Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant, S.C. where scenes from “The Notebook” were filmed in 2004, on Sept. 9. The bride wore a Marchesa dress, and Florence + the Machine performed for the 60 guests in attendance. This is a second marriage for Reynolds, who split from Scarlett Johansson in 2010, citing irreconcilable differences. (Eric Charbonneau / WireImage) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Taran Killam and Cobie Smulders

    Cobie Smulders and “Saturday Night Live” star Taran Killam swapped vows at the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort in Solvang, Calif., on Sept. 8. The longtime couple got engaged 3 years ago and have one child together, a 3-year-old daughter. (Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Stanley Tucci and Felicity Blunt

    Actor Stanley Tucci exchanged vows with literary agent Felicity Blunt at Middle Temple Hall in London on Sept. 29. Tucci's "Devil Wears Prada" costar Emily Blunt, the bride's sister, was the maid of honor, while Steve Buscemi was the groom's best man, according to E! Online. This is Tucci's second marriage — his first wife died of breast cancer in 2009. (Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Zach Galifianakis and Quinn Lundberg

    Funny man Zach Galifianakis married Quinn Lundberg, co-founder of the charity Growing Voices, at a farm in Vancouver, Canada, on Aug. 11. "Quinn is the coolest," Galifianakis gushed in a 2011 Rolling Stone cover story. "The coolest." (David Livingston / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Natalie Portman and Benjamin Millepied

    After announcing their engagement and pregnancy in December 2010, Natalie Portman wed French-born dancer-choreographer Benjamin Millepied at a private Jewish ceremony in Big Sur, Calif., on Aug. 4. The bride donned a white gown by Rodarte paired with a veil and floral crown. The couple met on the set of “Black Swan” in 2009. Their son Aleph was born in June 2011. (Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Catriona McGinn

    “Saved By the Bell” alum Mark-Paul Gosselaar married ad executive Catriona McGinn at a winery in Santa Ynez, Calif., on July 28, after a year-long engagement. This is a second marriage for Gosselaar, who has two children. (David Livingston / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Ellie Kemper and Michael Koman

    “Office” star Ellie Kemper swapped vows with longtime boyfriend (and “Conan” writer) Michael Koman in New York City on July 7. Kemper wore a white lace dress, paired with a relaxed up-do. "I went to a great store in St. Louis, and it was the fourth dress I tried on," she told Us Weekly. (Christopher Polk / Getty Images for VH1) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Alec Baldwin and Hilaria Thomas

    Actor Alec Baldwin and yoga teacher Hilaria Thomas started dating in summer 2011, and tied the knot on June 30 at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Manhattan. Baldwin’s ex-wife Kim Basinger and their 16-year-old daughter were in attendance, along with a gaggle of Hollywood A-listers. (Alberto Pizzoli / AFP/Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Bobby Brown and Alicia Etheredge

    Singer Bobby Brown married Alicia Etheredge in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 18, in front of friends and family. While many of the couple’s children were at the ceremony, Brown’s daughter with the late singer Whitney Houston was not, according to a PEOPLE source. (Marcel Thomas / FilmMagic) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Giovanni Ribisi and Agyness Deyn

    Model Agyness Deyn and actor Giovanni Ribisi eloped and quietly wed on June 16, after a very low-profile courtship. The marriage came as a surprise to many, but Deyn told reporters they had been dating for “a while.” (Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Matthew McConaughey and Camilla Alves

    “Magic Mike” star Matthew McConaughey married his longtime girlfriend Camilla Alves at their home in Texas on June 9. After 6 years of dating, the couple wed before their two children, a boy and a girl. "I found the woman I wanna do it with, the woman I wanna make a family with, hopefully live our life out together," McConaughey told Esquire in 2011. (Gregg Deguire / PictureGroup) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman

    “Big Miracle” star Drew Barrymore exchanged vows with art consultant Will Kopelman on June 2 at the actress’ home in Montecito, Calif. Barrymore wore a Chanel gown during the Jewish ceremony, which was held before family and close friends, including Cameron Diaz and Reese Witherspoon. The couple welcomed a daughter named Olive in September. Barrymore was previously married to Jeremy Thomas and comedian Tom Green. (David Livingston / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Cynthia Nixon and Christine Marinoni

    Wearing a pale green Carolina Herrera gown, actress Cynthia Nixon tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Christine Marinoni in New York City on May 27. The couple, who has a 1 ½-year-old son together, were engaged in 2009, but waited to wed until same-sex marriage became legal in New York state. (Kevin Mazur / WireImage for Tony Award Product) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

    After a 9-year courtship that started while they were students at Harvard, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and 27-year-old Priscilla Chan married in a small, surprise ceremony at his Palo Alto, Calif., home on May 19. Zuckerberg later announced his nuptials in a status update on the social networking site. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Carey Mulligan and Marcus Mumford

    “Great Gatsby” star Carey Mulligan tied the knot with childhood acquaintance and Mumford & Sons singer Marcus Mumford at a farm in Somerset, England, on April 21. The ceremony came after a 9-month engagement, though according to The Sun, Mumford initially proposed to Mulligan after dating her for only five months. (Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Neil Diamond and Katie McNeil

    Singer Neil Diamond married his manager Katie McNeil in Los Angeles on April 21. This was the rock star’s third marriage and the bride’s first. (Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Chris Noth and Tara Wilson

    “Sex and the City” alum Chris Noth swapped vows with fiancee Tara Wilson in Maui, Hawaii, on April 6. The couple has been together since 2002 and share a 4-year-old son, Orion Christopher. (Jemal Countess / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Josh Lucas and Jessica Lucas

    Film star Josh Lucas and freelance writer Jessica wed on March 17. The couple welcomed a son in June. (Larry Busacca / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Rosie O'Donnell and Michelle Rounds

    Rosie O’Donnell and Michelle Rounds announced their engagement in Dec. 2011 and wed in a private New York ceremony on June 9. The couple had originally planned to marry in August, but they moved up the wedding date after Rounds was diagnosed with desmoid tumors, according to PEOPLE. (Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Arlene Silver and Dick Van Dyke

    Actor Dick Van Dyke, 86, and makeup artist Arlene Silver, 40, wed on Feb. 29 in a low-key ceremony near the actor’s home in Malibu, Calif. The couple met six years ago in the green room at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. Hillary Scott and Chris Tyrrell

    Lady Antebellum singer Hillary Scott met drummer Chris Tyrrell on the Tim McGraw tour in early 2010. The couple exchanged vows in upstate New York in front of family and close friends on Jan. 7. Scott announced this month on Twitter that she is pregnant, calling the baby “our Christmas gift.” (Rick Diamond / Getty Images for BMI) Back to slideshow navigation
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