Forget wedding planners: Proposal planners now for hire

By Lilit Marcus

There’s a whole industry around weddings: planners, decorators, florists, and photographers all work with brides and grooms in order to make the big day special. But what about before the wedding?

Enter the newest trend in the wedding world: Companies who can help you create special, one-of-a-kind marriage proposals.

Heather Vaughn is the founder of YES Girls, a company in Southern California that has organized more than 250 proposals. But she’s not the only one – there are now companies all over the country that work to create memorable proposals, including everything from renting private helicopters to spelling out a woman’s name in lights.

Tim Dorsett, an Air Force veteran, hired the YES Girls to help him pop the question to his girlfriend, Sonia.

“I think a girl or woman’s dream is first her prom date, her proposal, and then her marriage,” he said. “So those are the three things that are most important to them, and I wanted to make it special.”

The planners helped him pull it off with memorable touches like an eight-piece band and Sonia’s name written in lights. Luckily, after all that work, she loved the surprise and said yes.

Anja Winikka, site director of the wedding website, says the game has changed when it comes to proposals.

“You used to have the classic bended knee proposal at dinner,” she said.

Now, Winikka points out, social media has increased pressure on men to come up with memorable proposals. It’s much more common these days for couples to capture the big moment in a YouTube video and share it online with their friends, only to watch it go viral.

Others share photos of the ring on Facebook, garnering tons of “likes” and comments from loved ones.

“We’re seeing how everyone else is getting elaborately proposed to, and we want it too,” Winikka adds.

The YES Girls are well aware of social media and often incorporate it into their planned proposals. The company’s Twitter and Instagram feeds feature lots of huge, sparkly rings and happy couples.

And the business is a lucrative one – although the basic proposal package costs $199, the average YES Girls proposal runs in the $2,500 range, once costs like venue rentals and permits are added in. Still, that’s nothing compared to the price of a wedding.

The only downside to a custom proposal?

As our own Gabe Gutierrez points out, think of the bar you’ve just set for your first anniversary!