Public Proposals

As if waiting for someone to accept you for the rest of your life isn’t stressful enough, why would people ask the BIG question in front of thousands of people?

It’s baseball season. Who knows how our beloved Nationals will end up this time around. But a few things are certain.

The ballpark has some exciting new concessions this season, reconfirming that baseball might not be the most exciting game to watch on TV but viewed live it becomes a fun outing in which to scarf down hot dogs, beers and even more exotic culinary fare.

Secondly, men will pop the question to their significant others on the Jumbotron at stadiums the country over, thus reigniting an age-old debate about public marriage proposals. (Perhaps cave men even sat around the fire and debated the merits.)

Is it a sweet extension of a couple’s love to share their love with a crowd? Or is a proposal in front of hundreds—or even thousands—just too much, more akin to a theatrical display to get some attention?

Buzzfeed, right off the bat, took the opportunity to weigh in. The site constructed a graphic entitled “So, You Want to Propose to Your Significant Other at a Baseball Game.” What followed was a decision chart that, no matter the lead-up answers, concluded that going with a ballpark proposal was essentially the worst decision in the history of decisions. Buzzfeed’s point was that no one, in their heart of hearts, really wants to be subjected to the Jumbotron treatment. It’s madness that must end.

I’m not sure that my objections are quite that strong. My sense has always been that a proposal, like a wedding, should fit with the two people involved. I guess if both are baseball fanatics who met during the fifth inning and collectively don’t mind the kind of attention that comes from appearing on a big screen, then go for it. For the guy’s sake, just make doubly sure your lady love will say yes. There’s nothing worse than the public proposal rejection. It’s Youtube gold. Double the exposure. Double the embarrassment.

I also wanted to crowdsource the issue of wedding proposals. So I asked my network about whether proposals in public, overall, struck their fancy or were less-than desirable. Here’s a smattering of the range of answers I got:

•   One of my best friends, someone who admits that attention is not something she despises on a regular basis, is very much anti. “It feels more about the spectacle than the couple,” she said. This friend, who is married, was so set in her belief that she told her now-husband early in their relationship that she was just not into public proposals just to ensure he didn’t go there. He took the hint, as their moment of committing to wed was done behind closed doors, with everyone else finding out later.

•   The daughter of one of my mom’s best friends was part of a not-quite private proposal. Her boyfriend asked for her hand in marriage on the Brooklyn Bridge in front of, as she says, “a ton of tourists who watched and applauded.” It didn’t matter to this female, though. “I felt like I was in a bubble where nothing could bother me.” When she realized what was happening the flash of camera bulbs freaked her out until she realized that her future groom had enlisted a friend to capture the moment on film.

•   To my surprise, another girl who I know was involved in a proposal witnessed by about 500 people. “I didn’t even notice them there,” she said about the moment. “It ended up being fun seeing everyone clap and cheer (once I noticed the growing crowd). The pictures by strangers didn’t bother me, although I’d love to see where some of them ended up.”

•   A former coworker drew my attention to a Mardi Gras proposal earlier this year at the Muses Parade. If you’re unfamiliar with this krewe, their claim to fame is sparkly shoes. Parade goers practically throw each other to the ground to get one of the glittery wonders, which are thrown from the decorative float. One man used the Muses theme to concoct a creative proposal. He worked with the Muses captain to present his lady love with a “Will you marry me?” heel during the parade. She said yes. The best part was that the pair, who love New Orleans, had made it a goal to get two of the most elusive throws from Mardi Gras. One was a Muses shoe, so there really was something special in it for them along with a crowd around them.

•   A friend from high school, who back in the day was more on the shy side, told me her husband made his move at an Olive Garden. “He serenaded me in a tux amidst the dinner crowd,” she said. “He had consorted with the waitstaff beforehand, so it was sweet.”

Hearing from others on the subject made me more open to the notion, I have to say. It struck me that each one mentioned being in the moment, in their own little world, even as strangers watched, heard or were just around for such a big moment. Perhaps when it’s happening nothing else matters. The location, whether you’re put together or a wretched mess, what the surroundings are. What’s important is whether this is someone who you’d want to spend a life with. That and many of the ladies appreciated effort to make the proposal happen, no matter the format it took.

Still, does that mean a Jumbotron at a sporting event is the way to go? Nah. Try the Olive Garden instead. Or, at least, a festive parade.

Tell us your proposal story, and if they are interesting, sweet, unique, or even down right fairy tale, you can be featured.