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Wedding Essentials

Grooms-to-be getting help to pop the question

They pay planners up to $11,000 to make their proposals one of a kind
The Straits Times - August 8, 2011
By: Jessica Lim & Jalelah Abu Baker
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Grooms-to-be getting help to pop the question -- PHOTO: INDULGZ WEDDINGS

MORE men are falling for the idea of getting help from a third party to pop the question of marriage to their girlfriends.

For a fee that could reach $11,000, the moment of surprise dreamt up by wedding planners could involve framing 'Marry Me' with an ice sculpture or using a helicopter ride to put her on cloud nine.

The Association of Bridal Consultants said more wedding planners are creating that lovey-dovey occasion at the request of time-starved and pressured grooms-to-be.

'The men want something different and have no clue over how to make their proposal unique,' said its country director, Mr Jonathan Goh. 'Also, women... expect more. The 'let's buy an HDB flat' proposal doesn't cut it anymore.'

A check with 10 wedding planners found that demand has grown, and the proposals have become more elaborate.

Those The Straits Times spoke to were behind about 70 proposals last year.

Suite Success received five requests in 2008, when it launched the service.

It had 18 jobs last year, and has done 10 so far this year, said owner Tony Goh, 33.

Ms Eileen Tan, 27, owner of proposalideas.blogspot.com, got started in 2007 when she planned five proposals.

She has pulled off 15 so far this year, matching that number for the whole of last year.

Mr Gordon Ang, owner of Wedding Matters, said he has handled about five jobs a year since 2009.

He said that when he began, people were willing to pay only about $500 for a proposal executed in a simple hotel room or chalet.

Now, it typically costs about $1,000, including a night's stay in a hotel, romantic dinner and a ring dropped into a glass of champagne served by a butler. Most deals include the service of a cameraman.

Some, however, cost up to $11,000, which pays for wow factors such as a one-night stay at a five-star hotel, an ice sculpture of the words 'Marry Me', dinner in a room full of star-shaped balloons and a violinist serenading them.

'Sometimes, couples come to us to discuss wedding plans. After a while, we realise the groom hasn't formally proposed, and we will pull him aside to ask if he wants to plan one,' said Ms Christin Shua, co-owner of Indulgz Weddings, who has planned three proposals this year.

One she did in June went to greater heights, via an hour-long helicopter ride that cost more than $2,000.

Others like Mr Lucas Chan, 28, forked out $4,000 for his proposal last year to his girlfriend of two years.

They engaged Indulgz Weddings to plan their wedding last year before he had even proposed to the insurance planner.

'She was always lamenting that I never proposed to her and that she did not know if I was serious about marrying her at all,' said the management trainee.

He made her think they won a trip to Penang and popped the question there in a restaurant in front of a photo montage.

'She teared up and said yes,' he said.

Operations manager Brian Loh, 34, was very nervous about proposing, even though he and his girlfriend of two years, Ms Kym Chong, 29, had arranged to take wedding photos.

'I was more worried about how to surprise her,' he said.

Halfway through singing a song at a karaoke lounge with friends on her birthday in January last year, she saw pictures of the couple on the screen.

'I came in from the other room singing the chorus, with flowers and a ring. And, of course, I went down on one knee,' said Mr Loh.

He added that the proposal cost him about $1,000.

Ms Chong, a project engineer, said she appreciated what he did.

'I didn't suspect a thing. It took a lot of preparation and a lot of lying,' she added, laughing.

But other brides-to-be are not as approving of the idea of their boyfriends resorting to hired help.

'They don't even know the girl,' said Ms Siti Aishah Zahara, 24, a teacher.

'If the guy is going to pay wedding planners to plan it for him, I think it lacks effort on his part.'

She added that her boyfriend proposed to her at East Coast Park recently without any outside help.

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