Getting married is one of the most important stages and wonderful experiences in life and asking someone to marry you is the first step in getting there.
Some men, however, think a romantic marriage proposal is not the easiest thing to do.
That’s where a proposal planner can help.
For the past four years, Ann Fong, 30, has been helping prospective couples get through the process and has been doing it for a living.
The idea came to her after she saw a viral YouTube video showing a man proposing to his girlfriend with the help of a band.
The video went on to garner scores of Facebook “likes” and social media shares and Fong was quick to spot a business opportunity.
“Some guys just cannot handle the situation on their own,” she said. “Also, they need someone to record the moment. That’s why we are here.”
Fong runs an advertising business and has had plenty of experience in organizing events.
In 2010, she set up the new venture with a website and little investment — and received her first client call within a month.
In her fledgling career as a proposal planner, Fong has had a nearly 100 percent success rate for her clients after the first job proved quite a challenge.
But it taught Fong a lot.
The woman was a flight attendant and was due to fly to Frankfurt. Fong arranged for the man to make the trip so he could make the proposal when she landed. The was to take place in the romantic setting of a hotel.
Fong had arrived in Frankfurt a day earlier but got the shock of her life when she received an e-mail that the pair had just broken up.
She later found out that the couple had problems in their relationship and was on the verge of splitting up.
The guy was hoping to make up with his girlfriend by proposing to her. The strategy failed.
Subsequently, Fong made it a point to ask her clients to provide details about their relationship right off the reel.
Those details are necessary to spot potential problems and design a proposal that would suit the woman.
Fong has warm feelings when she thinks back to the time she organized a proposal through group buying website Groupon.
“My client told me that he and his girlfriend used to go to an internet cafe when they were dating, so we made the cafe as our proposal venue,” she said.
“When they finished playing their favorite computer game, the man clicked into the Groupon website and asked his girlfriend to have a look in it.”
A Groupon deal popped up with the man’s marriage proposal. At that instant, all computers in the internet cafe had “Marry Me” on their screens.
“It was a wonderful experience. I didn’t expect Groupon would let us make a proposal publicly on its website,” Fong said.
Fong’s plans are as detailed as possible but there is one thing she would not do for her clients — a proposal speech.
“Tips for guys: a proposal speech that speaks from your heart is the key to happy tears. This is something I can’t provide.”
Did her significant other make her a grand and romantic proposal?
Fong smiled and shook her head.
“My husband proposed to me in a car. He played For Your Heart Only by Leslie Cheung on the stereo. It was a song I had once asked him to play for me,” she said.
“He also gave me a picture book, with some drawings and news clippings in it. But I wasn’t aware that he was actually proposing at that time.
“Then he opened my door, went on his knees and asked me to marry him.”
Fong said her husband’s simple gesture showed what a sincere proposal should be.
“He kept in mind what I had said. It showed that he treasures me a lot. I think this is what girls want in the end.”
Fong is planning to expand her business this year. Her company receives three to four proposal planning requests per month on average.
The basic fee for each project is HK$8,000 (US$1,032), not including the cost of props such as banners, flowers, balloons and rings.
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