When your family sees the engagement ring, right after "Congratulations!" and "Welcome to the family!" comes the question, “How’d he do it?”
You want to be able to give them a story to remember, explains Elizabeth Carter, who launched her company, Bespoke Proposals, in 2012 to help men get it right. Carter founded her company on the belief that a marriage proposal should be created with a passion for romance, be centered on exclusivity, and obsess over the details.
“Proposals are more important than a lot of guys think,” Carter, a seasoned corporate event planner told Electrogent.
“Every woman knows the drill,” she explains, “As soon as you hear someone has gotten engaged you ask to see the ring and then, BOOM, the second question is always, 100% of the time, ‘How did he do it?’ Women love having a good story to tell when this inevitable question is asked.
Our specialty is creating this story so A) the guy looks good, and B) the woman has a story she can be proud of. The story always lies in the details, so we focus on those. Oftentimes men hire us because the detailed questions are the things that they can’t quite grasp themselves. Questions like: where to propose, what exactly to say, who should be around when it happens, what time of day should I do it, should we do something afterward? A common misconception about the proposals we create is that they are always expensive or elaborate and that’s just not true. We encourage our clients to give us as much information as they can about themselves, their girlfriend (or partner), and their relationship, and then we get to work implementing meaningful details into a proposal scenario for them. Oftentimes integrating these details is super inexpensive or even free. Couple that with the perks and upgrades that come from the relationships we have with our vendors, and you may actually save money by using us!”
Most of this industry caters to female customers, Carter says, pointing out that the male demographic is largely ignored and at best, underserved. “Men need help too,” she explains, adding that men care about planning for special occasions, especially romantic ones like anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, and engagements, but our society increasingly markets off the shelf and standardized packages and products.
“This has even translated to engagements,” Carter reports, challenging the reader to search‘how to propose’ on the internet. “You’ll get millions of hits that are neither original nor personalized, she warns.
Most people are familiar with wedding planners, but proposal planning is just making its way into the market. “It’s a great idea,” says Renee Patrone, of Events by Renee, a Philadelphia area wedding and special events expert. Patrone’s services, and those of many wedding planners, often begin the moment she says, "Yes," which is the moment Carter's job is done.
Carter, it seems, has discovered a budding niche market in the multi-billion dollar wedding industry.
Having an event planned for you is much like having a tailored suit, she reasons.
“I saw a niche, and knew the idea of a tailored or ‘bespoke’ service would appeal to male customers. Men love tailored suits, but many think that they simply can’t afford them," she said, adding, "It's ironic really, because with a new wave of tailors catering to custom suits, the practice is getting more and more affordable. Absent the material costs, proposal consulting is very affordable and I can sometimes even save clients money through my extensive vendor relationships.”
Elizabeth Carter was in the business of planning weddings before she turned 21, and she learned from a pro, she told Wedding Buzz,
“I got my start in weddings when I was 20 years old. Tara Guerard of Soiree in Charleston, SC, graciously brought me on as her very first intern. As you know, Tara produces the most gorgeous events, and her passion for making weddings beautiful for brides and their families was contagious. I continued to intern for Tara for two years and learned invaluable lessons from her about entrepreneurship, managing a small business, and producing high-level gorgeous events on all scales.”
Carter recently sat down to answer a few questions for Examiner.com about her company and the clients she serves.
Examiner.com: Who is your typical client, and is it always a man?
Carter: I would be open to helping a woman, propose, but have not yet had that opportunity. The guys we help most often fall into one of two categories:
- First category: Details discourage them from proposing the way they envision. Many of the men we work with want to wow with their proposal, but they just don’t want to deal with the frustration of the details. They come to us with a broad vision but can’t quite boil it down, or don’t have the time it takes to coordinate so many things at one.
- Second category: Proposing can bring a lot of pressure, and they don’t know where to start. The wedding business has grown drastically over the last ten years. Along with weddings, honeymoons, bachelor parties, and diamonds, proposals are getting to be bigger and bigger deals. This can put a lot of pressure on a guy! We love big proposals, but we are actually here to guide men through this set of expectations that they may be feeling despite how simple or elaborate theirs proposals are. Consider us a consultant with a set of steps that help the big picture look a lot more manageable.
Examiner.com: What is the biggest mistake you think most guys make when they plan a proposal on their own?
Carter: One of the biggest reasons proposals go wrong is because the man gets overly antsy and acts prematurely just to get it over with. One of the most important hats I wear is the one that gives men a female’s perspective. By giving them a plan of action they can be confident in, I help them stay patient and stick to the approach we know will impress.
Examiner.com: In your experience, do men seem to have a handle on what women want from a proposal?
Carter: Sometimes. It totally depends on the man. The men I work with are the best. They have a strong desire to make their proposal special because they know that is what a woman wants, but they aren’t quite sure how to do that exactly. The internet can arm men with a million ideas of how to propose, but none of these ideas are original or personalized to them. I help them find out of the box ideas so their future fiancée can feel special knowing something was tailored exactly for her.
Examiner.com: If you could only list three reasons someone should hire you, what would they be?
Carter: [First], customization. Don’t Google how to propose. If it’s out there already, someone has been there and done that. I can help you figure out exactly how to implement a plan that is perfectly suited for you two. [Second], our knowledge. [We have] been working in the event planning industry for over ten years and [have] extensive knowledge about where to propose and who to work with to achieve the perfect outcome.
3. Peace of mind. I give men a female’s perspective so there is no need to worry whether or not the proposal will wow. It will, we guarantee it!
Examiner.com: Do you prepare the proposer for “no” response?
Carter: I don’t. One of the things I think is most important in a relationship is communication. While I believe there is a very fine line between figuring out how your girlfriend would like to be proposed to and ruining that surprise, I do not think there should be any doubt about her answer. Marriage is a big thing and shouldn’t be proposed without a lot of talk about whether that would work for you together. My best advice would be to have those discussions and then come to me to figure out how best to do it right.
Examiner.com: What are your thoughts on proposing via social media?
Carter: I’ll be honest, I don’t love the idea. One of our founding beliefs is that proposals should be romantic, and it is hard to achieve that romance if you aren’t with that person physically. Incorporating social media to hint, clue, or announce an engagement? Absolutely. But keep the big moment face to face.
Carter, who lives in Washington, DC, uses her knowledge and contacts all over the United States and Europe to help her clients. Read the story of one of her most recent proposal projects, “A Chicago Rooftop Proposal” and learn more about the female perspective of ‘what women want when you pop the question’ on her blog.