Sisterhood Blog

Wedding Proposals Go Viral

By Lilit Marcus

  • Print
  • Share Share
Courtesy of Brad Pilcher
Brad Pilcher created an original children’s book to pop the question to his wife, Amy.

Last week, I wrote a piece for TODAY.com about a man in Chicago named Jason Methner, whose incredibly elaborate proposal to his now-fiancee involved an original kids’ book and some collusion from the Chicago Public Library. While most of the comments on the article were positive, quite a few people were unhappy. However, it wasn’t the proposal itself they were angry about — it was the barrage of attention paid to the story, particularly on social media (the Chicago Library had requested permission to post photos of the proposal on its Facebook page, which helped the story go viral).

“It’s bad enough that this guy has to ruin marriage proposals for everyone else,” one guy fumed to me in a personal email, “but they’re just doing it for attention and you’re giving it to them.”

Now that Pinterest and Facebook have turned wedding planning into a competitive public sport, it seems only logical that marriage proposals would follow. It’s increasingly common for couples to have the moment itself photographed, leaving them with dozens of pictures of the man down on one knee and even more close-up shots of the ring.

One company, the New York-based Blueprint Proposals, has turned this trend into a bona fide business. Founded by Erin Mavian and Kym Pitlor, two Jewish Midwesterners with event planning backgrounds, the company helps clients plan and execute custom wedding proposals both small (intimate restaurants) and large (involving helicopters).

“Proposals set the tone for the whole marriage,” said Pitlor. “If you spend that much money on the ring, you should have a good experience [proposing], because it’s always the first question people ask: ‘How did he do it?’”

Both Pitlor and Mavian admit that social media plays a role in their business. Ninety percent of clients have asked that a photographer or videographer be near the site of the proposal in order to get footage of the big moment. “Because people broadcast their lives on Facebook and Twitter and Vine, there’s a notion that everything that happens is going to be shared,” Mavian says. Though she won’t comment on whether any Blueprint-coordinated proposals have gone viral, she does admit that many people deliberately try to make videos or photos they think have a chance of being popular online. “People want the excitement of sharing and they want to hear others congratulating them,” she says.

But wanting praise isn’t the only reason that couples put their proposals online. Many, including Jason Methner, want a way to include out-of-town friends and family in the proposal. As young people move away from their hometowns to pursue careers in big cities, social media is a way to keep in touch and disseminate information more quickly. For Brad Pilcher, who is the assistant director for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, adding a social media component was key because it helped make his now-wife’s family, who don’t live in Atlanta, part of the big day.

Both Pilcher and Methner’s proposals were shared on social media by the venues where they popped the question, and that’s something else to consider in the wave of viral proposals: marketing departments love to use the videos as publicity vehicles. After all, which will get more YouTube views, a video of people reading quietly in a library or a video of a guy proposing to his girlfriend in a library? Considering how lucrative the wedding industry is for dress designers, florists and caterers, it’s no surprise that event spaces might want to brand themselves as perfect wedding-proposal venues. In fact, Pilcher hadn’t considered filming his proposal, which took place at Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts, but said yes when the venue suggested it.

Though each proposal had a public component, there was also a more private, personal takeaway — in both cases, a custom-made kids’ book. Pilcher says that he wanted something permanent that his wife, the now-Amy Kolodny Pilcher, could look at during a nostalgic moment and eventually show to their future children. Methner echoed this sentiment. His fiancee Molly Lipsitz said that the book was “a parable of their relationship” and something she hoped to keep forever.

“I know I was inspired by the tradition in Jewish weddings of creating your own elements,” Pilcher says about the thinking behind his proposal. “I ended up designing the ketubah and the tenaim to match the book I gave her, and the website, and the invitations. It all matched, because I did it myself. I wanted to bring that same ethos to the engagement, to make something for her, literally. So the first gift was the book I gave her and the whole surprise of the proposal. And then it just sort of went all the way through. I worked with a friend to build this big chuppah. I’ve always liked that aspect of Jewish weddings.” For the record, Pilcher says that his video isn’t searchable on YouTube, and that it’s doubtful that anyone but friends, family, and Center for Puppetry Arts employees ever saw it. But it still lives online, where nothing can stay a secret forever.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: wedding, relationships, women

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.