The Public Wedding Proposal: How Much Is Too Much?


Popular sentiment is that it should be a moment the marrying kind dreams of: Your beloved gets down on bended knee and asks for your hand. There’s a ring, happy tears..and maybe a huge, coordinated audience. Surprise!

This weekend, a guy proposed to his lady in the middle of Washington Square Park. Seemingly random couples were dancing to the music of a live band, and the lovebirds joined in. Not a terribly unusual occurrence on a gorgeous Saturday in New York. But none of this was random: As he got down on one knee and proposed, and she accepted, the crowd — which, as you can see in the video, was clearly expecting an event — went wild, like an enthusiastic audience should. The music grew joyful. And those random couples dancing suddenly broke out into a coordinated dance routine. He proposed with a flash mob, surrounded by performers who, at least to her, were total strangers. And the whole thing was caught on camera, posted to YouTube, and as of this writing, has over 11,000 views.

One way to look at this: What an amazing display of effort to create a joyous and memorable experience for his fiancee (one can only imagine the Craigslist postings that went into recruiting and organizing this). It’s incredibly sweet, and pretty damn cool. And now they’ll both always have an amazing story to tell when, down the road, they’re inevitably asked how the proposal went down. It’s a lovely memory to have in the bank.

But maybe there’s a deeper thread here. While the flash mob draws attention to the woman being proposed to, it also draws attention away from her. The moment becomes not about her, but about the spectacle. A jumbotron proposal may do this same thing, but it’s quick, a surprise to everyone in a stadium. A staged flash-mob dance-routine proposal — caught on video, posted to the internet, possibly viral — really ups the ante, both in terms of the dissolved-privacy factor and, god forbid, the standard by which a “fun” and/or “creative” proposal may be held. The event here, probably like any other hugely public proposal, is really about him, about what he pulled off. Moreover, it’s on video — the moment may be hers to savor, but she also has to share it with the rest of the world.

Life now involves Facebook updates on engagements, marriages, pregnancies, births… Private moments are public, and many choose to make it that way. But is something lost when your completely awesome wedding-entrance dance becomes a segment on the Today Show? For the people who participated, is the moment itself and the memory thereof lost in the wave of online reaction? You wonder. And will the flash-mob woman remember her moment, or will she remember the spectacle that surrounded her?

[Video via Gothamist]

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin