Weddings have always been special but there can be none if there are no proposals. If once upon a time, weddings were arranged by families and the bride-to-be was given a ring by the groom’s mother in some cultures, as love marriages increased, proposals became the new norm. And now, grand proposals are becoming more and more popular in both kinds of marriages.
Gone are the days when the man would present an engagement ring to the woman on a romantic dinner date – sometimes stuffed in a slice of cake and or dropped in a glass of bubbly.
With more and more grand proposals in Dubai, agencies that specialise in the service are also booming. Caroline Ralston of Proposal Boutique, who has planned beautiful proposal arrangements for English footballer Lewis O’Brien and YouTube sensation Shaquan Roberts amongst many others, believes that big proposals are becoming more and more popular due to the pressure from social media. ‘Women are now expecting grander proposals and men are wanting to do something unique and extravagant for their partners. Women are also able to send their partners hints from our website to give them an added nudge,’ she explains.
Dubai, she says, is the leading destination for the grand proposal because it’s got so much to offer. ‘From yachts, helicopters to big views such as Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa, the desert and even underwater options, every proposal can be personally designed.’ Hospitality businesses are also realising that it’s a huge market and they need to facilitate ways to cater to that niche as well.’
Many people are hiring proposal planners as well as it’s nearly impossible for one to do it all alone. It also ensures that the man can relax and enjoy proposing to his partner.
Vishant Kalwani, a 26-year-old model, met his fiancé, Meghna Chandwani at a party following a fashion shoot in Mumbai back in 2020, right before Covid. ‘We both love Bollywood and dancing so we instantly clicked. It did not feel like we met for the first time.’ It was when Meghna met Vishant’s grandmother that he realised she was the one, which meant that he had to plan a proposal for her.
Being a Bollywood fan, Vishant decided to have a grand proposal on their two-year anniversary on March 16, 2022. He says, ‘I looked for venues with good views and a romantic decor theme. Later, I told Meghna that we were going for a family dinner but put a blindfold on which shocked her.’ With a pink limousine, customised blindfold, several Bollywood dances and a huge ‘Marry Me’ sign set up on the beach that offered a breathtaking view of the luxurious Burj Al Arab, Meghna said ‘yes’ to Vishant amongst family and friends. They are now all set to tie the knot with a destination wedding in Antalya on November 7, 2022.
Likewise, Paayal Bulchandi and Hitesh Bilochi also have a filmy love story. Twenty-nine-year-old marketing professional, Paayal met Hitesh on the first day of her college. The two instantly hit off and became the best of friends. But it was until years after graduation that they realised they were meant to be. For Paayal, being a huge Shah Rukh Khan, she lived by ‘Pyaar dosti hai,’ and she saw that unfold in Hitesh, whose personality differs vastly from his now-wife.
But their grand proposal happened after their roka, when Hitesh thought Paayal was least expecting it. He recalls, ‘I was running out of time but I knew that I had to have an amazing proposal because she always wanted one. I made sure I did it at a time, right before our bachelor and bachelorette parties when she least expected it.’
For their proposal, Hitesh fooled Paayal into taking her to a Christmas market but instead took her to the desert. ‘I got a romantic setup done with a beautiful walkway that lead to a white cabana. It had several of our memorable pictures along with flowers. A ‘Marry Me’ sign was lit in the dark which created a romantic atmosphere,’ he explains. ‘I didn’t prepare a speech for her but I said her favourite Shah Rukh Khan dialogue from Kuch Kuch
Hota Hai, ‘Hum ek baar jeete hein, ek baar marte hein, shaadi bhi aik baar hoti hai, aur pyaar woh bhi ek baar hota.’ I didn’t know what I was going to do but she loved it and that’s all that matters.’ And for Paayal, it was the fact that Hitesh did something out of his comfort zone just for her, which made her smile.
Chirag Lakhiani is a 28-year-old Marketing Manager who proposed to his now wife, Mehr Lakhiani at the Expo 2020 Dubai, before it opened to the public. He says that he took her to the Expo site when only the Terra Pavilion was open to the public making an excuse that he had to meet a client. But little did Mehr know that Chirag had planned an elaborate proposal with the Expo management who had personnel with walkie-talkies in their hands to watch the couple’s every move on site.
He shares, ‘Mehr’s birthday falls on February 12, just days before Valentine’s Day, so I thought of combining the birthday surprise with a proposal. On the day of the Expo, there was a cameraman everywhere who recorded the entire walk. Soon, she noticed the ‘Happy Birthday’ banner and realised that it was a surprise. But then, it turned into a ‘Marry Me’ sign which Mehr did not expect. With tears in our eyes, I went down on one knee to ask for her hand in marriage.’