“My job really happened by accident,” says Karen Lee. “My business partner and I were always planning each other’s anniversaries and birthdays, and it evolved out of a love for doing that.”
No, she isn’t a typical event planner.
Lee, who formerly worked in real estate development, and her partner Kimberly Lee are co-owners of Luxe Proposals, one of Canada’s only wedding proposal companies. She helps her clients plan detailed and unique (and totally photo-worthy) wedding proposals that are far from typical. From fairytale-esque, to movie-inspired and as over-the-top as you can imagine, the pair has planned them all.
In our age of social media (which takes keeping up to the Jones’ to a whole new level for some), heightened expectations and a collective stray away from the traditional, wedding proposals are not what they used to be – and you only have one shot to get it right. That’s where Luxe Proposals comes in.
Karen and Kimberly noticed that proposal planners were emerging in the US, the UK and Australia, and wanted to bring the idea to Canada. So, two years ago, Luxe Proposals was born, and the company began redefining the marriage proposal for soon-to-be engaged couples in Vancouver. In January, they launched in Toronto and will expand to Montreal in 2018.
Though Lee says last April was relatively slow, they are planning eight proposals this month. “I think a lot of people are starting to venture from the typical Valentine’s Day, birthday and holiday proposals and trying to throw their partners off by doing it at random, unexpected times,” said Lee.
After an initial email outreach, the client relationship begins with a phone call, where the Luxe team will discuss the client’s vision, budget and tastes of their partner. The client is given a questionnaire about their partner, which touches on everything from their favourite colour and tastes in design, to a special memory the two of them shared. The team then gets to planning the perfect proposal, offering a detailed breakdown of the costs and images as to how it will look. They then meet the client for coffee, armed with their proposal pitch (after it has been approved, they take a 50 percent deposit, FYI.)
For a current client, they are planning a Beauty and the Beast-themed proposal. “It’s based on the scene when Belle and the beast come down the spiral staircase and share their first dance,” says Lee. “The couple will basically reenact the scene, complete with drapery, candles and a string quartet.”
I told you it could be over-the-top (seriously, how do you say no after a production like that?).
Another upcoming proposal is in the works for a Swan Lake-loving lady. “Basically, this couple will be visiting Vancouver and the client is going to surprise his girlfriend with a private performance of her favourite Swan Lake song at a theatre in town – we’ve hired ballet dancers already,” says Lee. “The client is going to be ushered away for a second, leaving her sitting there alone. Then, the curtain behind the dancers will part away, revealing a magical setup of 99 roses, flowers in her favourite colour and chandeliers and he’ll be there on his knee.”
All the guy has to do is worry about getting his partner to the right place at the right time and Luxe does the rest – no matter how intricate.
“Our first proposal ever was our hardest (and most traumatizing) one to date,” said Lee. “Our client was extremely detailed, sending us 400 photos and a seven-page, single-spaced PDF detailing his four-year relationship. He wanted to document his world travels on a 100 ft. walk down memory lane. So, dates were imprinted on a runway, where we had to re-create the place they travelled to – for example, an arch with colourful leaves represented the first time they visited Algonquin. The last date was July 9, 2015, and that’s when he got down on his knee.”
Add-ons can include videography, photography and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Each couple also gets a post-engagement shoot on the spot (so they don’t have to ask strangers to capture the moment).
As for the whole concept, Lee says that the reaction has been predominantly positive. “At the beginning, we did experience a bit of a power play with some guys who were of the mindset that they can do it themselves – and we absolutely love that! But for the most part, the response has been positive, as people understand the value in it and how personal we can make it.” She says that people don’t often realize how difficult a memorable proposal can be to plan, especially if you live with the other person.
As it turns out, Lee says there’s a noticeable difference between her clients in Vancouver and Toronto. “I can tell right away just from glancing at a questionnaire if a client is from Toronto or Vancouver,” says Lee. “In Toronto, there seem to be more businessmen with big budgets. What I’ve noticed about men in Toronto is that they are a lot more detailed and specific in their ideas and request.”
Not surprisingly, Lee says that her job also involves being a bit of a relationship therapist. “I had one woman contact me who wanted to propose to her boyfriend of four months – and they had never discussed marriage or anything serious before,” says Lee. “I had to gently advise her that it maybe wasn’t the best idea.”
Thankfully, there haven’t been any “nos” yet.
Would you ever hire a wedding proposal planner? Let Vv Magazine know in the comment section or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.