Proposal pros help men 'pop the question'

BEIJING - How to pop the question, that's the real question.

The solution?

Hire a professional to create your special marriage proposal.

Miao Jiangfeng, 25, a designer with Miaomiao Marriage Proposal Studio in Beijing, is one of them.

"As people have more money, they seek more romance," said Miao, who used to work at a high-end Western restaurant and was skilled in creating a romantic atmosphere.

Through his customers, Miao saw a potential market for pre-wedding planning.

Miao found that the majority of his customers have healthy incomes and are willing to pay for ready-made romance to mark the very start of their journey toward life-long sweetness.

"My customers fall into two categories: one being around 25 years old with a monthly income of 8,000 to 10,000 yuan (S$1,500 to S$1,870), and the other from 28 to 35 years old, earning more than 1 million yuan a year."

Prices vary from several hundred to thousands of yuan, depending on the number of people involved, size of the venue, cost of renting props and the event's duration.

The fast-growing studio has helped more than 300 couples successfully tie the knot since it was established in 2008.

Among all the creative proposals, three types prove time-tested and remain favorites - the candlelight dinner confession, proposing in a spotlight in a cinema, and going down on one's knees in front of a gigantic screen on a square or pedestrian street.

In Beijing, Miaomiao Studio puts on almost 100 marriage proposals in restaurants every year for at least 500 yuan each, about 60 events in cinemas for 4,000 yuan, and more than 20 events outside at The Place or Wangfujing pedestrian street, priced at 5,000 yuan.

Harbin, the capital city of northeastern Heilongjiang province, has witnessed more costly and dazzling marriage proposals, including a banner draped from a helicopter stating "I love you," which cost about 10,000 yuan.

Of course, an ingenious marriage proposal alone will not do unless the couple is willing to step into a long-term relationship. "We never accept immature cases, as that will end up in nothing but embarrassment," Miao said.

Uniqueness also matters for a successful wedding proposal.

"No matter how great an idea is, it will lose its original magic through repetitive copying. And it's particularly important to make sure each solution is tailor-made," Miao said.

For example, for a postgraduate couple who couldn't spend much time together in the past seven years due to heavy studies, Miao and his team designed an "apologetic" marriage proposal for them, including a convincing confession letter and a touching video.

"It's all about how to make your loved one feel touched. To achieve that, designers need to delve into their love stories and catch those unique moments that may have been forgotten but still have the power to reach their hearts," Miao said.

Because some clients may get nervous, Miao and his team usually go through a few rehearsals until they get confident enough. The practice really helps boost the magic.

Yang Shan, a Shanghai-based psychologist, said a carefully-orchestrated marriage proposal actually has the same psychology as a magnificent wedding ceremony - the person making the proposal wants to show others how much they love each other and how important the relationship is for both of them in the rest of their lives.