Special proposals

Special proposals

Last December, production coordinator Travis Lee, 25, went on bended knee and proposed to his girlfriend of more than three years at Underwater World Singapore.

He spent about $3,000, excluding the cost of the engagement ring.

The money went to admission tickets to Underwater World for about 30 family members and friends, rental of a VIP suite for all of them to relax in after the proposal was made, catered refreshments in the suite, a post-proposal dive session and decor for the venue's underwater tunnel, which came in the form of red heart-shaped helium balloons and photographs of himself and his girlfriend.

"It's a lot of money, but it's worth it," he says.

"Since it's once in a lifetime, it's okay to splurge on the proposal."

This aquatic proposal is one of the many fancy ways that hopeful men are trying to get their other halves to say "yes".

To help them, restaurants, hotels and other event venues in Singapore are going out of their way to make that proposal unforgettable.

Proposal "facilitation" involves anything from the conventional "bringing out the ring with the dessert" move to more elaborate strategies involving flash mobs, underwater banners and security clearance.

Some even mobilise beast and fowl to aid in the quest. In Mr Lee's case, he approached Underwater World Singapore three months before his proposal.

It took three recce trips to the place and numerous discussions before the idea was finalised.

On the actual day, he says Underwater World opened its doors to his party an hour ahead of its usual opening hours so they could make their preparations.

Parkroyal on Pickering hotel mobilised its banquet staff last October to hold up a "Will You Marry Me?" banner.

Changi Airport helped out in an elaborate proposal that took three months to coordinate as it involved a flash mob of 100 students from Glee Studios Singapore and the Singapore Show Choir Academy.

Groom-to-be John Khoo, 29, who co-founded the music schools, recalls the e-mail volleys between him and the airport. Among their discussions were how to ensure his students did not look suspicious - so, no caps or hats.

They also could not go with balloons as these obstruct the airport's security cameras.

Mr Khoo says: "I had to give details on what would take place, minute-by-minute, including where our belongings would be left, where I would enter from and where the group would be standing, because these were all security considerations for the airport."

"She said 'yes' in the end, so I guess it all went well," he added.

Venues that SundayLife! spoke to say they get many requests for special arrangements for proposals and several have responded by launching proposal packages.

Since July 2013, Resorts World Sentosa's S.E.A Aquarium has been offering an underwater proposal package.

At $1,388, it covers the couple's entry into the venue and involves staff divers holding up a banner with a customised proposal message in one of the tanks.

So far, more than 10 couples have taken up this plan.

Jurong BirdPark launched two proposal packages last July. Each costs about $500, excluding admission to the park and tram rides.

One package sees the proposal taking place at the park's Waterfall Aviary. As the man proposes, a cockatoo - on standby with its keeper nearby - will fly over and land on the man's arm and drop a pouch containing the engagement ring in his palm before flying back to its keeper.

The other package takes place at the Penguin Coast. After the question is popped in a hut at the outdoor penguin feeding area, a keeper will trot out an African penguin for the couple to touch and possibly feed.

The park's spokesman says: "Over the years, we have accommodated proposals in customised styles and settings, both with and without animals. We decided to create these special packages to make it easier for clients to understand the details at a glance."

This is the only park under Wildlife Reserves Singapore group that has proposal packages involving animals. For other parks, such as the zoo and the Night Safari, proposal requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and the set-up involves neither beast nor fowl.

For those looking for something a little less exotic, some hotels in Singapore also offer regular proposal packages.

To put you in the mood for love, they may provide romancing paraphernalia such as rainbow-hued roses, heart-shaped balloons, candles and warm bubble baths.

For example, The Unlisted Collection - which includes Wanderlust Hotel and Hotel 1929 - has three different types of proposal packages which were introduced in 2012.

The cheapest begins at $90, excluding the room charges.

Those who want to splash out with, say, renting a private yacht at Capella Singapore, have to spend more than $500.

W Hotel Sentosa Cove says it has had guests who spent up to $10,000 on a proposal.

But there are places which are happy to help a couple along the way without any charge. For example, the National Heritage Board, where possible, will allow proposals at the museums under its charge.

Restaurants such as Alkaff Mansion Ristorante and The Halia - red-hot proposal spots, by the way - offer to bring the ring in with the dessert and to pipe the words "Will you marry me?" in chocolate on the plate.

In any case, as far as proposals are concerned, your imagination is the limit.

Music school owner Javen Ling, 29, proposed to his girlfriend at the top of the Merlion - at its head gallery - in Sentosa last October, at the same time as the fireworks display at Sentosa's night show, Wings Of Time.

He worked out a $2,000 deal with Sentosa that paid for decorations, a four-course dinner that took place at a cordoned-off part of the beach after the proposal, flowers and overtime pay for the Sentosa staff since the proposal took place after their usual working hours.

Of the experience, Mr Ling says: "I'm very thankful for Sentosa's help because I approached them just six days before the day I planned to propose and they spent a lot of time and effort putting things together.

"Without them, I would not have succeeded in having such a memorable proposal."

brynasim@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 8, 2015.
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