Sweep her off her feet, for a fee

SINGAPORE - He went down on one knee at Sentosa Boardwalk as a remote-controlled mini-helicopter flew by, bearing a banner with the words "Will you marry me?"

She said yes, and he whisked her away.

IT analyst Lee Chee Hui had always believed that a marriage proposal is a "once-in-a-lifetime affair".

For a fee, he managed to make a splash he'll never forget.

The 31-year-old hired a planner for $4,500 to arrange the elaborate proposal that he made in October.

He's not the only one feeding this industry. More and more men, who are short of time and ideas, are paying good money for help to create the perfect marriage proposal.

Ms Jennifer Goh from HelpYouMarry, the firm Mr Lee engaged, said her company works on an average of three proposals a month since it was started in December 2012.

Such proposals, which range from renting a vintage vehicle to pick the girl up to decorating a hotel room for the occasion, cost about $4,500. This price includes material fees, as well as photography and videography of the proposal.

Ms Goh, 28, said: "More people are opening up to the idea of getting professional assistance for such an important event in their lives."

She pointed out that videos of proposals online also "inspire people to follow suit or even outdo others".

Freelance proposal planner Eileen Tan, 29, had two customers in 2007, the year she started her business. She has had an average of 10 customers each year since 2009.

She charges $400 for a simple proposal with a bouquet, and $1,000 for an elaborate one with flowers, banners, balloons and photography.

"I started doing this because my girlfriends were telling me how their proposals were quite boring, and guys here will just say: 'Let's go and apply for an HDB flat'," she said. "I think every girl should have a memorable proposal."

Others even arrange overseas proposals.

Mr Nicolas Garreau, founder of French events planning firm ApoteoSurprise, told MyPaper that his company organises up to 10 Paris proposals for Singaporean couples every year. Four years back, it was just one or two.

The proposals the 35-year-old helps to arrange cost between $500 and $27,400. Singaporean couples have hired him for a proposals in a horse carriage, or on a Seine River cruise decorated with 1,000 roses.

But some think that hiring someone to arrange a proposal smacks of insincerity.

Engineer Chew Zhi Hao, 28, said: "If you do it yourself, there's a personal touch. You can get help for the actual proposal, but you should do the planning yourself because you know your partner best."

Still, Mr Alex Teo, 26, who spent more than $4,000 for a planner in May, said that the extra help was a must.

"I don't have many ideas, and it's very difficult to coordinate many things on my own," said the public servant. "This way, I don't have to worry about glitches."

Get MyPaper for more stories.