How the Lip Dub Proposal Fails

Ulysses believes that too much attention upon elaborate proposals causes people to forget that marriage is a solemn agreement between two people committed to do the work of making a life together.

When I saw the video of Isaac’s lib-dub proposal to Amy, all I could do was groan. It is not that Isaac has not raised the bar. He has. It is instead that this particular bar is not deserving of increasing raises. It instead needs to be lowered. For when the honeymoon is over it is not parades and grand gestures and super happy fun time. It is work. The work is worthwhile, but it is nonetheless work. As we are at a point in history when the failure rate for marriage hovers around 50%, the foundation should not be built on extravagance, but the complementary nature of the parties to be wed.

With a hammer and nails and a fear of failure we are building a shed
Between here and heaven between the wait and the wedding for as long as we both shall be dead to the world
Beyond the boys and the girls trying to keep us calm
We can practice our lines ’til we’re deaf and blind to ourselves to each other where it’s
Fall not winter, spring not summer, cool not cold
And it’s warm not hot, have we all forgotten that
We’re getting old
-Chris Thile and Aoife O’Donovan–Here and Heaven

That complementary nature is necessarily forged from duality. Duality precludes a crowd. Duality, by definition, is the interplay of two. Not a crowd, not sweeping gestures, not pomp and circumstance.

It is solemn.

And solemnity demands seriousness. Seriousness and super fun happy time are antithetical. So though the giant musical numbers, the flash mobs of proposals, may go viral and invite wonder and amazement, they do not build a shed between here and heaven. They are summer, not spring. They are hot, not warm. They ignore the fact that, just as Carl and Ellie in Up, we’re getting old.

There was a time when a proposal, though possibly a surprise, was not predicated upon shock. The conversations had occurred and the answer was a foregone conclusion. The ring was but a formality and the nature of the proposal was unimportant. Routines and videos destined to go viral were foreign concepts. Now, we all have anecdotes about lavish surprises, the rings hidden hither and thither, and complicated setups.

To which I say, don’t be a sucker. If you’re doing it properly, the engagement will be but a pretext for the wedding which will be but an official starting line for the rest of your lives together. There will be bumps. There will be happiness. There will be frustration. There will be elation. But there will be no constancy, other than duality. There will be no perfection, only the satisfaction of work well done. It will be fall, not winter; spring, not summer; cool, not cold. It will be warm, not hot as we’re getting old.

The happy medium is a place of wonder. Rather than treating the engagement as the culmination, we should be treating it as an eventual footnote. For when we look at our book of adventures, the important part will not be the starting or finish lines, but the journey. As Chris Thile and Aoife O’Donovan sing, the goal is not the starting point, here, or the finish line, heaven, but the space between.

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About Ulysses

Ulysses is a typical Southern man. He has a wife, two daughters and another on the way, two dogs, a cat, a truckload of opinions, and an even bigger truckload of tall tales.


  1. Eric M. says:

    The below article from shows why popping the question/proposing can be a very bad, humiliating, and costly idea. It makes far, far, far more sense to have a series of many serious, adult conversations eventually coming to the mutual conclusion that you both are 100% convinced that you want to be married to each other for the rest of your lives.

    Once you have done that (as all couples should prior to agreeing to get married), what is the point in proposing/asking a question you already know the answer to? There really isn’t any. If you have to ask you don’t know the answer. And, if you don’t know the answer, you can end up like this poor sap. And, even if she says yes, you obviously don’t know her well enough to marry her.

  2. Since I actually liked the video I was ready to come here and hate on this post but you made some great points and really address the importance of the work needed to make marriage work (no pun intended).

  3. While I agree with the conclusion that it should not be focused on the starting line or the finish line, but the journey in between and that these adorable over-the-top proposals are putting the wrong emphasis on the wrong thing when marriage is the process of working together. What I don’t necessarily agree with is the idea that it all has to be gloomy and somber. It practically sounds like you want proposals to be like funerals. I mean, I’m always offering my condolences to friends who announce they’re getting married, but that’s only a joke.

  4. My argument on “How the Lip Dub proposal fails” is thus:
    Ulysses says, “It is work. The work is worthwhile, but it is nonetheless work.”
    Isaac put a ton of work into that proposal. Thinking it up and then gathering all those people to help execute it.
    THAT right there… PROVES to Amy that he will work hard at having a good marriage with her.
    Getting down on bended knee and “popping the question” is all fine and good. And if the guy had proved himself over time, that’s really all he needs to do.
    But taking the time and effort to come up with such an involved proposal…?
    Well, that says so much more than kneeling on the ground and saying, “I love you. Will you marry me?”

    • For me, it’s that all these options are valid. All require forethought, commitment and a willingness to risk combined with an understanding of the partner you are working with.
      My husband proposed to me in the shower, naked, at his parents house. It was kind of a wonderful adam and eve moment. It was precious and pure and we celebrated with the family over breakfast.
      I see it as valid as this one.
      I don’t know why people are having to tear it apart. I guess because its public and everyone has to have an opinion.

      • I think for some (not all) of the guys they feel as though their proposals are somehow shadowed by this one.
        Guys- If she said yes with a smile on her face or joyful tears in her eyes- You did it right.
        Just as a multimillion dollar wedding is no more sacred than a courthouse wedding in yours jeans, Isaacs proposal is no more authentic than the guy who grabbed a ring from a cracker jack box and said, “Will you we my bife?” as he sweated buckets.
        What matters in the end is the love and dedication and how willing you are to work at keeping who you love.

      • You got an awesome proposal there Julie, no joshing. But I’m biased because the night the wife and I got engaged, there was nudity.

        • The night my Dad proposed to my Mom, my mother thought it was a joke, so she threw a pillow at him and literally said, “this isn’t something to joke about!” Mind, it’s not too far off to think my Dad might have been joking around. This is the guy who would send my Mom love notes like, “I miss you more than broccoli,” when they lived onopposite ends of the U.S. and never saw each other. Anyway, my Mom took a couple of days to make up her mind once she realised he wasn’t joking. They’ve been married 30+ years and still going strong. My point being that even a really not serious type of proposal can end with a great marriage.

          This was a theatre guy doing a big show. My parents’ was a misunderstanding based on the fact that my Mom knew my Dad so well. My sister’s was all traditional, cuz that’s the kind of guy she married.

      • It’s the “OMG THIS IS AWESOME! ” aspect of the reaction to the YouTube vid that bugs me

    • I’m sure he will work, but what’s her part? Does she, as Delilah, get to sit worthlessly alone with tears on her cheeks from laughter?

      • Wow that’s cynical. Maybe she is an actress in plays he supports. Maybe she’ll throw a huge one or ten year anniversary event for him. Maybe she’s thrown him surprise birthday parties for him. Some of those may be online or not, doesn’t mean she wont celebrate him. Even so maybe he likes performing directing and she likes observing.

      • Goodness….less judgin’ more lovin’ eh. 🙂

    • Eric M. says:

      Yeah but he’s only one person. This sets an extraordinarily one sided princess/servant mentality precedent where he plans, spends, serves, and gives while she shows up and takes.

      • Golly you can guess that based on one video?? We have no way to know that is their dynamic.

        • Eric M. says:

          I dont know them but that is the precedent that was set here. He and 60 others worked countless for months and he spent thousands of dollars. For her. What was her obligation? Exactly. To be served. He has set a precedent in all this.

          • Eric. You make me laugh.

            We don’t know. Yes, that precedent is a possibility. So too, is the possibility that she does all the housework and bills and cooks and he does theater and she serves him and that purpose. Or that they both do various art projects and take care of each other.
            Or she chased him and got him to go out with her and he’s so phenomenally in love he wants to use his art to celebrate her and them.
            Or they have a “wind beneath my wings” relationship and she never gets any stage time or due credit and he was like, I”m gonna put on a show FOR YOU.
            Or she threw him a fancy surprise birthday party last year. Or she’s always taking care of their friends at shows, volunteering or bringing snacks or working backstage and he wanted to give her something special.
            Or a hundred other possibilities that are less cynical then what you just said.
            Because we don’t know, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to decide she’s a self involved harpy that cackles with glee at him serving her or whatever it is your mind is making up about what looked to be a damn lot of fun. To get that many people to commit to something? To me means they all love HIM a lot and are serving him in his quest, and they love HER a lot because she’s probably something really amazing too. The community loves them both. Which to me means they are probably loveable and serve their community so much that the community is paying back the love.
            Or maybe he’s a total narcissist and she’s terrified of him.
            Or maybe she is just waiting to be served, who knows. We don’t know.

            • Eric M. says:

              “We don’t know.”

              LOL!  Sure, we do. We know that he spent thousands of dollars and worked for months. We know that for a fact. It’s well documented, and known by millions of people. Watch is back if you have any doubt.

              That precedent is a certainty.

              The other things you listed are possibilities, but this is not.

              “Or a hundred other possibilities that are less cynical then what you just said.”

              Nothing I said is anything other than factual. If you want to call facts cynical, go right ahead. I call it reality. It’s recorded history.

              “Because we don’t know, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to decide she’s a self involved harpy that cackles with glee at him serving her or whatever it is your mind is making up about what looked to be a damn lot of fun.”

              Now, you’re making things up. I never stated any such. I commented on what is known.

              • No, you said they set up a precedent where he serves her. We don’t know that. We know he likes to make a big deal of these types of events. We know he was a theater person. We know their community decided to join him in an event to surprise her. We don’t know she expects him to serve her. We don’t know that.
                You made that up.

                • We don’t know that she doesn’t serve him all the time. In terms of housecleaning, cooking, support of money while he pursues art. Or would that not count?

                  • Frankly, the one thing NO one is talking about which remains a possibility is that he is such a narcissist/actor type that he did this FOR HIM, not for her. He’s the one getting all the hits and page views, Eric. Her face is barely seen. If I wanted to go get cynical about it, I”d take that angle. His art, his idea, his work. He’s the star here, not her. That’s more Ulysses’ take actually, that she’s a prop in his drama. If that’s the case, she’s serving him so he can get famous.
                    But actually, I don’t believe either of those scenarios.

                • Eric M. says:

                  “No, you said they set up a precedent where he serves her.”

                  We watched him do it. Who did months of planning and rehearsing? Who spent (likely) thousands of dollars on a ring?  Who humbled him/herself by getting down on his/her knees?

                  All of those are unidirectional acts of service and sacrifice. How hard did she have to work those months to prepare for that day? How much did she spend on his engagement ring (or whatever) that she gave him then?

                  “You made that up.”

                  No, I watched it and read the articles describing the details.

                  • And they are also act (or could be acts) of a narcissist who loves attention and being the star of a show (actor). And who is commanding of people (director) and charismatic around vision (producer) and who can create situations that make it appear that it’s about one thing, but really another. Getting down on one’s knees can be an act of humility. It can also be becoming the focal point of a show and upstaging everyone else onscreen.

                    I have 30 years of working in the theater Eric. I’ve met lots of people who can get you to think it’s about you, when really it’s them starring in the Them show.

                    You don’t like the situation/precedent you perceive etc. that’s fine. But your read on it isn’t the only read possible and it doesn’t mean it’s the correct one unless you have spoken to him personally and asked him all these questions and he’s told you that.

                    • From the Brisbane Times:
                      “Mr Lamb told NBC’s Today show that the proposal was nothing new for the couple, both actors who are used to elaborate stunts.
                      “I felt like she deserved something like that,” Mr Lamb told host Ann Curry about the proposal, which took place on May 23. The pair said they met at an audition almost four years ago.
                      “And I think she’d probably tell you this is very much my style … you’ll notice that none of the neighbours care that this is happening in our front street, because we’ve been known to do things like this before.”

                      Read more:

                      So I’d be more likely to believe that they both LOVE the attention and this served a purpose, thought not the one you believe.

                    • Eric M. says:

                      It’s not for me to like or dislike. It’s not my life. I just commented on what actually was done, and by whom.

                    • You judge it though. You judge that he’s serving her and it’s not a good precedent. And again, you saw what you saw and decided it meant one thing when it might have meant something else. They apparently pull stunts like this all the time. She was cast in a role in this “play.” You have no idea how they work together as a couple, or their roles going forward, you just don’t.

                    • “You don’t like the situation/precedent you perceive etc. that’s fine. But your read on it isn’t the only read possible and it doesn’t mean it’s the correct one unless you have spoken to him personally and asked him all these questions and he’s told you that.”

                      It’s interesting you bring up the term “read” because I think that the best way to look at this is as a text. There are multiple interpretations of this video. There’s the couple’s interpretations abou what they were doing and why. Arguably that is the most valid in this particular situation considering the nature of the video. However, like all texts, it’s open to multiple interpretations. The reader (in this case viewer) takes his/her personal experiences as well as his/her schools of thought and the communities s/he is part of with him/her when trying to figure out the best interpretation of the text. But what’s important to remember is that you’re doing just that.

                      When this is viewed through a lens that suggests lavish proposals are puttin undue pressure on men, then it’s necessary to separate that narrative from the personal experience this couple had. Arguably this is an example of that societal pressure, at the macro level. However on the personal level, that interpretation doesn’t seem to be accurate in describing the experience as seen through the eyes of the people involved. Thus, while you could have an interesting conversation about western society’s marriage customs, you can’t really draw any conclusions about this couple’s relationship or life from this one video.

                      Also sorry for any typos. I’m on my phone.

                    • For me, text is also the best way. I see multiple reads on this. Personally, I see two actors that love putting on shows and a community of people that love them both. And they LOVE having fun. And now this has gotten them both some amazing attention which may also help their career. I think it’s great.
                      I do not see this whole “serving” “begging” thing going on, but whatevs.

                    • Then again, my husband I got engaged standing up, both in the shower and we both gave each other little rings to wear. We planned the wedding ourselves, paid for it ourselves and did it the way we wanted to.

                    • Eric M. says:

                      “You judge it though. You judge that he’s serving her and it’s not a good precedent.”

                      I said it was a “precedent”; I did not say it was “not a good precedent.” That is for them to decide.

                      “And again, you saw what you saw and decided it meant one thing
                      when it might have meant something else.”

                      I didn’t say what it meant; I commented on what took place. The events, not my judgement of the motives,etc. That is what you are conjecturing the possiblities of.

                    • Uh huh.

                    • Eric M. says:

                      “Then again, my husband I got engaged standing up, both in the shower and we both gave each other little rings to wear.”

                      I’m assuming you weren’t clothed. Where were you keeping the rings? Never mind. . .

                    • Yeah, nude as the day we were born. He hid his little ring in a planter in the big shower. It was an antique and cost next to nothing at a vintage shop but it was a symbol. Then we bought rings together. I have no idea the breakdown of the costs, but they weren’t much $.
                      I was surprised. It was awesome, but we’d been talking about marriage. We spent our own money, kept it on the cheap and had my mother walk me down the aisle and his father walked him though we didn’t refer to it as giving way. We said we gave ourselves to the other. It was a pretty equitable ceremony, FWIW.

  5. Ulysses, good points. I was mulling those very same ideas, and you said it better (and faster) than I could. While solemnity can be overdone, so can extravagance. Peter Houlihan and Eric M., commenting above, made same very salient points, as well. Also, I don’t get this overwhelming fascination with YouTube-ing a proposal. It seems somewhat narcissistic, and makes it more about theater and public spectacle, and less about the bond between the people involved. Do the proposers/proposees think that somehow, the proposal isn’t real unless it has been televised? Do they prefer the media to real life, because that seems to offer validation? I don’t know for certain, but the implications are unsettling.

    I do, however, wish them both a long, happy life together, filled with love. And that sentiment has nothing to do with theatrics.

    • I think most people who put it on youtube or other social networking sites are doing it initially to share their joy with friends and family. And those friends and family share with their friends and family. And then it spirals into this.

      • “makes it more about theater and public spectacle, and less about the bond between the people involved.”

        It can’t be both? The couple ARE theater people. It’s their hobby. If you share a passion for food, and you propose at a great restaurant or over a homemade dinner, that’s personal and special and memorable. If you enjoy sports together and propose at a game, same thing. I could come up with a million examples. If your first special shared experienced involved a tree, propose by a tree. These two happen to enjoy performance and elaborate stuff. It’s a shared passion.

        And I want to add–today’s generation has women doing these same gestures. Maybe not a proposal, but I just had a friend tell me that she spent 2 months working on her partner’s anniversary present and is freaking out that she won’t get it done in time.

  6. I think you can agree that you want to get married ahead of time and still have the proposal be a surprise. My boyfriend and I have already made that commitment to one another and I know enough to know that a proposal is in the works, but he still wants it to be special and meaningful. Of course, it won’t be THIS elaborate, but it will be a surprise in the sense that I have no idea what he has planned for it. Will the success of our marriage be predicated upon the elaborateness or thoughtfulness of his proposal? Of course not. But I think it’s sweet that he wants it to be meaningful and a story worth telling our grandchildren someday.

    • Well I think that’s a really good point, actually.

    • Eric M. says:

      Since you are already engaged, he obviously already knows what your answer is going to be. As it should be if you are going to have a formal pop-the-question proposal. Otherwise, it’s asking for trouble, and raising your odds of eventual divorce.

      I think I said (or intended to say) that the proposal itself can’t be a surprise if you know it’s coming, but the manner in which it is done and the exact timing CAN be a surprise, as in your case. Interestingly, no one has ever asked me or my wife (to my knowledge) how I proposed because they know us well enough to know that it wasn’t necessary.

      Unless it’s an absolute forgone conclusion that you have both openly discussed in detail, including when you (the general you, not you personally) are going to get married, where you are going to live, etc., you don’t know the other person well enough to ask or agree to marry them. Fortunately, you aren’t in that situation.

      Question: If you really want a story to tell your grandchildren, why don’t you really surprise him and propose to him?  Why wait for/put all the pressure on him? Gender roles are passé, no?

      • He claimed the proposal not long after we started dating. He says, the proposal day is his to plan and have fun, let his imagination run wild, the wedding is mine. Since neither will be too insanely over the top, I think this is a fun way to do it. And, of course, he’ll be involved in planning the wedding to the extent he wants to be.

        • I think that’s clever, Megan. Good for you guys.

        • Elope or do a destination wedding with a single digit guest count. Cost effective and you actually get to enjoy the day.

          • Dude, why so prescriptive? I dont mean to keep hammering on, but, like…I don’t really understand your position, here.

            • Call me Dr. Bonhomie. I prescribe based on extensive experience and observation. Have you ever seen the frantic look in the eyes of a bride running around like a chicken with her head cut off as she attempts to greet a gaggle of guests? It ain’t pretty.

              Also, I’ll soon have three daughters in my house. I’m practicing my “you should elope” speech now so as to perfect it. Money doesn’t grow on trees! The wife and I did a destination wedding. It was awesome to just focus on one another. We later had a big party for friends and family.

              • I’m going to get married how I want, when I want, but thanks for the advice… I’m with Heather though, I think you gotta let people do things their own way a little more, and realize that what works for you or is meaningful to you isn’t necessarily meaningful to other people.

                To me, we are committed to each other now, and a marriage isn’t going to change that. What a wedding will be for us is a day for the most important people in our lives to celebrate that with us, and a formal place for them to give us the blessing of their prayers and well wishes. It will be small-ish, affordable, on a farm, and beautiful to us, and that’s what matters to both of us.

                I think the cool thing about these rituals, like a wedding, is that no matter how similar they seem on the outside, they can have unique meanings to each person or group of people having them. So, even though that’s what my wedding will mean for us, yours can mean something different, and it doesn’t take anything away from mine. Life is beautiful! 🙂

                • Are you telling me that not everyone in the world has to do what I say and that some people have differing opinions? I find that pretty unbelievable. In any case, I’m just an opinionated freelance writer with a heart full of love. I only offer advice because I’m assuming you visit this site for help becoming good men and I’m good at being a man.

                  • YOU can enjoy eloping. It doesn’t work for everyone. I respect that it’s YOUR opinion, but it’s not everyone’s. I did that–and you know what, I wish I’d had a day to celebrate our love. It didn’t make the marriage any better. I did exactly what you said. Discussed it practically, courthouse, no dress, one witness, no ring, nothing. I like holidays. Christmas, Halloween, New Year’s. I have great memories of my prom. I love the celebrations. These happen to be of love. Life should be fun. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be special and exciting.

                    • Please see the above comment.

                    • As long as you understand that you can be a good man/woman and have a differing opinion/life. Here are two people who enjoy putting on shows who live in a community that enjoys putting on shows. You can see it in the faces of all the performers. They were beaming throughout. The performers were enjoying it just as much as she and he were.

                      As for the precedent–It’s just an indicator of what they strive for their life to be. That kind of life doesn’t work for every couple, but it does for them. So what if they want to put on elaborate parties, go to a lot of shows, get involved in dance, and put on plays? That works for them. So this is a precedent, and it doesn’t have to be one-sided.

                      It doesn’t mean that she won’t do silly, showy, elaborate things for him. As I stated in another comment, my female friend spent over 2 months preparing an anniversary gift for her boyfriend. Since they’re writers, it’s this beautifully bound, elaborate book of poems and stories. It’s very similar to this–but involves two people who love books and English instead of two people who love plays and performing arts.

                    • To add to what I just said. My partner and I shared a hobby and passion for food. We talk about it, look it up, cook, critique it, look at where it’s sourced, make fantasy menus, etc. One anniversary, he made an elaborate 4 course meal of all of the most special special food memories we had. Did that set a precedent? Hell no. Of course that’s not going to happen every day. But we both had fun. He actually ENJOYED putting in the work and it made me feel special (I even helped out with the preparation, but it was his idea). To add, I’ve actually sent HIM flowers.

                      Will the partner of the girl who made spent months writing and binding a book for their anniversary expect her to do something like this every day? No way, but he feels a bit more special and loved now. And she actually enjoys putting in the work. I have another couple friend who enjoys dressing up in creative matching Halloween costumes every year. That’s their show of love. There’s no expectation that they’re going to wear matching outfits every day or that she’ll get mad if it doesn’t happen one year. It’s just something that makes them feel happy and special. I do believe Isaac had fun hanging out with his friends and putting this together. Some work can be fun too!!!!!!!

      • Oh, and I don’t consider us engaged, or call him my fiancee. But between us, we’ve already agreed that we are committed to making our relationship last a lifetime, marriage or not.

        • Marriages are statistically more successful than cohabitation. When it’s harder to walk away, you have more motivation to work things out.

          • We have every intention of getting married, and it’s very important to both of us. However, I think at least one of the ideas of marriage is that, no matter what comes your way, you will stand by one another and work through it, and in that sense, we’re committed 100%. He’s my soul mate (go ahead, make fun, I don’t give a shit) and we’re going to make it work.

  7. Eric M. says:

    I always wonder why surprise proposals are viewed so positively, especially these over the top, public, put-her-on-the-spot in front of hundreds of people proposals. I mean, if she doesn’t even know he 100% wants to marry her, how well can they possibly know each other? If she knows, how can a proposal possibly be a surprise, other than how it’s going to be done? And, what’s the point of going so over the top if it’s not even a surprise?

    If he isn’t 100% certain she wants to marry him, and she isn’t 100% sure he wants to marry her, how well can they possibly know each other? If they don’t know each other well enough to know that, they really don’t know each other well enough to know that a marriage will succeed. It’s no more than a coin toss under those circumstances; hence, the 50% divorce rate.

    So, I agree with the writer, this kind of thing probably does not help to make for long term, satisfying marriages. Instead, they ought to be encouraging people to be prepared to know how to make their marriage a success long term, starting with knowing the person so well first that they are 1000% convinced that they are marrying the right person, and that they are absolutely going to do whatever is necessary to keep their marriage alive and intact.

    This proposal was good for entertainment value, but that’s about it.

  8. Peter Houlihan says:

    Why so serious?

    I don’t think proposals need to be particularly sombre, but they should probably allow the proposee the option to back out, which elaborate public ones don’t.

    • I’m down with a private proposal that isn’t too serious, but I think Isaac is doomed. He will never, as a burping, farting, human man, live up to the expectations he’s set. As the song I quoted says, go for spring not summer. Spring is the season of potential, after all. Once it’s summer and everything has bloomed, where do you go? I’m reminded of another song, this time “Gold Soundz” by Pavement: “So drunk in the August sun and you’re the kind of girl I like. Because you’re empty and I’m empty and you can never quarantine the past.” Give me spring, when the world is mudluscious.

      • Presumably, with the way that people often cohabitate for months (or even years) before getting married, the reality of living with another human being is well known. I’ll just give my sister as an example, again, but before her now-husband went all out on the proposal, they’d been living together for like a year. He still did this whole elaborate set-up for the proposal. Not public and not quite as big as this…but still it was an organized thing meant to impress her. But, like, trying to impress someone in a single moment doesn’t mean that it sets the expectations for every other interaction to be just like that. I mean, give the woman some credit.

        That’s the other thing…this is like all kinds of personal. No one can really look at one youtube video of a marriage proposal and somehow think they can guess whether it’ll be successful, or all the intricacies of their relationship from this very short and very stylized snapshot.

        • Right, and I”d add that ritual and serious business does not have to mean “solemn.” Many people are filled to bursting with joy. Joy is vital. This man took the proposal very seriously. I mean, it must have taken weeks of organization, commitment from the people involved (who must have known she’d be thrilled). He is apparently a local theater person and theater people love theater. And theater is born from ritual and ritual from theater.

          So, it’s all well and good to do things without going “big” but just because he did, doesn’t mean he wasn’t serious as hell about his feelings about her and their future.

          I love joy and it’s expression in both serious calm arenas but also in a heightened state of emotion, laughing and more.

          • I used to do local theatre when younger. I still know many theatrical types. They do have a flair for the dramatic and a love of emotional highs.

            And this one is still going to be hard to top. Really hard. Fortunately, theatrical types always get to meet new people, get new dopamine rushes. . .

            • Wait, do you mean because he did it that way, he’ll not work on the marriage? I mean, that’s possible, but you don’t really have any actual fact of it. I LOVE theater and have been doing it for 30 years. And I’ve been married for 19. And we work. Hard. I don’t know why you can’t have both solemnity and catharsis, hard work and celebration, subtle privacy and theatrical ritual.
              Humans love ritual and may need them, whether it is two people or 200.

              • If marriage were a show, I would not open it with a complicated number worthy of the grand finale.

                Less broadly and snarky, I’m not saying they won’t work at the relationship and I really don’t know if it’ll be a spectacular marriage, a mediocre marriage, or a failed marriage. Despite my best efforts, I’m still not clairvoyant. I do know that nothing anyone can say will convince me that the trend of taking previously private acts and turning them into public spectacles is a good thing. The audience won’t be there to help after the show is over and the stage needs sweeping, the costumes need washing, etc.

                • Thus is the era of the 24/7 online, Branding, YouTube world we live in. Including writing articles and commenting I suppose. I can see your points about privacy, not so much solemnity. I was touched by the effort and he clear delight.

          • Well, personally, I’m a private person for the most part, and I would like to have a partner who appreciates less showy demonstrations of live and joy.

            • Ain’t nothing wrong with that. Each couple needs to find each other and hopefully be in alignment. Looks like Isaac found a lady who loves theater and loves this kind of thing. So good on them. And for you and your love (not sure where you are in terms of that), hopefully y’alls time would be private and personal. Everyone wins.

      • “I’m down with a private proposal that isn’t too serious, but I think Isaac is doomed. He will never, as a burping, farting, human man, live up to the expectations he’s set.”

        Not true. Chances are she knows this about him. He’s set no expectations. He just did something wonderful and heartwarming for someone he loves. Heather is right. Many couples live together nowadays before getting married–it’s not unlikely that a liberal Portland couple did just that. The proposal could have come very well after they were comfortable with each other. We’re not in an age of courting anymore. I’ve farted and burped around all my boyfriends and they’ve farted and burped around me. Changes nothing. This is just an incredible romantic gesture and story–and as Heather says, a great way to kick off something.

    • And yeah, I agree, that public proposals can really make it so rejection is like, nearly impossible…which sucks.

      • Or even a “let’s wait and think about it.” I’m guessing he knew how she would react, but still…

      • About the public displays, it works for some and it doesn’t for others. These are THEATER people. The couple met at an audition for some musical. This works for them. Most of my theater friends are very public and elaborate–about everything. Neither way is wrong. It’s about knowing the couple. For me, for example, I’m not into jewelry. I like to look nice, but a giant rock seems like a waste of money to me. I don’t care about karats, and I tend to lose my jewelry anyways because I’m absentminded. Getting matching tattoos seems creepy to me. On the other hand, I enjoy romantic gestures based around my tastes, which if we’re getting married, my partner already knows. I like to be brought to tears by something sweet someone’s done for me. I’d love a creative proposal. I assume that by the time the proposal is about to happen–you already know you’re getting married. It’s just something to make your woman feel special. It’s different for every couple.

        • And I don’t mean to stereotype theater people. I’m one of the shyer ones, but I have had a lot of experiences with people who I could entirely see doing something like this. It’s fun for all involved.

  9. I haven’t ever interpreted even huge surprising proposals like this as a finish line, but rather as a beginning. The idea being that you can start off with a bang…it’ll be a happy cheerful occasion (engagements and weddings) that’ll send you off to start your life together on a high note.

    Also, I’ve never quite understood the idea that for something to be important it has to be solemn and serious. A wedding (and an engagement) are a beginning of something new…and beginnings are joyous occasions. Now I don’t think that a huge wedding and all of this pomp is necessary for a successful marriage…far from it. I, personally, prefer far less ceremony in my life. But that being said…just because a couple does go all out like this, doesn’t mean they’re any less serious about their marriage.

    • I didn’t say they are less serious, but that they’ve reached the zenith too early. How can they ever top this? Will the whimsy still be there when they’re having bad days and fighting about which way to hang the toilet paper?

      Perhaps solemn is an inapt word for the proposal. Private is better. For the wedding, though, I’m sticking with solemn as I’m a religious dude. That isn’t to say the solemn covenant doesn’t have joyous moments, but getting married is serious.

  10. Estelle says:

    I whole heartedly agree!

    “There was a time when a proposal, though possibly a surprise, was not predicated upon shock. The conversations had occurred and the answer was a foregone conclusion.”

    If the idea that the person you are dating wants to spend forever with you is a surpise the relationship is already in trouble. We must stop treating engagments as a accomplishment and a wedding as a finish line. They are milestones and markers on a road the will be walked together.

    If people spent as much time on building their relationship getting to know the peroson they have chosen and building the grounds for marriage maybe the divorce rate wouldn’t be as high as it is (yes I know there are other factors)


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