Have you dreamt of being whisked away by a knight in shining armour? That needn’t be just a dream anymore. Today’s 20-somethings are increasingly turning to fairytale-like fantasies when they pop the big question.
And creative entrepreneurs are cashing in on this demand, offering everything from props for unusual proposals to custom-made poems and platters of cupcakes that spell ‘MARRY ME’.
At Delhi-based Any Surprise Any Place (ASAP), 25-year-old CEO Ruchi Chopra knows that sliding the ring into a glass of bubbly is passé.
So ASAP, launched in April 2007, specialises in planning surprises for any occasion. “An increasing number of young men, most aged 23 to 32, want us to help plan proposals for their girlfriends,” says Chopra.
From ‘knights’ showing up at the doorstep (with a horse clutching a basketful of goodies in its mouth) to sending over a music band to perform a love song, ASAP’s list of proposal capers is vast and varied. “The Bean Sack is a popular order at ASAP,” says Chopra. “That’s a huge gunny sack with the ring submerged deep in a sack full of beans.”
Delhi-based entrepreneur Mridul Sharma (36) used a variation of the Bean Sack to propose to his ladylove.
“As recommended by Chopra, I sent over a surprise sack full of all her favourite goodies like chocolates and make-up, a letter in a bottle, and the ring placed deep inside the sack, in a coconut shell,” says Sharma. “It was a simple yet creative idea and, hey, it helps because it’s become very difficult to woo women today. Hollywood films are spoiling them.”
Needless to say, Neha Khurana (27) said yes and the couple was married a few months later.
The more old-school romantics are saying it with poetry, even if they don’t write it themselves. The Shah of Blah Poetry duo of Kanika Parab (27) and Mansi Poddar (27) offer a personalised poem-writing service, which they started six months ago “for those who need help putting words to their feelings”.
All the wooer has to do is send in details about the significant other and the duo will spin a couplet or short verse.
That’s how Hiral Malde (23) ended up “proposing” to her fiancé a month before their wedding. “We were engaged and had set a date, but neither of us had actually proposed at any point,” says the Mumbai-based radio show producer. “I wanted to do something special.”
She approached the Shah of Blah duo and ordered an eight-line poem that was presented inside a fortune cookie over a surprise dinner. “I was stunned,” smiles then-fiance-now-husband Dipesh Shah (28), a stockbroker. “And I was very touched.”
Those with more of a sweet tooth are saying it with cupcakes, says Aashiyana Shroff (27) of Tart, a dessert café in south Mumbai.
“We sometimes use icing to spell out the question — each letter on a separate cupcake, or the whole sentence splashed on one giant cookie,” says Shroff. “Forty per cent of my orders for cupcakes and cookies are romantic gestures.”
Some of these orders include batches of cupcakes sent over to mark the countdown to the wedding.
“Countdown-themed orders are scheduled over five days or more,” says Shroff.
At the Ballooning Club of India, based in Delhi, couples are also proposing and even exchanging vows inside hot-air balloons, miles away from the rest of the world.
“The trend of trying new
ways to propose has escalated due to the impact of Western culture,” says club secretary Vishwa Bandhu Gupta, “and we see the highest number of bookings around Valentine’s Day.”