Valentine’s day is Thursday. And odds are good that quite a few marriage proposals are in the works. But forget skywriting, public announcements and surprise parties. As Nancy Loo reports in tonight’s Cover Story, some marriage proposals have become major productions. One such proposition happened exactly a year ago today over Lake Michigan in Chicago.
“This girl’s amazing, “says professional pilot Ryan Thompson, ”and I wanted to do something memorable and something special for her.” Ryan is madly in love with Carlie Kennedy. And, he’s a professional pilot. So he put the two together for a sky high marriage proposal called “In Descent Proposal” that now has more than four million hits on YouTube. Ryan starts their story. “We were flying along and it was kind of a bumpy day over the lake that day. And we hit some chop and kinda bumped around and I thought well now’s as good a time as any.” Ryan told Carlie the plane’s controls weren’t working. He asked her to stay calm and read him the emergency procedure checklist. Carlie picks up their story. “And I was like oh my gosh this is for real, like the plane’s going down. We were over Lake Michigan. We’re gonna land in the water. We’re gonna crash into the water.” Ryan loved the idea.
Others did not. “Everyone I talked to about it said DON’T! ABORT! DO NOT DO THIS PLAN! “I had to go to the ring engagement procedure,” says Carlie. “It said the pilot to your left will always love and honor you. Will you marry me? And that’s what you see when I put my hands over my face. It really was a complete swing of emotions, but it was the most positive emotions I’ve experienced in my life. “ Both Ryan and Carlie were unprepared for some of the online reactions. “There were some reaction on YouTube like, “Thanks a lot jerk, you ruined it for the rest of us. Like how am I gonna propose now?” While the sky’s the limit for Carlie and Ryan, others are taking a plunge with their proposals. And their love runs so deep, the beluga whales here at the Shedd Aquarium are in on the surprise.”
Jon Kamp proposed to Jamie Graves in the whale tank. “Whales are the one animal that she loves. Always wanted to train one, see one in person, that helped. It also kind of helped me because she thought it was just a whale experience, she never expected to get engaged.” “He pulled a ring out of his waders and proposed,” says Jamie. “And, I just looked at him and said, “Jon Kamp we’re in a whale tank! and obviously YES!”
Because some wedding proposals have become so elaborate, some guys are hiring help. “The most important thing is unexpected and surprise,” says Frank Andonoplas of Frank Event Design in Chicago. He says expectations are higher when it comes to popping the question, so creativity is key. “We try to think of something that is totally maybe a little outrageous, something that will be memorable in all the right ways, but something that will totally catch the other person off guard.” There are endless examples of outrageous marriage proposals on YouTube, like the guy who choreographed a flash mob with all of his family and friends. A scientist flies his girlfriend to Iceland to propose under an aurora borealis.
And a number of guys have made highly produced movie trailer proposals to play at theatres for their unsuspecting future brides. “Now there is keeping up with the Joneses,” says clinical psychologist Hollie Sobel from Rush University Medical Center. She says memorable proposals are simply about romance. And everybody loves a good love story. “You hear about people wanting to scream it from the rooftops, they’re in love. And so this is one way to do that just to share with others how happy you are.” Sobel believes social media has fueled the trend. But a viral video should never be the goal. “Sometimes opposites attract and one person would want that and the other wouldn’t. For “In Descent Proposal’s” Thompson, “It actually happened better than I could have hoped for, she kept her cool and it just worked out well.”
Though most of her friends wondered why she didn’t smack him, Carlie has no regrets. “We will remember this for the rest of our lives. So, I would say if you have an idea like this and you have the guts to pull it off, and you know your fiancé could handle it, then I would go for it!” Nancy Loo, WGN News.” Ryan says he posted his proposal video on YouTube mainly to share with family and friends, unaware it would go viral and lead to news stories around the world. After all that publicity, the couple is planning a private and very small wedding in Chicago this April. And they’re keeping the details to themselves!
(PAM GRIMES, MIKE D’ANGELO & JORDAN GUZZARDO ALSO CONTRIBUTED TO THIS STORY)
To see the entire videos features in Nancy’s report, click these links. And you can share this story by going to wgntv.com/coverstory.
Ryan and Carlie on YouTube:
Aurora borealis proposal:
Movie trailer proposal:
Flash mob proposal:
Building jump proposal: