The staff at the Garden City Hotel can provide a...

The staff at the Garden City Hotel can provide a proposal turn-down service. (Feb. 11, 2012) Credit: Nancy Borowick

About four years ago Sarah Pease, a Manhattan event planner, heard of a bachelor who staged a surprise marriage proposal by stashing the engagement ring at the bottom of a KFC bucket.

Pease found inspiration in the uninspiring effort: She has since added marriage proposal planning to her list of services.

"His heart was in the right place, but I thought 'There has got to be a better way,' " she said.

The weeks leading up to Valentine's Day are among her busiest times of the year for such consulting, said Pease, who's been "up to my eyeballs in marriage proposals" since this past weekend.

One recent scenario, resulting from the bachelor's mentioning that his now fiance "was the last piece to his puzzle," involved the creation of a huge jigsaw puzzle, with pieces depicting the couple's key moments together, Pease said.

Among the factors leading to interest in this emerging role, she said, is the heightened visibility of that pop-the-question moment, thanks to Facebook and YouTube, with bachelors now also "documenting" the proposal with video. When an engagement is announced, said Pease, whose fees start at $500, " 'How did he propose?' is always the first question."

Over the past three years about 25 bachelors looking for help setting the scene have consulted with Rocio Jimenez, "marriage proposal concierge" at the Garden City Hotel. Approaches may vary in scope and complexity, but most involve gifts, such as roses, chocolate -- even a puppy -- as well as that diamond ring, said Jimenez, whose concierge services are complimentary.

To one couple on an overnight stay, "We had the puppy delivered on the bellhop cart. He had a big bow on and in the bow was the ring," said Jimenez, whose main job is as director of rooms.

Other bachelors have opted for a bed turndown service, with rose petals spelling out "Will you marry me?" Also dessert concoctions such as a box or dome of chocolate, where the ring is displayed -- but for safety reasons never baked in.

Last year when Francesca Skordalellis launched her Bellmore-based event planning business, she also included proposal consulting services, motivated by tales of unwelcome public proposals via JumboTron at sporting events or in front of the whole family during the holidays. Her fee for brainstorming and pulling off a basic idea, apart from vendor costs, starts at $250, she said.

For one of her clients, though, a Long Island bachelor who shares a passion for baseball with his now fiancé, Skordalellis said she helped set up as a proposal venue a mini-baseball field in his backyard, complete with baseball diamond, television screen, and mini-concession stand.

Today men want to look cool, she said. They see others putting an effort into the proposal and say, "Look what they did. I want to do that too." After all, she said, with all the wedding preparations to come, "this is the groom's time to be in the spotlight."

Proposal dos and don'ts:

Do personalize. "This needs to reflect your unique love story," says Pease. Even if you're planning a traditional romantic dinner proposal, write her (or him) a love letter to open on the day of your wedding. Or write up the reasons you love the person and attach one to each rose.

Do document. If you can't afford a professional videographer, you can still set up a webcam or have a camera ready, she says, so one day you can do a show-and-tell with your grandkids.

Don't assume. Your beloved may enjoy sporting events and family gatherings, but unless the person indicates a desire to be proposed to in public, keep it private, says Skordalellis.

Don't do anything potentially dangerous. "You can tie it into food, as long as the ring is not inside the food," says Jimenez.

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