Gone are the days of waiting for the right moment to pop the question. Instead of an intimate affair between two people and maybe some close friends and family, engagements are becoming huge, pre-planned events to include the public. It is no longer out of the norm for event planners to be involved, meticulously ensuring the moment will be a perfect one. From decoration, venue, timing down to the lighting to guarantee ‘instaworthy’ pictures. This is what civilization has come to, instead of the organic, we orchestrate our lives accordingly due to the pressures of social media.
It should be noted that people have been proposing through billboards and lavish displays of their love since before the internet and some are so over the top that they appear in headlines. Elaborate proposals might not have been due to the rise of social media, but publicizing it has and mostly for the sake of sharing it online. Social media has taken a hold of wedding proposals and flipped expectations, where once they were expected to be intimate, they are now expected to be over the top for the sake of advertising their love.
Bloggers Timothy Tiah and Audrey Ooi marked an era of proposals being an unforgettable and a highly shareable event, making its way onto online communities such as 9Gag where the groom’s idea of using memes came about. There are also instances of a ostentatious displays of love such as a Chinese man proposing to his girlfriend with sixty six thousand dollars worth of iPhones back in 2014. Over the top plans and viral-worthy creativity such as staging their own deaths before proposing, or using Harry Potter themed merchandise with the help of the online community. The ideas are boundless, and with the internet, it seems that proposals have evolved into something more than an intimate affair between two.
It seems as though social media has raisen the bar when it comes to wedding proposals. A pair of youtubers even parodied what has been dubbed “the millennial marriage proposal“, reaching over five hundred thousand views in a few short months, giving weight to how it resounded with the public. The video makes fun of how the to-be bride ruins the surprise with concerns on how the shots look, making the man redo his proposal over and over again before directing the videographer and choreographing the entire scene and paying more attention to how many likes she’s gotten rather than the significance of the event.
There are even articles recommending the various angles and styles in which to best show off their engagement rings. There is the simple shot of the bride’s hand with a stunning view in the background, the classic kiss with the ring forefront and center as the bride covers where their lips meet or having the hand caressing the fiancé’s face, or even a carefully set out flatlay.
Social media has become so embedded in wedding ceremonies that Martha Stewart, a leading businesswoman in the industry of cooking, weddings and lifestyle, have come up with ten commandments regarding the use of social media during a bride’s big day. Nowadays all weddings have their own hashtags for use on social media. There are hashtag generators for couples who might need some assistance thinking up an appropriate one for their big day. Some might even set up a livestream of these tags to project on the wall for guests to enjoy, aside from the pre-wedding or actual day video streams which will eventually make their way online.
Aside from the bride and groom’s side of things, guests also have some etiquette guidelines to follow. Oversharing seems to be a key focus. Many of these guidelines stress on how guests should be mindful of the bride and groom’s wishes. For example, uploading photos of the bride before the groom has had a chance to see her is one of the major faux pas to commit at a millennial wedding. The guides suggest waiting for the couple to upload photos to their social media before following suit as a respectful gesture.
The problem with these grand marriage proposals being posted online is how public and un-retractable it is. What if it falls apart? A lot could happen between an engagement and a wedding. To post such an announcement publicly is understanding that it will always be out there, even as the engagement falls apart and the previously linked couple finds a different future with other people. Those videos and photos might be seen by their future spouses and the like.
Furthermore, the expectations from the public and women worldwide could have negative consequences. Whilst movies has always had detrimental effects on notions of what romance and love is, it is easy to comprehend that what happens on screen is not realistic but social media paints an entirely different picture for. What is social media if it is not a portrayal of it? And this may have women thinking, if they can have that, why can’t I?
Lastly, while a marriage proposal should be an occasion between two people (or two families, depending on the culture) and the opinions of others should not matter, posting it online subjects the entire proposal to judgment from strangers and families alike. Comparisons are also easily drawn by anyone when everything is put on show.