Where Did Public Proposals Come From?

Out of all the women who got engaged last year and posted themselves on TheKnot.com, 43 percent received a public proposal, ranging from the guy who filmed a movie trailer to the one who painted a mural in New York’s East Village popping the questions. This led Slate.com to wonder: how did this whole concept come to be? Apparently, the roots of the public proposal are in New England in the 17th century, when couples planning on marrying had to hang a banner for three consecutive Sundays so that any objectors would have time to voice their concern. But it wasn’t until 1978 when a University of Tampa senior named Todd Miller bought an ad on the first-ever electronic billboard for $129 asking his girlfriend to marry him.

The 1980s became prime time for public proposals, when Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding showed us that nuptials can be spectacles. A few years later, sportscaster Ahmad Rashad proposed to Phylicia Rashad on the air. And a few years after that, in 1987, came the first JumboTron proposal. A trend took hold.

So, how do you feel about public proposals, which now seem to be par for the course—are they super sweet or making something public out of a private moment?


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