Proposing is the ultimate gesture of love, the prologue to “I do,” and now there is a booming business around making popping the question as perfect as possible.
With the wedding industry now topping $55 billion a year, more and more couples are spending big money for proposal services, creating new opportunities for entrepreneurs.
British-born James Ambler, 35, is an expert in capturing those once-in-a-lifetime moments. He a former paparazzo turned “Shark Tank” entrepreneur. His company, Paparazzi Proposals, works with wedding hopefuls to capture the proposal moment.
His base price for a proposal scenario, which includes portraits of the magic moment, starts at $495 and can go up from there. Ambler offers proposal setups that are as extravagant as bringing in a team of photographers, hooking up multiple GoPros, drones, flowers and a live band.
“It depends on how deep your pockets are,” he said. “We've had proposals in the tens, twenties of thousands of dollars.”
Ambler earned his photography chops filming celebrities, but when a blocked artery required him to have open-heart surgery at age 28, he said it gave him a serious wake-up call. He said he decided then to launch his own business, shooting photos for regular Joes.
Since Ambler appeared on “Shark Tank” in 2013, he said his proposal planning business is up 400 percent, even though he ended up not signing a contract with the Sharks in the end. He now makes about $150,000 in sales annually, he said.
And he’s not the only proposal business in town. Proposal planner Sarah Pease is the owner and creative director of a business called Brilliant Event Planning, also in New York City. Her packages start around $2,000 for a planned proposal.
Ambler will set up times for multiple proposals on a single day, and said this year’s Valentine’s Day was like his Black Friday. On Feb. 14, 2015, Ambler planned five proposals in New York City, and then hired other photographers to set up two more planned proposals in San Francisco and one in Paris, all in the same day.
“It’s been crazy busy,” he said. “But typically the busiest months are November and December.”
So far, Ambler said he has helped 700 couples get engaged, and has a 100 percent success rate -- meaning everyone has said “yes” at the end. Even now, Ambler said the big moment isn’t about the glitz or even the money spent.
“I tell my guys all the time, it doesn’t matter about the cost, or the glamour. It’s all about the gesture of asking the woman of your dreams to marry you,” he said.