Your pet's new way around town
Caroline Ralston, who hails from Cheshire in northwest England, was a travel and tourism teacher back home until she came across an open–day advertisement for cabin crew with Emirates airline in Belfast in 2011. She took the first available flight to Belfast and as luck would have it, she landed the job. Soon, she landed in Dubai and started flying economy class for the next two years until she worked her way up to first class and eventually to private jets.
In retrospect, 2012 proved to be a defining year in her life when her partner, Tom Ralston, her university sweetheart, flew her to New York and proposed in the Big Apple with a giant heart-shaped engagement ring. The proposal swept Caroline off her feet. “Every single flight, I was meeting 20 other crew members who would all ask about my unique engagement ring and were keen to know about my proposal,” she says.
It was then she realised how much importance people put on the proposal, so she started to do a bit of research and couldn’t believe that there was no one planning proposals in Dubai. She, then, had the idea to set up the first proposal planning company in the UAE in 2014.
They have now been operating for eight years and have planned over 400 successful proposals for clients who are looking for “unforgettable, bespoke and luxurious proposals”. Caroline’s line of business has grown exponentially to attract high-flying people from across the globe. Their clients have the money to splurge but are overwhelmed with the proposal planning and don’t know where to start. Proposal Boutique helps them with the idea generation by sending out detailed consultation forms, they then create a unique proposal concept and work on all the detailed planning to make it a unique and personal proposal that is tailored specifically to the couple.
From venue scouting to custom designing showstopping props, to arranging flowers, décor, luxury transportation, to hiring photographers, videographers, balloon artists, pyrotechnicians, musicians, flash mob dancers, engagement ring shopping and even proposal speech assistance, Caroline and her team are a one-stop concierge service for their clients who want to make their proposals romantic and unforgettable.
So, how much does it cost to sweep your partner off her feet? Usually, it costs anywhere between Dh40,000 and Dh60,000 for a mid-range proposal. But then, the sky’s the limit and their packages go up to Dh300,000 for a proposal that lights up the Burj Khalifa, which can be viewed from a candlelit rooftop close by.
Caroline admits that when she set up the company in 2014, no one understood what a proposal planner was, but she says, “Dubai has everything needed to make it the number one proposal destination in the world. The city can beat other romantic places such as London, Paris and New York and I’m working towards that,” she adds.
So, it’s no wonder they have been entrusted in planning some high-profile proposals. For instance, English footballer Lewis O’Brien’s proposal to his partner Robyn Hartley falls in that category. “We planned a stunning beach proposal for Lewis. We rented a private stretch of beach with views of Burj Al Arab and created a romantic proposal setup with giant light up MARRY ME letters, musicians, fireworks and a private photographer and videographer,” she recounts.
Similarly, YouTube sensation Shaquan Roberts proposed to Rissa G. “Our client was flying from New York for his big Dubai proposal. We hired a private rooftop overlooking Dubai Marina and Ain Dubai. We filled the rooftop with thousands of fresh red roses, candles, custom light up letters and balloons. The couple arrived in a Rolls Royce Phantom and the famous jeweller was flown in from New York to hand him the ring for the occasion (the ring costs hundreds of thousands of US dollars),” she adds.
Or consider Taiwanese national Huang Chen proposing to his partner Susan Zhang — not once but thrice on a single day, in air, on land and underwater.
“Our client was flying in from Taiwan and wanted a truly BIG Dubai proposal and he wanted three proposals in one day. The couple started their day with a private helicopter tour of the city where he popped the question first. After their helicopter landed, they were ushered into a Rolls Royce and taken to the Montgomerie golf course. At the golf course, we had arranged a flash mob for the couple. We had also been Skyping with our client in the weeks running up to the proposal and he was part of the virtual rehearsals where he had his own dance routine at the end, which she was super shocked about. He then got down and proposed a second time. After that, they were then taken by limousine to the Burj Al Arab where we hired an underwater dining room that we filled with her favourite flowers, a musician and deep divers that presented the MARRY ME question underwater. He got down on one knee and proposed again with the third ring,” she reminisces.
Then, there was a private zoo proposal. “The couple’s first date was to a zoo, and they had been on a luxury safari holiday together previously, so we wanted to incorporate this into their proposal, so we hired out the entire zoo for their private proposal. The couple enjoyed a completely private walk around the zoo before going to the elephant sanctuary, where we had filled the area with her favourite sunflowers and red roses. We displayed a walkway of the couple’s images that led to the two resident elephants. He then got down on one knee and proposed just in time for the elephants to spray them with this water. A nice alternative to fireworks,” she says.
They are used to renting out entire venues for their client’s lavish proposals and this stadium one was no exception. “We rented out the entire Rugby Sevens stadium for a romantic proposal and we filled the pitch with hundreds of metres of fabric to spell out ‘BE MY VALENTINE’. The couple approached from the top of the stadium and saw the big declaration. As they walked down the red-carpet walkway on the pitch, they approached a beautiful dinner setup where he got down on one knee and proposed,” she says.
What about the Dubai Media City concert proposal? “We stopped a concert in Media City for a marriage proposal. We arranged for the band to play the couple’s favourite song and then we got them both up on stage for the big moment where he was handed a microphone and proposed in front of 10,000 residents and visitors. The cheers from the crowds were immense,” Caroline adds.
They have many more exciting proposals lined up over the coming months and the company is continuing to expand to offer their clients even more amazing proposal options that will continue to showcase Dubai as the favourite proposal hotspot in the world.
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