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Shore News Today (États-Unis)

French company offers 30 over-the-top marriage proposal packages.

Founder Nicolas Garreau, 35, helps cupid take aim by setting up the target in an elaborate romantic setting.

In this era of Grand Romantic Gestures – when even prom proposals are floated up on balloons and spelled out in lights, you might think the sky is the limit when it comes to popping the big question.

It’s more like outer space.

A French entrepreneur has made it his job to provide men and women around the world with elaborate settings in which to propose marriage. All take place in Paris, long considered the City of Love.

Nicolas Garreau, an aeronautical engineering school graduate, is the founder of ApoteoSurprise, an event planning agency that specializes in setting up marriage proposals that make women feel as if they have stepped into a fairy tale.

For as little as 290 euros to as much as 15,900 – or roughly $400 to $21,500 – he will arrange for anything from a deliveryman who sets a letter on fire to reveal a rose to a laser light spectacle on the banks of the Seine to an air show featuring four planes performing acrobatic stunts and then drawing a giant white heart in the sky, according to the company website.

Other options include launching a photo and a written proposal 24 miles into space inside a weather balloon. The whole affair is videotaped – from the launch to the moment the balloon explodes to reveal the proposal miles miles above the Earth. All for only $6,745.

Most of the packages are geared toward men who are proposing to women. Garreau said his goal with each and every proposal is to make the woman cry. The website includes video clips of women crying after hearing the proposals.

"The tears are, of course, tears of happiness,” Garreau said.

Garreau, 35, said that before getting into the business of selling marriage proposals, he noticed that there was a gap between the expectations of women and men when it comes to proposing. Men rarely take women’s expectations into account, he said, mainly because they are focused on their own emotions. In a press release he points to a survey indicating that nearly one in three men asks his girlfriend to marry him during an intimate moment in bed. However, 90 percent of women envision a more fairy tale-like proposal in which their beloved gets down on one knee.

“Another stunning study shows that, for most of men, making a marriage proposal is ‘scarier than a job interview, a parachute jump, or even swimming with sharks,’” the press release reads.

Garreau aims to play cupid by helping men give women what many appear to want: a romantic and creative expression of love.

“This is to help men to go for the marriage proposal and to temporarily act like a Prince Charming,” he said.

Founded in 2006, ApoteoSurprise offers 30 all-inclusive proposal packages, including a Cinderella carriage appearing at Place Vendôme with a “magical” glass slipper, a messenger dove delivering a love letter, a dinner cruise on the Seine on a yacht showered with a thousand red roses dropped from the sky, and dinner in a hot air balloon.

Garreau said the most popular package is a limousine tour of Paris with a personalized message appearing on a giant LED screen at the Eiffel Tower.

“Women cry every time!” he said.

My personal favorite is the movie theater package, which costs about $4,042. In this scenario, the object of one’s affection goes to a movie theater with a friend under the ruse of seeing a film. Trailers and commercials are shown, then the lights dim and the “feature” film begins.

But rather than the film billed, the intended will see on the big screen footage of her own significant other getting ready at home, going to the florist and buying roses, and stopping at a jewelry store to choose a ring. Subsequently he will be shown traveling to the cinema and entering the theater.

Then, as if the movie has suddenly switched to reality, he will walk down the theater aisle to his love bearing roses and a proposal, to the cheers of the audience – who then reveal themselves to be friend and family members.

According to Garreau, more than 1,200 people around the world have called on ApoteoSurprise to express their love “in a spectacular way.” His company is responsible for the first-ever marriage proposal in space on Feb. 14, 2013 at an altitude of 34 kilometers, according to his press release.

Garreau is unmarried, but considers himself a romantic.

“Since I was a kid, I have always tried to surprise and amaze the girls I’m in love with,” he said. “I think it’s especially because I’m not married that I’m always thinking about love and imagining new ways to amaze women.”

Some might argue that the point of such grand gestures is at least in part to demonstrate to the woman that the guy put some thought into it. Or that having the proposal staged by someone else detracts from the authenticity. Not to worry, Garreau says; everything is kept confidential.

“Our scenarios were all imagined, designed and personalized so that your loved one thinks that you organized the surprise all by yourself,” the website states. “At no time she/he can work out that you called on the service of a romance expert!”

Information and availability dates can be checked on the company website. Most proposals must be booked at least four or five days in advance.

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