If you need help finding an apartment, you hire a real estate agent. If you're struggling to book a trip, you hire a travel agent. So when it comes to asking one of the most nerve-racking questions of your life -- "Will you marry me?" -- some men will shell out thousands of dollars to hire Sarah Pease.
Pease is the Proposal Planner. She is the owner and creative director of a business called Brilliant Event Planning in New York City. Men hire her to help them form a foolproof wedding proposal strategy that will make their brides-to-be go weak at the knees.
"The reason I'm here to help, and the reason my business has been so successful, is because there are people out there who don't have the time or the creativity, but they know that it's important," she said.
She said that when clients come to her for help, she will develop their proposal idea, handle the logistics -- such as booking a private location -- and sometimes even coach them on what to wear and say when they pop the question.
"It's very creative in the sense that I have to come up with this amazing idea," Pease said. "Something that's personalized for them and something new and different every single time. If one of my clients wants to incorporate a hula-hooping fire dancer into his proposal, I have to be able to find it."
Pease is one of a handful of proposal planners around the country who have carved out a new niche in the wedding industry -- an industry that rakes in some $160 billion a year.
While her business offers different levels of services, Pease said the price for planning a proposal with her usually starts at around $2,000 and can go over $10,000, depending on how elaborate the groom wants his moment to be.
"As everybody says, the wedding is the bride's day, so the proposal is the groom's chance to knock it out of the park."
Nervous about getting down on one knee? Sarah Pease offers her top dos and don'ts for planning the perfect proposal below.
Make it a Surprise: "Take your future fiancee completely by surprise in order to make your engagement extra special," Pease said. "She'll instantly suspect something is up if you suggest a getaway weekend or intimate dinner out of the blue. Instead, use a decoy like a work function as your excuse to get her to your proposal location. For more advanced future grooms: get an accomplice involved like her best friend or coworker. If she's out for dinner with her best friend, she won't be expecting a proposal at all and it will be a true surprise."
Get Inspired by Her Favorite Things: "The most important part of proposals is to make it personal for her," Pease said. "Grab a sheet of paper and write down a list of her favorite things: songs, movies, colors, flowers, foods, memories, people -- the list goes on and on. Expand this list by adding in things that she's only dreamt of: where is her dream vacation? What has she always wanted to try? Whether it's skydiving or culinary school, a trip to Tahiti or a day of pampering, use these pieces of inspiration as the foundation for your proposal."
Keep It a Secret: "As the saying goes, 'Loose lips sink ships,' and when it comes to getting engaged it's absolutely true," Pease said. "Don't be tempted to swap ideas with your work buddies or friends, even if they aren't scheduled to see your future fiance anytime soon."
"If you're using an accomplice, make sure it's someone who fully understands the gravity of the situation and is completely reliable. Asking her parents' permission? Hedge your bets and do it as close to the proposal as possible. An excited parent has been known to slip up and unintentionally ruin the surprise for everyone."
Document It: "Proposing is a nerve-racking experience. Chances are, you'll remember very little about what you actually said, how she reacted and what happened in the aftermath," Pease said. "Whether it's hiring a videographer and photographer to capture it paparazzi-style, setting up a Flip cam on a tripod, or bringing a small notebook and pen to record your thoughts, make sure to do something to remember the moment. It'll become a family heirloom that you can share with your grandkids."
Keep Some Traditions Alive: "There are two traditions that all proposals should have: a ring and getting down on one knee. If you don't want to ruin the surprise of your engagement by ring shopping, bring a candy ring pop or a toy ring to propose with and then enjoy shopping for your ring together after you're engaged. And be sure to get down on one knee. It's one tradition that is still critical to this important question."
Click on the next page to read Sarah Pease's "don'ts" for planning the perfect proposal.
Don't Propose Without a Plan: "Follow the Boy Scout motto and 'be prepared,'" Pease said. "Take a critical look at your proposal plan and consider all of the possible obstacles to executing it successfully. In other words, think catastrophically and be a worry wart. Weather and traffic are the biggest potential troublemakers, but a clueless limo driver can also ruin your day.
"If you're planning to propose in your local park and have arranged for a musician to meet you there, do you have a plan if it rains? Popping the question at the top of the Empire State Building? How will you get past security with the ring in your pocket? Make sure that you think through all of the elements of your engagement from the set-up to the actual proposal and to what happens afterwards."
Don't Forget About the Aftermath: "When putting together your engagement plan, consider when you'll be asking her to marry you," Pease said. "Will it be in the morning before she has to go to work? If she's rushed to get to an important meeting, she may not be able to bask in the glow of the moment. If you're camping in the middle of nowhere without a cell signal or in an exotic location around the world, how will you call to share the news with friends and family?"
"Keep in mind that you'll want to be able to ride the wave of being engaged after she says yes, so be sure to take that into consideration when making plans."
Don't Propose on a Jumbotron: Ever.