'Tis the Season to Get Engaged

As if Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, New Year's Eve and Festivus weren't enough, more than one in four grooms propose to their brides over the holiday season.

'Tis the season for wannabe husbands to bend a knee and pledge their love. November and December account for 26 percent of marriage proposals, according to a survey of 1,131 brides sponsored by the Fairchild Bridal Group, the publisher of "Modern Bride."

The survey doesn't even consider all those guys, perhaps egged on by too much eggnog, who got less-than-enthusiastic responses.

"It makes sense. You gather with the family, you feel that much closer to the person you're dating, and now you have an announcement to make," says Rachel Weingarten, author of the forthcoming, "Hello Gorgeous" (Collectors Press).

The wedding business has never been bigger, with nearly 2.1 million couples expected to tie the knot this year, and the cost of the average affair ballooning to $26,327. By Fairchild's estimates, there is an average of 40,400 weddings every weekend, with an annual total of 18 million bridesmaids and groomsmen and 295 million wedding guests.

But there can be no nuptial revelry until the groom pops the question. Luckily, contemporary American men have many unlikely sources to turn to for help. The scoreboard at Yankee Stadium alone accounted for 75 proposals this year, though team officials don't know how many perspective brides had second thoughts when the crowd started chanting their name.

Restaurants, hotels, museums, even zoos and parks have a policy of helping guys out when it's time to ask the question, and some go to outrageous lengths. If you're planning to be among the many who get engaged this holiday season, you might want to consider some of these alternatives.

1. Wedding Bells and Sleigh Bells: Cupid's got nothing on the Santa at the Minneapolis Holidazzle parade, who seems to have more than mistletoe in his sack. In the last 14 years, he's popped out of his sled 26 times to help grooms propose. This Father Christmas bounds off his sled-float, rushes into the bleachers, and surprises women by saying, "You want to hear what your boyfriend wants for Christmas?"

While the rugged Minnesota winters have caused parade-day temperatures to sink to subzero levels, that hasn't given grooms cold feet. Parade officials have already started their list of guys this year who plan a Santa special this holiday season.

"It's become a tradition, so people who go to the parade or watch it on TV see others do it," says Kristin Heinmets. "This year, one couple purposely planned their wedding in the hotel where Cinderella, Capt. Hook, Mother Goose and the other 250 parade characters are staying to incorporate the festivities into their reception."

2. The $10,000 Martini: You wouldn't want to find your wedding ring in a Big Gulp, but what about a $10,000 martini from New York City's Algonquin Hotel? Starting last year, the Algonquin's house jeweler, Bader & Garrin, began working with its bar to mix up the "Marriage Martini" -- which features a diamond ring where you might find an olive.

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