Digital Love: When Romance Goes High-Tech

Modern Romeos propose with help from Kindle, social network Path, Groupon.

Feb. 11, 2011— -- Rose petals. Champagne. A candlelight dinner for two.

Work those into a marriage proposal -- with a sparkling diamond to boot -- and you're bound to get a booming "yes!"

But modern-day Romeos are finding far more memorable ways of getting to happily-ever-after with a quiver of high-tech tools, from favorite gadgets to social media.

If you're planning to pop the question this Valentine's Day and need some inspiration or just want to indulge your inner Cupid, take a look at a few of our favorite digital love stories below.

The 'Path' to Marriage Shared With Friends and Family

It takes some faith to share a secret with 30 of your closest friends and family.

But when 26-year-old Chris Hutchins proposed to his girlfriend Amy Fox, 26, in November, he used the private social network Path to keep his family and friends in the loop.

In the days leading up to the proposal, he posted photos of himself and the ring to the private network, which maintains a more intimate tone by capping users' friend lists at 50 people.

"Nervous at home" said the caption to one photo. "Hiding the goods..." said another.

(Hutchins said he knew technology wouldn't leak the surprise to Fox because, at the time, Path was iPhone-only and Fox carried an Android phone.)

Right before he proposed, he dropped to his knee to take a picture, telling his future bride it would be more artistic if she looked away. Hutchins snapped the picture and posted it to Path.

By the time Fox turned around, he'd replaced the phone with a diamond ring.

He said she barely had a chance to say "yes" before a stream of "congratulations!" texts flooded her phone.

Hutchins said he was partly inspired by a promotional video for Path, which highlights a marriage proposal, but added that the couple has become accustomed to the "one to many" way of sharing memories via social media.

"We spent the better half of 2009 to 2010 traveling around the world together and the entire time in the third world," he said. "When we were traveling, it's not that you can just call someone. ... We were very much used to sharing all of our memories online."

What made Path perfect for the proposal, he said, was that he didn't have to share it with everyone on Twitter, or hundreds on Facebook, but with just the few closest people he'd connected with on Path.

And when the couple gets married next year, Hutchins, who works for the location-based service SimpleGeo, said technology is likely to play a role again.

"We're already aware of the fact that some people can't make it," he said. "If it were today, Path, Twitter, social media, of course, that will be part of sharing our experience."

Kindle's Greatest Love Story

For 24-year-old Kim Karcher, no other Kindle story will ever compare.

When her boyfriend Scott Allan, 26, proposed last August, he didn't just pop the question; he did it with the help of Amazon's e-reader.

"I am very much a gadget geek," said Allan, who lives in St. Louis, Mo. "I'd been thinking about the proposal for a while and I knew that I wanted to do something different -- not just the standard, down on one knee, with tear in eye."

One day at work, when he noticed that a tech website was having a super sale on Amazon's Kindle, the light bulb went off.

"Sitting at my desk, the idea just dawned on me. Why not write this romantic story about how we met and leave it open-ended?" he said.

Allan said he knew that Karcher wanted a Kindle anyhow, so he waited until the couple's two year anniversary and presented her with his gift.

He walked her through the device and then said he'd already taken the liberty of downloading its first story.

"She read it out loud and as she reads it, she sort of pauses and says, 'What is it? What is this story?'" he said. "I'm getting super nervous at this point and pulled the ring out of my pocket."

When Karcher reached the end of the story, he proposed.

"It's just a fantastic little tool," Allan said about the Kindle. "It really made it a lot more memorable.

And when they get married this May, he said the Kindle might join them at the altar -- maybe even in the hands of their officiant.

Foursquare, Twitter Proposal Live-Streamed Online

When 26-year-old Matt Van Horn got down on one knee, the entire Internet could have been following along.

In proposing to his girlfriend Lauren Fishman, 26, last August, Van Horn enlisted the help of his friend (actually the same Chris Hutchins of the Path proposal) to use the Web application Qik to live-stream the entire thing.

Not only that, but he leaned on the location-based network Foursquare and Twitter, too.

"Obviously, I've been a big nerd my whole life and she's always known that," the San Franciscan quipped.

Van Horn told Fishman that he would be out of town for the weekend, but then had a friend lure her to their favorite spot in the city.

He hid behind a rock and waited. When he got the signal that she had arrived, he checked into the park on Foursquare, which posted the live-stream URL to Twitter.

The tweet not only alerted Fishman to his presence (she receives his tweets as text messages on her phone), but let friends, family and total strangers watch the whole proposal online.

"The thing that made me the most nervous was … she actually makes me stand on the one knee for 23 seconds without any indication of positive, negative, anything. Just like hand over face," said Van Horn, who runs business development for the social network Path. "So that was pretty terrifying. Twenty-three seconds when you're proposing, that's a lifetime. I was confident she was going to say yes but it was still nerve-wracking for the 23 seconds."

Ultimately, Fishman said yes and Van Horn said she appreciated the memorable marriage proposal.

But when it comes time for the wedding, the couple has decided it will be a low-tech affair.

"It's going to be the anti-social media wedding," he said. "Our wedding is going to be a smaller, more intimate setting and not one for sharing with everyone in the world."

'Grouposal': Deal of the Day Site Offers Marital Bliss

For one Cincinnati couple, it was the deal of the day that led to a lifetime of love.

In January, 25-year-old Greg Hill conspired with Groupon to create a special deal just for his girlfriend Dana Burck, 24.

Titled "A Surprise for a Dana from a Greg," the one-day deal went live across the Cincinnati market but was available in a limited quantity -- for only one.

Under "The Fine Print," the deal said, "Groupon entitled to no less than 15% of your marital bliss. Either party may develop a snoring problem. One or both participants will not always look like a 20-year-old. Good luck, you kids."

In a New York Times story on the proposal, Hill said that he wanted to use Groupon because Burck was such a frequent user of the site. Burck said he kept her awake all night so that when the deal went live early in the morning, they could open it together.

Once Burck had a chance to see the deal, the Times said Hill got down on one knee - engagement ring in one hand, an iPod playing Burck's favorite song in the other.

And Groupon was the first to wish the happy couple well.

When Burck hit the "buy" button, the site said, "Congratulations Dana or Stranger, you are now unofficially obliged to marry Greg!"

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