Man proposing to woman in Puerto Rico

How To Crash A Proposal In The Digital Age

“Will you marry me?”

It’s a question most people (hope to) ask or answer only once. But whether your proposal is public or private, planned or impromptu, it’s definitely one thing: fleeting. And that’s where technology can help.

Everyone is familiar with the “He popped the question!” tweets or the Facebook relationship status updates, but one thing I was not familiar with until last week was the Completely Random Bystander Effect.

Is it still stalking if they're happy about it afterward?
Is it still technically stalking if they’re happy about it afterward?

Proposal paparazzi

My husband and I were honeymooning in San Juan, and we saw a couple walking into a gazebo a few floors down from our balcony. Barrett must be able to sense an extremely nervous man from 200 yards because he said, “Maybe we should turn that music down – I think that guy’s about to propose.”

I wasn’t completely convinced that was what was happening, but I grabbed my phone. Sure enough, two minutes later, dude was down on one knee in a pretty picturesque tableau, and we were the only ones watching.

Once it was clear she said yes and we were not, in fact, watching an emotional trainwreck, we clapped and whistled and generally caused a scene, calling down to the couple to explain we’d gotten a few (admittedly fuzzy) shots of the big moment. They were ecstatic. A moment they only expected to be preserved in their memory was actually captured “on film,” and by complete strangers.

The tools of engagement

I gave the guy our room number, he called an hour later, and I texted him the photos. I also told him I had posted it on Instagram and gave him my username so he and his fiance could see what a great reaction all of our friends were having to his proposal. Now we follow each other, and we even traded San Juan restaurant recommendations for the rest of the trip.

The coolest thing about this for me was that technology played a part in this proposal without ruining the personal element of the moment. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have had a smartphone to take the photo with (yes, I held onto my flip phone way too long), and three years ago, we wouldn’t have been able to connect with this couple easily without avenues like Instagram. Where too much technology and accessibility often get in the way of a life event, here they enriched it for the participants and the spectators.

Social stalking is two-way street

It should be said that this magic moment was only possible because the couple agreed that it was cool that we caught their proposal in a photo and not intrusive or straight creepy. The key to this kind of two-way communication is that both participants have to get the advantages of our new social world, and lucky for us, this couple did.

But the ultimate takeaway for me is that despite how intrusive our phones and feeds can be in our “real” lives, sometimes they help make the moment instead of taking away from it. Not to mention, witnessing a marriage proposal is a pretty solid way to bookend a honeymoon.