image by Cynthia Kain Photography
For one reason or another, we’re all completely fascinated with the idea of a grand proposal– the stuff you see in movies, where the day is perfectly orchestrated around a scavenger hunt that ends at the Eiffel Tower or a sweeping hot air balloon ride. All conclude, of course, with a sweet little ring, a bended knee, and a passionate kiss. What girl doesn’t dream of that?
In real life, not all men are so savvy, most plans aren’t so well-laid, and the average budget is not conducive to private jets and Tiffany diamonds. But that doesn’t mean that the average proposal needs to be humdrum– and Elizabeth Carter, founder of Washington D.C.-based Bespoke Proposals, is here to help! With an all-star background in event planning and an eye for dramatic, meaningful, and unforgettable details, Elizabeth has made it her goal to help your groom completely wow you.
First things first– how did you get into the wedding industry? What originally sparked your interest in weddings and love stories?
Elizabeth: Funnily enough, the thing that first sparked my interest in special events was shopping for an invitation to my high school graduation party. I remember being in the paper store, flipping through endless albums of invitations with my mother, and feeling like I could just stay there forever. When it came time for me to find a college internship I knew I wanted to learn more about events and couldn’t think of more joyous thing than a wedding. I still love weddings more than anything, whether I am the planner or a guest. How many occasions does one get where all of their loved ones are gathered in one room to celebrate something as happy as two people in love starting a new life together?
You gained so much creative experience working for beloved event planner Tara Guerard– what was the number one most valuable lesson you learned from your time with her?
Elizabeth: It is so hard to choose only one! I cannot tell you how many times in the process of starting Bespoke Proposals that I have thought, “What would Tara do?” I have to say her confidence is what makes her the best at what she does. She built Soiree based on the confidence that she could create beautiful things for betrothed couples and that trait exudes throughout the entire planning process with her. Brides are so often full of indecision and nerves, but Tara has a way of getting to know people and their desires very quickly. That makes for simple decision making and that easy assurance she passes along to her couples is welcomed. I want to pass that same confidence along to every person I help propose. The day you ask someone to marry you is one of those high points in life, and you deserve to enter it with the faith that everything is going to go your way.
image by Cynthia Kain Photography
With weddings becoming more and more creative, detailed, and personalized, why is having an equally romantic proposal important?
Elizabeth: One of the main pillars by which I live my life is that you should live every day to the fullest. Great moments don’t just fall into our laps, we have to make them. Some days that can be kind of hard– those mundane Tuesdays when you’re sitting in your windowless office– but big moments, like proposals, provide us with fabulous opportunities to make a milestone special for the ones we love. I believe that those opportunities should be taken advantage of!
image by Cynthia Kain Photography
Tell us a little bit about Bespoke Proposals– how is your vision of a proposal different from (or similar to!) the other-the-top, dramatic, made-for-TV version of a proposal?
Elizabeth: The proposals that I strive to produce are seen but also felt. Proposals seen on TV are full of grandiosities like helicopters, ball gowns, and beaches in Bali. This is beautiful, but it isn’t real life for most of us. The most important thing is that a proposal be built exclusively for your One, not the masses. True romance is knowing someone so intimately that you’re able to create the perfect, personalized experience for them. It’s about knowing the details that would be important to them and implementing those so their specific dream comes true, no matter how simple or how grand. It is for this exact reason that I don’t think Goggling proposal advice is very productive. All of those tips were built for someone else, not for you. Get creative and stay personalized.
What was the first proposal you helped plan? What was the most memorable proposal you’ve helped plan?
Elizabeth: My first proposal was probably also the most memorable because it was my first go at this. The couple was from New York City and they embodied that Manhattan sophistication, so I wanted to give them a very New York experience. Gramercy Park is a small fenced-in park in lower Manhattan. It is one of only two remaining private parks in New York City, and the only people with keys are the owners of homes adjacent to the park. It is kind of a curious mystery to locals, but I learned about a loophole. If you are a guest of the Gramercy Park Hotel, the hotel can give you access to the park.
This location combined all of the things he was looking for: a beautiful setting, an exclusive experience she couldn’t stumble into on an ordinary day, and that style so embodied by New York, so it was the ideal place to pop the question. He booked a room and got that Yes! he was looking for! The entire day was planned out– from the ruse to get her to the hotel to the after party where they celebrated with 25 close friends and family.
Beyond proposals (and/or weddings), what’s your dream creative project?
Elizabeth: Oh I love this one! My dream for forever has been to own my own boutique hotel. We have family in a beautiful historic town along the coast of North Carolina and I would love nothing more than to open a small, 40 to 50 room hotel there. In my dreams it is complete with an oyster bar, a rooftop pool, and each room has it’s own huge clawfoot bathtub.
There is so much wedding inspiration out there– what’s your advice for brides and grooms as they go about starting their wedding planning journey? Where do you turn, personally, for inspiration?
Elizabeth: My best advice to brides is to be decisive. There are so many choices out there these days that it can be difficult to wade through them all. It is important to have confidence in your plan, and make decisions based on it. Choose one direction and find resources that fit within that feel or theme. My wedding was in horse country outside of Washington, DC so I stuck to local Virginia wedding resources, mostly blogs. That made it easier for me to choose things that were “of” my location and were also easy to implement.
What’s next for you? What’s next for Bespoke Proposals?
Elizabeth: My dream for the company is to eventually see it expanded into other consulting areas for men. I would love to fill that niche between the wealthy who have personal assistants and busy people who struggle to do it all on their own. Now, men may have help in certain areas of their lives– physical trainers for example– but to my knowledge there is not one go-to place for the everyman to make his life a little easier. These opportunities can go beyond romantic events like proposals and anniversaries and into niche, almost concierge-like areas. I think the sky is the limit!
Follow along with Elizabeth and her fabulous proposals on Facebook | on Twitter! all images, unless credited, courtesy of Elizabeth!