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Why I proposed marriage in public

By Jake Bronstein, Special to CNN
updated 11:15 AM EDT, Thu August 30, 2012
BMX rider Todd Lyons took a knee in April at a national BMX race in Chula Vista, California, and popped the question to Mare Galletti, his girlfriend of three years. "People constantly tell us what an awesome proposal it was and how awesome it is to have it all captured," Galletti said. <a href='http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-826859' target='_blank'>See more on Lyons' very public proposal on Galletti's iReport</a>. BMX rider Todd Lyons took a knee in April at a national BMX race in Chula Vista, California, and popped the question to Mare Galletti, his girlfriend of three years. "People constantly tell us what an awesome proposal it was and how awesome it is to have it all captured," Galletti said. See more on Lyons' very public proposal on Galletti's iReport.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jake Bronstein asked his now-wife to marry him using 59 people to whisper the question
  • Bronstein says the method suited their relationship, interests and personalities
  • While some criticize public proposals, Bronstein wanted to express his love grandly

Editor's note: A spate of recent public marriage proposals inspired CNN's iReport to ask readers to share their communal declarations of love, which are showcased in the gallery above. In a set of companion articles, writers explain why they declared their nuptial intentions boldly and publicly--as Jake Bronstein details below--or quietly and in private, as Kat Kinsman advocates here. And here are some tips from a proposal maestro.

(CNN) -- Before I get into the what, where, why and how of my fairly public marriage proposal to my now-wife Kristina, there's something you should know: My love for this woman can be bothersome at times.

No, really. Let me explain.

It bothers my friends -- in particular the single ones -- to watch my focus completely shift from whatever we were talking about to Kristina when she enters a room and makes her way toward me. She captivates me. It bothers her when, while we lie in bed, our noses touching, something comes over me and I literally want to eat her face. I can't help myself, I just need more of her. And it bothers even me to tell her "I love you," as the words themselves don't fully explain the intensity of my feelings. I love swimming with my dog, too, but clearly the two aren't on equal footing.

So when it came time to ask her to be my wife, saying it quietly as I slipped a ring across a candle-lit table wasn't going to do. Not for me, anyway.

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I'm sure it would have been just as meaningful, and we'd have gotten married just the same, but I wanted a spectacle so she would know how serious I was about the idea.

And while I would have liked nothing more than to whisper it in her ear, push a button, and light up the whole sky with fireworks while skywriters scribbled her name in hearts, I just didn't have the budget.

Instead I decided to ask Kristina to marry me via a game of whisper-down-the-lane, that children's' game where you pass a message from one person to the next and hope it doesn't get lost in translation. Doing it this way worked for me for a number of reasons:

1. I could involve friends, family, acquaintances and, yes, even strangers as I professed my love.

2. RecordSetter.com (then called URDB.org) -- a sort of online Guinness Book of World Records -- which hosted the event where I proposed, had long been a theme of our relationship. I am an official adviser to RecordSetter.com, and both Kristina and I have set several world records.

Our second date was a trip to their first live event, in the basement of a Chinese restaurant where 10 or so friends of the founders set records including "Most compliments given to strangers in a minute" and "Longest vocal fry" (that long, drawn out sound kids make from the back of their throats when they're particularly bored).

3. I got to catch Kristina off guard. Sure, she'll tell you she knew I was going to pop the question. She'll say that too many familiar faces had shown up at the bar where the event was hosted, and that I'd been acting funny all week. It's not true. In fact, I'd tried to propose the month before in the exact same way but had to abandon the plan when the message, after being whispered from one person to the next, came through wrong in the end (the message came through as something like "I want to rock and roll").

4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I thought it was a clever idea. And I like clever ideas.

What's with public marriage proposals?

As luck would have it, on this, the second attempt, everything went according to plan. The message passed through 59 people and when a drunken stranger finally whispered the words in Kristina's ear, she didn't quite know what to make of it. When she turned around, I was on bended knee, ring in hand.

After she said yes, we went backstage for a minute. She asked if we should call her parents. I said they already knew. She was so shocked by my elaborate plan, she let out an expletive and nearly knocked over a chair.

The rest of the night was a blur: shots of whiskey with friends, phone calls, hugs and high-fives from people I'd just met but who, by not tampering with the message, helped me close the deal.

It wasn't until weeks later that a video of the proposal started making it's way around the Internet. SwissMiss.com was the first to post it, but by the next day it was on the front page of AOL and Huffington Post.

We were on vacation when, without warning, bookers from the morning news shows started calling.

Going on TV was fun. I'm a guy who always has something to promote (FYI: Google "Flint and Tinder") but, when Kristina said she'd like to go on TV, for once I kept my mouth shut and let the moment be all about her.

None of that was the point though. The spectacle I made, and the special moment that came of it, and ultimately our marriage, was for Kristina and me. The total view count on all of the various copies of the video that people posted, copied, re-hosted and posted again, topped a million. But I didn't do it for them. I did it for us.

Our proposal fit with who we are -- our wedding featured a double decker bus from which we took friends on a tour of our New York landmarks, a world record that we set as a group (most people to administer the wedding vows at once), custom stuffed animals of Kristina and me, a photo booth, and Brazilian barbecue (it's where she's from).

Sure, a whisper chain wedding proposal isn't for everyone, but I don't feel I need to defend proposing so publicly. Nor should anyone have to defend how they decide to do it.

So why would a guy write an op-ed defending a public wedding proposal he doesn't feel needs defending? The answer is shockingly similar to the reason I did it in the first place. It all boils down to my love of this woman, and of grand gestures; I love telling Kristina how I feel, and sometimes it's nice to say it in front of others.

Whether or not my argument makes sense, I know one woman who's probably going to find it charming.

Would you propose in public or want your partner to do so? Share your take in the comments section below.

Anika Chin contributed to this article.

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