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What “Runaway Bride” Taught Me About Marriage Proposals

December 18, 2014

I need everyone to calm down with their over-the-top marriage proposals. It’s getting out of control. Now this mass hysteria has even leaked down to high schoolers, who are planning extravagant “prom proposals.”

Just calm down. Slow your roll. Get a hobby.

Not to sound too much like your grumpy relative who still believes Publisher Clearing House will show up at their doorstep, but when I was a young lass, all we needed was a guy who loved us to get down on one knee and pledge to love us for all our days, even the ones where we’re mad at them for no reason other than leaving orange peels in the sink overnight. (Phew…that was a long and winding sentence, eh?)

But now, it’s become a competition to see whose proposal video can go viral. Will they get their 15 minutes of fame? And will that 15 minutes of fame result in free stuff for the wedding?

This brings to mind Runaway Bride. You never thought there were lessons to be gleaned from romantic comedies, did you?

In Runaway Bride, Ike Graham (Richard Gere) is a reporter doing a story on Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts), a woman who is about to walk down the aisle for the fourth time, after leaving the previous three men at the alter. Cuteness and love in smalltown America ensues.

But what I thought of was Ike’s speech about wedding proposals, as seen in the clip below.

Here’s what he says:

Maybe it’s just me, but if you gotta dress it up like that, it doesn’t ring true. I think the most that anybody can honestly say is, ‘look, I guarantee that there will be tough times, I guarantee that at one point one or both of us is gonna want to get out of this thing. But I also guarantee that if I don’t ask you to be mine, I’ll regret it the rest of my life. ‘Cuz I know, in my heart, you’re the only one for me.’”

Now, I’m not saying that anyone with an elaborate marriage proposal isn’t sincere. But sometimes I wonder if people with these huge proposals, or kitschy engagement sessions, or intricately themed weddings, are planning for a marriage, or planning for a chance to become internet-famous.

Are they trying to prove something? Prove they’re the most in love, or the most creative? Are they, like many of us, seeking the validation from strangers that seems to have become the most valuable currency of this age?

If the people doing the proposing are just trying to show their extravagant love in an equally extravagant way, that’s fine. More power to you. Maybe I’m just being cynical about everyone’s motives. But I can’t help but think people are missing the mark on what it means to show someone an extravagant amount of love. It’s not in the big gestures or the viral videos, but in the everyday things. The small things that say “I’m committed to you on the days when we’re internet-famous, but even more so on the days when you’re the only one in the world who sees me.”

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