U.K.-based luxury travel agency Black Tomato has been planning elaborate vacations and honeymoons since 2005, but recently they decided to enter a new market: engagements. After receiving a plethora of requests to orchestrate extravagant proposals, Black Tomato launched a service specifically dedicated to popping the question. Tom Marchant, the company’s co-founder, scours the globe to create one-of-a-kind proposals that are custom designed for each couple.
“A majority of the clients come in with a kernel of an idea for the proposal and we introduce them to other things to consider,” says Marchant. “It’s our job to know the world inside and out.”
Marchant and his team guide the groom-to-be through planning the proposal from start to finish, which can take anywhere from a few days to over six months. “We dig into the couple’s passions, where they’ve traveled and their special moments to create the most memorable experience,” he says. The result: jaw-dropping set-ups for proposals that guarantee a “yes.” “Fortunately, I don’t have any occasions of girlfriends saying no,” Marchant laughs.
Here, Marchant shares some of the most memorable engagements he’s brought to life.
Hidden Mineral in Iceland
At the end of a seven-day trip in the heart of Iceland, Marchant sourced experts to chisel a small hole in the Langjökull glacier wall and embed the ring with a glowing LED light. On cue, when the couple entered the glacier for their mineral caving experience, the bride-to-be asked, “What’s glowing in the corner?” As she excavated to discover the ring, the groom dropped to one knee. “Our jaws were on the floor for a little bit with that one,” Marchant says. “The hairs on my arm stand up every time I tell that story.”
Romantic Safari in Maasai Mara
When a young romantic dreamed of proposing to his girlfriend in the midst of Maasai Mara and the Serengeti’s Great Migration, local guides found the picturesque location. “This was a big question of timing,” Marchant says. “We had to make sure we knew where the animals were going to be and that the sunset was going to be right.” While overlooking hordes of zebras and wildebeests in the Siana Conservancy, the proposer popped the question. The couple gazed at the stars and celebrated with a gourmet picnic and champagne. “When you look up at this big and mighty sky, you feel very small, Marchant says. “But when it’s with someone you just got engaged to, it makes you feel so close.”
Special Delivery in Mongolia
Maintaining faith and trust in professionals played a key role in one innovative proposal in Mongolia. While trekking through the stunning Altai Mountains with a Mongolian hunter, an eagle returned from its “search” with a tiny bag. Inside: the glistening ring. “We talked a lot about how safe this would be. If you got an eagle that went rogue with a very expensive ring, there could have been a meltdown,” Marchant laughs.
Iconic Engagement in Rome
At the foot of the lavish Trevi Fountains of Rome, a man plucked an engagement ring out of the fountain waters. “Oh my god!” his girlfriend said. “Whose do you think it is?” He smiled, went down on one knee and replied, “It’s yours.” To ensure the proposal went without a hitch, one of Marchant’s specialists dropped the ring in the fountain moments before the couple stepped up to the site. “He basically sat there like an eagle waiting right until they came,” he says. As the bride-to-be said yes, three opera singers from the Teatro del’Opera di Roma emerged to serenade the couple with what would become their future wedding song.
Secluded Adventure in New Zealand
Stewart Island’s Raikura Trek in New Zealand is known as one of the most breathtaking and untouched areas of the world. “The groom wanted to be somewhere remote, but it wasn’t just about being quiet or private,” Marchant says. “It was about being someplace no other people were going to be.” After the adventure-seeking couple hiked for three days, the proposal occurred while camping under the mesmerizing Aurora Australis on the quiet sands of Paterson Inlet. “Our longtime travel expertise comes forth when getting couples to places like this,” he adds.
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