The World’s Most Over-the-Top Proposals

by Kasey Caminiti | July 4, 2016 2:00 pm

U.K.-based luxury travel agency Black Tomato has been planning elaborate vacations and honeymoons[1] 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[2] 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[3] 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.

NEXT: A one-of-a-kind destination in Africa, a stay at a palace in the Himalayas and more


Private Island in Maldives

In the hopes of executing an isolated proposal, Marchant’s team helicoptered a couple out to a tiny island in the crisp blue waters of the Baa Atoll. “When the tide goes out, these headlands are quite big. But when it goes in, they are little secluded spots of sand,” says Marchant. The couple arrived on the island to find a luxury campsite featuring a gourmet picnic and champagne. The proposal occurred at midnight under an array of stars. “The sunset in Maldives is mind-blowing. But the starlight sky is even more mind-blowing,” Marchant says.


Flying High Over the Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta in Africa[4] served as a one-of-a-kind destination for one couple. The blue waters rise to various levels that segregate certain areas of land and make them inaccessible. “We took the couple in a helicopter and touched upon all these hidden parts of the Okavango Delta,” Marchant says. The journey ended when the couple landed at a luxury camp built for them stocked with authentic Botswanian cuisine and chilled champagne. Later that evening, the question was asked while the two were surrounded by the sweeping African landscapes.


Authentic Tribal Immersion in West Papua

One boundary-pushing groom selected West Papua—one of the last great wildernesses of the world—as the ultimate proposal locale. To up the ante, Marchant arranged for them to live completely integrated with the Dani Tribe in Indonesia’s Baliem Valley for seven days. “We’re lucky because we’ve built great relationships with the tribe over the years,” he says. The Neolithic tribe celebrated with hours of tribal dancing and traditional Dani feast after the groom-to-be proposed. “Not only experiencing one of the last great wildernesses, but also getting engaged and having a unique night no one else will ever have in their life is pretty special,” Marchant says.


Palatial Romance in the Himalayas

For four nights, one couple received the royal treatment while staying at the palace of King Namgyal as his exclusive royal guests in the Himalayas. “We’re lucky to have access thanks to the contacts we have,” Marchant says. “When we knew they planned to visit the Himalayas, the idea of staying at King Namgyal’s palace seemed perfect.” On their final evening at the spiritual destination, the groom-to-be proposed as he and his future wife crossed some of the highest mountain passes in the world.

Floating Proposal on Zambezi River

Looking for an out of the ordinary vacation, one couple kayaked for a week along Africa’s Zambezi River. After seven days of enjoying the solitude of a private island and exploring the iconic Victoria Falls, the proposal took place during a sunset dinner on the river. “Floating on a boat in the Zambezi, eating dinner, hearing the roar of the falls, watching the sunset—it’s pretty hard to beat that,” Marchant says.

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