For Valentine’s Day – The Story of a Social Media Wedding Proposal

Derek and Adrienne - "Mad Men" Style Courtesy of Autumn Luciano

As today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it fitting to finally get around to writing about how I romanced my wife into marrying me using social media.

The Backstory

In grad school, I met a bright and vivacious colleague who was always the first person to start up conversations with the room before class started.  Fortunately her extroversion overcame the introversion that plagued me throughout my time in school and we became friends.  In addition to being funny and kind, she was smart and hard-working which made her an ideal partner for group projects.  She also shared my fondness for snark and would sit in the back row with me, actively contributing to the running dialogue about the class (nowadays the kids call this “tweeting”).

After grad school, we kept in touch and remained friends.  She always had great insight when I was facing challenges at work, and I was more than happy to come speak to her colleagues about social media and lend a hand in the charitable efforts she was always investing herself in.

Everything always remained friendly and platonic because we were both in long term relationships.  At some point both of our relationships ended and created the opportunity for a romantic spark.

The Proposal – Ver. 1.0

I can never do anything the easy way.  Like most people who muster up the courage to make a marriage proposal, I wanted it to be as special as the person I was proposing to.  I quickly realized this would be impossible, so I tried to think of something 1/10th as special as my future wife.

I knew I wanted to incorporate social media into the proposal, because it was how we bridged the geographic gap between us when we first started dating.  We’re also both heavily invested in the interwebs professionally.

My first idea was to secretly contact someone whose work she followed and get them to tweet a proposal on my behalf.  Bad idea.

Keeping anything a secret in the era of social media is no small feat.  It meant that I couldn’t use the platforms I’m adept at to reach out to these people to make my plea.  Through email and by phone, I tried to get a message to people that my wife adores starting with Anthony Bourdain.  His staff at Brasserie Les Halles was very helpful, but it didn’t pan out.  Next I tried Norah Jones.  No luck.  Then Hannah Hart of “My Drunk Kitchen.”  Strike three.

I was getting ready to contact Michael Pollan’s publicist and realized I was running out of time.

I should mention at this point that we had already agreed in principle to get married.  We’re two practical people in love and we’d each already done the traditional courting/proposal/wedding thing and had no interest in it for what would be the second (and final) go-around for each of us.  That meant that there was a rapidly-approaching deadline for me to put together a wedding proposal worthy of the gorgeous redhead I love.

The Proposal – Ver. 2.0

Left to my own devices, I decided to rely on the social media tools I love to craft something.

I put together a montage of photos of the time the two of us had spent together while dating using Animoto and layered in the message of my proposal.

For the music that accompanied the video, I combined our love of karaoke with our love of the duet we occasionally do (when she can be persuaded – for some reason she doesn’t think she has a good voice but she does).  I was able to find a karaoke version of “Lucky” by Jason Mraz and Colbie Callait that allowed me to drop out the male vocals and drop in my own at Karaoke Version.

Using the web-based audio tools of Aviary, I was able to mix in my vocals with the karaoke track and edit together the final product.

I now had to find a way to get the proposal to her.  I settled on embedding a link to the video in a QR Code, and I found a necklace on Zazzle that I could embed the code in and have shipped to her at work.

This was the result:

Fortunately the less-than-stellar audio quality didn’t dissuade her from keeping her earlier commitment to get married.

The Wedding

We decided that we would do a flashmob-style wedding in downtown Grand Rapids on the blue pedestrian bridge that connects Grand Valley State University’s Eberhard Center (where we first met in grad school) to downtown.  Better yet, the flashmob wedding would take place during ArtPrize underneath the amazing steel monkeys crafted and installed by Dale Rogers – a truly gifted artist (and all-around great guy) from Massachusetts (his website is here).  Dale is a big advocate for the Humane Society which also made his installation apropos given that my wife and I are big supporters of adopting animals (over buying from a breeder).

We set up a Facebook invite and website ( for the wedding and posted a “y’all come” message to anyone that was interested in helping us crash Artprize and profess our love for each other.  The idea was to have a progressive event: crash ArtPrize on the blue bridge, move over to Six One Six at the J. W. Marriott, and close the night with karaoke at one of our favorite dive bars – the Nite Cap.

Oh, and did I mention we were dressed in 1950s fashion (Adri actually wore a vintage dress), and we invited everyone else to dress up too (many of them obliged).

Nothing could have prepared us for the over 100 people who showed up to participate in the wedding.  We figured a couple dozen, maybe.  But after tailgating in a nearby parking lot and walking over with our “wedding party” (which included one of my best friends who surprised us the day of by visiting from D.C.) – we walked into a surreal throng of friends, family, colleagues and even former students on the blue bridge.

One of our colleagues from grad school at Grand Valley State University, Brian Bowe, had agreed to officiate our wedding and this is how it went down:


We live-tweeted our views (and by “live-tweet” I mean the officiant, my wife and I scheduled each line of them to go using Tweetdeck – we figured better safe than sorry), and attendees posted updates, uploaded photos and video throughout the whole affair.

So there you have it – a social media wedding proposal, and a social media wedding.

For what it’s worth, both of us did the “big princess dream wedding” before and we preferred this better.  It was really inexpensive (all we had to pay for was a photographer and some cupcakes) and rather than work ourselves into a lather planning and executing a big fiasco of a wedding – we just relaxed and let everything happen.

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Happy Valentines Day to everyone, but most especially my beautiful wife Adrienne.


9 thoughts on “For Valentine’s Day – The Story of a Social Media Wedding Proposal

  1. Tilly Whirls says:

    This needs to go on Offbeat Bride. Fer serious. What an awesome story and fantastic wedding. Also jealous that Brian got to officiate your wedding. Internet ordained ministers aren’t allowed in Virginia. :)


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