Recessionista: Michele Velazquez
Old Job: Air Force (served for 5 years)
New Job: Proposal Expert and Founder of The Heart Bandits Romance Concierge Service
Michele: After leaving the Air Force, I’d been working a pretty boring desk job for a few years when my boyfriend proposed. But I did not like the way he proposed! I did some market research and found that while asking your girlfriend to marry you is one of the stressful things that men have to do, there were no resources out there for them. So I decided to tap into my entrepreneurial spirit and become one of the world’s first Marriage Proposal Planners. I help men come up with creative marriage proposal concepts and then I execute the idea for them.
R: Romance Concierge Service? Sounds like you’re the female “Hitch!” What do you do, exactly, and what sets you apart from those “ordinary” matchmakers?
M: We offer services to the busy executive who knows how important romance is to their relationship, but simply does not have the time to create heartwarming events. We have you complete a one-time profile where we learn about your partner’s tastes and preferences, as well as important dates. On a predetermined schedule, your partner will receive romantic gifts from you, cards, flowers, and surprise date invitations. You will be emailed, texted, or called to remind you of all important dates and all of your romantic reservations will be handled by your personal Romance Concierge. You also have 24/7 access to a Romance Concierge if you need a quick romantic suggestion or a romantic errand run for you!
R: That sounds amazing! Do you have a card for our boyfriends? (Ha, but…seriously.) What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a Romance Concierge?
M: Our main service is planning marriage proposals, and the biggest challenge at first was to get the word out there that Proposal Planners actually existed. The other challenge is that some men wait until just a few days before their proposal to seek out help. One guy left us just three days to plan an elaborate proposal in another country!
R: Yikes! But better late than never, right? What are some of the other crazy things you’ve seen on the job?
M: We don’t see a lot of crazy or funny, mostly really cute and romantic. I guess it was a little crazy when we were planning a proposal where timing was of the essence. The girl was to be dropped off at this fountain at a specific time which would set the rest of the proposal in action. Five minutes before she was to be dropped off the man called saying he was 20 minutes away. We had to do damage control and get the limo driver to stall so it wouldn’t mess the whole operation up!
R: You deal with some pretty fancy clientele. What’s the most expensive proposal you’ve done, and how much did it cost?
M: A recent proposal we did in Portland was almost $8,000 and it consisted of a private rooftop overlooking the city complete with an a capella performance and a five-piece band on the rooftop. The rooftop had about $2,000 worth of flowers creating an aisle leading to a canopy with a crystal candelabra, a photobook, and an exquisite meal. He also had a photographer and videographer there to capture the whole thing.
Recessionista: Lucky gal! But sometimes it’s about the little things, right — not the most expensive? What was the most unique proposal you’ve done?
M: Wow, we have had so many unique proposals. I guess one that is fresh on my mind is from last week. The woman getting engaged had dreamed of being a ballerina her whole life. She actually was set to be professional but had an injury and had to give it up. So on their way to dinner, we had the driver make a detour and her and her boyfriend walked up this beautiful pathway to find a string duo playing “You Lift Me Up” by Josh Groban and a beautiful ballerina performing inside of a gazebo. As the woman watched in awe, four little kid ballerinas danced their way over to her to hand her ribbons that had sentimental sayings on them. The last ribbon said, “There is only one more question left to ask you.” The man proposed and the girl was crying. It was amazing.
R: It must be rewarding to have created such a successful niche business. What’s your favorite part of the job?
M: Hands down, my favorite part is watching the girl’s reaction to her proposal. I love that we work with the man to help create such an amazing and special moment that she will remember for the rest of her life.