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The Yes Man | Notables

Diamonds aren't a girl's best friend. Mike Bloomberg is. His resourcefulness and creativity help even the most romantically challenged pop the question in style.

By Rick Waters '95

Perhaps it's a quiet table at a New York bistro. Or a moonlit night on the shores of a private beach. Or maybe something simpler, closer to home, like a picnic in the park.

Where is the perfect place to pop the question?

"It depends," says Mike Bloomberg. "The marriage proposal has nothing to do with who's doing the asking. It's all about who is being asked."

That may be a warm fuzzy, but it's true. Where was the first date? What's her favorite flower? Ever been on vacation together? Guys, you need to know this stuff because the answers can be the starting point for creating a one-of-a-kind magic moment.

And whatever scenario can be imagined, Bloomberg can make it happen.

Bloomberg '99 (MBA) is the founder of an 18-month-old marriage proposal consulting business called An Exclusive Engagement, designed to help the romantically challenged get in touch with their creative side.

"A lot of men don't understand what's important to a woman. They think, ‘I can just give her the ring. It speaks for itself,' " he says. "Wrong. This is a moment that happens only once in a relationship. Women expect something clever, something memorable."

And they should. A memorable proposal is like a family heirloom.

So Bloomberg offers a variety of services, from merely helping brainstorm the big moment (for which he charges a flat fee) and the client does the legwork, to completely arranging the occasion and, for an hourly rate, tending to every behind-the-scenes detail.

He has hand picked candles, sprinkled rose petals, lined up paparazzi-style photographers, finagled a way into sold-out hotels, even chartered an airplane.

All in the name of love.

And every client he has helped has gotten a "yes."

- - - - - - - - - - -

A lifelong Fort Worth resident, Bloomberg seems an unlikely source of relationship advice. In high school, he was the guy all the girls wanted as a friend. He was the caring, thoughtful Mr. Sensitive who'd remember your birthday, pick out a perfect gift and compose a greeting card message that Hallmark would envy.

Now 37, he's straight, single and has no girlfriend (although he's dating). He has never been married, never proposed and never claimed to be much of a ladies' man.

So where did all this romantic mojo come from? Bloomberg credits his grandmother, who frequently took him as her dining companion to fancy restaurants. "She's the epitome of a classy woman. She loves long dinners with drinks, hors d'oeuvres, all the courses, dessert, and of course interesting conversation."

He shops at Bed Bath and Beyond and has regular pedicures, but he's also ripped and lives in the gym, formerly trained by two-time boxing champion Paulie Ayala.

Call him metrosexual, a girly-man, a romantic's romantic. Bloomberg has heard them all, and each one makes him laugh, except one: "The Marriage Proposal Guy."

That one he likes.

It's his niche. As one of only two proposal specialists in the country, he considers this his true calling.

"I wasn't in a band. I didn't play sports. I can't sing. Can't play music. Can't draw. This is my canvas."

It all started almost seven years ago when Bloomberg helped a buddy arrange a creative (and successful) marriage proposal. Always the "go-to guy" for romantic ideas among his friends, he thought, "How fun would it be to do this for a living?"

That dream did not escape his thoughts for more than five years as he bounced from finance jobs to organizational consulting work.

Then he just decided to go for it.

Realizing that he needed strong word-of-mouth to get the idea up and running, he made a list of everyone he knew and sent out postcards announcing his business.

He also knew he needed some type of "quality control" to convince potentially skeptical men clients, so he organized a secret sounding board of women to whom he would pitch his ideas. He calls it his Chick Tank.

"Every proposal is woman-tested, woman-approved," he says.

The group has about 50 members – young and old, single and married – who rotate on and off as they're available. Every month, Bloomberg hosts a dinner party with four or five of them to get their feedback on his current projects. Almost always they confirm what he already knows.

One client was determined to use his letter jacket some way to pop the question to his longtime high school sweetheart and would not budge, despite Bloomberg's pleadings. Sensing a dud, the Chick Tank rejected the idea and offered a proposal of its own: Take her back to her hometown and ask her in her parents' backyard gazebo.

The difference is in the details.

When a new client comes to Bloomberg, they sit down for an hour or two and the Proposal Guy starts asking questions. How did the couple meet? What was their best date? Have they traveled together? What's her favorite leisure activity?

Before long, a plan emerges, and Bloomberg summons the Chick Tank. After that, he is available to clients via phone, e-mail and text message to provide support and oversee the details until everything is finalized.

"We might be tweaking up until the week of the proposal," he says. "It's fun to see the other side of guys. They tear up. They get emotional. They want to make it special and unique."

But what they don't want is for their fiancées to know they had help. "Ninety-five percent want to be anonymous." 

The fun proposals involve destinations. They're challenging but also the most exciting and romantic. One recent client surprised his fiancée-to-be with a waiting limo and a gorgeous gown. The couple flew first-class to New York, where they donned evening wear and hit the town for dinner and dancing, followed every step of the way by paparazzi-style photographers. The night ended with him on bended knee at Tiffany's.

Another client took his sweetheart to Washington, D.C., and asked in front of the Smithsonian's Hope Diamond. His love for her was so great, he wanted to give her the 45-carat monstrosity, but would she settle for a 2-carat and his heart?

Of course she would.

Not all proposals are so far-flung. One client asked his love on a balconied suite at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel in Sundance Square, complete with a bouquet of yellow daisies with a single red one in the center bearing a ring. 

"Proposals are the ultimate pranks," Bloomberg says. "It's like being on ‘Punk'd' but more romantic."

The more elaborate the proposals get, the more his business grows. A few months after he started, tabbed him to be its "hip, masculine, but not brutish" columnist of a biweekly feature called "The Men's Room," which addresses dating issues. Then, asked him to write, too. He has appeared on CNN, NBC and been interviewed by Time magazine. Dozens of high-end resorts and hotels across the country now offer his services to their guests.

Sony Pictures proposed a matchmaking reality show as Bloomberg as a love doctor and likes the Chick Tank concept. An independent production company Bloomberg can't name is interested in a show based on the daily challenges of his business. Still another is considering him for a Valentine's proposal special that may air on The Learning Channel.

Bloomberg has since expanded his tailored proposal business to include a date-of-the-month club through his Web site in which he suggests an idea for one good night out every 30 days — perfect for birthdays, anniversaries or special occasions.

"Now all I need is to go on ‘Oprah.' "

As for Bloomberg's own dream proposal, he hasn't planned it. "It will depend on my future fiancée. I just don't know who that person is yet."

But when the time comes, he will have had a lot of practice.

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