John Lennon had it right all along. It turns out, so does 29-year-old actor and director Justin Baldoni. He made what is arguably the wedding proposal to end all wedding proposals in the form of a 27-minute-long video. The elaborate event went like this: Justin's girlfriend Emily Foxler arrived at the Blu Jam Cafe, the same Los Angeles restaurant where the couple had their first date. Emily was escorted to a table decorated with candles but Justin was nowhere in sight. Instead, a television monitor was wheeled into place and the real show began.
Justin appeared on screen in an over-the-top series of set pieces, musical numbers and mock movie vignettes all with the same message, "I love you." He made it clear from the beginning that he was about to propose, but it takes nearly half an hour to reach that moment. Throughout the video, we are treated to seeing Emily in a smaller screen courtesy of various hidden cameras placed in the restaurant to capture her reactions as the video builds. Justin even includes a scene, shot in Emily's native Sweden, where he visits the gravesite of her father to ask permission to marry his daughter. It all builds to the expected crescendo -- Justin walks in, with ring in hand, and finally gets down on one knee to ask for her hand in marriage. "Such a stupid question," she says, tears streaming down her face, before answering, "Yes."
What stunned me more than the expertly produced proposal were some of the reactions to the viral video. Many comments were understandably positive. It was, after all, the most romantic of gestures. The NY Post took a different approach, dubbing it, "The Most Cringeworthy Marriage Proposal Ever." Ouch. Some bloggers were just downright mean. But I could relate to Justin. He found the girl of his dreams and wanted to get it right. Years ago, I had screwed up my own proposal to my wife. I took my future bride shopping for diamond rings but I never actually popped the question. Out of sheer frustration, she finally asked, "Does this mean you want to get married?" My answer was an undeniably cringeworthy, "I guess so." It took me twenty years to make up for it when I staged an elaborate surprise recommitment ceremony. I had fifty family and friends at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, along with a chuppa, rabbi and a Beatles tribute band. After the surprise at seeing all the people who were important to us, I got down on one knee and offered her a simple platinum band with the inscription Jim Loves Keri engraved along the inside. I finally asked Keri the question she deserved two decades earlier, "Will you marry me, again?" After the ceremony I picked up my acoustic guitar and sang "And I Love Her" with "The Beatles." My wife's girlfriends were swooning. My male friends hated me.
Justin, I feel your pain. Let the detractors have their say. It doesn't matter. You were only really playing for an audience of one, anyway -- the woman you were hoping would say yes. She did. Justin and Emily got married July 27. They released the video three months after their wedding only because all their friends finally prevailed on the couple to share their joy online. People's reaction to the video, good or bad, should not impact that joy one bit. John Lennon said, "All you need is love." He also said, "When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps." So Justin, if you're a fool for love, you're in good company.