Life isn’t like the movies, and sometimes that can only be a good thing. So far, touch wood, we haven’t seen our world taken over by flesh-eating zombies and theme parks populated by rampant, murderous dinosaurs are few and far between.
But when it comes to romance and love, don’t we all take a little inspiration from the world of film? How many times have we watched a scene that has moved us – sometimes to tears – and longed that it were a part of real life? That might particularly apply to marriage proposals, something that films do very well indeed – so much so that some of us decide to stage our own version.
Here, then, is a selection of some of the most romantic proposals in movie history. There’s something here for everyone, from the quirky, to the charming, to the chivalrous gesture and of course, the out-and-out tearjerker. If you’re planning a proposal in the near future and have been browsing this website for engagement rings, why not replicate some of these famous scenes?
Colin Firth’s character Jamie is so obviously in love with his Portuguese housekeeper Aurelia that it’s painful to watch, but in true British stiff upper lip style he stays quiet. He learns Portuguese so that he can propose, and enters the restaurant in her village to do just that – in front of her whole family. ‘And of course I prediction you say no but it’s Christmas so I just wanted to check,” he stutters. Aurelia says yes – in English. She had been learning English, so that she could ask him, see? Aw.
The Wedding Singer
Hidden among the hilarious 80s hairstyles and outfits – the film in 1985 – is a very sweet love story. Wedding singer Adam Sandler, recently dumped, helps to organise the forthcoming wedding of Julia, played by Drew Barrymore. Inevitably the two fall for each other and just as she jets off to marry the obnoxious Glenn Guglia (yep, which would make her Mrs Julia Guglia), Sandler boards the plane and wins her over with a pretty cheesy, but very heartfelt, song.
When Harry Met Sally
The ‘will they, won’t they, will they again?’ storyline made When Harry Met Sally a modern classic and it ends with Harry finally – at long last – realising, in a moment of clarity, that he wants to be with Sally. On New Year’s Eve he races to find her at a party. “I came here tonight because when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible,” he pleads, as the clock counts down and everyone else breaks into singing For Auld Lang Syne.
Sex and the City
As fans of the iconic TV series know only too well, Mr Big has mastered the art of playing complicated games with Carrie’s heart. In the movie version of SATC, the couple are actually set to marry – but rotten Mr Big doesn’t turn up at the wedding, leaving Carrie stranded and humiliated. At the end of the movie, we see a heartbroken Carrie sorting through her luxurious, and empty, Fifth Avenue penthouse, pondering how her life might have turned out. Cue Mr Big, who arrives, gets down on one knee, and pops the question. Fittingly, the pair are standing in Carrie’s impressive walk-in wardrobe at the time.
Full marks to wealthy smoothy Lon Hammond Jr – played by James Marsden – who does his homework before proposing to Allie (Rachel McAdams) at a posh ball. When she teasingly points out he needs to ask her parents’ permission first, he reveals that he has already spoken to them. When she accepts, he runs up to the stage, halts the band mid-tune and announces the news to all the guests.
It’s the perfect, polished proposal – but then along comes Noah (Ryan Gosling) with his boat ride in an idyllic lake graced by swans…
Not strictly a proposal of marriage but a declaration of love and one of the most memorable in modern film history. Sports agent Jerry Maguire’s spectacular fall from grace and subsequent professional and personal redemption is completed when he realises he cannot let Dorothy – played by Rene Zellweger – go. Bursting into her house – which is full of her sister’s cynical female friends – Jerry launches into a heartfelt, rambling monologue. “You complete me…” he begs. “Shut up!” Dorothy retorts. “You had me at hello.”
It’s hard to look much further than Pretty Woman for a fairytale finale to a romantic movie as businessman Edward (Richard Gere) and escort Vivian (Julia Roberts) finally get together. Edward turns up in a chauffeur-driven car, opera music playing at high volume, shouting to Vivian as she walks out of her apartment to see where the noise is coming from. Her apartment’s on the top floor; rose in teeth, knight in shining armour Edward climbs the stairs to reach Roberts and ‘rescue her’. It’s the Hollywood dream ending – but far from the original one the scriptwriters had planned.
Running through the very heart of the series – amid the brutal fight scenes – is the love story between Rocky and Adrian. Rocky’s marriage proposal (in Rocky II) is typically humble and grounded. He takes Adrian to Philadelphia Zoo. The place is deserted – apart from the animals – and covered in snow. His face is still bruised from his most recent fight. The pair are wrapped up in thick coats to protect themselves from the cold. Rocky mumbles: “What do you think you’re doing for the next 40 or 50 years…. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind marrying me too much…?” “Yes,” says a coy Adrian. Rocky shouts the news to a watching tiger.
A Walk to Remember
Rebellious, cool, good-looking teen Landon (Shane West) is thrown into the same community service group as Jamie (Mandy Moore) the quiet and unassuming daughter of the local reverend. The pair get closer until Jamie breaks the devastating news that she’s terminally ill, and working through a bucket list. Landon helps her through the list – and his proposal is a real tearjerker.
Before all the blood is shed and the war cries sound out across the Highlands, there are moments of tenderness in this 1995 blockbuster. William Wallace – famously played by Mel Gibson – proposes to Murron in the simplest of ways.
“Is that what you call a proposal?” she asks, when he clumsily discusses his plans for having children to help him run his farm. “I love you, always have. I want to marry you,” he replies, before Murron kisses him and answers, “Aye, that’s a yes.”