While working in piano bars I've seen several marriage proposals on stage, ranging from spontaneous and awkward to halfway thought out and awkward. This last weekend, while working at Michael Murphy's in Oklahoma City, I was asked to learn a particular song for a party that was coming in on Saturday night. I did learn the song on Saturday afternoon not knowing the full extent of its importance later that night. When I arrived at the bar, I was pulled aside to talk to a man who was going to propose to his girlfriend of 3 years on stage. I was skeptical at first, thinking back to all the previous awkward situations I had witnessed, however, this one was different. It was well planned and had little room for error. He was posted up at a table with his lady at the back of the room by the bar. All of her friends and family in town were at a table at the front of the room, unbeknownst to her.
The plan was to get him to the stage, ask if he was with anyone special, invite her up, then he would pop the question. Assuming she'd say yes, there her other loved ones would be ready to hug and congratulate the newly engaged couple and enjoy the rest of the show. Thankfully, the plan went off (almost) without a hitch. He gave me a greeting card with his name on it. That was my excuse to get him to the stage in the first place, saying I found it on the ground on my way to the stage. While he was up there I was supposed to make him and his girlfriend an example of how we do a call-down (when someone in the crowd pays us to roast a member of their party), so she wouldn't suspect the proposal until she was up there and saw her family. She was in the restroom when I called him to the stage, but I only had to stall for a minute or so before she came out.
As she made her way to the stage, I handed him a wireless microphone. He made a short but sweet speech and then (at the urging of the excited crowd) got down on one knee and asked her to be his wife. She cried, nodded, and they kissed. They joined her friends and family at their table as I sang the song I had learned earlier in the day, and the crowd cheered with encouragement.
I guess my point of writing about this is to give a positive example of how to plan a marriage proposal at a piano bar. Some people like the public grand gesture, and if done well, they will get the support from those witnessing the event. In dueling piano bars, we provide different opportunities to ask that huge question. Don't take them. Not without thinking it out, anyway. Don't write it up on the "Phrase of the Night" board. It looks cheap and insincere. Don't just hand in a request slip with the call-down fee and do it without informing the piano players (preferably before the show starts) of your plans. We can help you, but if we don't know what you're up to, we can also go into control mode and make it uncomfortable for you and your hopeful fiancé.
It not only creates a memory that you probably won't want to retain, but it makes the entire room uncomfortable, and that can be difficult to bounce back from. Take the example above. Think it out and talk to management of the bar and the piano players as soon as you can to arrange a situation that you will be proud to tell to your children and grandchildren. Congratulations to the happy couple from last weekend! I'm glad to be a part of that important memory for you two!