Houston, we want to get married

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“I love you to the moon and back” is a popular phrase, but would you be able to prove it? This Valentine’s Day, a man from Paris named Sebastian will possibly come closer than any person ever has to doing so. With the help of Parisian company ApoteoSurprise, which specializes in organizing marriage proposals, he will propose to his girlfriend from the stratosphere.

For 4 990 euros (C$6 700), ApoteoSurprise will launch a photo of the couple and a marriage proposal written by Sebastian up to an altitude of 30 kilometres with a giant, helium-filled balloon. The balloon takes two to three hours to reach that height. According to Nicolas Garreau, founder of ApoteoSurprise, attached video equipment will film the whole flight so that Sebastian can show it to his girlfriend afterwards.

“The last footage is shot with the wonderful blue planet in the background,” Garreau wrote in an email interview.

Once the balloon pops, a parachute will open, and everything will fall back to earth.

While Garreau has advertised the event as the first marriage proposal from space, outer space doesn’t begin until 100 kilometres above sea level, according to a boundary defined by the International Air Sports Federation.

Facilitating the launch and landing of the photo and message are “professionals operating in the space exploration area” who, Garreau wrote, he can’t name for confidentiality reasons. Garreau himself has a degree in aeronautical engineering.

Although the proposal — which is available to anyone willing to pay up — takes place in the stratosphere, it can only be viewed on DVD afterwards. The footage is edited and mailed to the man proposing. To show the film to his girlfriend, Sebastian has purchased another proposal package from ApoteoSurprise: a limousine ride to the Eiffel Tower. During the ride, he will show the film to his girlfriend, Vanessa. This additional package costs 490 euros (about C$660).

Victoria native Eric Carmichael recently proposed to his fiancée at Moss Rock Park in Victoria. “To me, the whole idea of proposing was about having something that was significant between the two of us. Since I’ve never been into space with my fiancée, that wouldn’t fit that qualifier,” he said when asked if he would have considered doing a proposal from the stratosphere. “It’s very unique — I totally hand that to them. But it’s not my definition of a perfect proposal.”

Garreau started ApoteoSurprise in 2006. The company’s name is inspired by the term “apotheosis,” meaning the climactic phase of an event. Apotheosis is the important emotional stage of a proposal, according to Garreau, who mentions on his website that he has consulted psychophysiologists on how to create an emotional peak.

“I wanted to make possible the kind of love story and the kind of declaration of love we usually only see in books or in Hollywood films,” he wrote.

The company offers 29 proposal packages to choose from, including a Cinderella carriage, a hot air balloon, a proposal displayed as a truck advertisement and a proposal written on the wings of an airplane. The prices range from 290 to 15 900 euros (around C$390 to C$21 300).

“More and more, men nowadays know that the proposal is important for women, and they try to do something creative and exclusive,” explained Garreau.

According to a 2011 survey conducted by Men’s Health magazine and TheKnot.com, a wedding planning website, one in four women are unhappy with the way they were proposed to, even though they said yes. The respondents wished it was “more romantic, more original and personal, more private or [indicated] that it was simply too over-the-top.”

Garreau has conducted his own survey of 950 women and found 80 per cent were disappointed with their proposal. According to him, 30 per cent of women were proposed to in bed, and one in 20 were proposed to via email.

Ten per cent of his clients are women, and they usually choose proposal packages with more humour and surprise than romance, wrote Garreau. He also said one to two per cent of clients are same-sex partners, but he anticipates this number will grow now that deputies in France have passed a measure that legalizes marriage between any two people.

“In French, an expression says that when really in love, we must be able to ‘unhook the moon from the sky.’ The sky, space and universe are synonymous [with] infinity, love and mystery,” Garreau wrote, explaining his inspiration for space proposals.

The company already had a package to draw a giant heart of smoke in the sky using airplanes, but Garreau said he wanted to go higher.

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