- Heather Vaughn is the founder of “The Yes Girls,” a marriage proposal service based in San Clemente, California.
- Since 2008, she’s helped couples plan the proposal of their dreams, ranging in cost from $1,000 to over $100,000.
- Here’s what her job is like, as told to freelancer writer Molly O’Brien.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
I’ve always been someone who likes a challenge. I started my company right after graduating college in 2008, when I was only 22 years old.
It wasn’t an ideal economy to be looking for a job or launching a brand new business – most people were just trying to keep their jobs – but personally I’ve found that if you really believe in what you’re offering and are also meeting a need, then it can work.
Around this time, I came up with an idea of a marriage proposal business. I always loved hearing people’s proposal stories, but felt like given the resources and time, they probably could’ve come up with something better and more unique. I realized there wasn’t a business that offered great proposal planning like this, so it was the lightbulb moment for me, so I founded The Yes Girls.
We create a personalized proposal for each client.
I’m very passionate about my proposals and adamant about giving clients an experience that’s personal and customized to their relationship. Each of our clients builds out a relationship assessment questionnaire so we can get to know them as a couple. This is what really inspires the ideas.
We work with a network of vendors and small businesses to create the proposal event. I love that we get to support other small businesses in this work including florists, photographers, venues, and even Etsy shops. I love my team of five – you can’t do this work without a good team. We were already set up as a remote company pre-pandemic, so we have that system down.
The company mainly works within the US, but does occasionally plan an international proposal or vow renewal.
As a team, we’re all very particular with the details. We handle the timeline and contact with the vendors to make sure we’re on the same page, and put together a floor plan so everyone can see exactly how it’s going to be set up following the client’s vision. We also FaceTime the vendors the day of to make sure everything is set up correctly.
We’ve successfully planned over 3,000 proposals.
As more of a boutique, luxury focused service, we don’t necessarily plan 20 events each month because we’re really focused on creating a higher-end quality event that can speak to each couple’s love story well – and we want to make sure we’re giving them the time and personalized service they deserve.
I’ll always remember my first planned proposal. It was for a client who reached out to me about a week after I first launched my website.
The proposal was in Napa Valley, California, at the stunning Domaine Carneros Winery. We made it a surprise under the ruse of doing a private tasting and tour. When the couple walked out onto the balcony, there was a sweet setup there with a private bistro table and chairs, a floral arrangement in her favorite flowers, photos of the couple, a pair of wine tasting glasses, and a personalized rose bush to keep and plant in their garden to signify their next big milestone – their engagement.
This was all set up on a private balcony at the winery overlooking the stunning backdrop of the valley and vineyards. It was so much fun and turned out amazing. I still have the email he sent thanking me when everything was done, I kept it as my motivation that I was doing the right thing starting this business.
My biggest challenge has been finding and marketing to a niche clientele.
Over the years I’ve realized that I can’t help everyone and that my service isn’t necessarily for everyone. Whether I’m planning a $50,000 dollar proposal or a $1,000 dollar proposal, it can take almost the same amount of time and energy. It was more important to find my own market and the right kind of clientele.
Even though we’re in such a happy industry, we do feel a customer service-style role, so it’s important to spot the red flags with potential clients.
I’ve never had anyone say “no,” but we did have an incident where the girl being proposed to was hiding because she was so anxious about public displays of affection. We told our client to give her time until she was comfortable coming back out and there were less people around.
Another challenge is because historically 90% of our clients are male, they can be more “last minute” and don’t leave as much time for planning – so we have some very quick turnarounds.
We’ve planned a proposal in just one day – but we typically don’t do that anymore, because it can be too stressful. We can plan it within one week’s time, but typically we prepare to plan one to two months in advance.
Still, we have organized a few proposals for women clients, sometimes proposing to male partners and other times to women partners.
For the most part, the proposals are a surprise and only one member of the couple is involved in the planning.
I had one request for a co-planning situation, and we didn’t do it because it didn’t seem on-point with what we want to do as a company.
I know it sounds cliche, but I always say my favorite proposal is whichever one we’re currently working on, because each is always new and different. Anything that’s really creative and fun to plan is right up my ally.
We’ve planned some really high-end proposals – some that we haven’t been able to share online due to privacy requests – but our most expensive was over $100,000.
It was on a private island off of Charleston, South Carolina where the gentleman flew in over 30 members of his closest family and friends on a private jet. We did a full-blown engagement party afterward, so it was a “proposal meets engagement party” all-in-one experience. She was really surprised, and it was gorgeous – like something out of a Nicholas Sparks movie, complete with a private villa and a boardwalk right up to the beach.
We also want to help relationships beyond proposals, and ensure these couples are staying connected in their relationship throughout. I love it when we get to plan events like vow renewals, and re-proposals which is when someone maybe didn’t get to plan a proposal the first time or wants a luxury re-do.
It’s great to support couples who want to refresh and reset their intentions and commitment to one another. We had a really amazing one where the client was upgrading his wife’s wedding ring, so he decided to re-propose in St. Barth’s, which turned into a full-blown vow renewal.
As a business owner, I’m always setting new goals. I’m very future-oriented and definitely want to expand the company. I’d say my ultimate goal is to become the No. 1 romantic event planning company in the US.