Vera Wang: The Significance of a Wedding Proposal

Vera Wang’s name is synonymous with romance; but her own love story got off to a rocky start. In this candid memoir, the famed designer shares details about how she and her husband began their wedding journey. It all started with a proposal….


Vera Wang

While the thought of marriage can be compelling, the headiest and most exciting part of a love story is always the proposal. That instant when you both just know. Whoever does the asking, the sheer thrill of being desired can be positively intoxicating, like the beginning of a new love affair; only this time with the added comfort and security of commitment.

Whether your proposal takes place over a candlelit dinner in Capri or during halftime at a Knick’s game, you owe the magic of this interlude to each other first and foremost. It is important to experience your engagement as an ongoing process, part emotional and part rational. It takes endless amounts of love, patience and maturity to create a marriage. An engagement should be viewed as a valuable prelude to the rest of your life. However long you’ve been together, the consent to wed will invariably raise new concerns.

The resolution to many of these issues will also require compromise as well as time. The marriage you create can provide the love, honesty and compassion you both desire.

My own two-year, two-part saga began when my husband, Arthur Becker, and I became informally engaged in 1988 during a trip to Hawaii. I can still recall every painful detail, since it was quite possibly one of the worst weeks of my life. We were having one of those difficult “romantic” holidays, like New Year’s Eve, when people feel obligated to pretend they’re having fun because it’s expected.

Looking back, I can see that Arthur and I went on vacation with two very different agendas. I had just left my longtime job at Vogueand was desirous of a brief respite from the frantic world of fashion. I envisioned long, relaxing moments and intimate lunches and walks.

Arthur had his own passion. Unfortunately, it was for golf. Having previously lived in Hawaii, Arthur was thrilled about getting back to the island’s incredible golf courses. In hindsight, it now seems absurd. While I was picturing an intimate twosome, Arthur must have been planning foursomes with old golfing buddies. He was out every morning and gone for the rest of the day with only a “See you later. I have a golf game.”

Vera Wang and Arthur Becker Well, I didn’t happen to have any old friends available, and the only obvious alternatives were to bake in the sun, surf or eat, with the emphasis on eat. Where was a spa, a gym or a specialty store when I needed one? Several bad novels and six miserable days later, I was feeling hurt, frustrated and lonely. Of course, on that particular day, Arthur finally stopped playing golf just long enough to take me to Kukuihaele, a tiny picturesque town high on the side of a volcano. That’s when he blurted out, in spite of how upset we both were, or maybe because of it, “Do you want to get married?”

That was my proposal. No bended knee. No ring. No nothing. Just angry Arthur and furious me on a hill in the middle of nowhere.

Even though this was not how I had envisioned my proposal would be, I said yes. And disappointed as I was that I had not gotten the proposal of my dreams, I loved him.

Our vacation made me realize that the blending of our lives was not going to be some quick dissolve to movie-like perfection. I was astonished by how different our needs and expectations were. It was going to take enormous work and compromise on both our parts to be able to create a life together.

Two years later, after what could be politely termed a *long* drawn-out engagement, I finally got my formal proposal. And it was as sentimental and romantic as the one I had longed for, and filled with just the right amount of hysteria. During dinner with close friends, Arthur arranged for my engagement ring to be placed in a piece of my favorite cake. Since it didn’t take long for me to eat dessert, Arthur immediately began to panic. As he leaned over to examine what was left on my plate, my eye caught a slight glimmer of metal. At that instant, I knew. Reaching over to hug him, I was genuinely filled with happiness and hope for what would be our future.

As a fashion professional and former bride, I am now able to translate all of that knowledge and love of style to the visual and emotional vocabulary of weddings. Having experienced weddings from both a personal and professional perspective, I can truthfully say no one is more dedicated to brides than I am. Each topic on is meant to be considered individually, as a practical guide to the ritual of weddings. It is also intended as a joyous celebration of women, marriage and style. Wherever you are in the planning of your wedding, this is my way of being there alongside you, for guidance and support or simply as a reference.

—Excerpted with permission from Vera Wang’s RSVP Club newsletter.

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