Does It Even Matter If This Instagram Influencer's Proposal Was Staged?

This is how we're getting engaged in 2019 -- with a viral treasure hunt spanning 48 hours, four cities and two continents.

Public proposals are nothing new in the internet age, but the recent engagement of childhood friends Marissa Fuchs and Gabriel Grossman took the public declaration of love to uncharted levels.

"What is happening?" an emotional Marissa said as she learned of the plan, filmed for her then-160,000 Instagram followers (she's since shot up to about 198,000).

What is happening indeed. Shortly after the proposal began to go viral, a marketing deck from Gabriel pitching the stunt to brands was leaked to The Atlantic.

Photo: Fashion Ambitionist.

"This summer, Marissa of @FashionAmbitionist will be pulled into a surprise adventure created by the centre of her life, Gabriel," it read.

"He will remotely ask her to take an unexpected and sentimental journey to him, a journey that will encompassing [sic] many familiar stops along the way that offer their own unique gifts."

The deck included a number of photos of the loved-up couple, as well as an hour-by-hour itinerary of the two-day proposal.

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"We're pleased to offer your brand the opportunity to align with this momentous occasion and the beautiful cities she will be visiting along the way," it said.

As it turned out, not many brands took up that offer. In an interview with the New York Times, Marissa's long-time friend Elicia Evans -- a social-media specialist who created the itinerary and marketing strategy for Gabriel -- admitted it was mostly unsuccessful, apart from free services from a vacation photography company. She said she "expected more brands to be involved more than they have."

Marissa watching Gabriel's proposal, captured from several different angles for her Instagram. Photo: Fashion Ambitionist.

The proposal was already attracting media attention. The revelation brands were approached prior only doubled it. Some people said the proposal was over-the-top romantic, others denounced it has fake.

Not helping here are two facts: that Marissa is director of brand partnerships at Goop, and therefore familiar with pitch decks and branded content, and that despite a ceremony in France, the couple aren't legally married yet.

However, fake may be an overstatement. Gabriel was quite clear he wanted the proposal to be both something she could "experience" that "incorporate[d] everything that's important to her", as well as something she could "capture for the 'gram -- so we know it happened."

Even the use of two hashtags -- #WheresGabe and #RielLove -- don't tarnish the proposal the way they might once have, not when every wedding comes with a hashtag and a pun.

"As a project manager, I am just impressed the execution matched the pitch deck so perfectly," one person on Twitter commented.

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Celebrities have been profiting off major life events for decades, so why shouldn't influencers? (It's less tacky than former Bachelor couple Blake Garvey and Louise Pillidge selling their heartbreak to New Idea in the form of a break-up shoot.)

And Gabriel estimated it cost him a little under US $50,000 all up, paying for flights, dinners, hotels and other surprises out of pocket.

Screenshot of @FASHIONAMBITIONIST via the New York Times.

As she was getting ready for the surprise ceremony, Marissa "signed out" from updating her Instagram.

"Guys, I think I'm going to put my phone down soon," she told the camera in a video for her Instagram story.

"Hopefully I'll see Gabe soon, or some of my family so they can keep recording. This is the last you're going to see from me. I just want to stay present in the moment. I'm getting so many texts, and I just want to think about me and Gabe."

In the end, nearly 5000 people watched the live stream of the couple's ceremony. A professionally-edited video captured the full proposal.

It was a proposal designed entirely to be shared on Instagram, which is what the bride would have wanted. It's as 'real' or as 'fake' as you decide.