Mike and Maggie
How We Met
Maggie and I actually met at One Colorado in late October of 2009. It was during one of One Colorado’s Open markets, a street fair of sorts that they host in collaboration with our Alma Mater (ArtCenter) for the benefit of students and alumni. We had our first date at the Santa Monica Pier and continued dating for 5 years before I proposed.
How He Asked
In late 2014 I decided I wanted to propose to Maggie. Admittedly, a little flamboyant (some would say loud), I knew I wanted to go BIG! A designer & storyteller by trade, at the time I was obsessed with VR & Google’s Cardboard VR viewer & the multitude of possibilities it offered to create new engaging stories using only a smartphone! After some research I felt I had everything I needed & started planning. Following close to 6 months of development+coordination+outreach I was finally ready. On March 8th, 2015 with the help of about 50 close family & friends, Mariachis & some very generous corporate sponsors I proposed to Maggie in the place we first met using a Nexus 5 smartphone and Google Cardboard VR viewer!
To start I needed to decide on my target hardware and software. As a huge Google nerd, without a ton of money to blow on a expensive one off VR experience, I immediately fell in love with Google’s democratic and decidedly “Googley” approach to VR, called ‘Cardboard’ – an inexpensive and low-fi technology for the masses literally made out of cardboard that anyone with a smartphone can use! After a little research and tinkering around, I found I could create the VR marriage proposal experience I wanted using only my phone! Using my existing Android phone (a Google Nexus 5), the phone’s pre-installed Android Camera app and a $10 Google Cardboard viewer, I had everything I needed! I was off to the races!
With everything decided on the hardware and software side, I next needed to test the limits of my hardware. At the time, it was still the pre wild WILD west of VR, and widely known issues like stitching artifacts and the inability to take high contrast photospheres weren’t as widely known to enthusiasts like me, as they now are… Luckily I took my time and took a ton of photos in multiple environments and lighting situations to see what was and wasn’t going to work. Most importantly I figured out that elements (like people and poles) within about 5 feet of the camera’s lens look like SAW movie body part props floating in mid air if not photographed at a proper distance! A big problem if you’re about to invite 40-50 of your closest family and friends and have them pose in and around a camera for a bunch of surprise VR photos in the grandest of grand gesture marriage proposals…
A month before the proposal, everyone met up for the scheduled 360 photosphere photo shoot at One Colorado, and then went to Pasadena Memorial Park to learn and rehearse the flash mob dance they’d be performing on the day of the proposal. Oh, and did I mention I hired a Mariachi band to perform a version of The Little Mermaid’s “Kiss the Girl” song, and we’d be dancing to it?… That was a lot of work communicating and coordinating that I won’t get into here (And let’s not talk about the work that went into trying to get the music rights figured out for the music used in the proposal video. That took A LOT more work than I’d like to admit post shoot…). Needless to say, thankfully it all went off without a hitch on the day of the proposal!
On the big day I tricked Maggie into thinking we were going to go see a special screening of the first Avengers movie with Chris Hemsworth in attendance! But before we went to the screening I told her we were meeting friends for breakfast in Old Town. Little did she know she’d be getting the Mexican Chris Hemsworth (OK, Michael Pena?) for life that day! My cover, friends (who work at Disney) we often go to breakfast with before we go to Disney screenings with them. Under the guise of meeting in Old Town Pasadena for breakfast before heading out to meet Mr. Hemsworth, one of my covers decided she needed to get a cup of coffee while we waited to be seated in the restaurant. While on our way to the Starbucks on the far East end of Colorado Blvd, I called Maggie’s attention to the One Colorado courtyard where my trap lay in repose.
First, she found a large gift box, which contained the VR headset and headphones. After she put those on, she looked around…
It took some figuring out, but she found the message I left for her.
When she took off the headset, the flash mob began dancing to the Little Mermaid’s “Kiss the Girl” played by the mariachi band! She met me onstage after the song ended, and I got on one knee to propose.