City: New York, NY

Passion: Cultivating Wonder

Website: www.amodestproposal.us

When I first spoke with Vicky, I was instantly awed by the clarity and conviction in her voice. She has such a knack for storytelling, it's not surprising she helps orchestrate proposals for a living. Yes, proposals: as in marriage proposals. She can't sleep the night before one she's planned because she's too excited. Meet Vicky Wang: she left the path of law, did some solo traveling then returned home to propose to her long-time boyfriend. Upon her return, she was given the opportunity to help a friend co-plan weddings. She's now found her calling as curator of fairy-tale romantic experiences through her company, A Modest Proposal. She finds inspiration everywhere, so you'll want to call her up for inspiration when you decide you've found the One.  

On Passion

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I live for those moments of wonder, and they can come from anywhere. It can be a meteor shower that illuminates a pitch-dark African sky, impromptu karaoke on a train in Europe, or a bar full of strangers in Iceland singing you Happy Birthday in their native tongue. Since wonder is so important to me, I am constantly on the lookout for it. I’ve discovered that marriage proposals are a great outlet for my passion, as I get to help people create their own moments of wonder.
Proposals are these luminous moments where one person says: you are the one I choose, and I’m putting it all on the line to ask if you will choose me in return. No matter how many proposals I help plan, I’m always in awe of that sentiment and commitment.
I decided to pursue proposal planning when I realized how excited it made me. I am an introvert by nature but when I plan proposals, all the shyness melts away and I become a completely different person because of the excitement.

On Mastery

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When I first started out, I had very little experience so I compensated for this by being overly prepared. Now that I’m more practiced, I’m still prepared but am also more comfortable with leaving room for spontaneity.
The most interesting part of proposal planning is the challenge of crafting a proposal that is unique to that couple. I’m always searching for ways to create new experiences. That’s where curiosity helps. If you’re curious, you’ll always be looking for the small yet meaningful ways to demonstrate a couple’s chemistry. I try to focus on those small insights and translate them into wonder-filled experiences. I enjoy my work so much that I can’t help but look at everything around me through the lens of a proposal planner: if I come across a neat idea or a cool location, I immediately make a mental note so that I can perhaps use it in a future proposal.

On Transition

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Like a lot of other history majors before me, I went to law school, thinking it would be an interesting and rewarding career path. It did not quite work out that way, as I slowly realized how unhappy legal work made me. But even with that unhappiness, the transition out of it was scary because I was leaving this very defined path for an alternative one that had no structure whatsoever. There were moments where I felt like I was in free fall. Something that I had to work on during the transition was not to be daunted by a fear of the unknown. It took time, but I learned that it’s important to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

On Failure

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My biggest failure so far is my law school experience. It was frightening how much money was sunk into something I didn’t end up pursuing. After moving on from the law, I went through a phase where I felt paralyzed by my mistakes and constantly second guessed my decisions. It took a while to carve out a new path for myself.
I still worry about failure but now I also see the value of being a beginner. As adults, we don’t like to look silly or take risks that might result in failure, so that often hinders us from learning new things. When you look at kids, there’s no such fear — they are always looking at the world in wonder, learning, experimenting, and discovering. It sounds silly, but rekindling that inner kid again can help battle and shield you against your Goliath-sized demons.

On Fear

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I have a fear that what I do today is not as substantive as what I’ve thought I always wanted to do. Marriage proposals are very important for the individuals involved — they are the very definition of life-changing. That said, I’ve always had a strong desire to have broader societal impact; a conviction that came out of my childhood in South Africa during and after Apartheid. I saw injustice there firsthand and it stirred in me an inclination to rectify it. This is the reason I went to law school in the first place, and why I worked for the UN and other human rights organizations. However, after doing that work for a while, I realized I wasn’t ideally suited for it as a career and decided to do something more creative. Once the company is more settled, I still hope to do discrete projects for human rights organizations.

On Money

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I’m on a tighter budget now that I am focusing on my own company compared to when I worked in the corporate world, but I’m ok with that. I’ve learned to be more careful with my expenses and try to be resourceful enough to live a good life.

On Self-Love

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Starting your own business is a solitary endeavor. I’m still getting used to not being constantly surrounded by people but I’m learning to enjoy my own company. There’s a difference between solitude and loneliness and I embrace the time I have to myself and try to use it productively.
On days when I determine my own schedule, I walk everywhere instead of using the subway. Walking around the city helps me stay healthy but more importantly also helps to nurture my curiosity. I once took a two-hour walk, and on the way home I saw a man perform on a grand piano on the sidewalk, participated in an impromptu traffic light group dance, and came across a street with a row of houses that transport you to a picturesque village in Europe. Especially in a city like New York, with its endless possibilities and electric energy, staying open to the unexpected can lead you to new discoveries and hidden gems.

On Inspiration

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Staying curious is key to inspiration. Curiosity also extends to people and their stories: it’s learning the nuances in their relationships and their little idiosyncrasies that make them who they are. This is the basis for how I approach proposals. I had a client whose girlfriend loved spontaneity. So we decided to plan an anniversary around the idea of “choose your own adventure!” It begun with her meeting him at the airport and choosing between 2 envelopes that each contained a ticket to different destinations and at each stop, she was handed more envelopes that she could choose from. I loved that experience because it captured the personality of the couple but also embodied the sentiment that their relationship is an adventure – you choose your partner, make decisions along the way, and rely on each other’s strengths to make the best of situations, come what may.

On Support

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Looking back, I’m awed by the generosity of others. It’s almost serendipitous how I got my start in event planning. I was catching up with a friend and telling her about my new direction when she invited me to become a co-planner on weddings she was working on. Incidentally, she was a law student at the time and I had no idea that she planned weddings on the side. She took me under her wing and very generously shared with me everything she knew. She’s amazing. Had I not gotten experience with weddings, I might never have made the leap to proposal planning.
There have been numerous fairy godparents along the way. It’s important not to be afraid to reach out for support — it can come from the most unexpected places. I’ve been incredibly lucky and am looking for ways in which I can express my gratitude by passing this support forward.

Advice to the Community

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I used to believe that if you were cautious enough and drafted a perfect action plan, then you could not fail. However, this need for perfection is paralyzing and you never actually take that first step and end up failing by default. Don’t let the need for perfectionism and this idea of a perfect outline hold you back. Often times, a crappy first draft or attempt is the most important bridge between where you are now and where you want to end up.

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