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Popping the question, posting a video

By Adeline Chen, CNN
The Madison Square Park proposal, Old Spice Tweet, rooftop and movie trailer proposal (top left to bottom right) are all viral.
The Madison Square Park proposal, Old Spice Tweet, rooftop and movie trailer proposal (top left to bottom right) are all viral.
  • Videos of marriage proposals have gone viral on YouTube and Vimeo
  • The "movie trailer proposal for Matt and Ginny" had over 10 million views in under 2 weeks
  • These videos are popular because they give viewers hope and make them feel optimistic

(CNN) -- Will you marry me?

That question carries an extreme amount of significance for those who are popping the question and for those who must answer.

While weddings have long been planned to a T and photographed and videotaped, marriage proposals are rapidly becoming public events with some videotaped for the enjoyment of family, friends and millions of strangers.

Posted on sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, the videotaped proposals can go viral overnight with millions of viewers. That's what happened to one video of an elaborately orchestrated proposal in a movie theater.

"We had no idea it'd be such a viral success, but there were particular elements that made it so successful," says Michael Escobar, the videographer who recorded both Matt asking his fiancee's father for her hand and Matt's epic route to get to the theater where Ginny was with her brother.

Famously dubbed the movie trailer proposal for Matt and Ginny, Escobar's production got more than 10 million views in less than two weeks.

What is it about proposal videos that draw so many viewers from around the world?

Movie proposal couple gets free stuff

"These videos reflect our need to 'connect' with one another," says Steven Sherwood, a sociology professor at Los Angeles Valley College. "They are therefore just the most contemporary version of the smoke signal of communicating what's important to us.

Escobar says proposal videos "give hope for a lot of people," and that "when you see something genuine and heartwarming you gravitate towards it."

For Christina Nelson, 42, a Kenyan immigrant who's been married for six years, the emotional aspect of these videos are what touch her.

"I know what they're feeling and wow. I just love how they feel," Nelson says, adding that her girlfriends often pass links to such videos along to her.

Nelson explains, "Women are emotional beings -- so are men -- but we have another degree of emotion and we love the fact that it's being exposed."

It's the same factor that made songs by Elvis, and now Justin Bieber, wildly popular in today's culture: women who want to be warmed by romance -- theirs or someone else's.

Ashli Reese, a young bachelorette living in Atlanta, sums up her reaction to watching proposal videos: "I want that one day. I want that to be me. I want to feel the way they feel."

For men, these public emotional displays online can elicit a different reaction.

"I'll watch for the entertainment," says 24-year-old Tracy McClades. And even though he says he hasn't found "the one" yet, he admits he can "get ideas from them" and be prepared when he is ready to propose to his future wife.

Atlanta resident George Nelson proposed six years ago in the middle of a busy restaurant while his friends documented the moment. He offers another reason why people videos of these used-to-be private moments.

"When there's a new trend, we want to be a part of the trend -- both male and female," says Nelson.

John Schlueter, who proposed last year while running with the Olympic Torch, says public proposals and videos represent "competition for men," while being, "heartwarming for women."

Although he didn't have a video made of his proposal, he and his wife are reminded of their emotional moment every time they see the Olympic torch that he carried during the proposal hanging in the middle of their living room.

Escobar doesn't see the proposal competition as a bad thing.

"If it does have people step up their game, if it sparks a person to go the extra mile for the person they love, that's a good thing."

For even more fun, check out these recent viral videos of proposals:

CNN Center proposal, accompanied by the band, Train

Tweeted Old Spice proposal

Madison Square Park musical number proposal

"Luck" -- romantic rooftop proposal

University of Michigan musical proposal

* And if you videotaped your proposal, share it on CNN's iReport.

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