On May 23, 2012, Isaac Lamb proposed to his girlfriend Amy Frankel in one of the more creative and touching ways the Internet has seen in a long time, if ever. The YouTube video of his proposal has been viewed over 13.7 million times as of this writing.
I tracked down Isaac in his hometown of Portland, Ore., to ask how he exponentially raised the marriage proposal bar.
The proposal was a "lip-dub" involving more than 60 family members and friends who took part in lip synching the Bruno Mars hit "Marry You." The elaborate choreography and meticulous timing hint at enormous amounts of practice. The nearly six-minute proposal included costumes, dancing, video cameras, laptops and other props. The huge production was all for his girlfriend Amy, who sat in the back of a car as it slowly rolled down a tree-lined street.
Lamb gave me the skinny on how he was able to pull off such a fantastic stunt.
"I knew I wanted to do something big and spectacular; my brain kind of works that way," Lamb explained. "I wanted to incorporate friends and family into the proposal itself. I love how lip-dub videos are cool expressions of community (and) I was running on the treadmill at the gym and a flash of inspiration happened."
Once the idea had formed, Lamb needed to plan it out.
"I asked (her) parents for their blessing around Christmas," he said. "A month or two before I listened to the song on repeat," letting his friend Gina into the fold when he was ready to start the choreography. Gina appears in the video as the woman in the red dress.
For most of the planning, only a few people knew the whole picture. The tough part was coordinating with his family and friends, since he and Gina needed to come up with dance moves that non-dancers could do, like his and Amy's parents.
Finally, "two weeks before, I sent out a mass email," said Lamb, "I was afraid of letting out the secret!" Everyone involved was important to the couple. There were "no hired dancers, just friends and family. If they weren't family, they were friends, (even) the marching band," Isaac said.
It wasn't until four days before the proposal that they had their first group rehearsal, and even then, many of the people were missing. Coordinating the schedules was impossible, especially while keeping it secret. "Of the 60 people involved only about a third showed," Isaac said. It was crazy, but they had to move forward. They had a deadline.
The hardest part wasn't the choreography, coordination, or even the planning, but instead was "keeping (the secret) from her," Isaac said.
"There is literally nothing we don't share with each other. At the end of the day we tell each other everything, in a lot of detail too! Inventing this other life I'd lived for several months was really tough. I had to turn on my best acting skills, and she didn't make it easy."
As an example, Lamb said, "I was trying to tell my sister something about the costumes, but Amy was there. I went to the car with her and made an excuse to run back inside. Afterward, (Amy) interrogated me… . It's a lot of lying!"
One night during planning when Lamb was supposed to be at a work meeting, a baby that Amy knew would not have been at the meeting peed on his shirt. When Amy asked what happened, he was able to substitute the baby for his "artistic director's god-daughter." The problem is, there is no god-daughter.
"I invented a human being," Lamb said exasperatedly. "I invented a child."
"We laugh about it now," he said. "We're still finding pieces of stories (that I had to make up)."
Finally, the big day arrived. Amy was sent across town as a diversion, and Lamb used the time to do some final tweaks. "I played Amy to make sure (everything) was working," Lamb said sounding excited to re-hash the experience. When he was ready, everyone hid and he texted her to say he was sorry, and where he really was. "She replied with a very cold message back," Isaac laughed. She had no idea what was coming.
Lamb's brother, Connor, intercepted her at their mother's house. He'd known the plan since the beginning and had to start the whole event. He put Amy in position and started the music. The lip dub began.
"If it was me I'd have been way too nervous, and way too emotional," Lamb said, "The best idea I had was to make the live experience for Amy. I almost didn't film it. I didn't want to record it … I wanted it to be just for Amy, but my friends, brothers and sister talked me out of it."
"I believe a wedding is supported by a community, I wanted everyone there," Lamb reiterates. At one point in the lip dub, laptops appear in front of Amy, each with a video shot by family members who couldn't be there, each dancing and "singing" along.
The whole show — and it is a show by no stretch of the imagination — is fantastically well timed.
"Thanks to the millions of people who have watched it and sent us positive feedback," Lamb said. "I (even) got an email from Uganda. It's a good feeling to have added a little positivity to the world. I'm so grateful to everyone who helped (and who've sent us their feedback). It's very personal, but I couldn't have done it without the help of our friends and family and our community."
"I would be surprised if there wasn't something big, fun and hysterical at our wedding because that's just who we are," said Isaac with a laugh, "but maybe this time she can organize the whole thing."
Isaac Lamb grew up in Portland and is active in the local theater scene as an actor and director with the Third Rail Core Company.
Watch the Isaac and Amy's Lip Dub Proposal: