Before Lara Manning had her first child last summer, she knew she wanted her best friend Stephanie to be the godmother. But when her daughter was born, a simple ask didn’t seem sufficient.
“Stephanie and I have been friends since high school, and we’d both agreed to take on the role of godmother when [we] had kids,” the Chicago-based mom tells me. “We’ve both shared so many memorable moments over the years, and I wanted to ask her to be my daughter’s godmother in an equally remarkable way.”
Manning and her husband planned an elaborate party to mark the occasion. They booked a fancy restaurant for a day and organized a brunch-style event. Close relatives and friends were invited to show up to the party dressed in white. The venue was decorated with white streamers, and a mix of white and gold balloons hung in the air. Their daughter sat in a high chair which was designed to look like a throne, and her prospective godmother was expected to take pride of place right beside her.
Manning knew she needed to spend less, as they’d just had a baby, but that didn’t stop her from planning a big feast. “We really wanted the occasion to be special for everyone,” she says.
After all the guests assembled, she presented a box to Stephanie with the words “Every princess deserves a fairy godmother. Will you be my godmother?” printed on it in gold lettering. When Lara saw the tears in her best friend’s eyes, she knew it had been worth it.
It’s 2019—if a significant occasion is celebrated without a touch of extravagance, did it even happen? Men now propose in the middle of marathons, people plan vacations to celebrate small milestones, and prom season has turned into a quasi-competitive sport for adolescents. Now, it seems new parents want in on the action. Behold, the godparent proposal.
What was once a simple rite of passage is now celebrated as a major event. According to recent data from Pinterest, godparent proposals were one of the biggest trends in 2018, with user searches up by more than 152 percent. As mood boards crawl with ideas on how to execute the perfect proposal—think: big picnics at the park, lavish backyard parties, and family soirees—event planners have latched onto the phenomenon and brands have rolled out godparent proposal-themed merchandise, like personalized onesies, bottles of champagne with slogans such as “only best friends get promoted to godmother” written on them in glamorous cursive. A company called Luxe Balloons designs personalized balloons that contain luxury items, to be presented to (and presumably popped by) prospective godparents.
Tahlia Butler, editor at HelloBabyBump, threw a big dinner party for her friends before popping the question to her best friend, Susan. After dinner, Susan was blindfolded and asked to swing at a piñata which contained presents, as well as a doll that had a note on it asking, “Will you be my godmother?”
“Everyone loved it, Susan cried tears of joy, and they all had a celebratory glass of wine afterwards,” says Butler.
It wasn’t always like this. Before I was christened, my mother asked her best friend if she’d like to be my godmother…over the phone. Once upon a time, the title of godmother or godfather was a quasi-religious position, used for the most part in Christian communities to signal that the person who took on the title was expected to act as spiritual guardian to the child.
This tradition has since evolved; it’s now common for parents to ask a relative or friend to be their child’s godparent, regardless of their religious beliefs. And with so much of our lives now documented on social media, a regular ask might not seem sufficient. In the age of elaborate cake smash parties and lavish push presents, it’s become more and more common for new parents to stage elaborate “proposals” to make the request feel more momentous (and photogenic). To “help,” retailers like Amazon and Etsy stock humorous cards, cute posters, clever Hollywood themes, and scratch-off notes. Also for sale: customized onesies, necklaces, mugs, and gift boxes.
“I went through lots of great ideas,” explains Jennifer Lipsitt-McLean, the blogger behind MomBible.com. “But in the end, I planned a meal for me and my husband’s best friends at our favorite restaurant, and dressed my son in a bodysuit that read ‘Will you be my godparents?’ on the front. Overall, the event was received really well, and it was just us parents and the godparents that were present. It was a very meaningful and personal experience.”