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Unique Wedding Proposals of the Famous

In the era of courtly love, a knight would drop to bended knee when asking for a lady's hand in marriage. This chivalrous gesture, which demonstrated his honor and respect of his future bride was the birth of today's customary marriage proposal.

For centuries, men have ritually bent to one knee in the hope that the women of their dreams would agree to marriage. Thus began the modern race to perfect the most romantic wedding proposal.

Everyone from the average man to celebrities and kings spend time and money to create elaborate, unique wedding proposals that will be remembered forever. Whether romantic wedding proposals or surprise wedding proposals or a combination of both, below are a few of the world's more notable marriage offers of all time.

Holding Royal Court

In the mid 1930s, England's King Edward VIII made no secret of his wish to marry American divorce Wallis Simpson. While his marriage proposal was in the form of a simple dinner invitation, what made this one of the most romantic, surprise wedding proposals was what he sacrificed to wed the woman he loved.

In his early 40s, political, church and family opposition prevented the sitting King to marry the twice divorced American. He abdicated the throne rather than lose the woman he loved.

The Romance of Theatrical Proposals

Women cannot resist men who propose in poetic fashion. This was the route that British actor John Light to took when he proposed to American actress Neve Campbell. Light dropped to one knee and recited Shakespeare before offering her a ring.

In December 2006, Atlanta Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur took his surprise wedding proposal a step further when he knelt on one knee in the balcony of Atlanta's historic Fox Theatre and proposed to English teacher Catie McCoy during a production of Beauty and the Beast. Making this proposal even more romantic, Francoer proposed in the exact location where he professed his love to McCoy years earlier.

Country singer Garth Brooks used a similarly public setting when he asked his love Trisha Yearwood to marry him. The event was "Legends in Bronze," when 10 large statues honoring country legends were revealed. As Brooks' statue was revealed, he dropped to one knee and proposed to Yearwood in front of 7,000 cheering fans.

Sweeping Her Away

Today's celebrities often carry their future brides away to distant destinations to propose. Donald Trump's original apprentice, Bill Rancic, proposed to E! news anchor Giuliana DePandi aboard a helicopter ride above the holiday lights of Chicago's Michigan Avenue in December 2006.

No less romantic, Survivor creator Mark Burnett proposed to actress Roma Downey beneath a moonlit sky on a beach in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Nick Lachey proposed to Jessica Simpson in similar fashion aboard a yacht off the coast of Hawaii.

Tom Cruise pulled out all the stops when he proposed to his love Katie Holmes. He asked for her hand over a candlelit dinner prepared at the world famous Le Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower.

A Holiday to Remember

Hollywood's famous adore holiday marriage proposals. Seal proposed to sweetheart Heidi Klum two days before Christmas when he surprised her with a custom-built igloo at the top of a 14,000-foot glacier in uncharted terrain in Whistler, British Columbia.

Perhaps Dean McDermott's Christmas Eve proposal to Tori Spelling tops all holiday proposals. At a Christmas tree farm in Toronto, Canada, McDermott had lights hung for a half mile. A horse-drawn carriage led the couple along the lighted path to a table surrounded by decorated Christmas trees where he romantically proposed.

Obviously, celebrities enjoy going to great effort and expense to design a surprising, unique or romantic proposal. But how about you? Do you have an equally special and unique wedding proposal story to share? Let us know!