Saying "I do" at Google London

San Francisco-based Googler Shaun Aukland gained unexpected, international attention when he asked his boyfriend Michael to marry him in an elaborate proposal at Google’s London office. We sat down with Shaun to find out how he pulled it off with a little help from some friends in London—his fellow Googlers.

How did you meet Michael?

We met online two years ago. We exchanged a few messages, then after a few phone calls, we had our first Google Hangout. Michael lives in London and had never been to the U.S. Technology really helped us connect and learn about one another. It might sound nerdy, but we used Google Maps to understand the cities where each other lived, and Street View to point out where we grew up.

Why did you decide to propose in the cafe at Google’s London office?

I had a trip to London coming up and decided it was the time. Last year, Michael and I saw the Gleegers (an acapella singing group at Google) perform during lunch on Valentine’s Day. I asked them to sing for us and they were amazing. They learned a new song, pulled in additional singers and rehearsed after work. I didn’t know a single one of them!

The cafe looks packed in the video. How did you get so many people to help out and attend?

I sent an invitation to an office mailing list. I said, “This is what I want to do. I hope that you’ll come and help.” The only request was for people to chime in at a specific time during the Gleegler’s performance, extend an arm and sing “Just say you’ll do.”

From that one email, I got messages from Googlers in six countries—people who couldn’t be there but wanted to show support. One even brought us champagne for after Michael said yes. The cafe staff bought balloons and confetti poppers. Another Googler even offered her mom’s backyard in Iowa for our wedding because gay marriage is legal there. (We might take her up on that!)

Your proposal video has more than 180,000 views on YouTube. How have you and Michael reacted to all this attention?

It’s weird to have such a personal moment shared with the world. Ultimately, the intention was to make a grand gesture of love for Michael and to make it the best possible proposal for him. The fact that the story has inspired people all over the world is just icing on the cake.

Google was honored by Marriage Equality USA this year for it’s support of gay marriage. How do you feel about that recognition?

Google is incredibly supportive of the LGBT community. Seeing Google sign on to the amicus brief to support the repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, and support the passing of the Uniting American Families Act to extend immigration rights to LGBT families, it all makes me proud to be a Googler. These issues affect Michael and me directly and I don’t feel like we are fighting alone. I’ve received support from every level of the company. I can’t say this wouldn’t happen at another company but I’m so thankful that I know it happens at Google.

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