When a pop culture-obsessed Disney employee falls in love with a pop culture fan who works in entertainment, the standards for the marriage proposal are high. The first time Marshall Weinbaum met Josh Hatala, Weinbaum describes experiencing an instant connection. In particular, he loved Hatala's smile.
Over the course of their relationship, the Southern California residents bonded over a shared love of pop culture. Hatala especially loves Star Wars and Marvel while Weinbaum loves all things Disney. Their house is full of Funko collectibles celebrating their favorite characters and stories.
After five years of dating, Weinbaum knew it was time to propose to Hatala.
“When you work in movies, especially with me and Josh and Josh works in entertainment, when it comes to proposals, I just didn't want it to be ordinary,” Weinbaum explained. “For me and for Josh, it had to be a little bit more epic in scale but still personal.”
With their five-year anniversary around the corner, the couple decided to celebrate in Seattle, a city they had never visited. When a friend mentioned that Funko had a store near Seattle, the wheels in Weinbaum's head started turning. He reached out to the Funko headquarters store in mid-August and began conspiring with Funko's Retail Store Manager Liz Lawson to plan the Funko headquarters store's first marriage proposal. Not being familiar with the store's layout proved challenging as Weinbaum attempted to plan the perfect proposal.
On October 5, Weinbaum and Hatala arrived at the Funko store for what Hatala believed was a normal visit. Weinbaum was nervous, wanting to enjoy the store but enormously worried that his boyfriend would guess that something was going on.
“Josh is the kind of person who's never surprised,” Weinbaum explained. “He knows the ending to every movie. He knows when I'm lying or hiding something.”
They ended up at the Pop! Factory section of the store where customers can make their own unique Pop!s before heading to the checkout. Unbeknownst to Hatala, before their visit to Seattle Weinbaum had commissioned custom Pop!s of them both and turned them over to Lawson.
“Marshall had custom Pop!s made of the couple. On the back of one it said ‘Will you' and the other one said ‘Marry me.' Marshall requested that they build a monster or Freddy at the Pop! factory and I show them the Pop!s at the factory and say, ‘I know you can't create a Pop! here that looks like you but these two do.' So I did that and I presented the Pop!s to them," Lawson explained.
Hatala said yes, of course. “I was completely surprised. Looking back there were all of these cues that something was going on but I never connected the dots,” he admitted. “Usually I'm the first to figure out something that's supposed to be a surprise. I was really impressed with Marshall's planning.”
The marquee in the Marvel section of the store was changed to bid the newly-engaged couple congratulations. In the month since the proposal, the couple has chosen a wedding venue and are already discussing ways to incorporate their love of pop culture into the celebration. While they still have a lot of planning ahead, the couple acknowledged that they feel a degree of freedom in their wedding planning process.“One of the things we've talked about a lot in planning the wedding these last few weeks is that we didn't group up in a world with marriage equality … What we kept talking about is we have this gift of no precedent for what our wedding needs to look like and, going back, what our proposal needed to look like,” Hatala said. “It's amazing that we got to share in something that was so unique and that had never been done before. It was also amazing to do it somewhere that blended so many things we love, walking from Arkham Asylum to the Batcave from the streets of Harry Potter's London to Marvel's New York to Hoth with Star Wars. It was incredible.”