Proposing to the love of your life is something you want to get right. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to tell the person of your dreams how much you love them and that you want to spend the rest of your life with them.
With so much pressure to make your grand gesture romantic and memorable and countless ways to do it, it can be daunting to decide on the right proposal strategy. If you’re ready to pop the question but unsure how or when, this step by step guide can help you plan the perfect marriage proposal for you and your partner.
Many people want their proposal to be surprising and exciting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean spontaneous. Before popping the question, talk to your future fiancée about how she’s feeling about marriage. This may seem unromantic, but it’s way more unromantic to receive a “no” when you ask.
You don’t have to get too specific in your discussion about getting engaged, but try to gauge her interest level. If she’s clearly excited, you can play detective and try to figure out some specifics about what she would like in her proposal. If she’s not as enthusiastic, listen to her concerns and hesitations. Just because she’s not ready now doesn’t mean she won’t be later. Plus, more couples are staying engaged longer, find out why here.
When planning your proposal, consider what your future wife might want. Asking your partner what they like and dislike about proposals can help you narrow down your options.
You may want to ask your partner outright. If you’ve been together a while, she’s probably already thought about the engagement and likely has some custom proposal ideas of her own. If you want to keep your proposal a complete surprise, you can still ask her more general questions about what she likes and dislikes about proposals without her catching on.
Even if your fiancée suspects that you are going to propose, the proposal can still be romantic and surprising. It’s better to ask for her input and propose in a way she will love than to surprise her with a proposal she’ll hate.
If you don’t know how to propose, your future fiancée’s family and friends can be an excellent resource. They can provide insight into what she might want or how she wants to be asked. They might also be able to help you choose an engagement ring.
You can also ask one of your future fiancée’s close friends for proposal advice. They can help you gather intel from your partner or provide insight on what they already know your partner wants. Talk strategy. You may want to enlist their help on the day of your proposal to keep your partner distracted or bring her to a surprise location where you’ll be waiting with a ring.
It’s traditional in many communities to ask your future bride’s parents for permission before proposing. When people get married, they join each other’s families, so many deem it important to include the parents in the proposal process. Before proposing, ask your fiancée or her family members how they feel about this tradition. You don’t want to start your engagement on the wrong foot by neglecting the family.
A proposal is a once-in-a-lifetime event and should be catered specifically to your partner. That’s why it’s best to ignore proposal trends and fads, which are not as meaningful or individualized.
Your proposal should focus on your memories as a couple and reference experiences you have shared. Basing a proposal on a TV show you both like, or a current event may be funny, but it moves the focus away from your future wife and can diminish the significance of the occasion.
You may be excited to share your engagement on social media. Post away! But only after you and your future wife have shared the big moment and taken the time to enjoy each other’s company. Trends fade, but love is forever.
Once you have a general idea of how you want to propose, select a time and a place. Remember to consider your future wife’s schedule when planning, especially if you’re going to photograph the occasion.
One popular option is to choose a day that holds some significance to you as a couple, like the anniversary of your first date, first kiss, or the first time you said: “I love you.” You might want to choose a day that has a special meaning to your partner, like the anniversary of her parents or grandparents or the birthday of a loved one.
Holidays aren’t always great for popping the big question. Proposing on Christmas or her birthday can seem like a great idea since everyone is already in a festive mood. But everyone’s focus will likely be on the holiday, so your proposal may not have the significance you’d like.
Valentine’s day should likewise be avoided. While it is a romantic day, it’s also a cliche. Only propose on a holiday if you’re sure it’s what your future wife would want. Instead, pick a special and romantic day for you as a couple.
In terms of timing, it is also important to plan your proposal around your fiancée’s schedule. If she’s coming off a long shift at work or back from a tough workout, it might not be the opportune moment to propose. Know your partner’s schedule so you can plan ahead for the right moment. Jared Heathman, MD of Your Family Psychiatrist, advises that, “selecting a date will help you fight off the urge to procrastinate with a self-imposed deadline.” So don’t drop the ball!
Where you propose depends on whether you’re going for an intimate feel or something more public.
Many people don’t feel comfortable with the idea of a public proposal; only 15% of women report liking the idea. An intimate proposal that only involves the two of you can be just as thrilling and memorable as a public one.
You don’t have to propose at home for intimacy or privacy. A secluded spot you and your future bride like to visit, a less populated part of town or the beach, or somewhere in nature are all excellent options for a proposal that won’t draw a crowd of onlookers. You can add candles, flowers, or pictures of the two of you for added effect.
If you’re going public, the options are endless. Just remember that having other people watch you propose can be distracting (and nerve-wracking). And if she says no, then there’s a whole lot of explaining to do.
You might want to avoid extremely crowded locations like busy areas of a city, sporting events, or public transportation, as these places can be loud and are rarely conducive to an intimate moment.
Some public places have regulations, and certain restaurants have special procedures, so always discuss your plans with the venue beforehand. They may even offer you a discount or special treatment.
No matter how well rehearsed and throughout, every proposal plan will have some hiccups. It is more important to go with the flow and live in the moment than stick to what you wrote down in your perfect proposal planner.
The spontaneous changes will add to the excitement and buzz of the moment, so soak it in and see all surprises as serendipity.
For more tips on how to propose and what to do after she says yes, visit The Groom Club. We’re pros at preparing grooms with all they need to know during their engagement, wedding planning, and on the big day.