July 16, 2021

How to Propose

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Thinking about popping the question? Use these tips, creative ideas, and real-life examples to help you plan the perfect proposal.

Congrats on never having to go on a dating app again! You've found true love - and it's time to put a ring on it.

Planning a proposal is a BIG deal - you've got to shop for the right ring and memorize the speech. And right now, you might be worried about the "correct way" to ask for your favorite person's hand in marriage.

But don't sweat it. Here, you'll learn everything you need to know about crafting the perfect proposal.

Planning the Proposal (Correctly!)

First of all, make a checklist of what to do before you propose:

  1. Confirm that you're both on the same page - Before you get deep into the weeds of marriage proposals, talk about the future with your partner. Make sure that you both have marriage in mind. It's a hard but super important conversation to have.

  2. Put family first - Once you two are on the same page, have a chat with their parents. This old-school tradition varies from family to family, so it may not apply to you.

    But if you do end up speaking with the parents, try something like: "I love your son/daughter very much and we want to spend the rest of our lives together. I'm planning to propose and would like you to be involved with this big moment."

  3. Find the right ring - There's a lot that goes into engagement ring shopping. Observe the type of jewelry that they like to wear or ask a close friend or family member to help you out. Try to get the ring size first to avoid resizing.

  4. Know what you wear - You'll want to look sharp, of course. But most importantly, wear something with big pockets so the ring box isn't bulging out.

  5. Decide what to say - Time to get personal. What type of proposal would your partner love? How do they make you feel? And why are you excited for your future together? Just be genuine and don't forget the "Will you marry me?" part.

    Which knee do you get on to propose?
    It's tradition that your left knee should be on the ground, the ring box is in your left hand, and the box should be opened with your right hand.

  6. Plan the celebration - You don't need a full-blown soiree, but it'll be nice to commemorate this big milestone. Maybe pop some bubbly to make a toast, book a table at your favorite restaurant, or invite some friends and family over.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach. But here are some other bells and whistles you may want to consider:

  • Set up a backstory to surprise your significant other
  • Keep a photographer on standby
  • Discretely secure and hide the bling with a Box Sock

What to Say When Proposing

The more nerve-wracking (and most important) part of the proposal is the speech. To get rid of the jitters in your stomach, here's a step-by-step guide:

  1. First, write down all the reasons you love them - Don't fret over grammar and misspellings. The point of this exercise is to get out a stream of consciousness. If you're not into writing, try using a voice memo.

  2. Mention the defining moment when you know they were The One - Nothing gets someone's attention like a story. Talk about the time they took care of you while you were sick or you realized you shared a hobby with them. Maybe it was just a low-key lunch at a no-frills but tasty pizza joint.

  3. Talk about your future together - What does growing old together look like to you? Maybe it revolves around a family on a farm or traveling the world. Use the proposal as an opportunity to discuss those plans and how they're the only one you want to do this with.

  4. Sound like yourself - It's cool to get inspo from the internet - just remember to write your speech in your own words. Include inside jokes, special memories, or specific observations about your partner.

  5. "Will you marry me?" - Your speech doesn't need to be long. A few meaningful sentences can be more than enough. Now, simply say the four words they're waiting for.

Proposal Speech Examples

Got your thoughts down? To express your love, put your own spin on a few romantic proposal lines:

  • I can't imagine growing old with anyone else, nor do I want to.
  • I know you're the only one I want to share the rest of my life with.
  • You have meant more to me than anyone else I've ever known.
  • I promise you, no one will work harder to make you happy or cherish you more than me.
  • There's no one I'd rather be on a team with than you.
  • My heart lifts up whenever I see you. I want to come home to you every day.
  • Every day I will work hard to make you happy. You're the most dedicated partner I've ever known.
  • You make me laugh so much. And I promise you that we'll never stop having fun together.
  • Me and you, together forever?

How to Propose to Your Girlfriend

If you're proposing to a woman, consider some of the following ideas to make her moment special:

  1. Classic romantic dinner proposal - A delicious meal, lovely wine and dim lighting is a good way to win any woman's heart. Just be sure to book well in advance and create the perfect setting. Go for a more secluded area of the restaurant to avoid noise and lack of privacy.

  2. Go to her special place - Does she have a favorite hiking spot? Or did you visit a cabin early on in the relationship? Pop the questions in a locale that means a lot to her.

  3. Incorporate her hobbies - Consider spending a day with her hobbies (surfing, painting, horseback riding, etc.) and follow up the activity with a marriage proposal.

  4. Enjoy the outdoors - Parks, lakes, mountains, forests and beaches are romantic and scenic backdrops. Opt for a less busy time (boo, tourists) and plan your proposal. A word to the wise: Keep a close eye on the ring. You don't want to lose it in the ocean or in the mountains!

  5. Let the words do the talking - You could spell out your proposal with chalk on the sidewalk, a painting, or with a cool graffiti design. Maybe even ask the big question over a cake or another intricate pastry.

    Some couples have been proposed to with a message in the snow (viewed while in a ski lift) or with skywriting from a plane.

  6. Invite friends and family - If she's shy, public proposals WILL NOT go well. But if she likes a little attention, you can pop the questions during a family dinner or outing.

  7. Public proposals - This is for the lady who likes a whole lot of attention. The majority of women do not like public proposals but if she's in the minority, consider proposing during a sports game, a singing quartet, a carnival, etc.

How to Propose to Your Boyfriend

Ready to take the plunge? Here's how to ask the special man in your life.

  1. Choose a destination wedding - Hawaii? Mexico? An exciting locale will make your proposal extra memorable.

  2. Write a love letter - Go for a romantic walk and hand him this letter. Sometimes pen and paper is the way to go.

  3. Say it with a watch - Conventionally, men don't receive an engagement ring. Watches are a popular and trendy way to ask "Will you marry me?"

  4. Cook a delicious dinner - The way to a man's heart is through his stomach, after all. You could even incorporate the proposal into the dessert.

Proposal Do's and Don'ts

Browse this quick reference of what to do and what not to do for that huge moment.

What to do:

  • Do personalize your proposal. Don't feel the need to copy another couple's moment. March to the beat of your own drum and share something unique.

  • Do practice, practice, practice. Say your proposal speech a few times until it feels natural. The more you say it, the easier it'll get.

  • Do get a temperature check on the relationship. Make sure marriage is on their mind and that they'll say yes to the question.

  • Do take time to shop for the right engagement ring. This gift is a lifelong commitment so you want to make sure it fits your partner's personal style. And ask yourself: Would they rather pick out the ring themselves?

  • Do get on one knee - the LEFT knee, to be exact.

  • Do share the news when you're ready. Reflect on the big news and then announce the milestone to the people in your lives.

What NOT to do:

  • Don't put the ring in unsafe situations. Always, ALWAYS keep the ring nice and safe. There are fancy-schmancy ring boxes for a reason.

  • Don't give jobs to friends and family. Chances are, the brother or best friend will be terrible at keeping secrets. Your partner will see through the ruse and it'll ruin the surprise. Keep things real low-key.

  • Don't make it public. Public proposals are ONLY okay if your partner has expressed that this is what they want. This includes in front of the family or sports games. Private and intimate proposals are generally preferred.

  • Don't make it complicated. Avoid intricate proposals if it's going to be a headache. You want to be unique and creative but also try to keep it simple and classic.

  • Don't ask too early in the relationship. It's hard to keep a level head when you're swept up in emotions but make sure you're not moving too fast. This is a serious commitment.

Bottom line

Asking for someone's hand in marriage is downright daunting. But try to push your nervousness aside and remind yourself that developing a full plan will make things tons easier. Every couple is different, but a thoughtful gesture is the most important part.

Amber Kong is a content specialist at CreditDonkey, a diamond jeweler comparison and reviews website. Write to Amber Kong at amber.kong@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.


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