The time has come for you to ask the love of your life to marry you — but you have no idea how to go about it. How do you begin to plan what you’re going to say, and what ring to shop for? See our handy guide on preparations beforehand, and suggestions on how to pop the question, too.
You’d be surprised by how many people don’t do this before getting down on one knee. Before planning any proposal, it’s important to understand where each person stands when it comes to partnerships, money, and raising a family.
These topics might not make for the easiest — or the most romantic — discussions, but if you’re looking to make a commitment to each other for life, you need to know if your expectations are aligned.
Ask her family
Traditionally, a man is expected to ask his future bride’s father for his permission for her hand in marriage.
In modern times, it’s really more of a blessing than outright permission. Some choose to, others don’t, and there are also people who include both parents in that conversation.
Whether or not you opt for this step, it certainly helps for you to meet and establish good relations with your future in-laws before you pop the question.
Shop for a ring
They say that engagement rings are supposed to cost three months’ salary. Let’s not forget, though, that the modern concept of a rock on your fiancé’s finger was a campaign created by a diamond mining company.
So really, there’s no real rule of thumb to how much a ring should cost.
Figure out your budget, and go from there. And then, of course, know what your significant other wants. Pay attention to her style, ask her friends, and try and find “secret” wedding Pinterest boards or magazines laying around where you might find a clue.
Some brides like to be part of the selection process. This might be at odds with any surprise proposal plans you have up your sleeves, though seeing as it’s a big-ticket item, why not involve the person who’s going to be wearing it?
There are ways to get around that if you really didn’t want her to know about it beforehand. Some grooms-to-be propose with a “mock” version, and the couple goes shopping together for a ring post-engagement.
As for sizing, if you plan for your proposal to be a surprise and you’re unsure of your girlfriend’s ring size, measure rings she owns, or try to sneakily take one with you on your visits to the jeweller.
Pick a place
Some of the world’s most popular proposal locations include the Eiffel Tower in Paris, New York’s Empire State Building, and Disneyland. They are also, admittedly, a bit cliché.
Perhaps you hold fond memories of where you met or had your first date together, or you had first said your “I love yous” while on vacation. Finding something that links back to your history together will always serve you well.
If you’re looking to amp up the romance factor — and of course you are — scenic options like beaches, mountains, the harbourfront, or even rooftops with views are good options.
For elements of surprise, everyday locations can work too. Some people choose to drop down on one knee during unexpected moments — think mid-coffee break at sidewalk cafes, or during dog-walking sessions.
Think about ways you’re going to propose
Every year, grooms around the world think up creative, touching ways to ask their future brides for their hand in marriage.
The tradition of a man getting down on one knee to ask a woman to marry him is something that has been passed down through the years. You don’t have to do this, sure — but bear in mind you’re trying to ask your girlfriend to spend the rest of her life with you. Try and win brownie points with charming gestures where possible!
So what are some sweet, romantic ways to propose? We like the idea of creating a collection of your memories together — photos and momentos — for her to go through. Involving friends and family is a sweet gesture, too — like giving a speech during an intimate dinner before asking. Signage that say “will you marry me?” or give clues to your proposal are also great ideas.
If you’re a lowkey couple, don’t assume that an engagement has to involve out-of-this-world grand gestures, like the man who dropped $400,000 on a proposal that involved a Ritz-Carlton suite and a helicopter. That might work for some people (the lady in question said yes), but just be sure you know your partner’s style.
Ready, steady, propose
You both know you want to spend the rest of your lives together. You’ve spoken to her family, bought a ring that you know she’ll love, found a spot you’ll do it at, and dreamed up a proposal that you know she’ll be thrilled by. What should you say other than “will you marry me”?
It’s important to express why you want to marry her. Before getting to the question, tell her how you felt when you first met her, and how your life has changed since she came into the picture. Let her know how much you love and appreciate her, and how you want to spend the rest of your lives together.
- Select a setting you will both be relaxed in. This is a memory you will remember for a long time to come, after all.
- Prepare what you’re going to say.
- Dress to impress. This isn’t just about looking good, however. You need to wear something that will comfortably accommodate your ring box. Opt for jackets with pockets, for example.
- Shove the ring in a place where it might fall out, like on the back of your trouser pocket or heaven forbid, without a ring box, on the day of the event.
- Brag about it to people who might tell her, if you want to keep the proposal a surprise, or something just between you two when the moment takes place.
- Be dejected if she isn’t quite ready. Consider that she may need time.