So, you’re ready to pop the question. For some guys, the whole process of planning a foolproof and majorly impressive proposal is a no-brainer, but if you’re not naturally a “planner,” it can be daunting. Instead of wondering whether things will go smoothly, it’s better to map out how you want it to go, figure out how to make it special, and feel confident that you’ll be hearing an overjoyed “yes” when you do make the big ask. Here, we’ve laid out the dos and don’ts of pulling off the ultimate proposal without a hitch, straight from relationship and wedding experts who have seen thousands of successful (and not-so-successful) ones. And for more inspiration for that special occasion, here are the most picturesque places to pop the question.
The most important factor in winning her over? Ensuring that you’re completely certain you’re making the right move. According to Audrey Hope, celebrity relationship expert, you should know the answers to the following questions before asking for her hand: Does she want to get married? Are you positive? How do you feel about marriage? Where do you see yourself in a few years? Do you like being single?
Being secure in the answers to these questions will help you feel sure that you’re doing the right thing, and as you probably know, confidence is the key to getting what you want. Now, if you’re not sure you’re ready to get married, then look for these five signs you’re ready to settle down.
During the actual asking, make sure to tell her your exact reasons for wanting to spend the rest of your life with her. “It’s easy to say you love her because she’s kind, caring, or considerate, but telling her about specific instances where she has really wowed you with these traits will be sure to get some tears and smiles,” says Slisha Kankariya, co-founder of Four Mine, an online jewelry retailer specializing in unique diamond engagement rings and wedding bands. For even more points, here’s the romantic man’s guide to buying the perfect flowers.
Simply put: romance means different things to different couples.“Think about what romantic means to you two,” suggests Lindsay Docherty, a wedding photographer who has photographed many proposals. “Public or private? With family and friends or alone? Grand gesture or quiet moment? What is on the highlight reel of your best moments together? Start there,” she advises. Also, be sure you’re aware of the Fifteen Ways Getting Engaged Changes a Man Forever.
Obviously, the proposal itself is important, but the whole experience can be even more special if you really make it into an event. “Proposals aren’t just about the five seconds before and after you get down on one knee,” says Stacy Stahl, Founder and Director, How He Asked, by The Knot. “We hear from men and women who plan full-day or even weekend-long proposal events. Some proposers create extravagant scavenger hunts with meaningful people and places involved, others book surprise trips across the globe. To create a memorable and celebratory proposal, consider planning a post-proposal engagement party with friends and family to add to the surprise,” she suggests. And be sure to memorize the 13 Sexiest Things You Can Ever Say to a Woman.
During the proposal itself, it’s better to keep things as sincere as possible. Now isn’t the time for practical jokes or silly comments. “Be sure to make it heartfelt and honest,” says Kankariya. “Don’t talk about anything embarrassing or distasteful. Even if she loves your sense of humor, she will appreciate a show of romance during the proposal.” Remember: it’s a special occasion and pretty much the only scenario in which you don’t want to wield the most effective way to boost your sex appeal.
If possible, Hope recommends heading “to a place where there’s little to no wifi reception, no interruptions, and no work-related things that could disturb your plan.” That way, you’ll both be totally focused on the moment.
This doesn’t have to mean you’re making a big public spectacle if that’s not your thing, but if it is—even better. “Do something big, romantic, and life-remembering,” says Hope. The more creative and sentimental, the better. You could also try popping the question at one of these picture perfect proposal locations.
One major rule of thumb? “Don’t pop the question at another person’s event, where it’s a wedding, baptism, engagement party, or funeral,” advises Docherty. “It’s not cool.”
Another way to make your proposal especially meaningful is to look to the future. “Talk about all the dreams you have for your life together,” suggests Kankariya. “Whether it’s getting a puppy, traveling the world, or climbing Mount Everest, think about all the amazing things you want to accomplish with her by your side, and then tell her about it all in detail!” This really hammers it home that you’ve thought about what your lives will be like together as true partners. This would be a good time to make sure you and your prospective fiancee have hard these ten crucial pre-marriage questions.
Sure, your buddy might have had a lot of luck proposing to his fiancée in a super elaborate and public way, but if your girlfriend isn’t into major public displays of affection, it probably isn’t the best idea to follow in his footsteps. “Tailoring the experience to your specific relationship will be more memorable that doing it the same as everyone else,” says Betty Robinson-Owens, Owner & Head Planner at Your Turn Weddings. You’ll definitely be better off in the end if you take the time to think about what you and your S.O. like doing together, what your values are, and which experiences have been meaningful to you both.
“Set up a video or hire a photographer,” recommends Docherty. Whether you do the recording yourself, recruit a friend to snap a few photos, or hire a professional, you won’t regret being able to relive the big moment. “That reaction is one that is worth capturing and treasuring forever,” Docherty adds. “It is raw and perfect.”
It’s definitely a good idea to give friends and family a heads up about the proposal if you want them to be involved or celebrate with you afterwards, but there’s one thing you should never do, according to Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking. “Don’t enlist anyone to get her ring size. It ruins the surprise,” she says. “No matter how casual they come off, she will always suspect something.” After all, a jeweler can very easily adjust the ring size if you get it wrong. One pro tip: on the sly, take one of her rings and push it into a bar of soap. Then take the soap with the outline to your jeweler, who will know the size.
Another way to be sure you win her heart is to tell her exactly how being together has changed your life. “Be specific about her qualities that you love most. Tell her about all the ways (big and small) that she’s made you a better person,” says Kankariya. “Be honest and personal. The more specific you are, the more genuine it will feel to her.”
One thing you should never, ever do? Propose on the fly. “We have often seen impromptu proposals,” says Trombetti. “They are awful.” Period. Take some time to figure out when (or at least approximately when) and how you’re going to do the deed. For more inspiration for that special moment, here are Fifteen Times Romantic Men Simply Nailed The Proposal.
Above all, tailoring your proposal to specific memories you share will make it feel more memorable and special. “Think through your relationship from start to finish,” says Stahl. “Is there somewhere or something incredibly special to both of you that you could include in your proposal? It can be a favorite movie scene or quote, a certain walk on the beach, a trip you always take, or a favorite dessert you love sharing. Challenge yourself to think about what makes you both happy. You’ll be surprised how many wonderful ideas come to mind when you reflect on your beautiful relationship!”
Just say no to the jumbotron, experts say. “Don’t propose in a super public way, because it’s putting both of you on the spot,” says Trombetti. “You can also get a fake yes, which she will wiggle out of later,” she says. It’s true that it’s harder to say no in such a public setting, so unless you’re 100 percent sure she’ll say yes and that she’ll love having so many people be in on your special moment, it’s best to avoid this option.
If you’re hiring a photographer or recording the experience yourself, pay special attention to this tip. “A lot of women want to look and feel great during every big, important occasion (you know this). Since you’re likely surprising her with this one, think of a clever way to get her in her favorite dress and make sure her hands are in good shape,” recommends Stahl. “Team up with one of her good girlfriends and have her invite your significant other to get a manicure a day or two before you pop the question—it can be as simple as that.”
If you want the proposal to be a complete surprise, it’s a good idea to ensure your fianceé-to-be is distracted in the weeks and days leading up to the proposal. That way, she won’t have time to wonder about when it might happen. “You have to make sure the person you will be proposing to is already preoccupied with something, whether it’s work, volunteering, or hosting a dinner party,” notes Robinson-Owens. “You want to catch them completely by surprise.”
If you’re close with her family or vice versa, it’s fantastic to involve them in the proposal, and it’s quite common to do so, especially around the holidays. If you don’t know them that well or have never met them before, though, it might be better to keep the moment private, says Trombetti. And once you’ve won her heart and gotten that yes from her, read up on how to make your marriage last forever.
Know that things might not go completely according to plan, especially if you’re headed to another city or country for the proposal. “Take the ring with you to propose when the right romantic moment hits you,” advises Trombetti. “If you plan to do it under the Eiffel Tower, it never works out. Maybe she is tired, irritated, feeling nauseous, or whatever. Opt for whenever it feels right on your trip. It should be natural and a happy moment.”
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