In case you couldn’t already tell from the onslaught of rings that flood your newsfeed around the holidays, Christmas is the most popular day of the year for marriage proposals.
It makes sense. If you’re looking to get married during the peak season of May to October, it provides you with an appropriate amount of time to plan the nuptials. Plus, it’s already a romantic time of year, you’ve got family on your mind, and if you get her a great engagement ring, you’re pretty much set for a present that year. For many of the same reasons, Valentine’s Day, followed by your beloved’s birthday, are also popular times to pop the question.
But that’s precisely why I’d argue that any of those are actually the worst times to propose. Like getting down on one knee at the top of the Eiffel tower, proposing on any kind of holiday is a major cliché. It robs the proposal of the element of surprise, as well as an engagement anniversary that can be a special annual event for just the two of you. (Plus, everyone is onto you, Mr. This-Way-I-Won’t-Have-To-Get-a-Second-Gift.)
There also aren’t as many people getting engaged during the holidays as your Facebook feed makes it seem. While the period between Christmas and New Years is the most popular time for proposals, it only covers 16% of engagements, meaning the other 84% are happening all throughout the year. There’s also some evidence that indicates that men and women have different ideas about the best time of year to propose; one survey of 7,00 people across the country found that while 24% of men thought Christmas Eve was a great time to get engaged, only 15% of women agreed; and while 22% of women approved of V-Day as the optimal occasion, only 14% of men felt the same way.
The best time of year to propose therefore, is very much like the best way to propose: It all depends on your relationship. At its best, a proposal is evidence of just how much you know the person. Would she prefer a grand romantic gesture in front of all your friends and family? Would she love it if you recreated something from her favorite film? Or would she find it more romantic if you did something subtle and low-key, like slipping a ring onto her finger while cuddling on the couch and watching the Super Bowl?
Similarly, would she prefer a proposal amid a flurry of snow and fairy lights? Or in a boat just as spring begins to bloom? Tailoring the time to what she considers romantic will make it all the more sweet, and all the more likely she’ll say yes!
Now, if you still can’t read those questions and know exactly when to propose, here’s my totally unscientific advice. If you imagine your bride-to-be preferring a spring or summer wedding (surely you can answer that!), I’d advise proposing in September or October the previous year. That will give you plenty of time to celebrate your love before the holidays arrive in full force, and plenty of time to prepare for the wedding (to say nothing of the fact that most envy-inducing wedding venues will still likely be available). You’ll have plenty of time for registries, invitations, and everything else you haven’t actually thought of yet. If you’d imagine a winter ceremony, propose in February—only after Valentine’s Day, to enhance the surprise element.
Once you’ve decided on a date, check out 20 Ways to Absolutely Nail Your Marriage Proposal or 15 Times Romantic Men Simply Nailed the Marriage Proposal to get some ideas on how to ask the biggest question of your life.
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