Whether you’ve been together six months or six years, a proposal marks the start of an exciting new chapter in your relationship.
Though you’ve probably seen it hundreds of times in films and on TV, the chances are you don’t have that much experience of doing it yourself – so you may be a little unsure of how to propose. What do you need to prepare? What do you need to plan? Which knee do you get down on? We’re here to help you answer all these questions in our expert guide on how to propose.
Make sure you’re on the same page
Our first piece of advice on how to propose successfully is to make sure you’re both on the same page. Proposal planning can be exciting but also quite anxiety-inducing, so knowing your partner has similar hopes for the future can minimise that worry (as can hiring a proposal planner, which is something to consider if you’re really stuck on how to propose!).
Personalise your proposal
One important factor in deciding how to propose is to make it your own. There are loads of amazing ways to propose, but you should make sure the proposal works for you as a couple. Focus on something that reflects the two of you. Is there a way you can incorporate your personalities, hobbies or standout memories into how you propose? Think about what your partner would prefer. For example, if you’re thinking of a public proposal: would your partner love the theatrics of having onlookers, or would they be mortified? Also, don’t forget to consider what you’re comfortable with, too. There’s no point in planning an extravagant, over-the-top proposal if it’s going to stress you out!
Remember, the most romantic way to propose is one that echoes your love story! (And if you’re looking for some inspiration on how to propose romantically, check out our list here.)
Get the ring (or alternative)
When you’re thinking about how to propose, another thing to consider is what you’ll be proposing with. Do you know what style of ring you (and, probably, more importantly, your partner) are looking for? Way back in the 40s, De Beers made diamond rings a popular choice, but nowadays, there are so many beautiful options to choose from. Decide if you have a particular aesthetic in mind: if there’s a particular stone that you know your partner wants, if they’d prefer the history of a vintage ring or want the novelty of a new one. Maybe they’ve got one in mind already that they’ve been dropping hints about. Another good thing to gauge is whether they’d want a say in its design – if this is the case, could you propose with a temporary ring or token and work on the final design together later.
Plus, it doesn’t have to be an engagement ring. If your partner doesn’t really wear jewellery, or you don’t think that an engagement ring is their vibe, don’t be afraid to think outside the box for something they really will treasure forever.
Ask for their loved ones’ blessing
Years ago, if you were looking for advice on how to propose to your partner, the most important piece of advice given would have been to ask their father for their hand. Thankfully, the days of women being their father’s property are long gone, but it’s still a lovely gesture to let your partner’s loved ones know what you’re planning and to go into your proposal with their full blessing.
Practice makes perfect
Ok, hear us out – an often overlooked part of how to propose is actually saying the words. Obviously, you can’t practise the proposal with your partner beforehand, but you can practise saying the words to yourself. Of course, the words “Will you marry me?” are simple enough, but they’re not words we often say, so it’s worth trying them out a few times in private before you say it for real. If you’re planning a lengthier speech, it can help to practice that a couple of times, too.
Give them time to think it through
So you’ve done it! You’ve got down on one knee and popped the question. Hopefully, they’ll say yes immediately, but if they don’t – that’s ok too. If they’ve been vulnerable enough to acknowledge they need some time, respect their wishes and allow them that space. You’ll build much stronger foundations for marriage with a considered “yes”, rather than one that’s been hurried and may be regretted.
(Plus, if you’re thinking, “What if they say no?!”, don’t worry – we’ve got a handy guide on how to handle that too. The main takeaway is: it happens sometimes, and it’s ok!)
Plan a celebration for afterwards
Whether you want to celebrate just you two or with your nearest and dearest, make sure you do something special. Book a table for two in your favourite restaurant or organise a party with your loved ones to celebrate the good news! Some people opt to kick off their engagement with a party straight after they’ve proposed, and some like to leave a couple of weeks’ breathing room so they can plan it as a couple. For extra impact, some people even go one step further and keep the occasion a surprise, so they can announce it once everyone is gathered. Whatever your plans, it’ll definitely be a night to remember.