Proposal speech

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A huge part of how to propose is the proposal speech itself: exactly what you say to let your loved one know just how much you love them, and that you’d like to spend the rest of your life with them. With that comes the question: what are the right things to say when proposing?

Non-negotiably, the ‘right’ things to say when proposing are those that are heart-felt, emotional, and authentic. As long as you follow those feelings, you should be pretty good to go.

However, if you’re looking for some more concrete guidance on exactly what to say when you propose, then we’ve compiled a list of our top tips on putting a proposal speech together. Plus, we’ve included some prompts to discover the perfect things to say when proposing to your partner in particular!

How to prepare for a proposal speech

Get it ready beforehand

First things first: spontaneous proposal speeches are mostly a thing of romcoms, and in real life, most people will prepare theirs beforehand. It’s totally fine to do so! Writing it down can help you put words to exactly how you feel, which in turn helps you shape what to say when proposing. It also means that you’re less likely to forget big things that you feel are really important to share and include (remember how it felt to walk away from the exam hall, kicking yourself that you’d left out your best, most persuasive point in an essay? You don’t want that when you’re proposing!)

Practice makes (perfectly im)perfect

In our guide on how to propose, we mentioned the importance of practicing your proposal speech; another good thing about having it written out is that it makes this way easier. Of course, you don’t need to get to a level where you could perform it on stage with your eyes closed – no one’s expecting or demanding a flawless execution, and in fact a less polished performance can make it feel more real – but it does mean that you’re less likely to stumble over your words or get choked up when it comes to saying them in the actual moment.

What to say when proposing

Each proposal speech is personal – that’s what makes them special – so whilst we can’t tell you exactly what to say, we have compiled some helpful rules that will definitely help get you there.

Keep your proposal speech short and sweet

Nat Raybould is a Humanist celebrant, meaning she knows how to create and deliver beautifully moving, impactful, significant speeches. With that in mind, you may be surprised to hear that her advice for what to say when proposing is: not too much!

“I think – keep it short, simple and real.” she says. “Your partner doesn’t need twenty reasons why you are asking them: they already know. Say you love them, you want to be with them forever, and will you please marry me? Perhaps throw in a joke, too. In many respects I am a maximalist, but in this respect I feel brevity is a boon.”

Ensuring you don’t have a twenty-page letter to get through will also hopefully calm your nerves, and allow you to be more present in the moment, which is equally important. “Most of all, remember their face when you ask them.” Nat adds. “It will speak volumes: much more than just YES.”

Things to say when proposing: Will You Marry Me?

As Nat touched on above: one of the pretty non-negotiable elements of a proposal speech is the four words which can change ever: Will you marry me? Whether you add a please in there, some extra flourishes such as “make me the happiest person alive” or “do me the honour of” before you get to the married bit – explicitly asking this question ensures that you both know what’s going on. (You’d be surprised how it’s sometimes not clear until this point, even if you are on one knee!)

Remember to be yourself

The reason we can’t answer the question of what to say when proposing with a one-size-fits-all pre-fabricated template is because the best proposal speeches are the ones that are personal. Knowing the ‘right’ things to say when proposing is ultimately useless if none of those words sound like they’d ever naturally come out of your mouth, or don’t fit your relationship! Trust that the fact that you are about to propose means that your partner loves you for who you are, and use this knowledge to be your authentic self in your proposal.

Don’t be afraid to get emotional

If you find yourself getting emotional during your proposal speech, don’t worry – it’s entirely normal! Feel free to lean into the emotions you’re feeling, but try and remember to speak slowly and clearly whenever possible: that way, your partner can hear all the beautiful things you’ve decided on.

Some prompts to help you decide what to say when you propose

Finally – if you’ve set aside some time to decide on what to say when proposing but are coming up blank, don’t worry: we’ve put together some questions to ask yourself that should help get those creative juices flowing.

  • What was your first impression of them when you first met?
  • When was the moment that you knew you wanted to marry them?
  • What do you love most about them?
  • What about them inspires you the most?
  • Why do you want to spend the rest of your life with them?
  • Why do you work so well together as a team?
  • How have they changed your life?
  • Is there a particularly pertinent anecdote you can think of that sums it up perfectly?

Now, look at what you’ve gathered. These thoughts, feelings, memories and stories can form an excellent basis of things to say when proposing.


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