So, you’re thinking of proposing to your partner – congratulations!

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Whether you’ve been together six months or sixteen years, a proposal marks the start of an exciting next stage in your relationship.

Though you’ll probably have seen it happen hundreds of times in films and on TV, the chances are you don’t have that much experience in doing it yourself – so you may be a little nervous in wondering how to propose. What do you need to prepare? What do you need to plan? Which knee do you get down on? These are all questions we’re here to help you answer – so here’s our expert guide on how to propose:

Make sure you’re on the same page

Our first piece of advice on how to have the best proposal ever is to make sure you’re both on the same page. Proposal planning can be exciting, but it can also be quite anxiety-inducing; knowing that your partner has similar hopes for your future together can help minimise that worry (as can hiring a proposal planner…and that’s where we come in.

Personalise your proposal

Our answer to how to propose is always to make it your own. There are loads of amazing ways to propose, but the most important thing to bear in mind is making a proposal that works for you. Focus on something that reflects the two of you. Is there a way you incorporate your personalities, hobbies or standout memories into your plans? When asking yourself how to propose, think about what your partner would like best. For example, if you’re thinking of a public proposal – would your partner love the theatre of having onlookers, or would they be mortified? Also, don’t forget to think about what you feel comfortable with too. There’s no point in planning an extravagant, over the top proposal if it’s going to stress you out to the point of almost wishing you hadn’t done it.

Remember, the most romantic way to propose is the way that reflects your love story! (And if you’re looking for some inspiration for romantic ways to propose, check out our list here.)

Organise the ring (or alternative)

When you’re thinking about your proposal, another thing to consider is what you’ll be proposing with. In terms of style, do you know what kind of ring you (and your partner) are looking for? De Beers made diamond rings a popular choice in the 40s, but nowadays there are so many beautiful options to choose from. Consider if you have a particular aesthetic in mind: if there’s a particular stone that you know would light up your partner’s heart; if they’d prefer the sentiment of a vintage ring, or the story of a new one. Maybe they’ve got one in mind already, that you’ve seen them dropping hints about. Another good thing to assess is whether they’d want a say in the design of it – 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 of 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 girlfriend, the most important piece of advice given would have been asking her father for her 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 practice the engagement with your partner beforehand but you can practice saying the words to yourself. Of course, the words “Will you marry me?” are simple enough, but they’re not words that we say often, so it’s worth trying them out for size a few times in private before you say it for real. If you’re planning a lengthier speech, then 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 you’ve 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 that they need some time, respect their wishes and allow them that space. You’ll build much stronger foundations for marriage with a “yes” that’s been really considered, rather than one that’s been hurried and may be regretted afterwards

(Plus, if you’re thinking “What if they reject it?!” then don’t worry – we’ve got a handy guide on how to handle that too. The main thing is: it happens sometimes, and it’s ok!)

Plan a celebration for afterwards

After popping the question – it’s time to pop some bottles. Whether you want to celebrate just you or with your nearest and dearest, make sure you do something special. Book a table for 2 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 people 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 reason a surprise, so that they can announce it once everyone is gathered. Whatever your plans, it’ll be a night to remember for sure.

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