A huge part of how to propose is the proposal speech: exactly what you say to let your loved one know just how much you love them and that you want to spend the rest of your life with them. So, what should you say when proposing?
It is non-negotiable that the ‘right’ things to say in your proposal speech are those that are heartfelt, emotional and authentic. As long as you follow those feelings, you should be good to go.
However, if you’re looking for some more concrete advice on what to say when you propose, we’ve compiled a list of our top tips on putting a proposal speech together. Plus, we’ve included some prompts to find the perfect things to say in your proposal speech.
How to prepare for a proposal speech
Get it ready beforehand
Firstly, spontaneous proposal speeches are mostly a thing of romcoms, and in real life, most people prepare theirs beforehand. This is totally fine! Writing it down can help you put exactly how you feel in words, which then helps you shape what to say in your proposal speech. It also means that you’re less likely to forget big things you feel are really important to share (remember how it felt to walk away from the exam hall, kicking yourself that you’d left out your 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 practising your proposal speech; another good thing about having it written out is that it makes this much easier. Of course, you don’t need to get to be good enough to 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 (although a few tears are to be expected!).
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’ve compiled some helpful guidelines to 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 and impactful speeches. As such, 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.”
Equally important, not having a 20-page letter to get through may also calm your nerves and allow you to be more present in the moment. “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 essential elements of a proposal speech is the four words that could change your life forever: 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 sometimes it’s not clear until this point, even if you are on one knee!)
Remember to be yourself
We can’t answer what to say when proposing with a one-size-fits-all template because the best proposal speeches are the personal ones. 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 speech.
Don’t be afraid to get emotional
If you find yourself welling up during your proposal speech, don’t worry – that’s completely normal! Feel free to lean into the emotions you’re feeling, but remember to speak slowly and clearly if 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 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 and create the perfect proposal speech.
- What was your first impression of them when you met?
- When was the moment 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 up your love perfectly?
Now, look at what you’ve gathered. These thoughts, feelings, memories and stories can form an excellent basis of things to say in your proposal speech.