Marriage Proposal Do's and Don'ts

Tips for the Perfect Proposal

Marriage proposal
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If you're a guy who's just decided to propose to his girlfriend, you're sure to feel nervous and worry about how to do it the "right way." Getting engaged is a huge milestone. It means you're about to embark upon the next chapter of your lives, so before you get down on one knee, read these do's and don'ts of traditional marriage proposals.

Marriage Proposal Do's

  • Do test the waters: Before you propose, the two of you should have already spoken about getting married. Make sure marriage is something that each of you wants, and make sure you both agree on major issues such as children. This is a big question that shouldn't come out of the blue. You don't want her to be taken completely off guard, as a surprise proposal is almost certainly guaranteed to elicit a hesitant "yes," if not a, "I'll have to think about it."
  • Do make it a surprise: Even though you've discussed getting married, the marriage proposal itself can - and should -  be a surprise. Find a moment and a way that she won't be suspecting.
  • Do prepare yourself: "Will you marry me?" is a simple question, but it's a weighty phrase that leaves many proposers completely tongue-tied. Practice! It might feel silly, but say the words out loud a few times. You may also write down and memorize exactly what you're going to say to make sure you're as smooth and confident as possible.
  • Do find the right engagement ring: Since wearing an engagement ring is a lifetime commitment, make sure it's the right one. You might find an opportunity to window shop for rings when you are walking past a store, or you can bring it up in conversation. You can also ask her mother, sister, best friend, etc. to help choose the ring.
  • Do know if she wants to pick out the engagement ring: Some brides-to-be are particular about their jewelry and want to be a part of the process, and rightfully so: a ring is a big investment, so what better way to make sure she loves it than by going ring shopping together? Sure, you might lose that element of surprise because she's already expecting a particular ring, but if you've spoken about marriage, she knows the proposal is coming sooner or later.
  • Do talk to her parents: We've come a long way from the days of dowries, but there's still something respectful about asking for the parents' blessing.
  • Do pick a personal spot: Think about your favorite romantic places and choose a meaningful spot to pop the question. It could be as simple as in your living room or as complicated as whisking her away for a weekend in Paris. Just don't ask him in a supermarket aisle!
  • Do be creative: Incorporate your personality, favorite things, hobbies, etc. into the proposal. Make it unique and memorable rather than a cookie cutter proposal.
  • Do drop to one knee: Again, times have changed, but there is something so charming and romantic about a man on one knee asking the love of his life to marry him. Even if you're not a traditional guy, it will make the proposal more momentous.
  • Do tell her why you want to marry her: Don't just utter those four little words. Now is the perfect opportunity to tell her why she's the one for you, what marriage means to you and what your hopes for the future are. You might say something like, "My life has never and could never be the same after I met you. You've made me more joyful, more stable and more inspired. I can't picture the rest of my life without you by my side. Will you do me the honor of marrying me?"
  • Do share the news: Don't feel like you have to blast the engagement right away. Take a moment, or however long you'd like, to reflect on your engagement and togetherness. Share the news when you're ready.

Marriage Proposal Don'ts

  • Don't make it public: If scriptwriters are to be believed, then every wedding proposal takes place on the street in front of hundreds of people. Unless she's said she wants a splashy proposal, it's way easier to make the proposal an intimate, personal thing. Many brides-to-be would prefer to have that magical moment be between just the two of you. After all, you've got the rest of your lives to tell other people about your marriage, but you've only got one engagement moment.
  • Don't hide the engagement ring in food: I hate to say it, as I'm sure there are some readers who were planning to do just this, but hiding the engagement ring in food is a tired idea. It's been in a thousand movies and TV shows, and you won't win any points for creativity.
  • Don't propose at a sports game: It depends on your bride-to-be and the kind of relationship you have, but sports games generally aren't the best proposal venues. They're loud, chaotic and you won't be able to have any of the romantic reflection such a momentous occasion deserves.
  • Don't do it in front of her family: Proposals in front of family add yet another layer of stress that you don't need. Take this moment to be just the two of you. Your families will merge with your marriage by default, and they don't need to be present when you pop the question. Don't worry: you can call everyone immediately afterward.
  • Don't make it too complicated: You should definitely try to be unique and creative with your proposal, but, above all, it's important to keep the focus on what really matters: the proposal itself. If you can't focus because you're worrying about whether or not the limousine will make it to the balloon ride in time, then you're worrying about the wrong thing.
  • Don't propose too early in the relationship: When you're swept up in that incredible first rush of love, it's hard not to do impetuous, foolish things. Make sure you really know each other and what each of you wants from a marriage before you commit to one another for the rest of your lives. Waiting until your relationship is stable will only strengthen your marriage. It's worth having a little patience.
  • Don't expect her to say, "yes," immediately: Asking someone to marry you is kind of a big deal. You're asking someone to spend the rest of their life with you. Hopefully you two have discussed marriage and are on the same page, so she'll respond with an emphatic, "Yes!" But just because you've asked don't mean she's ready. If you're sweetheart says, "Maybe," take it in stride and give her some time to consider the proposal. You wouldn’t want this amazing person to marry every Tom, Dick and Harry who asked her, would you?