How To Propose: Romantic Marriage Proposals

Use These Tips to Get Engaged and Plan the Perfect Proposal

Proposing for marriage

"Will you marry me?" Those four little words may well be the most important question you'll ever ask. The rest of your life flows from the answer to that question. It joins two families, begins a new one, and determines everything—from what you'll eat for dinner to where you'll spend your holidays and what your children will be like.

In other words, this question and the way it is asked is a BIG DEAL—too big to treat casually. You don't want to just pull out the ring box while you're watching TV and say, "Oh, yeah, I thought you might like to, uh, y'know... Would you?" Make it a moment you'll both remember forever!

SHE will remember it; every tiny detail of it—from the weather to what she was wearing, what you were wearing, the time, the place, everything. She'll remember whom she told first and what they said, how her parents reacted, and how your parents reacted—everything! So take the time and make the effort to plan it so the details come out right. Why spend a lot of time and money getting the perfect diamond only to have the Big Moment turn out to be a flop? The diamond is just one part of the Perfect Proposal. It takes thought, planning, loving attention to detail, and occasionally teamwork to create the kind of fireworks that will leave a lasting glow on your lives together.

If you're wondering how to propose to your girlfriend or boyfriend, this step-by-step guide should help you come up with some strong wedding proposal ideas. Here is how to propose marriage to your special someone.

Planning the Perfect Proposal: A Worksheet

  1. Attire. Will you wear a tux? Maybe a gorilla suit to say that you're not monkeying around? Make a statement with your wardrobe.
  2. Budget. A romantic proposal doesn't have to mean expensive. Romantic means different things for different people. But, know your budget and what kind of romantic proposal your budget can get you. Do you rent a plane or a limo? Take her to the most romantic restaurant? Feed her champagne and caviar? Determine what you can afford to spend on a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.
  3. Location. Very important! The observation deck of the tallest building in town? A hilltop under the stars? On the deck of a sailboat? On a moonlit beach? Don't forget, romantic proposals can be a "combo"—first a restaurant, then the beach, for example.
  4. Day&Time. Pick a day that's special to you, such as the anniversary of your first date. Or, an evening, when a full moon rises over the lake.
  5. Food. Taking her to the first restaurant you went to together can be fun. Cooking her a meal is a sure winner!
  6. Flowers. Absolutely! Whether it's great bouquets of flowers or a single red rose, flowers are a must for romantic moments—especially marriage proposals.
  7. Candy. Find out what her favorite is, and present it as a treasure, wrapped in gold paper and tied with a bow, even if it's a Snickers bar.
  8. Accessories. Take along a cell phone so she can call her mother or her sister. She'll be bursting to tell everyone! If you can, set up a video camera to record the moment.

Five Proposal Styles

There are many different ways to propose marriage. Over thehow to propose years, I've come across five basic styles of proposals. Which one of these styles best describes your situation?

  1. The Total Surprise. She doesn't know it's coming—not a clue, not a hint. You've never even discussed it. This is gutsy! It reminds me of the school dances of my youth, where all the girls were on one side of the gym and all the boys stood on the other. You'd finally get up the nerve to make that long walk across the floor to ask a girl to dance. If she said no (and they often did), the walk back across the floor felt like an eternity.

    I figure fewer than ten percent of all proposals are in this category. It's like doing a high-wire act without a net. Most guys drop hints first, or get hints from her that indicates which way the wind is blowing. But there are the big risk-takers, the guys who live on the edge, who just go out and buy the ring and make the dinner reservations and GO FOR IT! Hurrah for them, but I have to tell you I don't recommend popping the question "cold."

  2. She Knows. You've talked about getting married, you know you both want to get married and spend your lives together, you've talked about having kids, you've pledged your undying love. The only thing she doesn't know is when it's coming.

    Men, the time between when she knows you'll give her a ring and the moment when you actually give it to her can be one of the greatest times of your life! Have some fun! Research unique and special marriage proposal ideas that will sweep her off her feet. Keep her guessing, plan the moment well, and when she least expects it, spring your wonderful surprise.

  3. Let's Elope! "Will you marry me? Right now? Tonight?"

    Wow! This one makes no sense to me unless:

    • The Early Pregnancy Test came up positive.
    • America's Most Wanted is profiling you tonight
    • It's her fifth marriage, your seventh.
    • You don't want to give her a chance to change her mind.

  4. It's Now or Never. Way to go—you've waited so long she's resorting to threats: "We're getting married or I'll find someone who'll appreciate me!" Fish or cut bait, guy. If you love her, get off the fence and show her you can't live without her. If it's come to the threatening stage, you have to be extra, extra romantic to make up for her long wait. Use my proposal planning worksheet and make it a good one!
  5. Ringless. You and your True Love are in each other's arms, caught up in a rising tide of passion. The dialogue goes like this:
    "Honey, I love you!"
    "I love you, too, sweetheart."
    (Kiss kiss smooch kiss)
    "I can't live without you!"
    "Oh, baby, you're the only one I'll ever love!"
    (Smooch kiss smooch kiss)
    "I want all our days to be like this."
    "Oh, sweetie, I do too!"
    "Will you marry me?"
    "Yes! Oh, yes, yes, yes!"

    But does Romeo have a ring in his pocket? Nooooooo. So where do we go from here? Don't think this lets you out of getting her a ring! Get that thought out of your head right now!

    A lot of Ringless proposals lead to a couple shopping together for the ring. Or, you could revert to the "She Knows" proposal and keep her guessing. Either way, the ringless proposal shouldn't be ringless for long.

Engagement Facts

  • Approximately 2,400,000 couples wed in the United States each year;
  • One-third of all couples become engaged during the last quarter of the year, October through December;
  • The average age of a man getting engaged is 26.5 years; the woman's average engagement age is 24.4; and
  • The average price of a diamond engagement ring is $1,597. If the engagement ring is purchased as part of a bridal set, the average price is $880.

Like I said earlier, your entire life will change with this proposal. Although you may feel nervous about when or how to ask the love of your life to marry you, just try to be yourself. Remember how much fun you two have together. Think about why you want to get married. Keep those thoughts in mind as you go about planning a proposal that's personalized for the two of you.


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