Maybe you’ve been dating for years, or maybe you both knew after a few months. Whatever your relationship story, the proposal is a special and exciting moment for every couple. You are transitioning your relationship into something permanent and deciding to spend your lives together. This is a big deal.
Everyone wants their proposal to go well and be memorable for all the right reasons. Planning the perfect surprise proposal can be a little bit scary. Fortunately, the Zola team is here to walk through every step of the process.
The first step of planning any marriage proposal is making sure that you and your partner are on the same page. You don’t want the answer to your proposal to be a surprise. Do not propose if you and your partner have never discussed marriage. Even for someone who loves surprises, receiving a wedding proposal without any prior conversation will likely come as a shock, and probably spark a conversation instead of a joyful, easy yes.
Instead, first bring the topic up in casual conversation by asking your partner what they think about marriage. If you are nervous, you can first ask them about when other people in their life got married, such as their parents, a best friend, or a sibling. This will start the conversation about whether marriage is something that has also been on their mind.
Once you are reasonably confident that you and your partner both want to get married, then it’s time to think about the proposal itself. Some people want to go big and flashy, with a surprise engagement party or a public announcement at a major event. Some people want an intimate picnic on a mountain top, or an elaborate scavenger hunt propelled forward by romantic clues.
Whatever your plan, the next important step is to discuss it with family and friends who know your partner well. You might think you know your partner better than anybody, but if everyone in their life is telling you that a big public announcement will backfire, it’s worth taking that into consideration. Sometimes our idea of the “perfect proposal” is based more on pop culture than on the particular needs and desires of our partner. To avoid getting swept away in a grand gesture that might be ill-received, run the plan by family and friends. This also will help you avoid any disappointment. You might think your partner doesn’t want anything elaborate or too traditional, and might be surprised to find out that she has been dreaming of a romantic proposal since she was a kid. People are often surprisingly attached to different elements of the engagement and wedding process.
When it comes to proposals, don’t make any assumptions. Ask their family and friends first.
The majority of proposals in the U.S. involve someone going down on one knee with an engagement ring in hand. Sometimes something else might be offered—a growing trend is for women proposing to men to present them with a watch. But if a ring or a gift is part of your wedding proposal, then don’t leave this to the last minute.
You should familiarize yourself with different kinds of settings, diamonds (including lab-grown diamonds), and gemstone engagement rings that flout the diamond trend. Make sure you know your partner’s ring size, too. You should settle on a budget in advance. Now is a great time to consult with your partner’s friends or someone else who knows their style. If the two of you have discussed getting engaged, you can ask about ring size directly.
When it comes to engagement rings, many stores allow for a 30-day return policy, so consider buying the ring directly in advance of your marriage proposal. If your partner isn’t a fan, you can return it and find something better suited.
The perfect wedding proposal itself is all about the details. What exactly are you going to say? Some people plan out a little speech, describing the magical moment they fell in love and their dreams for their future married life. Some people keep it simple and to the point. In either case, though, you should plan in advance what you want to say. And prepare some sweet compliments, just in case.
You should also make sure your partner is dressed appropriately, especially if the venue is a surprise. Nobody wants to be in the wrong clothes when suddenly presented with a hike or trip to an elegant restaurant. Some women will want to have their nails done in advance, so they can show off their ring finger. Make sure your partner is prepared for the big moment.
Don’t forget pictures. If you want that shot of you on one knee, you’re going to need to plan in advance. Ask a friend to tag along, or have a family member on site to document the moment.
You proposed! Your partner said yes! You’re getting married! A successful proposal is always very exciting and a job well done. But it’s not over yet. The following few hours can be just as exciting and meaningful. After all, the proposal doesn’t end the moment you hear a “yes!”
Whether it’s a celebratory dinner or an enthusiastic night at home sharing the news, you should always plan for after the big moment as well. Make sure your apartment is clean and tidy, think about having some wine or dessert on hand for when you return home, and make dinner reservations in advance, if appropriate. A dream proposal on a stunning mountaintop can lose some of its luster if you hike back down hoping to celebrate in style and realize every restaurant in town is booked. Plan for a sweet, celebratory follow-up activity to keep the mood going.