Popping the question… it’s not an easy thing to do, and often it won’t always go to plan. But, as we have learnt from Bridget Jones, sometimes you don’t need a perfect proposal to live happily ever after. We’ve put together an ultimate guide for how to propose to your loved one to get that all important ‘yes!’.
The first thing that you need to remember is that, when it comes down to it, the small things won’t be important. All that matters is that you and your partner and happy and excited to share your life together.
Having said that, it’s great to have a little fun with it! So let’s begin with the questions that you need to ask yourself when planning your proposal.
How to prepare for the proposal
Never mind if the speech and the ring are ready, are you? If you’re thinking about proposing then things between you and your partner are probably going well, but you need to be sure. In romantic comedies, Cameron Diaz looks pretty happy to be engaged to a men she hardly knows, and it always works out fine. But Cameron Diaz also lives in a world where Jude Law turns up at your door in the middle of the night and finds your lack of makeup or brushed hair utterly charming. So, take what you’ve learned from Hollywood with a pinch of salt.
Consider how long you have been with your partner – two years is the average length of time that a couple will be in a relationship before getting engaged in the UK. If it’s only been a few months, perhaps wait a little longer to make sure that the bond that you two share is strong enough for a marriage. If you’re sure that you’ll be with this person forever anyway, then what’s the rush?
Finally, a surprise can be nice but nowadays it’s rare for a couple to become engaged without having even had a conversation about getting married beforehand. If you’re calm and casual about it, then bringing up the topic of marriage in conversation with your partner won’t spoil your surprise proposal later on. This way, you’ll be certain that your partner is ready for the next step too.
Top Tip: While it may seem old-fashioned, some families like the tradition of asking the permission of the parents before you pop the question. Of course, it’s your decision, and nowadays couples tend to get engaged on their own terms and timeframe. But if you think that your partner’s parents would appreciate it, consider letting them know about your plans beforehand. It never hurts to be on good terms with the in-laws!
How to choose the ring
While you may be certain that you know your partner better than anybody else, in this case we really recommend getting a second opinion. Remember, this is something that you are asking your partner to wear for the rest of their life, so it needs to be in line with their own style. Choose somebody trustworthy to come with you, as you want to make sure that this person won’t spoil the surprise. A close friend or a sibling, ideally someone who has bought an engagement ring before, is always a good choice. Other than that, the only thing you need to be sure of is that the ring reflects the character of your partner. For somebody with an understated and classic style, don’t go for a colourful or unconventional ring. However, if your partner has a rebellious and wacky wardrobe, they may not want a traditional engagement ring. For some inspiration, have a look at some engagement ring trends of 2020 to help you make the right choice.
Top Tip: Proposing with a ring that has been passed down within your family is a sentimental and romantic gesture, but the same rules still apply. If you don’t think that the design of your family’s ring would appeal to your partner, then there are always small alterations that can be made to change that. Visit a trusted jeweller and ask them about what they could do to adapt the style, colour and design of the ring to suit your partner and maintain the family tradition.
Proposing without a ring?
For a truly spontaneous proposal, you may not have even considered the ring yet. This can be a sensible idea just in case the answer isn’t a yes, so you haven’t invested a lot of money. It also means that if you do get engaged, then you can pick out the ring together. This is much more common nowadays, and it can be a safer option if you are worried about not picking out the right ring for your partner. Or perhaps you intended on picking out the ring beforehand, but you were simply so overwhelmed with emotion that question just popped out! Sometimes the most romantic proposals are the unexpected ones.
How to choose the setting
If romantic comedies have taught us anything, it’s that the perfect place to propose can look very different according to every couple. Only you will know what your loved one would prefer, and it depends entirely on their personality. Some people love the idea of a glittering proposal in front of a crowd, where as other people dream of this special moment happening in the privacy of your own home over your favourite takeaway. Think about what your partner usually prefers to do on a Friday night, and go from there. Maybe there is a particular view point that you both enjoy? Perhaps you have a favourite beach that you always go to on a Sunday? Or maybe you still love going to the same restaurant that you visited on your first date. All of these places hold sentimental value, and can provide the perfect setting for when you pop the question.
Top Tip: Proposing on holiday can be the perfect cherry on top of a couples getaway. With plenty of scenic views and romantic dinners, there will be plenty of opportunities to ask the all important question. However, when planning a holiday proposal there are some details that you need to iron out before you go. Have a look at our guide for proposing on holiday to make sure that nothing will scupper your romantic plans.
How to ask the question
It’s easy to become concerned with the smaller details that you actually feel quite unprepared when asking the question. Our advice? Stay calm, and take some deep breaths. Try not to pin point an exact spot or moment during the day to propose, as plans can change and it will increase the pressure. Stay relaxed, and allow yourself plenty of time together so you can ask the question when the moment feels right. This may not even be in the place that you imagined yourself proposing in, but if your gut tells you to go for it; do it.
Top Tip: Building up to the question can be difficult, so it’s a good idea to write down a few words to learn beforehand. You could talk about the time you’ve spent together, why you love the other person, or why you want to spend your life with them. Have a look at our advice on romantic speeches for some guidance.
How to accept the answer
Chances are, you’d only be proposing if you had a good hunch that the answer will be yes. If so, congratulations! Enjoy the moment, and allow yourself both some time away together to celebrate in private before telling your family and friends.
If it’s not the answer you were hoping for, try not to be too disappointed. Just because it isn’t a yes doesn’t mean that it’s the end of your relationship. Perhaps your partner just isn’t ready, or doesn’t agree with the concept of marriage. Whatever the answer, listen to their reasoning and try to understand. If you deal with this bump in the road, you may still be hearing wedding bells in the future!
If you’re still looking for inspiration, then check out our Engagement section for engagement shoots, real-life proposals and ring advice. Good luck!