How to propose to a lady
How to Propose to a Woman
So you’ve found the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with. How do you ask her to be yours — forever? You should push your nervousness aside and remember that, once you have a full plan and know what to expect, you’ll be able to propose to your girlfriend without any blunders at any stage. You don’t have to do anything over-the-top or crazy, unless you think that’s what she wants and its what you want. Make that grand gesture if you want to and think she will appreciate it. The most important thing is that you speak from the heart, and that you find the perfect way to let her know how much she means to you. Remember, you may wish to, or have to, ask her parents if you can marry her first, otherwise they will not be happy with you and buying an engagement ring might be useful. Proposing marriage is a big step, get started at step one below.
Ensure that she’s the one. You’ve probably already been thinking this over for some time. The important thing is to know that you love her and consider her to be “the one”. Write down or think through a list of all the reasons that make you want to marry her. This will be important for expressing your love to her at the proposal, as well as confirming to yourself that you’re making the right decision. When you see your girlfriend, you should feel that you absolutely want to share the rest of your life with her, and that the time is right for you to tell her that. Though they say, “When you know, you know,” this can be a little confusing. The important thing is that you propose because you genuinely want to, not because she’s dropped so many hints about getting married that you don’t want to disappoint her, not because you feel like you’ve been together long enough and that it’s just about time for you to do something, not because everyone around you is getting engaged, and definitely not because your friends, pastor, and family members keep putting the pressure on for you to propose.
Many people believe that you should move in with your girlfriend for at least a few months before you know she’s the one. You may like her at a distance, but once you have to share a bed, groceries, and some mutual expenses, you may see an entirely different side of each other that isn’t as compatible as you believed. Of course, you don’t have to do this, but it’s one way of “double checking” that you can really see yourself spending the rest of your life with her.
It can help to talk this through with a close friend or family member, as long as you’re sure that person won’t spill your secret. Avoid discussing your plans too widely with others, as it can soon filter back to her through the grapevine.
Be confident with your relationship. Though it’s impossible to be able to predict with 100% accuracy that she’ll say yes to you, you should have a pretty strong sense that your girlfriend loves you and wants to spend the rest of her life with you. See if she’s dropped hints that she wants to get married (to you), that she wants to move in to a house with you, to have kids, to make you a part of her family, and so on. If she’s never mentioned these things, then you can try out some feeler conversations to get a sense of her feelings; if she acts uncomfortable or deflects your questions, then she may not be ready to get married.
If you’ve only been together for a few months, make sure you know that she’s in it for the long haul. Though many happily married couples got engaged after being together for only a few months, spending more time with your girlfriend to make sure that you’re both the right people for each other can help you make sure she’ll say yes.
Though you may be nervous about figuring out her feelings if you’re not sure, this can save you from embarrassing yourself during a proposal, when you should have figured out she wasn’t ready.
Consider asking her parents permission. If her parents are old-fashioned, and your significant other wouldn’t mind, you could consider asking her parents for for their daughter’s hand in marriage. Although asking a father’s permission is considered by many to be old-fashioned, it hasn’t died out precisely because it’s a gesture that suggests that you respect her and her family and that you’re always going to be considerate of her family. It’s also a sign of politeness, and what family can resist that? But again, it really depends on the girl and her family situation, so try to feel it out. Put her first – is this something that would be important to her and her family? Or is it something that might make her cringe? Or maybe she is estranged from her family. Take your cues from your knowledge of her existing situation and preferences. You should know her well enough by now.
Another modern twist on asking for permission is to do so after you’ve proposed. This can be a way of ensuring that your wife-to-be is the first to be asked but she’s aware that you still intend to bring her family right into the fold by asking; this can also be a good excuse to turn up together to share the news. Some people consider that this is the “wrong way around” but it’s still a sign of respect, and frankly, it’s your choice.
If it isn’t possible to ask her father, ask her mother.
Decide when to propose. It’s important to get the timing right, and timing is really only something that you can work out. It’s not possible to say that there are perfect times to propose, but it is important that you propose at a time when you’re not rushed and when you feel calm, sorted, and ready. Once you’ve planned the proposal in as much detail as possible, then the time will be right. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Is there a meaningful day to the both of you? Such as an anniversary of your relationship or first date, or some other commemoration?
Sometimes the time chooses itself by sheer practicality, especially if the two of you are living in different cities and come together for a special holiday event and this is your only chance to ask her. Consider the time of year she wants to get married. It’s helpful to ask her or indirectly through her friends or family if there is a certain season, month, or length of time she wants to be engaged in order to plan the wedding without feeling overwhelmed or rushed. If she’s mentioned that she wants a fall wedding, try proposing around that time the year before — if you propose just a few months before the fall and she wants a bigger fall wedding, she may not like the idea of waiting well over a year to get married.
Proposing on special holidays or birthdays has advantages and drawbacks. On the one hand, these days can make the occasion more meaningful, especially if family is gathered around or it’s a time of great joy. On the other hand, you will always share your proposal date with the holiday date; if you want to celebrate your engagement date, this can make it feel less impersonal for some, while for others, it’s a great way to remember! Whenever you do it, make sure you have some alone time right after the proposal. If you plan on proposing to her on Thanksgiving with your families nearby, for example, make sure you take her out on a long walk or somewhere private when you do it, before you get overwhelmed by family and don’t have a minute to yourselves to process what just happened.
Decide where you will propose. The place and atmosphere of the proposal will be remembered forever and the most important thing to remember is that you are the principal creator of the atmosphere! Naturally, you can propose absolutely anywhere, but it helps to choose a place that will be meaningful for both of you and where you can feel comfortable, calm, and natural. Where are her favorite places? Does she love the beach, sunsets, tall buildings, bridges, cityscapes, nature, etc.? Or maybe she’d prefer a private screening at the local cinema? What is practical? The harder you try to create a special occasion, the more things can go wrong. Sometimes it’s just easier to focus on what you know will work and will be appreciated by both of you.
Consider romantic places such as the beach, a botanical garden, a famous restaurant with an amazing view, a covered bridge, a picnic, etc. Consider the safety of the location. A man once proposed to his girlfriend on a cliff; she said yes, but became so excited that she slipped and fell to her death. This is why you should always take safety into account when proposing to your lover.
Consider the things the two of you love doing together. Perhaps this can serve as a source of inspiration, such as proposing when you’re out camping, fishing, sailing, hiking, cycling, attending a sports event, traveling somewhere, etc. The benefit of proposing during something you love doing together is that she won’t suspect that you’ll be proposing, since it’ll be part of your usual routine.
Make reservations if you need to. If you’re proposing somewhere like a restaurant where you need to be able to get the best table, etc., be sure to reserve it well in advance.
Consider how you will propose. Once you’ve decided the when and the where, the intimate details of the how need consideration. Naturally, there is the ring to produce, but what other elements do you want to add into the mix to make this an especially memorable and romantic occasion for her? Bear in mind that the manner in which you propose will be retold by her many times over, so make sure it’s good! There are many possibilities and it’s entirely up to you what you do but for some inspiration, here are some suggestions:
Try the traditional pose. Bend down on one knee, take her hand in yours and ask her to marry you. The beauty of this gesture is that it’s universally recognized thanks to the movies, and it can be performed anywhere. Just note that if there are other people around, they’ll be eavesdropping (kindly!), so expect their interest and support.
Get a sense of whether she’d like something public or a bit more private. Though many women are proposed to in public in the movies, in real life, most engagements are private. You may think it’s a great idea to propose to hear at half-time during a sporting event or at an intimate party with several of your friends around, but she may be mortified by all of the attention. Plus, if it doesn’t go well, you’ll feel even worse in front of a bunch of people.
Think about things that might accompany the occasion, such as a quartet playing a tune or a serenade, or a tiny fireworks display, etc. These sorts of extras are not necessary and they will bloat the budget unless you’ve got willing friends to help out, but if it’s your kind of thing, they can add to the atmosphere.
Hide the ring. This is another popular method for proposing that requires her to find the ring, and then you do the proposing. Places to hide a ring include inside flowers, chocolates, or a special gift. Be sure to ask her to open the gift at the time, or you might be waiting ages! And take great care not to hide it somewhere that she can accidentally swallow it; that’ll put a big dent in the occasion.
Be creative. If you’re not so traditional or you’re not that keen to say the proposal yourself, there can be a number of other ideas for proposing that involve some more planning but can be really entertaining as well as confirming for her that you’re the kooky guy she wants to spend the rest of her life with. You could prepare her very own word puzzle or crossword in which the final answer spells “Will you marry me?”.
You can do something small and cute involving children in your families, or even a pet that you own together.
If you have the means and think she’ll like it, you could have a plane write the question across the sky as the two of you are walking along.
Proposing on a vacation is another popular move. If you do this, just make sure that she’ll say yes! Nothing will make your vacation worse than a rejection on the first night.
Perhaps use publicity, such as taking out an advertisement in the paper that you know she’ll read, or getting her favorite radio DJ to announce the proposal, or place a big banner with the question on it over a bridge she drives under every day.
Choose a ring. If you know what kind of ring your girlfriend wants, then great. But if you don’t know or don’t want to ask, get a temporary ring, and then get another after you propose; for many women, choosing their own ring is the preferred option. But if you know exactly what kind of ring she wants, then you should try to sneak out a ring she usually wears to get it sized and to find out her ring size. She’ll be touched that you remembered exactly what she wanted — and that you got it in the correct size! But if you have no idea what kind of ring she wants, asking her about it “casually” will pretty much let her know what’s on your mind. You don’t have to blow a fortune on an engagement ring, especially if you really can’t afford it. It’s better to get something small and classy and to save for your future together instead of spending all your savings on a piece of jewelry.
If budget is a concern, consider all types of natural diamonds. The diamond industry now offers many types that fit within everyone’s price range including clarity enhanced, laser drilled, and natural GIA certified HPHT diamonds.
Read How to choose an engagement ring for more information.
Be well dressed. Dress handsomely, according to the occasion and choice of place. as can be. This is very special and it deserves to be “picture perfect”. She’ll appreciate the effort you’ve gone to. Naturally, this only applies where you’re planning to propose somewhere elegant and you have time to change beforehand. If you’re proposing on the beach, during a hike, skiing, or as you’re skydiving, use your common sense about what to wear!
Rehearse. If you’re going to propose, it pays to rehearse in advance. Practice asking, and practice explaining the reasons as to why you love her so much that you want to spend the rest of your life with her. This will help you avoid being tongue-tied when the important moment comes up. This doesn’t mean you should put a lot of pressure on yourself. Though it helps to make your girlfriend feel extra special, in the end, she may only remember the words, “Will you marry me?”
Keep the proposal simple, to the point, and from the heart. For example: “Mel, I love you more than words can ever express. You’re the most thoughtful, generous, kind, and beautiful woman I’ve ever had the fortune to know and I’d be honored to have the chance to spend my life with you. Will you marry me?”
Propose. There is no time like the present to move on with your carefully thought through plan. Bring her along to “the place” and start unfolding your plans. Be sure that you don’t give things away by touching the ring in your pocket constantly, or saying daft things. If you’re bringing her to a place she’s never been before, or somewhere extra romantic, and you have a feeling that if you’re there for more than thirty seconds, she’ll know exactly what you’re up to, then try to propose as soon as you can, so you don’t lose any of the surprise factor.
There may be tears, screaming, or shock. Don’t be fazed; these are fairly standard reactions, even if she has every clue of what you’re about to do. It’s not real to her until it’s done!
If she says yes, end the proposal with a kiss or a hug. And don’t forget to put a ring on her finger!
If she says no, react with understanding and don’t be petulant. She may need time to think and a memory of your sour face and grumpy attitude will leave a bad impression in her mind. Be a gentleman and don’t be down on yourself — you tried your best.
Help Crafting Your Proposal
Things to Say when Proposing to a Woman
Things to Avoid Saying when Proposing to a Woman
Annotated Proposal to a Woman
Is it very terrible to propose by text?
Proposing by text is not a good way to show someone you love them. You should do it in person where you can be intimate and romantic.
Should I marry a woman that’s older than me?
If the two of you have a strong, healthy, dedicated relationship, then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with marrying a woman (or man!) who’s older than you.
I am too young to get married. Is it okay to propose now and then get married when we are old enough?
Yes, many people get engaged and wait to get married until they feel absolutely ready.
Is bending on my knees old fashioned or not?
It is old fashioned, but it is classic. It will never go out of style. However, do what makes you the most comfortable. At the end of the day, she will mostly remember that the man that she loves has just proposed to her.
I’m in my forties. Is that too late to get hitched?
Certainly not. It’s not your age that matters, it’s your commitment to the person you want to marry.
Should I give time for my girlfriend to think about it?
Yes, that would be the appropriate way to approach a decision that affects both of you for the next three to seven decades of your lives. But the downside is that when a woman asks for some time, it may mean that she is unsure and not ready for such a commitment; you’ll just have to live with that.
Is it okay for people to get married young?
Of course! Once you’ve reached the legal age for marrying, it’s all a matter of the couple’s happiness and commitment to each other. Getting married young can allow you the peace and contentment of getting on with other things in your life thanks to the stability of your marriage.
What’s the minimum age for marriage?
In the UK, you can get married at 16 (with your parents’ permission). In the US, it is legal to wed at 18 years of age. For other countries, there may be variations depending on your national or local laws, so be sure to check at the marriage registrar’s office (or equivalent).
Is it alright to get married if the age difference is huge?
Yes, as long as it does not matter to you two.
The girl I want to propose to is my best friend. I am in love with her. If I propose, and she doesn’t accept, I’m worried the friendship will be over. What should I do?
If she’s just a friend, and you don’t know if she has romantic feelings for you, you should just ask her out on a date first. It’s pretty sudden to go from friendship to a marriage proposal. Take things a little slower.
When proposing, don’t say the wrong things just because you’re nervous. Maybe record what you will say and sleep somewhere where only you can hear the recorded plan and play it and practice it so you won’t make a mistake.
Don’t worry if she says “No” or “I’ll have to think about it” – this is a big step.
If she listens to music a lot or likes to watch videos, try recording audio or video of your proposal, and then calling her over to your computer and having her listen or watch under the guise of it being a new song or video.
“Down on one knee” originally started as pose for gentlemen to show their ultimate respect for their bride to be, which is rather sweet.
Originality is awesome, but don’t go overboard.
Evenings are a very romantic time for proposals but they’re not essential, and for many people, a daytime proposal in a beautiful setting is just as romantic.
If possible, set up a video camera or ask someone to take pictures. These will be great to show to family members and friends.
Have her pick out 3-5 rings that she would really like as an engagement ring. Every jewelry store said this was a good idea because even if she likes every aspect of the ring, she may still not care for how it is put together.
Ask the restaurant if it can arrange a champagne toast to bring out after you’ve proposed.
If you are really clueless, ask her friends or family.
Talk to her about it. If you really think that you can be together for the next 50 years, you can talk about things like marriage. Make sure that she wants to marry you.
Star-gazing is a nice romantic place to propose.
Consider hiring a pro. Some businesses specialize in personalized, creative will-you-marry-me events and offer services to help take the pressure off when you pop the question.
You can also propose with JUST words. You can get the ring afterwards, if that’s the way you want it to go.
Try something small, like a fortune cookie message.
If she’s returning from a plane trip and you think she’d like a public proposal, you could hold up a sign that says “Will you marry me?” at the airport. A lot of people hold signs at the airport, but yours would be extra special to her.
Avoid saying corny lines or defeatist comments such as “I know this is what you’ve wanted all along, so now you’re getting me for life”.
Calm your nerves; it’s hardly romantic if you end up spluttering or vomiting out of fear.
Act normal in the lead-up to proposing to her. When you’re out shopping for a ring, or organizing the proposal place, just tell her you’re busy at work or with your mates, rather than making up convoluted stories.
If you’re nervous hire a proposal planner to coordinate and execute your details the day of, so you aren’t worried about them and/or act out of character. This is the root for most proposal day arguments.
Avoid diverting her by going on about not being the marriageable type, or having to run off soon. This is both cruel and unnecessary and could land you in hot water when she ends up feeling frustrated and irritated with your non-commitment or busy person lines. Anything that puts a dampener on the evening first will be hard to turn around. And even if she guesses what you’re about to do, the suspense is still killing her and it won’t be real until you’ve actually proposed. Think “fairy tale”!
Try to avoid the cliches such as: over dinner; via a jumbotron; or hiding the ring in food. Tune into the places she loves