Here are the tips for taking this big step toward wedded bliss in stride.
DO MAKE IT MEANINGFUL
If ever there was a time for getting sentimental, this is it. Think back on the noteworthy moments in your relationship. Take your sweetheart back to where you first met, kissed, or said, “I love you!” Share a favorite restaurant, view, stroll, or even a song, movie, or book? Creatively draw on these special details to, well, make a special day even more so.
DON’T BE TRENDY
Sure, that restaurant that everyone is talking about may be the perfect option for a romantic night out, but will today’s hot spot be tomorrow’s old news?
When it comes to selecting a destination for popping the question, “I advise my clients to consider finding a place that will always be there,” . “Whether it’s a historical monument or an outdoor location, the idea that you can always return there – even when you’re old and gray – is a great one.”
Still interested in ressies at your original destination? Consider going there before or after your proposal. Then jot down the evening’s highlights – from your drink choices to your dessert fare. That way, you can always re-create the magical meal for anniversaries to come.
DO CONSIDER IF THE PROPOSAL SHOULD BE PUBLIC OR PRIVATE
Not everyone wants to be in the spotlight, while some may dream of sharing the joy. If you are unsure what your beloved would prefer, it’s time to do some digging, which, honestly, may start with subtly asking him or her themselves. Scour YouTube for proposal examples, act like you have just come across them on your social feed, and see how your sweetheart responds to different scenarios. Or ask friends and family whose secrecy you can trust for their advice. When in doubt, always play it safe. He or she obviously adores being alone with you, so you cannot go wrong with a one-on-one environment sans an audience.
DO DEVELOP A DECOY
“An airtight decoy story is a vital part of a great marriage proposal,” Peace says. “Begin developing it by thinking of things that she can’t say no to – and would be excited to do. Involve an accomplice to really throw her off track and plan it out.” Some of Peace’s favorite excuses? Friends or family members are in town, and you’re meeting them for dinner. You got tickets to an invite-only performance at the theater. There’s a cocktail party for work that you have to attend with a date. You get the idea.
DON’T LET THE SECRET SLIP
The more details people know, the more you risk ruining the surprise. Find out who needs to know what ahead of time, and keep everyone on a need-to-know basis. “Even vendors that you hire to help you pop the question – if they do not absolutely need to know, then don’t tell them,” Pease advises. “It’s more fun to share the happy news together as a couple anyway.”
DO KNOW WHERE SHE’S COMING FROM
We mean this literally. If you’re planning on proposing on a Thursday night in front of all of your friends and family, find out in advance what your girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s schedule is like on that day.
She might be on an endorphin high if she’s coming straight from her evening run or weekly spin class, but what she probably wants in that moment is a shower, not the spotlight. Likewise, if he’s been putting in long hours at the office and comes home every night completely pooped, you might want to wait until the weekend when you’re both relaxed.
DON’T NEGLECT YOUR OWN LOOK
Planning your “proposal outfit” may sound silly, but we’re talking logistics more than we are fashion (though you will want to look sharp). Keep the ring box safe and concealed up until the big moment by choosing pants or a jacket with deep pockets (and no holes!).
DO HAVE A BACKUP PLAN
Thinking a walk along the beach would be the perfect place? Or the top of a mountain after a daylong hike? Those choices are both lovely … until you wake up that day to dark skies and stormy weather.
As you’re brainstorming your plan, have a few indoor spaces like the place you first met – in your back pocket should Mother Nature prove uncooperative. Furthermore, know what to do in case of traffic, or if she arrives later or even earlier than expected.
DO STICK TO AN IDEA, NOT A SCRIPT
Of course you’ll want to have some notion of what to say when you propose and how to say it. Maybe you want to reflect on a shared memory or common interest, or to simply tell him or her what you love most about them – do that, and it will be heartfelt no matter the words you choose. But if you memorize lines like an actor in a play, it will sound unnatural at best and forced at worst.
“Think about what you want to say ahead of time and focus on three things that you definitely want to communicate,” Peace suggests. “More than that will be too much and you’ll forget it.”
DO SHARE THE NEWS
If you’re a guy about to propose to your girlfriend, tradition would tell you that you should approach her parents first to ask for her hand in marriage. If you’re not the traditional type, however (and won’t be offending any of her family members who are), there’s nothing standing between you and your to-be-fiancée, except maybe a mean case of the jitters. That said, once you slip the ring on her finger, you should call or visit both sets of parents before broadcasting your news to the wider, social-media world. Marriage means putting family first, starting right now.
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