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Proposal Speech Etiquette – What to Say Before, During and After

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When you start to think about proposing, you’ll most likely begin with finding the perfect engagement ring. After that, you’ll plan out how you actually want to ask her. Then once everything is in place for the special day, it’s speech-planning time! Here are five proposal speech etiquette tips to help you deliver your words flawlessly.

  1. Start with a pre-proposal speech

Take time just before getting on one knee to share your heart and intentions with her. Tell her how she’s changed your life, when you knew you wanted to marry her and your dreams for your future together. The purpose of a pre-proposal speech is to get those butterflies flying. If she’s close to her family, you can spark extra emotion by telling her you already asked them.

  1. Don’t over-rehearse

If you plan to call her gorgeous but you call her beautiful by mistake, it is not a big deal. However, feeling like you “messed up” in the middle of the speech might make you more nervous for the rest of it. It’s better to write an outline of what you want to say, then let yourself fill in the heartfelt words in the moment. A perfect speech that sounds more like a robot than the man she loves will not get you the emotion you’re looking for.

  1. A sturdy stance is important for delivery

Start your pre-proposal speech standing or sitting next to her. In other words, don’t immediately go down on one knee. Being on one knee isn’t the most natural position, and if you’re not feeling sure-footed as you deliver your speech, you’re more likely to get distracted or stutter. Put yourself in a position that makes you feel confident and strong, and then start pouring your heart out.

  1. Get down on one knee just before the words “will you marry me?” 

Your speech cued the butterflies, and she’ll melt all over again watching you go down on one knee. Wait a few seconds to let it sink in for both of you and then start with her name (or a nickname!) before asking the actual question. Look in her eyes and go with whatever emotion comes over you. If the biggest smile washes over your face, go with it. If the tears start coming, let them.

  1. Stay on one knee until she says yes

This is fairly simple, but I’ll say it again: do not stand up until she says yes. You should also wait until she says yes to put the ring on her finger.

What happens next depends on her reaction—just enjoy what comes. The scary stuff is over. You’re on your way to getting married!

With all of this being said, there’s a good chance you and your new bride-to-be will forget exactly what happened, even 30 seconds after the “yes.” For this reason, we recommend hiring a photographer to capture your proposal. They can hide far enough away to still maintain privacy. You can also write the words you practiced for your speech in a love letter and give it to her a few days later. In doing so, you both will be able to relive your proposal any time you want. I can’t imagine reliving anything more beautiful!

Stacy Tasman is the founder of HowHeAsked.com – a site that shares proposals (and engagement rings!) of all shapes and sizes. Having read more than 2,000 proposals and advised hundreds of men on their own proposals, Stacy has become the expert of all things engagement. She’s shared proposal advice with GMA Live, The Couch, Men’s Health, The Huffington Post, Brides, The Knot, and more.

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