How to Propose 101: The Guide to the Perfect Proposal

Man proposing to his girlfriend in the snow.

Realizing you’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with is, of course, totally amazing — but it can also bring on fear and anxiety as you begin to plan your proposal. After all, this is a big moment, and you want it to be special for both you and your partner. But how do you know you’re taking the steps to ensure your proposal goes off without a hitch? This helpful guide will point you in the right direction.

What to do before you propose

1. Know you’ll get a “Yes”

Although your proposal will probably be a surprise, you don’t want to ask someone to spend the rest of their life with you if you don’t have a clue how they feel about it. Ideally, you’ll already have discussed the concept of getting married with your partner, even if you haven’t been explicit about the “when” and “how.” If you haven’t actually broached the subject but feel confident you’re both on the same page, then the hardest part of your proposal should be planning it — not worrying if they’ll even want the ring.

2. Consult with their family

While this may not be the case for every relationship, many couples still consider “getting permission” from one party’s parents to be an important step in the proposal process. In modern times, it’s less of an ownership thing and more of a sign of respect to make sure that parents are okay with their son or daughter settling down. Chances are, you already know they’ll be thrilled, and it’s more of a formality than anything else.

3. Pick out a ring

Our favorite part! While the spur-of-the-moment proposal is certainly one way to go, there’s definitely a lot to be said about going the traditional route and proposing with the perfect ring. Make sure you do some research beforehand — pay close attention to her style, ask her friends and family for advice, stealthily figure out her ring size, and maybe even check out her Instagram or Pinterest favorites for ideas. If you’re still not sure what she likes, it’s best to go with a classic style, such as a solitaire or pavé setting. When choosing a stone, round diamonds are also a safe bet — they make up over three-quarters of all engagement ring purchases.

4. Start planning!

Does your fiancé(e)-to-be love a good meal? Are they crazy about the outdoors? Would they prefer to be asked in private or surrounded by their friends? These are all questions you can ask yourself while you start to plan the big moment. Every proposal is entirely personal, so it’s pretty impossible for us to say what they’ll like for sure — just remember that the more customized it is to them and your relationship, the more likely they are to love it. Think about some of your favorite times together and use that as inspiration when you go about your planning.

5. Practice your speech

This isn’t the Oscars — you don’t need to have every word of what you’re going to say planned out. In fact, you’ll most likely get carried away when the moment comes and end up going off-script. But it definitely will help to write down your thoughts, any special memories or favorite things about your partner to have in mind when you pop the question. The last thing you want is to go totally blank when it’s finally time to ask, and practicing what you’re going to say is a sure way to stop that from happening.

6. Strategize for afterward

After you’re officially engaged, we’re willing to bet you and your fiancé will be in a celebratory mood. There’s no need to plan a whole party, but having dinner and some champagne ready, or even having your friends on standby, can make the night feel extra special. You know your partner best and will be able to determine if they’d rather celebrate with just the two of you or go all-out — use your knowledge of them to guide your decisions.

What to do during the proposal

1. Find the perfect moment

Unfortunately, your well-thought-out plans may not always match up with reality. Make sure to remain a little flexible, and don’t rush your proposal just because you’re trying to stick to a strict timeline. You’ll know when it’s time to pop the question because you’ll be able to feel it. Listen to your gut!

2. Get the ring ready

Consider storing your ring in an easily accessible place, such as your coat jacket or the inside of a pair of high socks, for ultimate safekeeping. We highly recommend keeping it in the ring box to avoid any unintentional losses — this is one purchase you want to be extra careful with.

3. Take your time

This is a moment you’ll remember for the rest of your lives, so there’s no need to rush! Hug, kiss, cry, scream — whatever feels right, let yourselves feel it. You may need a while to process all the excitement before you even have a chance to put on the ring or move on to whatever else you have planned for the night. Instead of watching the clock, savor these moments while you can.

4. Be photo-ready

Maybe you hired a photographer to capture the precise moment you got engaged, or maybe you brought along some film to record it yourselves. Either way, you’re going to want some photos to look back on in the years to come. Here’s another tip: If you’re proposing to your girlfriend, you may want to book her a nail appointment that day so her hands are newly painted and exfoliated for the first shot of her engagement ring.

Still unsure of how you’re going to propose? Check out these unique proposal ideas for some inspiration. You can also start creating the perfect ring on ShaneCo.com!

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