So you’ve found the special someone whom you want to spend your whole life with, and you’re ready to take the plunge with them. But wait! You’re not sure what kind of ring to get, where and when to propose, and how to actually ask the question.
A proposal is a unique, exciting, intimate experience for the one proposing and the one being proposed to. It’s the potential prologue of new chapter in your life. And it’s a story you and your partner will be telling repeatedly to family, friends, coworkers, your children, and your grandchildren, for as long as you live.
A successful and memorable proposal doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes several nights (and days) of brainstorming, researching, plotting, not to mention budgeting to conceive the perfect plan. It’s a lot of work, but the payoff will be more than worth it.
If you’re ready to put a ring on it, here’s a comprehensive guide for the perfect proposal for you and your partner. What you will find in this guide:
- Before You Propose
- Buying the Ring
- Popping the Question
- After You Propose
I. Before You Propose
Asking someone to marry you is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life. That’s why when you do it, you have to be absolutely certain that you won’t regret it. Take some time to introspect, talk with someone you trust, and find out if you and your partner have similar plans for the future. Ask yourself these questions before you get down on one knee:
Are you ready for marriage?
No matter what cynics may say, marriage is a lifetime commitment. When you give your vows and utter the words “I do,” it’s going to be you and your partner facing the world together forever, or at least, for a very long time.
Getting along with someone, living with them nearly twenty-four seven, and having them demand most of your time, things, and thoughts can tax an ordinary person after days. What more if you have to live with these every day? Marriage is work. And you have to accept and be ready for that before you think about asking your partner the question.
It’s not just the mental, emotional, and physical aspects you need to prepare for. You also have to ensure that you’re financially ready for marriage.
Are you on the same page?
Tango was made for two; marriage is too. You have to make sure that your partner is ready to take the next step with you before you propose. Talk with them without outright proposing. Ask them about their future plans. Is marriage on the plate? How soon? Do they want children? Make sure that you’re both on the same page.
If they say that they’re ready, assure them that you’re thinking of it too. You don’t want to cause any misunderstanding before your proposal. If the answer is the opposite, give them time. Evaluate your relationship and see where it’s heading while you wait. Decide what to do next when you’re certain that your future plans don’t align.
What does their parents say?
It may seem out-fashioned and traditional but talking with your partner’s parents can be a good start. You don’t have to ask for your partner’s hand in marriage. Your partner will decide whether they want to get married or not. It may not be necessary, but their parents will appreciate the gesture. After all, you will soon be part of their family. Remember to consider what your partner thinks about this. Talk with their parents only when you’re sure they agree with this viewpoint.
Can you afford the proposal?
Proposal will cost you, but your budget will depend on your plans. Check your finances now and see if you can afford to buy a ring and prepare the proposal your partner wants. Remember that the proposal is not the only thing you have to think about. There’s also the potential cost of a wedding and later, your joint expenses as a married couple. Be financially prepared for when your partner says yes.
II. Buying the Ring
The ring is more than just a shiny piece of jewelry your partner can show off to their friends. It’s a key component in your proposal. The ring style, the gem, and even the color of the band shows how much thought you’ve put into choosing the ring. It also tells your loved one just how well you know them.
In short, choosing the right ring shows how much you love and respect the person who will receive it. Ready to pick out your ring? Let’s go!
1. Set a budget.
Expensive = the right ring. Yes? No! If you know your partner well, you don’t have to empty your pockets for a costly ring. Don’t delay the proposal just because you can’t afford a better ring. A ring is a symbol of your commitment and love not your bank account.
2. Do your research.
Your first thought when picking a ring should be your partner’s preferences, but it doesn’t hurt to get informed. Rings have two characteristics you should take note of—the gemstone and the band.
Think of the jewelry style they like to wear. Does your partner lean toward traditional classic pieces or vintage jewels?
Picking the right gemstone is your first hurdle. Close to 90 percent of engagement rings feature a diamond, but don’t limit yourself to the usual choice. There are other gemstones, like sapphire, emerald, and morganite, which are also perfect for engagement rings.
Gemstones are more than just decorative sparkles. They have hidden meanings, which you can convey to your partner. Here are some of the most popular gemstones for engagement rings and their symbolisms:
Amethyst, with its captivating purple shades, is a popular symbol of royalty. It represents calmness and clarity. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that the amethyst helped them to remain quick-witted and level-headed in many situations.
Diamonds come in a variety of colors—pink, red, yellow, brown, to name a few. They are the most popular choice for engagement rings. A diamond’s beauty is only rivaled by its strength. It is one of the hardest substance on Earth. Diamonds symbolize eternal and lasting love.
Emerald is of the mineral beryl. It is one of the most sold gemstones in the United States. They are treasured for their beautiful deep green color, which is believed to ward off anxiety and bring relaxation to the wearer. Emeralds signify balance and patience.
Garnet blesses the wearer with health, wealth, and eternal happiness. Ancient Egyptians believed that garnets symbolize life and used it in their jewelry and carvings. Garnets also convey intense devotion.
Moissanite, the mineral form of silicon carbide, is a brilliant, clear gemstone. It was named after Henri Moissan, who discovered the rare mineral near a 50,000-year-old meteor crater. Moissanite symbolizes commitment and excitement for a shared future.
Morganite, a variety of the beryl, has a pinking, purplish, or peachy-pink hue, due to the presence of manganese. It was discovered in the early 1990s and was called pink beryl. It was later renamed after J. P. Morgan, in honor of his contributions to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. A morganite engagement ring conveys the message that you and your partner are meant for each other.
Rubies are a variety of the mineral corundum. The redness comes from the presence of chromium. According to the Bible, rubies represent wisdom and beauty. It is a symbol of passionate love.
Sapphires, like rubies, are also of the mineral corundum. Iron and titanium give it a blue color. Sapphires symbolize honesty and loyalty.
Topaz is said to promote wisdom and long life, according to Hindu belief. It was used by African shamans for healing. In 19th century Russia, the gemstone was made exclusive to royalty. Topaz is associated with loyalty and love. It symbolizes lasting romance and friendship.
Turquoise were used by ancient Egyptians in their jewelry, carvings, and tomb. They were named mefkat, meaning joy and delight. Prized for their sky-blue color, they were used in palace domes to represent heaven. Persians mounted turquoise in their weapons and horses’ bridles. They called it pirouzeh, which means victory.
Found the ideal gemstone for your partner? Shop for rings that are within your budget range. The value of a precious gemstone is decided by the 4 Cs: cut, color, clarity, and carat.
It’s not the size of the gem that matters. It’s the energy and enthusiasm you’ve put into picking the ring that will make it more meaningful.
The Ring Band
What kind of precious metal does your partner like? The most popular metals for engagement rings are white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, and platinum. Think of the usual pieces your partner wear to help you choose. Some precious metals mixed with alloys can trigger allergies, so take that into consideration.
White gold is made from pure gold mixed with nickel, palladium, platinum, and manganese. Copper, silver, or zinc are sometimes used. White gold gets its shiny, white finish from the rhodium coating. Actual white gold normally appears dull and brownish, sometimes pinkish.
High percentage of nickel give the gold a whiter coloring, even without the rhodium. However, jewelers tend to avoid using alloys created nickel may cause allergic reactions. The rhodium plating on white gold rings can wear over time so they need to be replaced once annually or when needed.
Yellow Gold gets its appearance from the combination of pure gold, silver, copper, and zinc. It’s warm and rich yellow tone makes it a popular choice for engagement and wedding rings. Due to its malleability, yellow gold rings are easier to resize. Compared to white gold and rose gold, high-karat yellow gold is more susceptible to dents and scratches.
Rose Gold appears pink because of the mix of pure gold and copper. It used to be more popular in Russia in the 19th century; thus, it was called Russian Gold. Nowadays, it had steadily grown more popular, especially with the millennial and younger generations. Among the three kinds of gold bands, rose gold is the most durable. However, the traces of copper tends to trigger allergic reactions.
Platinum’s appearance is naturally white. During wartime in the 20th century, it was exclusively used by the military. Platinum ring is rapidly making a comeback in the present time. Like diamond, platinum is equally prized for its beauty and durability.
Once you’ve decided on the metal, it’s time to look at the different ring bands. Here are several popular options for engagement rings:
Got all you need to know? Then on to the next step!
3. Find a jeweler.
A proper jeweler can give you a grading report for your engagement ring. This will be useful for later when you get the ring insured.
Most people know little about jewelry, so don’t afraid to ask a lot of questions before you decide. You’ll probably be working with the same jeweler as long as the engagement ring exists. You can do plenty of researching beforehand, but there are some pieces of information that you can only get from professional jewelers. Don’t neglect your research, though; it will help you figure out what to ask about in the first place. When all is said and done, choose a jeweler who works for you not against you.
Remember to check the authenticity of your jeweler’s products. If they offer lower than most industry prices, ask why. Inquire about where they get their diamonds and other gemstones. Are they conflict-free? Ensure that they have a warranty and resizing service at a reasonable price.
You should be able to trust your jeweler for such an important purchase as an engagement ring.
4. Choose the ring.
Now it’s time to finally decide on the ring you’ll be getting, along with some consideration to take into—their personality and preferences.
Buying an engagement ring is a lot like shopping for presents. You have to think about what the receiver will love. If your partner is the outgoing type who will very likely enthusiastically show off their ring to everyone they know, pick a big, sparkly ring. If they have simple tastes, go for something subtle yet sophisticated.
Still can’t figure out what they like? Do a little reconnaissance. People normally choose to wear what looks good on them so be more observant when you’re together. Pay attention to their accessories when you go out. Do they often wear yellow gold pieces, or do they prefer white gold ones?
Alternatively, take them shopping on the pretext that you’re looking for something (say, a new pair of shoes). While at the mall, make sure you linger near a jewelry store until they browse through the display. Pay close attention to them without being obvious. Casually ask them, “What’s that?” And see how they react. Respond appropriately and move on.
If you’re still unsure, check their Pinterest page or their social media accounts. See if they’ve posted anything about clothes, accessories, and jewelry. You can also enlist the help of your partner’s closest family and friends.
5. Get her ring size.
This is where it gets tricky because you would want to keep it all a surprise. You can use one of your partner’s rings to get their ring size. If that’s not an option, ask the help of their family and friends. Ask them to take your partner “window shopping” to get their ring size.
It doesn’t matter how you get the information (just don’t do anything too risky or dangerous). You can get creative as long as you get the correct size. However, when in doubt, size up! A bigger ring is easier to resize. Just remember to ask the jeweler if the ring is resizable.
6. Insure your ring.
An engagement ring is both a financial and sentimental investment. Anything can happen to it before and after you propose so get the ring insured. It may cost you extra but it’s a small price to pay to secure a more valuable asset. Research about how to get the ring insured.
Before you take the ring to an insurer, it has to be appraised by a professional jeweler. The jeweler will the assess the value of the ring and give you a formal document of their appraisal. Gather other necessary documents (e.g., photos, proofs of purchase, etc.).
Find a suitable insurer. You can either use your existing homeowners or rental insurance policy or purchase a separate one. Make sure to ask their policy coverage. Will they cover for accidental accidental loss or damage? In case of theft, will they pay you in cash or get a replacement from your jeweler? Ensure that you get the terms you want.
III.Put a Ring on It
Got the perfect ring already? It’s time to move on to the main event. There are a few things you need to plan to have a successful, memorable proposal. Research ideas and browse for inspiration for your ideal proposal. It’s okay your method is not completely original. Just add your own twist to make it personalized. On the actual day of the event, you also need to remember some dos and don’ts of proposing.
A. Planning the Proposal
First, make a list of the things you’ll need when you propose. You’ve already got the ring, so further expenses will depend on the kind of event you want to set up.
Most people want to preserve the memory of important events in their lives. A proposal is definitely one. That said, hire a professional photographer to capture the moment in high quality photos (or in a video). Take your pick from this list of engagement photographers. Choose a photographer who will cooperate with you and accommodate your plans. A full engagement shoot may cost from $200 to $500, depending on location and other factors.
Lots of proposal involve food and beverage. So if you’re planning to propose during a romantic dinners date, budget for the cost of your meal. Making your partner wash dishes is a terrible way to make them say yes.
Other potential expenses will be for the venue, the props, and the people you will hire to help with your proposal. Do a thorough research before you pay for anything, so you can come up with a reasonable budget plan. It’s a huge task, but you don’t have to do it alone! Ask help from your buddies (and your partner’s family and friends), provided that they can be discreet.
There’s a proper place and time for everything. That includes asking the question. No matter how the media portrays proposals, one thing is certain. You’re going to be seriously nervous (and maybe fumble while opening the ring box). Pick a special time and place where you can confidently get down one knee and pop the question.
An ideal time to propose is on your anniversary, on your partner’s birthday, or on Valentine’s Day. Whichever date you choose, just ensure that you both show up on time.
Prioritize your partner’s preferences when picking the place for your proposal. Is your partner an intensely private person, who you know is uncomfortable with sharing emotional and personal moments in public? If it’s a yes, plan for a private proposal. Emotions are tricky things that can make people react unexpectedly. You’re looking for positive reaction, so best to get your partner comfortable.
But if your partner loves grand gestures, then by all means, come up with the most unforgettable proposal to make them feel special.
Now you’ve reached the most fun part. This is the stage when you can unleash your creativity and romantic spirit. There are 101 (and more!) ways you can propose to your partner. You can be original, or you can copy somebody else’s brilliant idea. Either way, a personal touch will make the experience more special for you both.
B. Proposal Ideas
Not sure how to propose? You’re in luck! Here are some of the most awesome proposal ideas for you. You can get creative and add your own spin to them or combine several ideas to come up with a new one. Think of what your partner will like. For a partner who likes to keep it low-key, an intimate private proposal is just right. If they like big, showy displays, you can go with a public proposal.
Proposing in public
- Romantic dinner. Take your partner on a dinner date to their favorite restaurant. Ask the management beforehand to place the ring on the dessert. When your partner finds the ring, take it gently, get down on one knee, and ask the question.
- Night stroll. After dinner, ask your partner to go on a stroll at a nearby by park with you. Lead them to the most picturesque area. Under a beautiful night sky, ask them if they’d like to spend their whole life with you.
- Fairytale proposal. Is your partner a big fan of Disney? Bring them to The Happiest Place when you propose! Take them in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, Snow White’s Wishing Well, or their favorite place in the park. If you want to go all out, Disney has special arrangements for proposals. Just contact the branch where you want to propose.
- Game night. Enlist the help of your family or friends to propose during your regular trivia nights. Plan a game of pictionary, charades, or other games where you can integrate your proposal. Don’t propose right away. Wait until everyone has relaxed and focused in the game. Surprise them with your proposal in the middle or near the end of the game to heighten the excitement and happiness.
- Vacation proposal. Going on a trip abroad with your partner? This is your chance to give them a truly memorable proposal. Research romantic tourist destinations where you can propose (e.g, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, Nishinomaru Garden in Japan, or Cliffs of Moher in Ireland). Remember to consider if it’s tourist season or not. A tightly-packed crowd may ruin your carefully planned proposal. Check the weather when picking the day of your proposal.
Proposing in private
- Breakfast in bed. On your day off, treat your partner with breakfast in bed. Prepare flowers and their favorite breakfast food. After you eat, tell them to wait while you take away the dirty dishes. When you get back, bring flowers you’ve prepared beforehand, give the speech you practiced and propose.. Alternatively, you can write the question on an omelette for a fun, quirky proposal.
- Date night at home. Prepare a special date night at home. Turn your place into a romantic setting with candles or fairy lights, flowers, etc. Cook a delicious four-course meal for your partner. If you’re musically talented, ask them to the question through an original song or a song that’s special to you both.If you’re not, prepare a creative video or presentation about your partner and your time together (e.g., Reasons Why They’re the Best Girlfriend/Boyfriend in the World). After your presentation, get down on one knee and ask them to marry you.
- On a hiking/camping adventure. Do you and your partner doing outdoor activities together? If yes, then organize a hiking/camping adventure where you can have some private time together. Lots of unpredictable things can happen on the wilderness so be extra prepared. For daytime proposal, go somewhere with a picturesque scene. If you’re proposing at night, ask them when you’re stargazing or relaxing by a campfire.
- Flower trail. Flowers undeniably add romance and beauty to any occasion. Take advantage of their wonderful effect by planning a floral proposal. Enlist the help of your partner’s friends to keep them out of the house during the day. While your partner is out, prepare a trail of flowers from the front door to the room where you will propose. You can create stopovers along the way where they can pick up handpicked presents. Transform one room in your house into a romantic setting with candles, flowers, curtains, and other things. Make sure to carefully plan the timing. You don’t want to wait until the all the candles melt and the excitement fades.
- Weekend getaway. A relaxing weekend is perfect time for a romantic proposal. Plan your getaway during an off-season so you can unwind and have a private moment. There are lots of ideal places where you can propose—on a mountain villa with an overlooking view or in the middle of a beautiful lake while sailing.
C. Proposal Etiquette
Now that you’ve got the plan covered. You only have to account for the actual day of the event. Impress your partner with a proposal that both of you will remember fondly for years. Take note of the things you can and can’t do during the proposal.
Dos and Don’ts When Proposing
- Do respect your partner’s preferences.
This is the best way to show how much you value and love your partner. In a way, it will show how your marriage will go. You want to show your partner that you can make them happy, just as they have done for you.
- Don’t put your partner on the spot.
No one wants to be pressured to make an important decision. Be sure to propose where and when you’re both comfortable. A proposal can make or break your relationship, so don’t rush through it.
- Do come prepared.
Remember the ring, the presents, and your basic plan. Aside from those, be prepared for what comes after the proposal, whatever your partner’s answer will be.
- Don’t neglect your appearance.
This is a one-of-a-kind experience for you and your partner so you have to look your best. You don’t need to wear a fancy three-piece suit. Dress neatly and groom yourself. Your partner would want to look good too, so don’t surprise them when they’ve just come back sweaty after a long run.
- Do wait for the proper timing.
Timing is everything. If your partner is not feeling well on the day of the proposal, do it for another day. Don’t rush to get it over with and don’t wait until it’s too late. Propose only when you and your partner are both ready mentally, emotionally, and physically.
- Don’t be overly conscious about following a plan.
Be flexible. Plenty of unpredictable things can happen on the day of the proposal. Your car might break down suddenly on the way to your destination. There might too many people where you’re planning to propose. Plans can change along the way, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Just have fun and enjoy the event.
- Do get down on one knee.
Getting down on knee is a tradition. Many people would like to be proposed this way. There’s a huge chance that your partner will be one of them. Don’t get down on one knee only if you’re sure that your don’t that.
- Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.
Take the chance to express how you feel for your partner. Prepare a heartfelt speech. While actions may speak better than words, there are somethings that need to be said out loud, like how much you love somebody and how much they mean to you.
- Do make it special.
Special doesn’t mean fancy. A meaningful proposal can be a low-key event that has all the necessary elements—romance, sincerity, and excitement.
- Don’t make it too complicated.
A proposal is a fun, exciting event. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and end up regretting your decision. There will be more room for failure if you plan something too elaborate.
IV. After the Proposal
If you’re proposing, then you’ve probably thought long and hard about your decision and carefully considered your partner’s possible response. However, you can’t plan for everything when you propose, especially your partner’s reaction. Whatever your partner’s answer will be, just be understanding and respectful.
- What to do if it’s a No?
Sometimes things don’t go according to plans. If they say no, respect their answer. It’s understandable to be disappointed, but it does give anyone the right to lash out. Take a minute to breathe and clear your mind from your immediate reaction.
Getting a no can be painful, but it doesn’t always spell the end of your relationship. When both you and your partner are ready, have an honest and sincere discussion about why they said no. See if your future plans align. Is marriage on the table? If so, agree on a timeline together. Unfortunately, a no could be the end if you and your partner have different ideas about where you want your relationship to go.
- It’s a yes! What’s next?
Cheers! You got the response you hoped for. Now what to do next? For now, continue enjoying your dinner, vacation, or just relish the moment together. It’s a happy event. You’re allowed to celebrate privately before you have to think of the obligations that come next.
When you’re both truly well and ready to share the exciting news to your family and friends, you can agree with your partner how you want to tell your family and friends. You organize an engagement party, send an email, post on social media, or publish it in the newspaper. It can be huge event or a simple one. The important things is to share the happiness and excitement with everyone you love.
A proposal is a unique experience that will be remembered for years. It shouldn’t be something you enter empty-handed and unprepared. Make an effort to pick the perfect ring and organize a memorable event. Most people are not born experts in marriage proposals, so do you research. There are lots of available resources you can find. Just be careful not to let your soon-to-be fiance figure out your plan.
It’s all right to ask for help. Planning a proposal should be a source of fun and excitement not stress and anxiety. Letting your family or friends support you will give you the boost to create a memorable proposal. But remember that it’s not about how fancy or grand your proposal will be, it’s about you and especially, your partner. A successful proposal doesn’t only mean a change in your relationship status. It’s also the beginning of your life together.