So you’ve decided it’s time to pop the question? Congratulations! Just deciding to spend the rest of your life with someone is worth celebrating. But, before you pop the bubbly, you need to plan the perfect marriage proposal.
While nearly two-thirds of brides report knowing — or at least suspecting — their significant other was planning something, the best proposals are the ones that come as a surprise. Sure, you could just grab her hand and pop the question, but where’s the fun in that? There’s nothing more beautiful than a heartfelt proposal that pays tribute to your relationship now and all that’s to come.
When it comes to figuring out how to plan a marriage proposal, it’s important to remember that it will take a little bit of planning and some creativity to boot. So grab a pen, a piece of paper and let’s get to work.
Things to Consider Before the Proposal
The first thing to do when you’re planning a wedding proposal is to determine the logistics.
1. Private vs. Public Proposal
Public proposal ideas tend to be easier to come up with because those are the ones we see on TV or the Internet. We’ve all seen women who were proposed to at a baseball game or a romantic restaurant or in a gazebo at the neighborhood park. But, before you jump on board the public proposal train, stop and think about your girlfriend. Will she love the attention that comes with a proposal in a restaurant or at a concert with her favorite band? Or, is she a quiet, laid back girl who will want some space to cuddle and cry after she says yes? It may be tempting to go with the biggest, flashiest idea you can come up with, but don’t ignore your sweetie’s personal preferences in the process. There are plenty of private proposal ideas that will melt her heart.
Once you’ve decided what type of proposal you want, then it’s time to select the ideal location. If you’re planning a public proposal, then you’ll need to select a venue and reserve the space you need for any additional guests who will be there with you. If you’ve opted for something elaborate, such as an engagement scavenger hunt, then you’ll want to scout out each location and make notes of any places that will require entry fees for your girlfriend to pass through on her way to the next clue.
If you’ve opted for a more private moment, you’ll still want to scout out the location so you can decide how everything should be set up. Even a romantic evening at home takes some planning. Run the vacuum, make a romantic meal you know she’ll love, and plan some simple, yet beautiful decorations to make the space feel a little more special.
3. Photographer or Videographer
Having a photographer or videographer on hand is a great way to document this important milestone. Bringing someone along to document a proposal has become almost as common as an engagement ring. However, it does take a little bit of consideration, especially if you’re planning to propose in a more private location. Some people choose to hire professional photographers, while others enlist the services of a friend with an eye for photography.
Once you’ve secured a photographer, then scout out your proposal location and decide what makes a good backdrop, making sure to consider the time of day you’ll be proposing. Also check with the venue on their photography policies, which sometimes require you to pay a fee to bring a photographer onto their property.
If you’re planning a proposal at home, it’s still not a bad idea to have a photographer on hand for some impromptu engagement photos after you pop the question. But remember — most women don’t like to be surprised about taking pictures. As you’re planning your proposal and timeline of events, factor in some time for her to freshen up before she gets in front of the camera. If you’re proposing in a private location that isn’t her home, consider asking her best friend to secretly slip you her favorite outfit and some makeup so she can get camera-ready in a flash.
4. The Engagement Ring
This may go without saying, but part of planning the perfect proposal is selecting the perfect ring. The perfect ring looks different for each person, so we’re not advocating for a certain setting or diamond size. Do your homework and figure out what will melt your bride’s heart. These days, many couples are opting for a custom ring, which can take a little bit of time to design and order. You’ll want to factor in your ring delivery date when you pick a day to propose. While you certainly can propose without a ring, it will make a bigger impact if you can offer her the ring box as you’re down on one knee.
5. Seek Advice From Friends and Family
Some families find the concept of asking the bride’s father for his permission to be old fashioned, while others would be offended if you didn’t make the effort. Make sure you know in advance what your girlfriend’s family expects when it comes to this tradition. After all, there’s no reason to anger your future in-laws before the wedding even happens!
Should family be at the marriage proposal? Only you can answer that question, keeping in mind that you’ll have a lifetime of family functions, and your bride-to-be may prefer a more intimate moment between the two of you.
Even if you opt not to include family in the moment, there are plenty of ways to incorporate them into your planning. You can ask for their help choosing a ring, decorating your venue or showing up for a post-proposal party. If your sweetie’s family doesn’t live close enough to get involved, recruit one or two of her close friends to step in.
How to Create the Perfect Wedding Proposal Speech
Once you’ve decided where and when you’ll propose, then it’s time to craft the perfect proposal speech. Obviously, the words, “Will you marry me?” should be incorporated into your speech, but if you want to create a moment she will never forget, then consider expanding more on your love for her and your hopes for the future.
The most important thing to remember when you’re planning what to say is to speak from the heart. If you’re typically soft-spoken, she doesn’t need you to write a five-page poem or memorize a love song to sing to her. She does need you to tell her how you feel and why you want to marry her.
Think back to moments you’ve shared over the course of your relationship, and ask yourself these questions:
- What did I think when I met her for the first time?
- When did I know for sure that I wanted to marry her?
- What is one thing I love about her?
- What is it about her that inspires me?
- What goals and dreams do we share for our future?
- How has our relationship changed my life?
Obviously answering every one of these questions in your proposal isn’t possible — this isn’t the State of the Union address, after all — but asking yourself these questions is a great way to focus in on some of the things you love about her and your life together. Use one or two of those questions to build a meaningful proposal. And don’t be afraid to be specific. Tell her that her smile always comforts you when you’ve had a bad day or holding her hand makes your heart race. It may seem silly to you, but she’ll love it!
One other thing to consider — will you get down on one knee? According to a 2017 survey from The Knot, 87 percent of proposers asked that all-important question on bended knee. That’s not to say that you must kneel, but you’ll want to decide in advance what you want to do so that you can incorporate that into your plan.
In the end, the perfect proposal is about this special moment between the two of you. Each woman is different, which means each woman will have different things that make her feel special. Focus on her and the things she loves — which include you! — and you’re guaranteed to be met with proposal success!
Wedding Proposal Speech Examples
Need a few prompts to get the creative juices flowing? We’ve got you covered.
1. The “What I Love About You” Proposal
Come up with a list of three to four things you love about your girlfriend. Then, start your proposal by saying, “There are so many things I love about you. I love _____.” Once you’ve listed those things, wrap them up with, “I want to spend the rest of our lives discovering more things I love about you. Will you marry me?”
2. The “I Knew I Loved You When” Proposal
Think back to the first time you knew you loved her — or even the moment you knew she was “the one” — and then tell her about it. “When you took care of me after my knee surgery, I knew you were the one because ____.” Or, “When you were in that car accident, I was so scared. I knew I never wanted to lose you.” Then, finish it off with a simple “Will you marry me?”
3. The “To the Point” Proposal
While a long speech can be sweet, sometimes it’s better to get to the point. You can simply say, “I have never been happier than I have since I met you. I will spend the rest of my life being happy if you will agree to spend it with me. Will you marry me?”
4. The “One-of-a-Kind” Proposal
If you’ve opted to propose overlooking a gorgeous waterfall, on vacation or as you ride into the sunset on a hot air balloon, consider using your setting to inspire your proposal. “This is beautiful. So are you. I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives having moments like these. Will you marry me?”
5. The “Say Nothing at All” Proposal
If you aren’t so good with speeches, consider putting pen to paper or filming a video proposal. At the end of a letter or video highlighting what you love about her and the fun you’ve had, just add the words: “Will you marry me?”
After the Proposal
Sure, the moment you propose is the most important part. It’s the reason for all of this planning. But it’s easy to get caught up in all of the marriage proposal ideas and forget to plan what’s going to happen in the moments after your bride-to-be says yes.
1. Make the Announcement
If you opted for a private engagement, consider having her friends and family waiting at a nearby bar or restaurant to celebrate with you. She’ll be eager to show off her ring and start talking weddings with her mom and close girlfriends. And you’ll be able to relax and enjoy a job well done. If you don’t want to go to all the trouble of an elaborate party, simply invite family and a few close friends to show up at your house for drinks and munchies or burgers on the grill.
If neither of you has friends or family close by, plan to spend some time calling your loved ones to share the news. Make sure you’ve got your phone or laptop nearby so you can video chat and allow your new fiancee to show off her beautiful bling.
2. Have Photos Taken
Some people plan to take professional engagement photos right after their proposal. The emotions of the day can make for some beautiful, heartfelt photos that you’ll enjoy for the rest of your life. Other people prefer to take a few candid photos to share with friends and family who are anxious to see the ring. If you aren’t sure which is the right choice for you, check with a close friend or family member who can clue you in to what your future bride would prefer.
3. Spend Time Alone
If you opted for a more public expression of your love, you may be anxious to spend some one-on-one time with your new fiancee. Make reservations for two at a romantic restaurant or plan a night or weekend away to enjoy each other before the craziness of wedding planning begins. No rule says you have to immediately jump into a crowd of friends and family. There will be plenty of time for that in the months ahead.
The Do’s & Don’ts of the Perfect Proposal
Proposals are beautiful because each one is special and unique to the two people who are involved. There isn’t a formula for a proposal because no two people are the same. But, there are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your special day:
Here are some top tips you should consider for your proposal:
1. Consider What Your Significant Other Would Want
The perfect marriage proposal is one that illustrates how much she means to you. That means this moment should be a reflection of her personality and taste. You may be a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan, but if she doesn’t love football, then don’t propose on the jumbotron at Lincoln Financial Field. You may love attention, but she may shrink from crowds. If you aren’t sure what she’d want, ask one of her friends or a close family member for some tips.
2. Plan in Advance
Sure it’s cute when you’re so anxious that the question just spills out over Chinese takeout — and there are certainly wonderful proposals that happen that way. But taking the time to plan a special, memorable moment is a great way to show her how much you love her and how excited you are to start your new life together. You’ll never regret putting some time and thought into it.
3. Ask for Help
This is a great time to enlist the help of family and friends. Perhaps her college roommate is a photographer who is willing to offer her services as a gift. Maybe your aunt has a beautiful beach house that she’d be willing to offer up for a post-proposal party. Besides having resources you may not have, family and friends can also lend a hand, helping you set up and pull off a once-in-a-lifetime surprise. If you have the budget for it, you might even consider hiring a proposal coordinator to handle the details and leave you to focus on the important stuff.
4. Pay Attention to Detail
Incorporating your future bride’s favorite things is a great visual way to show her how well you know her. Does she love yellow roses? Make sure to have a vase or two on the table if you’re proposing over a meal. Does she enjoy watching the sunset from the park down the road? Consider popping the question in that treasured spot.
And here are a few things you should avoid with your proposal:
1. Catch Her off Guard
While a surprise proposal can be incredibly romantic, it’s only good to surprise her if you have already agreed that marriage is in your future. If you pop the question after only dating for a few weeks or without some idea of what her answer would be, then you run the risk of embarrassing yourself — and her — if she isn’t ready to say yes.
2. Forget the Photographer
This will be one of the most important moments you two will ever share together. Don’t forget to document it! You can get creative and have a photographer hide to take action shots of the proposal itself. Or, if the two of you are shy, reserved people, have someone on hand to take some beautiful shots of the two of you together after the fact. If you can’t afford to hire a photographer, then recruit a friend who’s good with a camera.
3. Go Overboard
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you and your future bride aren’t fancy people, then don’t plan a five-course meal with a personal violinist at the table. Maybe she’d prefer a surprise breakfast in bed accompanied by a heartfelt letter telling her that you want to spend the rest of your lives together. Keep it simple. Don’t spend weeks crafting an engagement poem or writing her a love song. Just tell her what she means to you.
It’s common to be nervous as the big day approaches, but do your best to hide the nerves from your girlfriend. If you start acting “weird” or in a way that’s not normal for you, she’ll suspect something’s up, especially if you two have already been discussing marriage. This is another place friends and family can be helpful since you can call or text them when you’re feeling anxious or worrying about everything coming together.
The Perfect Proposal: The First Step to Forever
Planning the perfect wedding proposal does take some time and creativity. But the effort is worth it when the love of your life agrees to marry you.
Once she says yes, it’s time to follow the perfect proposal with the perfect wedding. Wyndham Garden York in York, PA, offers the ideal spot to book your wedding. With options for both indoor and outdoor wedding venues, Wyndham is a one-stop-shop for couples looking for help planning their special day. When you book a wedding at Wyndham, we take care of setting up and decorating both the ceremony and reception spaces, catering, and accommodations for your out-of-town guests. We also offer smaller spaces for intimate bridal showers and other wedding-related events, including the rehearsal dinner and Day After Brunch.
Ready to say “I do”? Contact Wyndham Garden York today.