Planning the perfect proposal can be nerve wracking. There’s so much to consider! Should I propose before or after dinner? Which knee do you propose on? Can a woman propose to a man? (After, either, and yes, respectively!) Luckily, there are tons of resources available to help you plan a proposal that will exceed all your significant other’s expectations. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the five biggest elements to consider when planning a proposal: Timing, family, location, method and, of course, the ring!
Timing Is Everything
You’re sure you’ve met the love of your life — but when should you propose? Timing is an important element in a proposal, one that raises lots of questions for couples. It may be unsatisfying to hear that the answers are not one-size-fits-all, but it’s the truth: Proposal timing is deeply personal and unique to each couple.
Need more info on when to propose? Let’s start with the stats: Some polls show that 25% of women begin to “expect” a proposal after two years of dating. Others show that couples who date for at least three years prior to an engagement are 39% less likely to get divorced than couples who got engaged within their first year of dating.
Generally, most relationship experts recommend waiting at least until you’re past the “honeymoon” or “courtship” phase of your relationship, which is usually defined as the first 1-3 months. This is the period during which both participants are on their best behavior and the relationship is nothing but romance and bliss. To really judge whether you’re both in it for the long-haul, it’s important to invest time into getting to know each other — and, if we’re being honest, to experience some bumps in the road together to see how you fare.
The bottom line? When you know, you’ll know — but that doesn’t mean you have to rush right out and buy a ring. Even if you’re certain you’ve met your future spouse on the first date, it’s perfectly fine to take some more time to enjoy one another before popping the question. Time is on your side!
It may be important to your partner to talk to their family before you pop the big question. It might be a longstanding tradition in their family, or it may simply be something that they believe is a thoughtful step prior to a proposal. You’ll want to determine whether this is something your partner wants or expects — though you’ll likely have a good sense of this already if you know them well enough to propose! — and factor that in to your proposal timeline.
How long before a proposal should you talk to their family? Ultimately, it’s up to you, but if you think you’re ready to propose, have purchased a ring, or have started to make any other proposal plans, it’s probably time to check in with your in-laws-to-be, if doing so is important to your significant other.
Meet with their family in-person, if possible, and speak frankly and from the heart. Tell them that you would like to propose to your significant other and talk about the reasons why: What you love about them, how you feel, and what it would mean to you to marry them. If you’ve already purchased a ring, be sure to bring it as proof-positive of your intentions!
Buy the Ring
If you’ve not already purchased a ring, now is the time! Before you do any shopping, it’s helpful to know your significant other’s general tastes and style preferences. Start with the basics: What is she/he like? Simple and understated? Unique and funky? Girly and dresses like a princess? Sporty? From there a good jeweler will help suggest engagement ring styles that fit her/his personality and preferences. Subtly asking your partner for hints on what they want in their ring can also help you, such as do they want gold or silver? Solitaire, three-stone or tons of bling? Do they have a preference on stone cut and shape? Once you’ve determined these elements, you can feel comfortable starting your search.
It’s also helpful to have a general idea of your partner’s ring size. Not sure how to determine what it is? If you’ve already discussed plans to get engaged, as many couples do, you can ask outright or head to your local jeweler to be sized professionally. If you’re trying to keep your proposal plans as under-wraps as possible, consider covertly taking one of their favorite rings to a jeweler and asking them to size it, or tracing the inside of the ring on a piece of paper. A good jeweler can also get a general idea of her/his size by looking at a photo that shows part of their hand.
When purchasing an engagement ring, look for a ring that aligns with your partner’s preferences and style, but also speaks to you on a personal level. If you look at a ring and immediately think of your partner, chances are that’s a contender! It’s true that if you love it, they’ll likely love it, too — but it’s important to factor in their personal style and taste. After all, they’re going to wear it for the rest of their life!
Location, Location, Location
You’ve got their family’s blessing, you’ve got the ring — now you need the perfect backdrop for your proposal! Choosing where to propose can get tricky, as there may be lots of moving parts. But don’t panic! Here are some questions to help you start brainstorming the perfect proposal location:
- Has your partner ever expressed a desire to get engaged at a certain location, like at their family home, on a beach, etc.? If ever there was a time to make their romantic dreams come true, it’s a proposal!
- Likewise, what do you know about your partner’s proposal preferences? Would they love the attention of a splashy public proposal in front of tons of strangers and/or their family and friends, or does the idea of a public proposal make them cringe? You’re planning a moment that will be a part of your story as a couple for the rest of your lives together — don’t blow it by choosing a location or proposal style that is the total opposite of their personality!
- Think back on your relationship: Are there any locations that are particularly important to you as a couple? Where did you go on your first date? Have you taken any memorable vacations together? These meaningful places may be ideal proposal spots!
- If you have a particular spot in mind already, have you looked into the logistics of proposing there? Are there rules or restrictions to keep in mind, like hours of operation or photography permissions? If you’d like to get your partner’s friends and family involved, how easy would it be for them to get to that location? Would there be lead-time and travel involved? Under what pretense could you get your partner to that location?
Don’t have a particular spot in mind? Sometimes, it’s best to keep it simple. Choose a location that you are comfortable with and use your proposal to create a beautiful memory in that place.
Plan the Moment
Finally, it’s time to plan the particulars: How to propose to your spouse-to-be! Whether you’re planning an intimate and romantic proposal with just the two of you or an over-the-top flash mob proposal featuring all their nearest and dearest, there can be a lot of factors at play when planning how to propose. Travel, hired professionals like photographers, the location and schedules of family and friends, and any number of other elements may need to be considered.
Regardless of the trappings of your proposal, the most important thing to plan is what to say when you propose. There’s no hard and fast rule about what to say during a proposal — other than “Will you marry me?”, of course! — but it should be genuine and come from the heart. There’s no need to write out a speech or rehearse over and over, but having a general idea of what you’d like to say is key. No matter how comfortable you are with your partner, you’re going to be nervous, so keeping a mental outline of your proposal is never a bad idea! Brainstorm the things you’d like to express in your proposal, like how much the person means to you, the things you love about them, and why you want to marry them. This should give you a good foundation for what to say when proposing!
With all that said, remember that your proposal will be perfect however it unfolds, simply because it is an intimate, life-changing moment between you and the person you love — so don’t sweat it too much! Even proposals that stray from “the plan” end up being sweet and memorable in their own way.
Ready to ring shop?
If you’re ready to propose, the expert, fun, non-commissioned team at J.F. Kruse Jewelers is ready to help! Whether you stop by solo or as a couple, we’re happy to assist you in selecting the perfect engagement ring. Start shopping our selection online now, or contact us with your questions!