The day has come. Your partner has finally realised that…
‘Where did he propose?’ they ask.
‘Under the fluoro lights in the kitchen’ I say.
‘How did it happen?’ they ask.
‘We came to a mutual agreement after having a very practical conversation about our future together and what things we ought to get done this year,’ I say.
‘Oh,’ they say, clearly disappointed.
While I’m delighted I get to choose my own ring, as a storyteller by trade, I feel slightly swindled that I don’t have a more romantic engagement story to share. To help other couples have a better story to tell, here’s some of the best ways to propose to spruce up the experience!
When to pop the question
When it comes to when to pop the question, it’s not a matter of if. You must know in your heart it’s the right thing to do. If you’re unsure whether to propose, it’s possible you’re not yet 100% about your commitment. This is not a decision to make on a whim. Pause and reflect. You’ll know when the time is right.
If you are 100% decided about your own commitment, but you’re nervous your proposal is going do be met with rejection, you still have a bit of work to do before popping the question.
Prior to proposing, it’s important you find time together to discuss your future. Conversations of this nature build intimacy. You need to know you’re right for each other – that you have the same values and share the same dreams. For example, do you both want children? While it’s often easier to avoid having these conversations, it’s important – for both your sakes – to be brave.
If you’re already living together like you’re married, whether it’s for six months or six years, you may find yourself assuming marriage is the next step. Never assume. It’s important you check in to ascertain whether that is something that may be on the cards. Additionally, if you discover they don’t want children and you do, respect their decision and don’t count on them changing.
Neither you nor your loved one are mind readers. Express your needs and desires and invite your loved one to express theirs. Share your hopes and dreams. Say ‘I love you’. It may sound naff, but if you’re prepping yourself for a romantic proposal, do the groundwork first.
Choosing a ring
When it comes to practical romance, this is a tricky one. Traditionally, the man proposes to the woman. However, it’s completely fine in this, the 21st Century, for the woman to propose to the man. It sure makes the issue of the engagement ring simpler!
But fellas, if you’ve decided it’s absolutely your pleasure to make the ask, please be aware of her jewellery preferences.
Listen, watch and learn. It doesn’t matter if an engagement ring costs you $20,000, if she doesn’t like it that ends up being awkward, not romantic.
There will be hints along the way. If shopping bores you to tears, at the very least pay attention when she enters a jewellery shop. Don’t be afraid to get out your iPhone to take photos and make notes. There’s no need to hide it. She’ll be positively charmed by your attentiveness.
You are not marrying her best friend. While it’s all very Hollywood to ask the best friend for advice on such things as the ring, if you’re confident about buying a ring for her, you really ought to make sure you know her ring preferences and not accidently buy the ring her best friend likes and she thinks is horrid.
If she has expressed that she would never want ‘someone’ to choose an engagement ring for her, respect that. Don’t suddenly think you know what’s best. You don’t know what’s best! Do you know why? Because she’s explicitly told you she’s the one who wants to choose.
If you know she’d prefer to choose, but you still want to blow her away by showing you’ve financially invested in your future together find a cute ring alternative (fun plastic ring, piece of string or, if you at least know she loves diamonds, a loose diamond), and accompany it with a love note saying you will gift her with a real ring. If you’re not the wealthier of the two of you, she may very well want to contribute towards the final cost.
Finding a venue
Regardless of whether you want to warm her heart with a private affair over a romantic home cooked, candlelit meal (cooked by you of course) or dazzle her with a larger than life public proposal, the key is knowing what you’d both be most comfortable with.
If you haven’t yet seen the ‘best wedding proposal ever’, it’s an absolute classic and well worth a watch.
If you’re after something flamboyant and memorable, if you can achieve even one activity among all this fanfare, you’re doing well!
If you’re not the creative type, don’t stress. Just speak from your heart and you’ll be fine.
Speaking from the heart
Your wedding day may be where you make your vows, but any proposal must be combined with words that express your deep love and wish for eternal commitment.
If you’re not a poet, don’t feel you need to suddenly become John Keats. If you’re not a musician, don’t feel you have to suddenly write and sing an original song. And even if you’re a comedian, don’t feel the need to include too many jokes. Your relationship may be full of laughs, but marriage is a serious matter. Marriage proposals command sincerity.
If you’re completely stuck, google ‘John Keats love poems’ and you’ll be right.
You are always new, the last of your kisses was ever the sweetest.
Capturing the moment
She has said ‘Yes’. Yay! Congratulations!
Even if you pop the question and it’s just the two of you alone, avoid the selfie. Focus all your attention on your beautiful future wife. Take the time to take a photo of her smiling from ear to ear. It’s that smile of joy that you’ll both treasure for years to come.
Ideally, find a third party to take a photo of you happy together. Waiters are more experienced at this than random members of the public (unless there’s a photographer in the room!), so choose the waiter every time. Don’t be afraid to stage a reenactment!
This memory, if captured well, will help form a photo collage of your love that you can create online for your first anniversary gift. Enjoy the moment and good luck!