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Proposal 101: How to Ask Someone to Marry You

If you’ve stumbled upon this post chances are that you’re ready to take your relationship to the next level. But, this exciting time in your life can also come with its fair share of anxiety. From proposal etiquette to engagement rings, popping the big question can be nerve-wracking. If you’re wondering how to propose to your girlfriend or partner or you’re feeling pressure about getting the moment “right”, we’re here to help.

In this Proposal 101 guide, we’ll cover all of the basics to help you prepare and execute the perfect proposal. Don’t worry, you’re going to do great.

Proposal Basics

An engagement ring with a halo setting Here are a few of the most common questions about how to ask someone to marry you.

Do You Ask for a Blessing Before or After Proposing? 

In the months leading up to your intended proposal, you might find yourself wanting to pop a different question – asking your spouse’s parents for their blessing. A tradition that is still very much alive, a 2015 survey from the Knot found that more than three-quarters of men ask for permission from their partner’s parents before they propose.

If you plan on asking for a blessing you’ll want to do so before you propose. In some ways, this part of the proposal journey can feel even scarier than the real deal. However, there are a few things that you can do to ensure that it goes smoothly.

First, schedule a time to talk, preferably in person or over the phone (do not have this important conversation via text message!). When the time comes, approach the topic with confidence. Have some talking points prepared so that you’re ready to answer any questions and don’t be afraid to gush about your feelings in the process. Be sure that you remain positive and respectful throughout the duration of your chat. After all, this conversation is typically seen as an act of respect so it’s important to keep your tone as polite as possible.

On the rare occasion that they say no, don’t freak out. You and your partner are adults and can choose to continue with your marriage despite the outcome. Try not to take offense and remain as polite as possible, how you react in this situation will be something that your partner and their family members always remember.

A Diamond Nexus engagement ring box

Should I Buy an Engagement Ring Before Proposing?

While an engagement ring isn’t required to propose, most people purhase a ring before the big moment.

This leads us to another important component of the perfect marriage proposal puzzle – how to determine ring size. If you aren’t planning a surprise proposal you can simply visit a local jewelry store where they will happily assist you in finding your partner’s ring size. However, if a stealth proposal is part of your plans you’ll want to try a more secretive approach like asking a close friend or family member, snooping around in their jewelry box, or even measuring their finger using a piece of string.

Can I Propose Without a Ring?

Yes, you can propose without a ring. If you don’t know what to look for in an engagement ring, this may be a safe option. Some couples choose to go this route so that they can choose the perfect ring together while others opt to forego a ring completely.

How Do You Kneel When Proposing? 

While it seems pretty self-explanatory, believe it or not, there is kneeling etiquette when it comes to a marriage proposal. To understand this etiquette better we need to go back in history. Elizabeth Tulipana, a wedding planner and owner of Anticipation Events explains it like this, “Traditionally, getting on a bent knee is a sign of respect, honor, and surrender. If you were being knighted in Medieval times, you kneel in front of a queen to receive your award as a sign of respect.” Specifically, knights kneeled on their left knee.

A man getting down on one knee to propose While kneeling has historical significance, it is not mandatory for the proposed equation. However, be aware that many people will expect it during the romantic moment. In an interview with The Plunge, Michele Velasquez, owner of The Heart Bandits, a proposal planning company noted the following, “I have planned thousands of events for people of Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Indian, African, Australian, Asian, and European descent, and almost everyone does take a knee to propose.”

What Should I Say When Proposing to my Partner? 

You reach for the ring box and get down on one knee, but what do you say? Of course any variation of, “will you marry me,” will suffice, but if you really want to blow your partner away experts recommend following these five steps to craft the perfect romantic proposal speech.

  1. Write down what you want to say.
  2. Practice in front of a mirror.
  3. Don’t be afraid to get emotional.
  4. Honor tradition (If that’s what your partner wants).
  5. Build up to the big moment with a story.

Need some extra help thinking of what to say? Consider these prompts to get your creative juices flowing: What did you think when you first met them? When did you realize they were “the one”? What about them inspires you? What goals and values do you share?

What Should You Not Do When Proposing?

An engagement ring with a bezel setting

Don’t Overcomplicate Things 

Of course, you want a unique proposal, but don’t get too wild that the focus is taken away from the main event, you and your love. Nerves run high during any proposal so, to keep things going smoothly, it’s best to stick to a relatively simple proposal plan. One of the most classic marriage proposal ideas is popping the question over dinner at a nice restaurant that your partner loves. Nowadays, proposal ideas at home are also a very popular option. If you do decide to incorporate more complicated elements make sure to practice first or have a backup plan so that you don’t spend precious moments worrying about the wrong thing.

Don’t Forget Your Partner’s Preferences  

While the thought of a grand gesture like a flash mob or your faces illuminated on the big screen during a local sporting game might make your heart swoon, be sure to consider your partner’s preferences and personality when planning your proposal. If your loved one is more introverted, big scenes like these might feel more like a nightmare rather than one of the most romantic days of their life.

Unless your significant other has mentioned that they want a flashy proposal it might be best to stick with a more personal and intimate plan for your wedding proposal.

Don’t Forget to Document the Moment

Consider asking a friend or hiring a photographer or videographer to help you capture the big day. If that’s not your style, be sure to at least snap a few pics using your cell phone as a keepsake of the moments after they say yes!

A newly engaged couple

Don’t Forget the Ring 

It may sound silly, but don’t forget the ring! Keep this precious cargo in a safe place that will be easy to access when you’re ready to pop the question.

Don’t Let Your Nerves Get in the Way 

You’re likely to find yourself feeling super nervous come the proposal day and that’s ok! Try your best to keep your nerves under wraps so as to not tip off your partner. And, most importantly, don’t let anxiety talk you out of it. You’ll do great.

When to Propose

First things first, things might not go exactly as planned, so don’t be afraid to go with the flow. Wait until the moment feels right and try not to get too stressed if things beyond your control get in the way.

Your partner might suspect that something’s up if your plans include something out of the ordinary like going on a trip or planning a fancy night out. If this is the case, consider creating a fake backstory to throw your partner off your trail. This will help you feel more relaxed and help keep things a surprise.

Of course, if you’re looking for the right time of year for that special moment, holidays like Valentine’s day and New Year’s are a popular choice. After all, nothing makes for a better gift than an engagement ring!

A couple holding hands

Next Steps 

Now that the hard part is done it’s time to share your big news! Many couples take to social media to share a picture of the moment and their shiny new bauble. Of course, best friends and close family members will want to be in on the action so you might want to drop them a line first before disclosing your new engagement to the world.

While insurance might not be the most romantic thing, you’re going to want to get your engagement ring insured asap. And on the topic of rings, if it isn’t a perfect fit, now would also be the time to look into getting the ring resized so that you don’t have to worry about it falling off if it’s just a bit too loose.

Then comes the wedding planning. Things book up quickly so it’s good to be proactive if you have your heart set on a certain date or location for your wedding day. After the engagement is the perfect time to start researching venues, determining a guest list, and budgeting for that special day. You can also start thinking about groomsmen, bridesmaids, and other elements of the wedding that might require some extra prep work.


1 The Top 10 Trends For Proposals And Wedding Jewelry Revealed By The Knot 2015 Jewelry & Engagement Study

2 5 Things You Can’t Forget to Say When You Propose

*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.

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