Lets face it. All wedding planning starts with one thing. A proposal. In our society today it is possible that the roles can be reversed, and a woman can propose to man instead of the traditional manner. It can be hard to choose the right time to pop the question. For those grooms to be who are choosing the traditional route and want to ask their girlfriend or partner for their hand in marriage, I will be exploring some important factors to consider before popping the question, and then creative, unique and yet romantic marriage proposal ideas to woo your future bride (or groom)-to-be.
Are You Prepared? Take a Moment and Think
There is a lot more that goes into preparing a marriage proposal for your partner than just having a ring and asking “Will you marry me?”. These next steps and topics assume that the relationship is headed in the direction of marriage, and that a proposal will be reciprocated.
What you will definitely need to stop and consider before proposing however are several important factors:
- Have you found which ring you want to propose with? And, do you have a matching wedding band for the ceremony.
- How long do you want to be engaged for?
- Are you ready to start planning for a wedding and what will your wedding budget be?
- Do you need to ask their parents or family for permission?
- What kind of setting would your partner love for the proposal to take place in?
- Who do you want to be at the proposal (i.e. family, friends, in public, or privately)
Once It Starts the Clock Is On
It is very typical for a couple to be engaged for approximately 1-2 years before marrying in the United States. In fact according to an article at The Knot the average couple remains engaged for about 14 months. It’s going to depend upon many factors such as how long you will need to have to be able to plan your wedding, finance the wedding, and prepare family and friends (guests) so that they may attend the wedding. If you want a small guest count, low-cost, and local wedding, than you may be planning an engagement as short as a few months.
Some things to think about that will require time and possibly prolong the engagement are going to be finding your contractors (Catering, DJ/Entertanment, Officiant, Bartender, Florist, Baker). Another big time sink can be the bride’s wedding dress. Specialty boutiques and even larger known bridal salons will need time to get the wedding dress made once it’s selected. Not to mention, the bride finding that “perfect” wedding dress may take weeks if not months to do. It is not uncommon for bridal salons or boutiques to require 6 weeks or even 3 months or more to tailor the wedding dress to specifications. Then there may be additional time needed for extra alterations once it is fitted. Rushing a salon to create a wedding dress in say, 2-3 weeks can often cost 2-3 times the standard price!
Make sure that when you do propose that you are ready to begin the wedding planning process or at least prepare to have a conversation with your partner about what your timelines, needs, and budgets are.
That Special Day – What Really Matters In A Marriage Proposal
All too often we are swept up in the media driven, fantastic or fairytale movie laden concept of proposing to our partner. We see from movies and media that to propose, we must first buy out an entire sports stadium, flash “WILL YOU MARRY ME” on the Jumbo-Tron and then spell their name out in fireworks for thousands to see.
But is this even what your partner would want?? Likely not. So ask yourself, ‘What would mean the most to my partner’. Don’t be afraid to make a list, ask your mutual friends, or their family for feedback.
This would even be a great time to seek permission, consent, or notify family and friends that you seek approval from! Though this isn’t a necessary part of a proposal, it can add to the meaning of a proposal for your partner if their family has not only approved, but has contributed to the idea. It shows how much thought you have put into the proposal when you spend the time, mental energy and effort to seek out guidance from those your partner feels closest to.
What you will likely find is that it doesn’t have to be some huge and extravagent wedding proposal to really impress your partner. Nor does it have to be the largest diamond ring. Let’s face it, if your partner cares more about the ring and the publicity or dollar amount of your engagement versus the fact it’s meaningful, creative and romantic, then you probably aren’t interested in this article in the first place.
Ask yourself, what would be meaningful to you? Then ask, would this mean something special to my partner? If the answer is yes to both of those questions, then you are on the right track!
These Proposals Are ADORABLE – Fair Warning
So now you either know you want a public or private proposal. You will hopefully know what is meaningful in your partner’s eyes. As a young man, I spent a LOT of time thinking about how I would one day propose to my wife. Not all grooms are like that, but one thing that binds us all together is the fact that we want a way to show our partner, the one we are ready to marry, just how special they are to us.
Depending on your idea for your proposal, there is an easy step that is often overlooked or never even thought about. Let’s call it “pre-gaming”. Here you are ready to propose to your future wife and have likely spent hours researching, planning and spending to make it so. One way to make sure that your proposal has the best chance to woo your partner is to make sure that she is already in a great mood! Send your partner to a spa day the day of, or even the day prior. Treat her to a facial, massage or manicure/pedicure. This may not be an option that all can afford, but a typical salon will sell intensive manicure/pedicure package starting at around $50.
Lets think about some of the factors we all want in our propposal. Proposing to someone you love and asking them to spend thier life with you is an intense experience. This will likely be somewhat of a surprise (even if you have discussed it beforehand), but don’t bank just on that. Find a way to make it especially surprising. If your partner values her family above all else, get her family to invite you both to dinner where you can then surprise your partner when they aren’t expecting it.
Everyone has seen the movies where “Will You Marry Me” is written in the sky, on a billboard, JumboTron, or some other public facet. This can be a great choice, but can often be expensive and may not be possible for you. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get the message across in a surprising and outstanding manner. Think about getting your question inscribed somewhere public. Often museums, parks, zoos, etc. allow for purchasing of plaques, boards, benches, etc. This makes a great option that is usually very affordable ($50-$150 on average) and can again allow for you to either take a romantic walk, date, etc or even a special family occassion to surprise your partner with.
Here are some great ideas and ways to surpirse your parter with a proposal that won’t cost you an arm and a leg and will allow you to put that money towards your future wedding:
- Buy a public spot to have your proposal written (boardwalk planks, plaques, murals)
- Surprise her with her closest family and friends at the end of a special outing.
- Write your porposal on paper, place it in a bottle with a cork, and “find” it at the beach together
- Have a scavenger hunt with the proposal written as the last clue found
- Have a custom Jigsaw Puzzle made (as little as $30)
- Use sidewalk chalk (and possible get permission) and write your proposal somewhere meaningful
- Take her on a romantic date to your first date location and propose there
Be Prepared, Be Genuine, and Be Ready
The proposal is an incredibly important starting point to what can be a amazing yet often strenuous journey into marriage. This is due to the hype, costs, and overcomplcations we have fallen prey to surrounding weddings. It doesn’t have to be that way, and the proposal being sweet, genuine, and authentic can start you off on your wedding planning journey on the right foot.
Don’t be afraid to dedicate time and effort into planning the proposal. In fact, you should be putting a lot of effort into it because it will show in spades. Finding a proposal scenario that your partner will appreciate, that means something to them, and that includes any of their favorite family, friends, or items can be key.
Get creative, don’t get costly. It doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars to impress. Think about what would make you happy, a thousand dollar piece of junk, or a $50 meaningful experience or momento? Chances are, we all would choose something that was meaningful and romantic versus something costly, easy, or uncreative.
Pamper your partner first. Get them in the right frame of mind. We all have to deal with stressors through work, finances, and normal every day chaos. Set yourself up for success by getting your parnter in the best of possible moods by sending them for a spa day first.
Remember, the more of a surprise the better! (Disclaimer: Don’t put the ring in the mouth of a Great White Shark or something). Placing the proposal, ring, or both in a place that your partner is never expecting can be a powerful way to increase the meaning of the event, as it shows them how much thought you had to put into it.
I’d love to hear your experiences in regards to proposals, and I hope that this article provides helpful ideas to those looking to propose!