Getting engaged can be as simple or elaborate as you want it to be. There's no wrong way to ask those four little words, but there are right ways to go about it to ensure that it goes smoothly and is memorable. Follow these proposal pointers to make your day extra special without extra stress.
The first step in your planning is to ask yourself: What places are special or noteworthy in your relationship? What is romantic to you as a couple? This is how you show your partner that you know them inside and out. Then, consider specifics.
The ideal amount of privacy involved in a proposal depends on the couple. Getting down on one knee in Time's Square is a lot different than doing so after a romantic dinner at home. In fact, one man recently proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. It was broadcast on the scoreboard, and sadly, she declined.
In one article on the Martha Stewart Weddings website, Sarah Pease, a professional proposal planner at Brilliant Event Planning, shares dos and don'ts for proposals. If you are unsure about your beloved's preference, she says it's time to start inquiring: "Scour YouTube for proposal examples, act like you have just come across them on your social feed, and see how your sweetheart responds to different scenarios. Or ask friends and family whose secrecy you can trust for their advice. When in doubt, always play it safe. He or she obviously adores being alone with you, so you cannot go wrong with a one-on-one environment sans an audience."
*Cover All the Bases
Take precautions to make sure your plans don't get derailed.
An elaborate outdoor proposal at a public place, such as Chicago's Millennium Park, may require a permit. Pease recommends finding a location that you can rent versus doing a "guerrilla pop-up plan that can easily be foiled."
A cover story is essential to a successful marriage proposal, Pease says. Think of commitments your partner can't say no to, like a mandatory cocktail party for your work. If it makes sense, involve a close friend or family member -- who you trust to keep their lips sealed -- to help execute the plan.
Erin Bhoorasingh, photographer and owner of Grand Lens Photography, recommends creating a backup plan in case things change that are out of your control, such as bad weather. "Also, know what to do in case of terrible traffic or if one of you arrive on location later or earlier than expected," she says.
Preserve your proposal moment by hiring a professional photographer. One article on the Bridal Guide website notes, "Expert photographers know how to capture the light, make your setting look even more magical, and position themselves perfectly to get a priceless shot of the look on her face when she realizes what's happening." And as a bonus, you can gift a framed engagement photo to your partner on your wedding day.
*Get in Your Partner's World
The proposal should be as relaxing and joyful as possible for both of you. Consider what's going on in your partner's world and what their schedule is like on the day you plan to pop the question. Pease notes: "She might be on an endorphin high if she's coming straight from her evening run or weekly spin class, but what she probably wants in that moment is a shower, not the spotlight. Likewise, if he's been putting in long hours at the office and comes home every night completely pooped, you might want to wait until the weekend when you're both relaxed."
*Speak From the Heart
Of all the details to plan concerning your proposal, don't overthink your words. Tell your beloved what you love about them and when you knew they were the one. Talk about what you want to share in your future together.
Be genuine and authentic. Don't read a speech word for word; let it flow. And remember to speak slowly, stay engaged in the moment and breathe.
With thoughtful planning and consideration, your proposal will be an unforgettable first step toward wedding bliss.
Kristen Castillo is a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. An editor and writer for wedding magazines, she's written hundreds of wedding articles, as well as an e-book, "Weddings on a Dime."