The Do’s & Don’ts Of The Marriage Proposal Etiquette
You may be a hopeless romantic and think that there is no wrong way to ask your special someone to marry you; and although this is a lovely thought, you might be absolutely wrong to think so. Fear not brave lovebird, for we have prepared a list of the most crucial Do’s & Don’ts of popping the question, so as to make sure the marriage proposal goes off without a hitch.
Getting engaged is a great milestone, it means that you’re about to embark upon the next chapter of your lives together, so before you get down on one knee, make sure you know what you’re doing.
Scroll right to the bottom to make sure you’ve dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, and check out our other articles on planning – not simply a dreamy proposal – but a most precious memory:
DO: Honor your partner before honoring tradition
DON’T: Go with customs that you or your partner don’t feel comfortable with
Before we dive in deeper, let us make clear that although etiquette is important, it may just feel like a set of antiquated rules that just don’t represent you as a couple.
Ultimately, you need to make sure that every step you take along the way of planning a proposal is personalized to you and your partner. Honoring cultural, religious and family traditions may feel like the appropriate thing to do, but only if they are respectful to your better half. Think of it more as a guideline rather than rules set in stone, be considerate of your views and life as a couple; it is time you start your own family traditions.
Friends & Family
DO: Talk to trusted friends & parents
DON’T: Let them make decisions for you or overshare
Revealing your intentions to your trusted friends and members of the family can prove to be the most important step of your planning. Not only can they help you in planning and executing your romantic plans, but they can also give you the insight you may need to pull this off. Your close circle may be aware of hints that your partner has dropped along the way and you might have just missed!: that special place they first realised you were meant to be together, that lovely engagement ring they saw on Pinterest and shared in a chat, that fairy tale they loved growing up…
It’s also always nice to ask the father’s permission, it will be appreciated. Bonus points if you also ask the mother’s permission; it’s an extremely sweet and often neglected gesture that will say a lot about the kind of person you aspire to be within this union. Not to mention that it will instantly secure you a spot on the in-law hall of fame!
Be careful though, make sure that discussing this will not come in conflict with any of your sweetheart’s beliefs or potentially complicated relationships. Think it through before you start sharing, as loose tongues and clumsy slips may ruin the element of surprise. Most importantly, be crystal clear that the final say is yours on the matter.
People may have good intentions but still, accidentally, spoil a crucial intimate moment of your life as a couple.
DO: Make it a complete surprise for your partner
DON’T: Make it a complete surprise for the both of you
Everyone loves a surprise, as long as they lead to a joyful outcome, so take as long as necessary to make sure that you won’t surprise everyone by getting a negative response when the question is out there.
If your partner hasn’t dropped any – strong – hints and the two of you are yet to – more or less openly – discuss marriage, then you probably need to give your courtship some more time and effort before you move ahead.
Confident that you have covered all your bases and it’s gonna be a lock? Then absolutely make it a surprise. After all, that’s part of the game!
Be smart and cunning, don’t just suggest a romantic trip to Paris if it’s completely out of character for you (and especially if it’s only a couple of weeks after having the big talk). Don’t just lie; lie well. That’s the one time in your relationship when you should be sneaking around, scheming, and conspiring.
DO: Have a ring & Take a knee
DON’T: Go full rom-com
The atmosphere should be brimming with romance regardless of the type of proposal you are planning. Roses, candles and moonlight are not mandatory, but if there ever was a time to be “cheesy”, this is it.
Times have changed and we tend to stray away from certain stereotypical gestures, but there are inevitably a few proposal traditions that will forever warm our hearts. When the time comes, you should absolutely make sure to have an actual engagement ring, get on one knee and actually say “Will you marry me?”.
Asking someone to marry you is not just about a question, it’s the entire experience of it; and although it should be romantic, it shouldn’t be slipping into cringe-worthy, copy-paste, straight to DVD rom-com territory.
Stick to an idea, not a strict script. Take inspiration from movies but don’t reenact silly scenes. This moment should be genuine, personal, meaningful, and unique to the two of you. Copying a viral YouTube proposal or a sleazy overused stereotype, for no sentimental reason is inadvisable at best.
DO: Go ahead and be creative
DON’T: Be too creative & overcomplicate things
The key to dodging cliches and planning a creative, unique, and memorable proposal is personalization. The ideal proposal should be tailored to you two. Incorporate your couple’s history, personality, favorite things, significant locations, and shared hobbies.
Pick a personal, meaningful spot and ideally one that is more likely to be there forever; such as an outdoor location which is preferable over a restaurant (that may no longer be there in a few years).
Focus on the ambience, regardless if you decide to go with a private, public, lavish or intimately romantic proposal.
Although you need a game plan for arranging that amazing proposal, you should still try and avoid overcomplicating things unless you actually have professional help. Going into risky territory – like hiding the ring in food, sand, and drinks, or having a masterpiece of a flash mob in the middle of Times Square – may sound like a great idea, but can also end in disaster.
Make sure the ring is safe, the people involved are committed, trustworthy, and good actors, and, if you’re orchestrating something elaborate and flashy in a public place, then make sure you have spoken to the right authorities, gotten all necessary permissions and permits, or even requested assistance from the relevant people in charge.
This should all be planned in advance! Don’t wait until the last minute to ask the Disneyland marketing team or the flight attendant during your trip, to help you pull off a YouTube sensation kind of proposal.
At the end of the day, don’t lose sight of what truly matters: the proposal itself, the two of you, and the rest of your life together. If worse comes to worst and something unexpected happens in the moment, remind yourself that this is just part of real life; roll with it, take a deep breath, laugh it off, and turn it into a funny anecdote when you tell this story in the future.
Bonus: So what’s next?
If you really want to go above and beyond and do the most out of this special day, arrange for what will happen post-proposing and plan the entire day around this wonderful moment.
You’re engaged! Have an after party with friends & family, a private dinner, a getaway trip, or anything that would allow you to celebrate and take it all in.