The time is right, you’re sure of it. You want to ask the big question and you’re ready to plan a proposal to end all proposals. The problem? You have no idea how to propose to your girlfriend in a way that’s both special and memorable for the right reasons.
Friends ask me for advice on this very subject and I tell them all the same thing – every girl is different! One girl might not want a huge fuss made at all. Another might want doves and huge romantic gestures. You’re no doubt confused and want to get it right.
The bottom line—just say what’s in your heart and ask the question. The rest doesn’t really matter, does it?
20 unconventional date ideas to take her on before proposing]
How to know when to propose
Of course, you might also be wondering how to know when to propose to your girlfriend. Firstly, when you’re ready. Secondly, if you’re wondering in terms of the actual time of day, again, whenever feels right! I don’t think you should plan it. Wait for a moment that feels right to you. However, that’s my opinion only, maybe your girlfriend would prefer a romantic setting she can keep in her mind forever. You know your girlfriend better than me!
[Read: 12 key questions to ask before marriage to know if they’re the one]
However, I can give you some general tips on how to propose to your girlfriend in a way she’ll love and cherish, so you can use that advice and the knowledge of your girlfriend’s preferences, to create the ideal proposal.
What makes a proposal special?
When first learning how to propose to your girlfriend, you should know what actually makes a proposal special in the first place. How to pop the question isn’t just about the actual words, it’s about the meaning behind them. Don’t just come straight out with “will you marry me.” Instead build up to the moment and say something heartfelt. That’s what makes the moment special.
It’s a declaration of your love. It’s a reason why you felt the need to ask this question. You tell her this to show her that you’re not only serious, but that you’re also extremely sure about it all. There’s nothing more romantic than that. [Read: How to say or write something beautiful like a true romantic]
Do you have to go down on a knee?
Not necessarily. Maybe you’ve got dodgy knees, in which case I don’t recommend it! However, if you want to be traditional and you know your girlfriend would appreciate that, then go for it.
If you want to stick to traditions even more, make sure you go down on your left knee and you hold the ring box in your left hand. But does it really matter? I don’t think your girlfriend is really going to notice the specifics of which knee hit the ground!
Choosing the right words to propose
What makes a proposal special is the words and the meaning behind them. The setting can help, but it’s not 100% necessary if you don’t have the means to head out somewhere stunningly beautiful and expensive. It can be just as special in your living room as on the top of a mountain!
[Read: Leave your lover speechless with these unique proposal ideas]
Do you need a ring at the time of proposing?
It’s nice if you do. Maybe you know that your girlfriend would prefer to pick her own or for you both to choose it together. Buying the ring yourself does show that you planned things, thought it through, and went to the trouble of choosing a ring for her.
This is a personal choice. Go with what you know your girlfriend would prefer. If you have no idea, you could always enlist the help of one of her close friends, as long as you know they’re not going to blab your intentions ahead of time! [Confession: My boyfriend popped the question a horrendous ring!]
How to propose to your girlfriend
While there’s no numbered process you should go through to propose to your one and only, there is a general guideline that you might like to know about. That way, you’ll have more chance of an emphatic ‘yes’ and a very memorable proposal!
#1 Choose a time that makes you feel comfortable. While it’s fine to be spontaneous, and totally encouraged, you shouldn’t pop the question when you’re just not comfortable. She will instantly be able to tell. You want her to remember this moment for all the right reasons.
#2 Think about what you’re going to say. I’m not one for totally prepared speeches, but you should have an idea of what you want to say. Remember, the words you say tell her how you feel and why you want to marry her, so come up with something that is from the heart and not from a book! [Read: How to say “You are the love of my life” without freaking out]
#3 Make sure the timing and setting is right for her. It’s going to be a surprise, but you know her better than anyone. You should understand whether or not she would be comfortable with the timing and setting you’ve chosen.
#4 Buy a ring. It’s not a rule to buy a ring beforehand, but if you’re going to do so, this is obviously a step you should complete before you ask the question. You’re going to face two problems here – sizing and the actual ring itself. Again, you know her, and you’ll know what she likes. If you’re not sure, ask a friend to help you.
As for sizing, can you quickly “borrow” one of her other rings from her drawer and put it back once you’ve been to the jeweler’s? Or somehow weave the subject of ring sizing subtly into the conversation? It’s a difficult one, but other than that, your jeweler should be able to help you out. Most rings can be re-sized if there is a problem afterwards.
#5 Give yourself a moment. Before you actually go for it, take a breath, steady yourself. Remember what you want to say. Taking a moment will calm your nerves.
#6 Go for it! Just ask. Seriously, just ask. If you love her and she loves you, she’s quite likely to say ‘yes’. You have nothing to worry about. This is a beautiful moment in a relationship and the only hurdle you have to get over is your own nerves. Rip off the BandAid and go for it! [Read: 15 romantic ideas to make the proposal a day she’ll never ever forget]
How not to propose to your girlfriend
Learning how to propose to your girlfriend is also about knowing what not to do. I was recently asked how expensive should a proposal be? What a ridiculous question. It can cost absolutely nothing and still be the most special moment ever. Money doesn’t make a proposal special and memorable, the meaning and the sincerity does.
My friend’s fiancé got down on one knee while she was cooking dinner. She was so surprised she dropped the pasta all over the floor and they ended up calling for takeout. She still tells the story like it’s the most romantic thing ever.
You see, it was the element of surprise, the fact that such an ordinary, everyday moment was hijacked by something so special. She still can’t cook pasta without a smile on her face even now!
[Read: The 10 most romantic proposal ideas if you’re on a budget]
I also have a friend who was proposed to by her partner and although she said ‘yes’, because she loved him and wanted to marry him, she still laments the fact that he did it in front of her entire family and group of friends at her sister’s birthday party. Firstly, he took the shine away from her sister’s day, which is something her sister has never let her forget. Secondly, my friend is not someone who loves the limelight. If her partner had thought about it properly and tailored the proposal to her likes, they would never done it in public.
Be empathetic and think from your partner’s perspective
Just think about your partner and what they would like, not what you would like. Also, don’t make it over the top and showy. Don’t do it in front of lots of other people if you know your girlfriend would prefer a more intimate moment, and don’t use a pre-planned speech which just doesn’t come from the heart.
You don’t have to rehearse it, just say what you feel. Your girlfriend is going to see through your efforts if you quote song lyrics or use a speech you’ve found online! Just say what you feel about her, and the moment will be ultra-special. [Read: 25 clear signs she’s wifey material and way more than just dating material]
A word about proposing and social media
Ah, social media. I have such a love-hate relationship with online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. On the one hand, I love them. I connect with those around me and those far away, but these platforms can also be used for total over-sharing and making other people feel bad.
Once you’ve figured out how to propose to your girlfriend, don’t go plastering it all over your social media platforms in a totally over the top way. It’s just cringy and makes everyone else roll their eyes.
[Read: Social media and your relationship – the good, the bad, and the ugly]
Sure, share it, change your relationship status and even exclaim how happy you are, but avoid huge photo collages and long paragraphs declaring your love. It’s just not necessary. Less is more and the best proposal ideas don’t need to be splashed far and wide for the sake of likes and retweets.
Maybe you disagree with me on that one, but isn’t it more important to think about what to say when you propose, rather than how you’re going to show the world the ring? I have no problem reading about my friend getting engaged, and I’ll like it and give them a ‘congratulations’ really sharing in their joy.
Do I want all the finer details along with a showreel of photographs that have been filtered to within an inch of their life? Not so much. Please spare your friends all of this and keep it for yourselves!
[Read: 20 ideas to pull off the most romantic proposal ever]
Learning how to propose to your girlfriend is less about the fancy stuff and more about the words. You can plan it down to the finest detail if you choose, but the only thing you’ll want to remember is the look on her face.
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