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53 Proposal Ideas & Ways to Propose to Your Girl in a Way She’ll Never Forget

If you’re looking for advice on how to propose, you need to plan carefully. A few proposal ideas will help, but timing is important too. 

how to propose - best proposal ideas

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. 

One thing to remember is that 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 is to 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]

The history of wedding proposals

Marriage has been around for many, many years. So it’s safe to assume wedding proposals have been around for just as long.

Way back when, proposals were actually put to a woman’s father in order to ask his permission to marry his daughter. This often came with a gift of some sort, something that proved his worth.

But as time went on, the women had more say in who they got to marry. And so, instead of presenting her father with a hog or cow, a man would give her a ring. This was to show her how important she was and to show everyone else that she was now his. [Read: 25 signs she’s the one you should marry]

Why a proposal is important to a girl

Unfortunately, the expectations are high for you to give her the “perfect proposal.” We know, it’s not fair.

Why does the guy have to do anything more than utter the four simple words, “Will you marry me?” After all, it’s straight to the point and accomplishes your goal. But that’s not what she wants. And here’s why.

1. It’s like a fairytale

We all grow up with Disney movies, fairy tales, and chick flicks that teach us that we want to be Cinderella and find our Prince. These romantic storylines are ingrained into our consciousness, so we want to be a part of that by having a super romantic proposal. [Read: The best and worst ways to propose to your girlfriend]

2. Bragging rights

When someone asks a woman, “How did he propose?” she doesn’t want to say, “Well, he spontaneously blurted it out while we were having sex.” She wants to brag to her friends about how awesome her proposal was!

Whether you like it or not, it’s true.

3. It’s a good story

Your girl wants to tell your grandchildren her proposal story. And pretty much everyone she meets. She wants to be the envy of everyone because she had such an amazing proposal that met all of her expectations.

4. It’s a measure of your love for her

Okay, we know it’s not fair. But in a girl’s mind, she measures your love for her by how you propose to her. You don’t want her thinking, “If only he loved me more, he would have done something more special.” [Read: Men women want to date vs. men women want to marry]

5. She’s probably been dreaming of it her whole life

It’s that one moment all girls dream of. Her Prince has finally decided to spend the rest of his life with her, and she can’t believe it has arrived! It’s a momentous occasion for girls.

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 it feels right! We don’t think you should plan it.

Wait for a moment that feels right to you. However, maybe your girlfriend would prefer a romantic setting she can keep in her mind forever. You know your girlfriend better than us! [Read: Key questions to ask before marriage to know if they’re the one]

However, we can give you some general tips on how to propose to your girlfriend in a way she’ll love and cherish. You can use that advice and the knowledge of your girlfriend’s preferences, to create the ideal proposal. 

Do you need accessories when you propose?

You definitely do need to accessorize. It’s great that you want to go down on one knee, but what more can you do? Get a lot of props, several bouquets of roses, sparkling wine, firecrackers, candles, heart-shaped balloons, crepe papers, glow-in-the-dark flowers and stars, and more.

It’s a special day, so bring on the Grand Brigade. Every small thing matters, sometimes it matters more than the ring itself, so don’t ever skip the finer points.

Is it best to propose in public or in private?

A pretty important one, this. How’s your girlfriend when it comes to PDA and public canoodling? It’s never good to get your girlfriend feeling squirmy and sweaty in the middle of your proposal.

If your girlfriend’s a private person, then plan up a day that both of you can spend by yourselves, and make sure it’s just the both of you when you propose marriage.

On the other hand, if your girlfriend loves the attention and the glam of celebrations, plan an event that would end with a karaoke club or one where you’d have all your friends around to share the love. [Read: 20 crucial things you need to do before you get married]

Do you have to go down on a knee?

Not necessarily. Maybe you’ve got dodgy knees, in which case we 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? We don’t think your girlfriend is really going to notice the specifics of which knee hit the ground! [Read: 15 effortless, small gestures girls always notice and appreciate]

How much money should you spend when you propose marriage?

Here’s the big cruncher, isn’t it? Money. So how much can you spend? The best way to deal with this is by planning it out.

If you know you’re going to spend the rest of your life with this one special woman, why bother rushing things?

Take it slow, check your financial resources, take your time to buy your girlfriend the perfect ring, and plan the day with a few trusted friends. But don’t ever go the cheapskate route if you want to look extravagant.

Things might be back to normal by the next morning, but that one special day when you propose marriage to a woman will be with you and her for the rest of your lives. [Read: The honest truth – can money buy happiness in love]

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 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]

1. A memorable location

It’s okay if you decide to propose in the kitchen, but make sure that the mood allows it. No matter where you do it, the fact that you’re making a proposal can make any location memorable.

2. Awesome music

A little ambient music will do wonders for your proposal. If you really want to make an impact, play a song that means a lot to both of you.

3. In front of your family and friends

It’s important that you share this experience with the people you love. The proposal itself can be done intimately and privately, but it’ll be much more memorable if your loved ones are waiting to share the good news with you.

4. When you’ve got all your ducks in a row

Don’t propose on a whim without considering what happens after. If you’re not financially ready for a wedding, at least have a plan. [Read: Sharing expenses in a relationship – the golden must-follow rules]

5. With a ring or whatever works for you both

No matter what anybody says, a ring is very important. The price of the ring, however, should not be a point of contention.

Even if it’s just a cereal box toy, you still have to give your partner a symbolic token of your proposal. [Confession: He popped the question with a horrendous ring!]

6. When you’re both ready

Marriage is a big deal. You need to really think about what will happen once you and your partner get married. Apart from that, you need to accept that there is a possibility that your partner might not be ready as well. [Read: Questions you need to ask yourself before you get married]

Creative proposal ideas to inspire her to say ‘yes!’

Now that we have you all worried and you’re probably thinking of running for the hills, calm down. We have some unique tips for how to propose to a girl. Look them over and do what feels right to you.

1. Create a scavenger hunt

You’ve been to an Easter egg hunt, right? Well, create something like that with little clues to find the prize *the ring* at the end.

2. Make a movie of your photos and videos

We’re sure there are tons of photos and videos of the two of you on social media and/or your phones. Put them into a video with music with “Will You Marry Me?” at the very end.

3. Propose at the beach

This is a good option if you live near a beach or are going to be on vacation. Write “Will You Marry Me?” in the sand before you go for a walk. Better yet, include her name so she knows the message is for her. [Read: 20 ideas to pull off the most memorable proposal ever]

4. Take her on vacation

Even if you don’t go on vacation to a beach, anywhere can be romantic. Proposing on vacation is something out of the ordinary.

5. Do it during a sporting event

You’ve probably seen it a bunch of times on TV and YouTube. Arrange ahead of time to put “Will you marry me, Sara?” on the board at halftime. The crowd will love it… especially her!

6. Flash mob

Okay, this one is super ambitious. But even if you grab a group of your friends and/or family members, it’s a very cool and memorable way to propose. [Read: 15 romantic ways to propose – make it a day she’ll never forget]

7. Ring in the champagne

This one is pretty typical. Take her out for a fancy dinner, and then when she isn’t looking, slip the ring in the champagne. Just don’t forget to get down on your knee.

8. Hide the ring in multiple boxes

Maybe it’s her birthday, or you just got back from a business trip. Get her a present, but put the ring in a series of a lot of bigger boxes so she has to dig through them all to get to it.

9. Surprise her on a business trip

Maybe she’s in New Orleans for business, well, fly there and show up at her hotel room with flowers, champagne, and the ring. She’ll be very surprised! [Read: Marriage advice – tips for happily ever after]

10. Video proposal

You could do a video yourself talking about her, how much you love her, how you met, and then at the end ask her to marry you.

11. Singing proposal

Cheesy? Yes. Outdated? Perhaps. But it sure is memorable. We mean, do you know anyone who has gotten a singing telegram proposal?

Exactly! She’ll be the only one, which makes it great.

12. Carve it in a tree

This is a great tip for how to propose to a girl if you are into nature or like hiking. Carve the proposal into a tree so when you walk by she’ll see it. [Read: How to be more romantic]

13. Sidewalk chalk

This idea is easy and simple, similar to writing the proposal on the sand on a beach. You can write it somewhere in your neighborhood. Again, make sure to include her name so she knows the proposal is for her. [Read: The complete step-by-step guide to the perfect proposal]

14. Helicopter ride

This might be a pricey option, but it’s a fun one. Just make sure she’s not afraid of heights or flying. You can even spell out “Will You Marry Me?” on the ground if you can pull that off.

15. Billboard

Another expensive option, but hey, if money isn’t an issue for you, then why not? Put photos of the two of you on the billboard and a romantic message for her.

16. Where you had your first date

This is a really cute idea for how to propose to a girl. It shows that your first date was special and that you remember all the details. [Read: How to elope and have your perfect fairytale wedding]

17. Concerto proposal

Hire a band. Use an orchestra. Sing your proposal. Serenading a proposal is always a winning move.

18. Offshore

Renting a yacht for an hour is pretty cheap these days. Sail out into the open blue, get down on one knee, and try not to drop the ring in the ocean!

19. Exotic locales

Vacations can be more than just a relaxing escape. You can also use the exotic destination as a backdrop for your proposal.

20. Bed of roses

Flowers. Flowers everywhere. If you can afford it, fill a room with flowers, and surprise your future fiancée. [Read: 60 most romantic movies in the world that are a must watch in 2022]

21. Stargazers

Under the stars *sigh* or the moon. There’s nothing more romantic than a proposal under the cosmos.

22. Sunset daze

Instagram proves that sunsets will never get old. Find a spot with a great view of the sunset, and wait for the perfect moment.

23. Zoofari

It’s so random that it just might work. Take a trip to the local zoo, or go on a mini safari. What’s more romantic than proposing in front of all those cute animals, right?

24. Under the sea

A nod is all you need anyway, so why not propose while you’re scuba diving? You can even tie the ring to a really sturdy coral so that your partner can find it while you swim. [Read: Couples bucket list – 32 must-do things to create experiences together]

25. You jump, I jump

Bungee jumping proposals are becoming more and more popular these days. Just make sure that all your equipment is checked and properly maintained.

26. On a race track

Invite your partner to ride shotgun while you test drive an awesome car on the race track. Pop the question as you cross the finish line.

27. On a special holiday

Christmas eve, New Year’s, Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s Day – you have thousands of holidays to choose from. Pick one and milk it for all it’s worth.

28. While at work

Get her coworkers in on the act. Make her think she’s the last person to leave the office, but as soon as she steps out, there you are with a ring in hand and her coworkers cheering in the background. [Read: The best and worst ways to propose to your girlfriend]

29. While on a mountain hike

When you reach the peak, take the ring out, and make it official. Imagine your partner’s surprise when she catches her breath and loses it again when she sees the ring.

30. Home cooking

You could propose over dinner in a fancy restaurant, but that costs a pretty penny, so why not do it at home instead? Get your friends involved and create a beautiful, romantic environment with candles and all the trimmings, and have them wait on you both hand and foot.

31. While playing a trivia game

Set the scene for a romantic evening with a bottle of wine, some soft music, and your favorite trivia board game. The only difference this time is that you’re going to plant a card in one of the question card decks bearing the legend “Will you marry me?”

She’s bound to say yes to such a romantic proposal whilst your wallet stays firmly intact. [Read: The complete DIY guide to a really unique and personal proposal]

32. Chinese banquet

Of course, any restaurant proposal is nice but, to give it a unique twist, make a couple of fortune cookies in advance, one with the “Will you marry me?” message within it.

You can even get the staff in on the act, and have one of the waiters bring the cookies to the table at a pre-arranged point during the evening. [Read: Unique and romantic proposal ideas to try]

33. Photoshoot

Plan out a photoshoot for the two of you. Then while posing for some photos, step back and propose. This way it will all be caught on camera, and you’ll have lasting memories of the day and their reaction.

34. During a hike

If you and your partner love to hike or camp, make a day of it with one of these best proposal ideas. Go on a hike and propose at the top of the mountain. Or head to a campsite where you have a tent with twinkly lights, champagne, and music set up.

35. Early bird

Keeping it intimate is our favorite idea. Slip the ring on her finger while she’s sleeping and ask her as soon as she wakes up. Having a hot cup of coffee in your hand won’t hurt. 

36. Pamper day

Send her off on a pamper day. Get her a gift certificate for a massage, manicure, and the works. At the end of the day, prepare a romantic dinner at home where you’ll pop the question. 

37. Say it with chocolate

If your partner has a sweet tooth, give her a tray of chocolates with the ring hidden inside or around a chocolate finger. You can also write, “will you marry me?” with chocolate sauce on the plate you put dessert on. [Read: Healthy relationship expectations that define a good love life]

38. Fun and sexy

This won’t be for everyone, but it is pretty clever and unexpected. Have a T-shirt made that says, “Will you marry me?” Put the T-shirt on under a button-down shirt.

Next time you’re getting into it as she unbuttons your shirt, she will see the question. [Read: 15 things to know before you even consider getting engaged]

39. With lighting

Sure, some people have skywriters or fireworks, but something a little more down-to-earth and festive might be for you. Write out your proposal in Christmas lights on the front lawn or the roof of the house for her to see as she comes home from work.

40. A thoughtful homemade gift

Not all gifts have to be really lavish and costly. You can make a gift instead if you’re the creative type. Paint her something. Write and play her a song on guitar. You can even build her something cute that she’ll love.

While she’s enjoying it, get down on one knee and express how much you wish to always make her gifts forever. [Read: 25 really romantic ideas to make your lover melt]

41. Relive your first few dates

You can just do the first date or you can do a few of them. You can spend an entire day taking her to the first three places you ever had dates. Then at the last place, tell her those were the most important days of your life, and this will be too.

She will be surprised and she’ll love it. [Read: 25 sweetest romantic gestures for everyday life]

How not to propose to your girlfriend

Learning how to propose to your girlfriend is also about knowing what not to do. To help you avoid messing it up, these are some uninspiring proposal ideas to avoid.

1. At a restaurant

This seems to be a fallback idea for men. Sweet as it is, it’s also boring and has many avenues from which it can go wrong. Is she a crier? A busy restaurant may not be the place you want to propose to a wailing girlfriend.

Crying kids in the background? Not exactly romantic. No reservation? Waiting an hour for your table may just leave the two of you cranky and starved – hardly in the mood for memory-making. [Read: How to stop making the same mistakes in a relationship and learn]

2. Inside of food

Inside a champagne flute? Maybe. Food? Definitely not! When you show your girl the ring, she wants to see it – not see it with chocolate cake packed in its crevices, or worse, in an x-ray scan when she accidentally swallows it!

3. With a photographer present

Yes, hired photographers catching every moment of your proposal make for great posts on Pinterest, but it’s completely impersonal to have a third party present while you’re trying to pour your heart out.

Plus, what if she says no? Having a flip-book of your crushed heart probably isn’t the long-lasting memory you were hoping for. [Read: Top worst mistakes couples make in a relationship]

4. At a wedding

Not only is this incredibly tacky, but it’s also disrespectful to the couple who just shared their nuptials. Why would you want your anniversary of asking for her hand to be the same as your friend’s wedding date?

No, no, no.

5. On Valentine’s day

Not only does this hit the nail on the head of clichéd proposals, but what if she says no? Now not only will you be depressed if you’re single on V-day, but you’ll forever remember it as the day you got rejected for marriage.

Still not convinced? Then consider this: probably up to a million other couples will have become affianced that exact same day. So much for being unique. [Read: 16 common relationship tips that ruin your love life]

6. Over text message or social media

Thinking about changing your status to “Engaged” and pointing it out to your girlfriend followed by a cheesy proposal? Yikes! Think again. This route is way beyond juvenile.

Don’t be surprised if you get a big fat no.

We know, we know, you’re the man of the future, and moving forward with social media is the way of the new millennium. But when it comes to your proposal? Skip the tech. [Read: Social media and relationships – the good, the bad, and the ugly]

Be empathetic and think from your partner’s perspective

Just think about your partner and what she would like, not what you would like. Also, don’t make it over the top and showy.

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]

Make it a day to remember

The day you propose to your girlfriend will be a day you both remember forever. While you don’t have to go over the top and make a huge showy effort, you should make sure that it’s from the heart and original.

Not all girls appreciate being the center of attention or huge and expensive gestures. You know your girlfriend better than anyone, so whatever you feel she would love – do that.

[Read: 20 questions to ask each other before getting married]

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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