With the rise of social media and reality television shows, marriage proposals have gone from intimate to intimidating. What once was a meaningful moment shared between two people has morphed into a public display of affection meant to elicit applause. Don’t let the times confuse you, though. If you’ve finally realized that the one you’re with is actually the one you want, rise above the crowd and create a proposal that is specifically tailored for you two, not You Tube.

Strip away all the jumbotrons and skydiving surprises, and what do you have? Two people and a question (and hopefully a quick and affirmative answer). The rest is just stress and noise. So, what do you need to keep in mind to avoid losing your mind when planning to pop the question? Fear not! We’ve gathered a few tips to help you craft the perfect proposal.

Know Your Audience

This is the most important and (should be) the easiest bit of advice to follow. You know what your love loves, so start with that. Does your partner like to travel? Select a scenic drive and save the ring for the end of an unforgettable road trip. Or maybe you are nature-loving kind of couple? Set the scene in the great outdoors on a mountain hike or by a late-night bonfire. If you get stuck, use your relationship to guide the way. Think about where you met, your first date, your favorite place and bring in elements from one or all of these relationship milestones for the proposal.

Be Prepared

The old adage “practice makes perfect” couldn’t be more applicable, so if you want this proposal to be perfect, you will most definitely want to practice. No need to run reps bending down on one knee, but you should take some time to rehearse the monologue. Short and sweet or winding and verbose, the speech is the centerpiece of the proposal so don’t leave it for the last second. This is a big moment for both of you, and flubbing the actual question would be a bummer you’re not soon to forget.

Marriage or Mortgage

Expense Isn’t Everything

To be honest, when it comes to proposals, it shouldn’t mean anything. Simple and affordable can be beautiful, too, sometimes much more beautiful than a crowded high-dollar restaurant or a stadium full of strangers. Picturesque picnics, handwritten love letters, sunrises, candlelit homecooked dinners, walks on the beach or through city parks – all these things are not only romantic, but completely affordable (if not free).

A proposal signals the coming of a wedding, and a wedding signals the coming of a whole lot of expense. Then, after the dust has settled on the ceremony, it’s usually time to move on to an even bigger financial commitment – your first mortgage together. Blowing your budget on the ask does little to set you up for those life goals you’re hoping to tackle as a team.

Put a Ring on It

Next to the question itself, the ring is the other non-negotiable, so do your homework. Inquire into his or her preferences when it comes to style, cut and size without being too overt. You might even bring in the best friend or future mother-in-law to help you decide. You’re going to need to get on their good side anyways, and this is a great way to start.

Shopping for the ring can be a long and confusing process, so it is best to give yourself ample time prior to the planned proposal. You will want at least a month (if not two) to collect quality intel, peruse the options, run price comparisons and make a purchase. Then, secure a stellar hiding place to store the goods until the big day. The best way to ruin a proposal is to have your lover find the ring in your bathroom cabinet or junk drawer before go-time.

When planning a proposal, you have to stick to what matters – each other – so instead of worrying about how many likes you’re going to get on Instagram, scale down. Think simpler. Think, “Is my soon-to-be fiancé going to like it?” because at the end of proposal day, their vote is the only one that really counts.


Ashley Wirgau

Ashley Wirgau