Top 10 Ways to Propose to a Girlfriend

Marriage proposals have been around for thousands of years now, and while they used to often be arranged by the parents, generally at a young age, in most Western countries that is no longer the case. This of course means we are now left to come up with the best way to propose to our partner – and getting that proposal right can be a big factor in getting a yes. If you are preparing to propose sometime soon but have no idea what to do, read on for some ideas. (Note, while these are in a numerically declining order for readability, these are not listed in any actual sequence. No proposal is right for everyone, and as such these are all equal in their own way).

# 10 – The Classic

For the traditional-minded couple out there, an easy bet is to do the classic fancy dinner date. Take your partner somewhere expensive and classy. A restaurant where you both have to dress up for is a good idea, and sending them out on a pampering session beforehand (to a hair salon, or spa, or to pick out something new and chic to wear) is a good idea. This could be the day of, or the day before. Talking to the restaurant beforehand will allow you to potentially hire a/the band (some restaurants have in-house bands, though not all do) to come play at your table. Have the ring put in a glass of wine and then brought out, and when you toast at the end of the song, your partner will see the ring in the glass and you can propose, either by going down on one knee or simply by staying seated.

# 9 – Outdoors

If your partner is the outdoorsy type, you have literally hundreds of possible options, but we’ll try to keep this on the shorter side for brevity. If they like enjoy hiking or backpacking, you could take them on a small trip or vacation to either a place you both love, or somewhere new – and both of these options have their own symbolic meanings, in slightly different, though still similar, ways. A classic outdoor proposal could be at a waterfall, somewhere where the two of you are mostly alone. Another idea is at the end of a trailhead on an overlook, or the summit of a mountain (bonus points if it is under the stars and by firelight). Suggestions within the US include Silver Falls in Rainier National Park, Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon, Waimoku Falls in Haleakala National Park, and Cascade Mountain in Adirondak Park. If you are inclined to leave the country, or for those who do not live here, there are even more places around the world that could act as a perfect proposal spot – but truly, it’s too many to count.

#8 – Beach or Niagara Falls

For the partner that loves water or the beach, you have a few options. Niagara Falls is an excellent choice that has a number of places you can propose. From lookout points to the ferries that go right up to the falls, you’ll find water literally everywhere. However, the beach is also a fantastic option, and allows for a bit more creativity. You could write a message in the sand beforehand (making sure it is in an area where it will not get washed away before you get to it) and then “stumble” across it, and when they finish reading it, be kneeling at the end with a ring. Or go the message-in-a-bottle route, and plant it ahead of time for them to find. Another option is to build a bonfire and propose at night by the light of it. That said, if you want to do a moonlit-stroll-on-the-beach proposal, make sure it is a full moon with no clouds, because the beach at night is extremely dark and dangerous. Also, no matter time of day, check your tides – you don’t want it to come in and sweep your ring away.


# 7 – Flash Mob

An idea that has been cropping up all over the place (a quick Google search brings literally hundreds of videos up), the flash mob proposal is a fun idea if both you and your partner are comfortable with that kind of attention. You will want to decide on a place, song, and who will be in it. If you want to hire dancers, you can likely do this wherever they are willing to travel (or hire people in the area if it is far away). If you want to have friends and family as the dancers, more likely than not staying close to home, in an area everyone can easily reach, would be best. This does require planning farther in advance than some of the other options, because you will need to have a dance choreographed and practised for everyone involved – including yourself. You will want to jump in near the end, so they know that this is for them, and end on your knee or by stepping over to them and then proposing.

# 6 – Movie Trailer Proposal

Some people are really into films, or like the idea of being in their own movie. If that is the case with your partner, create a “movie” trailer with their friends and family. Then talk to the local cinema about playing it in the previews of a film they are about to see. This can be as in-depth or cheesy as you want, but if you don’t want them to know what is happening right away, try to hide the fact that you, their friends, and family are a part of it at the beginning, and make it obvious a minute or two in. Possibilities for this include scenes of asking their parents if they acquiesce, scenes of where you met, places special to the two of you, and scenes of family and friends reacting to you asking. End with you coming into the room, and you’ve got yourself a proposal.

#5 – Favourite Book

For the book lover, you can try to have their favourite author autograph a book they love. Have them also write in “Will you marry me, ___”, and you have a cute way of proposing. (Note – this only works if the author is still alive. If your partner’s favourite author is William Shakespeare, you will have a hard time getting him to sign anything. Maybe just take them to a performance of one of his plays.) If you are okay with – and know your partner will be okay with – cutting into a book, you could even have the ring in it. In fact, using the book to propose in a setting from the book could also be fun – but fair warning, it could also be expensive.

#4 – Family and Friends Show Up

This is a great idea if your partner is family and friend-oriented. You could take them on a walk, a picnic, to brunch, even on a drive, and have their family and friends show up as a surprise. There are a few options here. Members of their family and friends could be holding up signs that do the asking for you. Or you could simply have them all appear, and when the excitement of so many people “mysteriously” appearing dies down, pop the question. Keep in mind though, that if the answer is “no”, it will be in front of EVERYONE.

#3 – Geeky Destination

Loads of people these days are into the geekier things. If your partner is into Harry Potter, take them to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (you could probably get the workers to aid you – Julybe pull off an “Accio, ring!” thing going on). For the Disney fan, a trip to either Disneyland or World would be a great setting. Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure have quite a few places that would appeal to many a geek. Or take your partner to a convention where some of their favourite actors/writers/artists/etc. will be, and propose while meeting them!

# 2 – Relationship Story

If you are a craftsy type, you could recreate the story of you relationship so far, ending with the proposal. A photo album, filled with pictures of the two of you at places you’ve been, events you attended together, and silly or intimate moments between the two of you could lead to a “To be Continued…” type of page. Or, if you’re more inclined to writing, you could do a short story of your life together so far. Another option is a location filled with hanging photos of the two of you (from a tree, the ceiling, an arbor). You could also create a short video, which would also allow you to have videos along with pictures and text.

# 1 – Scavenger Hunt

Another idea that has become quite popular recently is the scavenger hunt. Send your partner out with a friend or family member to find clues that will lead them to you. Locations can include your first date spot, places you love to go together, or that have some kind of meaning to you both. You could also pamper them along the way – have pre-made or bought items waiting for them at various locations, for them to put on (if you got them something nice to wear for the proposal) or food to munch on as they are running around the city. Unless you have a lot of money to drop, staying in or around one particular city would probably be best, otherwise it could get expensive.

Any of these would be wonderful ways to propose. However, this is not a one-size-fits-all list. The best proposal is one that is heartfelt from you, and considerate of their interests and desires. If none of these ideas fit you or your partner, that is okay. Start to notice what they love, what they get passionate about. Talk to their friends and family for ideas and help. While elaborate proposals are great for some people, others would prefer something small and intimate. And for some people, a simple “Hey, you wanna go get married?” is exactly what they are looking for.


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Jennifer Schaible
A University graduate with a degree in English Literature, Jennifer lives in Washington and enjoys writing about space, various geeky subjects, and occasional other stuff. In her off time she can generally be found with a book, and loves traveling the world.

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