For a lot of men, asking a woman to marry them is one of the scariest things they'll ever have to do. They feel pressure to make the proposal perfect and stressed about what their girlfriend's response will be (even if they're fairly certain she'll say "yes.") The good news is that most women won't base their answer on whether or not the proposal is perfect, so you can breathe easy. As long as you put in an effort and try to make her feel special, then your proposal should be fine.
Her answer will be based on how she feels about you and your relationship. It is likely something she has been thinking about a long time. So if you "mess" it up, her answer is unlikely to change.
But here are some tips on how to make the moment special, so it's something the two of you will feel comfortable talking about for a long time afterwards.
Talk To Her About Marriage Ahead Of Time
Don't wait until you are asking her to marry you before discussing marriage with her the first time. If the two of you have never discussed the future with each other, then you're probably not ready to get married yet anyway.
The reason this is important is because an unwanted marriage proposal can destroy a relationship. There might still be things that the two of you haven't worked out or discussed before you're ready to get engaged. She might not feel like it's the right time in her life to get married yet, even if she thinks you're a great guy. That might change once you work out your differences.
You're investing a lot of money into her ring and trying to figure out the rest of your life, you should talk to her about it first. Timing of proposals are important. You also need to make sure that you want the same things in life.
I know it's a big subject, but you should try to bring up the possibility of marrying her casually a few times before you propose. You can ask if she sees the two of you married within the next five years or even just subtly point out a happy, married couple and say you'd like to be like them some day. See what her reaction is.
If it's consistently positive, then go forward with your plans.
It's especially important to know what her feelings are if you're going to do a public proposal of any kind or it might lead to an embarrassing situation if she's not ready.
Talk To Her Ahead Of Time, So This Doesn't Happen To You...
Get Tips From Her Best Friend/Mother
If you do this, though, make sure the person you ask is good at keeping secrets or they might tell your girlfriend that you're thinking about proposing and ruin the surprise.
The reason this is important is because they know what your girlfriend likes. They have probably discussed, at one time or another, in what way your girlfriend would want you to propose to her if you were ever to propose. Even if they haven't discussed this before, they can get the information out of her for you, without tipping your girlfriend off about the truth of their inquiries.
Also, if you're not sure whether or not she'll like a certain ring or certain detail of the proposal, you can ask them for advice. Because they care for your girlfriend so much, they'll be just as excited about the proposal as you are, so they'll be more than likely excited about giving you advice.
This can also be helpful in double checking if your girlfriend is ready to get engaged. Her best friend or mother will likely know exactly how she feels about marrying you and can confirm or caution if this is the right step for you to take right now.
Ask Permission From Her Father
This is old-fashioned, so you might think about skipping it, but if you do, there's a chance that her family might get angry at you for skipping out on it.
If her father isn't around, then asking someone who is a substitute, like her mother or a man who acts like a father figure to her, is acceptable as well. If she has more than one father, like a biological father and a step-dad, you might want to approach them both, depending on how close she is to them.
The reason this is important is that starting a marriage is easier if you have the approval of both of your families.
Sometimes this is impossible and you may know this ahead of time. If her father doesn't like you, I still recommend you going to him and saying,"I am coming to you to tell you that I plan to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage. I am coming to you first out of respect for you. I don't know if I will have your blessing, but it would make things easier if you'd give it to me." Then see what he says. His answer may surprise you and even if he still doesn't approve, he'll likely respect you for coming to him first and talking to him about your intentions man-to-man.
Fathers do not make decisions for their daughters, so you don't have to give up on your proposal, even if her father disapproves. Just understand, it will be much easier on your future wife, if the two of you can agree on at least this much.
Choosing Between A Public And Private Proposal
You should make this decision based on both of your personalities.
Is she an introvert or extrovert? How about you?
If you guys both experience a lot of your life in front of other people, like having big celebrations during your big life milestones (like turning twenty-one or graduating college), then a public proposal makes sense. You do a lot of important things in your life in front of a ton of people, so she'll find it more romantic to be surrounded by those she loves (or even strangers.)
But if she only has one good friend and spends most of her time reading books or watching netflix on the weekend, then she'll be so worried about everyone staring at her, when you propose to her publicly, that she'll be unable to enjoy the moment. It's better, in that case, to either do it in private or in front of a small group of people, like just her parents and siblings or something.
If one of you is an extrovert and one is an introvert, then proposing in private (because that's the most intimate moment) and later having an engagement party would be a good compromise.
A lot of men want to propose publicly because they view it as a "grand gesture." This is true. It takes a lot to gather the right people together and make arrangements for the perfect proposal. But it might not be what she wants. All woman are different.
It's more important that you show that you know her through the way you propose to her, then that you have a grand gesture.
Picking Out The Ring
There's a lot of stress about picking out the perfect ring. This is part of the reason why you need the help of the best friend or mother. They likely know what your girlfriend likes and can help you pick it out.
The most important thing is getting your girlfriend's ring size. Nothing is as disappointing as a ring that doesn't fit. You'll need the help of the mother or girlfriend probably to figure this out.
Then you have to consider the personality of your girlfriend. Is she really into jewelry? Then you'll probably need to get her something expensive and the diamond in a very specific cut. Her best friend or mother will probably know exactly what she wants and be able to help you with it.
But not all girls need something expensive or have something specific picked out in their head. You also might be short on money.
So make it something special in a different way. I'm not too into jewelry and my husband got me an engagement ring that had both of our birthstones on it. He arranged them in a way, so they had a certain meaning to him, which he later explained to me. This meant way more to me than if I'd gotten an expensive ring. It was romantic.
So if you don't have a lot of money and/or she's not that into jewelry, then you might want to pick out something that symbolizes something special about her or her relationship. Like, maybe a sapphire instead of a diamond because she has beautiful, blue eyes. Or the symbol of eternity on the ring because you want to be with her forever. That can make it special.
But even if you don't do this and just get her a simple, diamond ring, she'll probably be happy with this,. Unless, she is the type who really cares about jewelry and who you regularly give jewelry to.
The Little Details
Just like with the ring, the little details can make the proposal important. You should make all the details either about her or the relationship you have with her.
Like, maybe you propose at a certain restaurant because that's where the two of you went on your first date or you propose to her while stargazing because you both love the outdoors. Make the little details and the location about the two of you and what makes your relationship special.
They're not important and they won't ruin your proposal if you don't have them, but having them is a way of showing her that you love her. That you pay attention and remember details of your relationship, that you care.
It also helps set the mood and gets her ready for you to pop the question.
Write Down And Practice Your Speech
Don't try to wing it, no matter what you do. You may think,"I tell my girlfriend every day that I love her, I'll just be spontaneous and say whatever pops into my head."
But when you're in the moment and about to propose, you'll probably be so nervous that your mind will go blank. It might even help to write down your speech and keep it handy just in case you panic too much and forget what you are going to say.
So you not only have to plan what you are going to say in your head, but also practice saying it to a stuffed animal or a pillow a few times, at the very least.
Like I said earlier, I've been proposed to twice. Both men thought they knew what they were going to say ahead of time, even planned it in their head (but did not practice it or write it down) and forgot the entire thing when it came to actually proposing to me. Their minds went blank and all they could think of saying was "Will you marry me?" and nothing else.
This is why I say that even if you "mess up", it's not going to change her answer. I am married to one of those men who "messed up" his proposal and forgot what he was going to say to me. I said,"yes" to him anyway and when he was more relaxed, he told me the romantic things he meant to say to me afterwards because he could finally think straight again.
So you need to practice, practice, practice, so much that you can say the words even when your mind goes blank. It's okay if they don't come out perfect or if you forget some of the things you were going to say, you can always tell her afterwards, like my husband told me.
But knowing them in the moment will make things easier for you.
Don't Kneel Until The End
The second you kneel, especially if you're holding a little box in your hand, she won't hear another word that you're saying. She'll be too busy freaking out in her head and going,"Oh my God! Is he about to propose to me?" So you might be reciting this amazing speech, but she won't hear a word of it.
It's not just men who get nervous during marriage proposals, women do as well. I've been proposed to twice. Both times, I had butterflies in my stomach and felt so nervous, even though I was happy.
So don't kneel or take the tiny box out until right before you are about to propose or she won't be able to think straight or hear anything that you have to say.
Breathe Slowly And Relax
Like I said before, having all these details in place is just to make the proposal that much more special. It's just to show that you love her.
She's not going to change her answer just because you couldn't afford the perfect ring or because you forgot your entire speech. If she loves you, she knew she was going to marry you way ahead of time. All she wants to see is that love in your eyes when you ask her to marry you and to know that you will cherish her.
So breathe slowly, in and out. Relax when you propose and try to enjoy this moment as well because it will be one of the biggest moments of your life.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: What are some romantic words to say while proposing?
Answer: There are lots of things you can say. Make a list of reasons why you want to marry her. Tell her that you love her. Talk about the time you first met or first went on a date and how special it was. Tell her you know that she's your soulmate, if she believes in that. and that's why you want to marry her.
What will make the speech romantic is personalizing it. If it isn't personalized to you, her, and your relationship, she won't be impressed.
Chidiogo on September 01, 2020:
I have not grown well
Ankur Boruah on March 22, 2019:
how can i approach a women for marriage online..because i live in another country..and she is 11 years older than me..
Kenneth Avery from Hamilton, Alabama on May 26, 2018:
EB -- this hub, in my opinion, was more than just a hub. It delivered a good load of expertise in communicating between the potential bride and bride groom; etiquette and how to deliver the best marriage proposal.
I am telling you that this was Great work.
Keep up the fine work.
balls on May 02, 2018:
this no work. girl said no :(
LimeyFeline on January 10, 2018:
This is kind of funny to me, not because your article is bad but because of how much it doesn't apply to me. I understand that my situation isn't representative of a majority, but for me personally to think about my now-husband asking my mother for advice about proposing me is hilarious given our horrendous relationship. Before I was married and even now, the person who knew me the best is my husband. He knows exactly what I like and dislike, because I am very straightforward and I tell him upfront. This actually included....my dislike of marriage proposals! So, because he knew of this, he never actually proposed to me and that made me so happy.
Just a personal anecdote that's not really relevant. Your article is great for people who choose to go down this route!
dashingscorpio from Chicago on August 29, 2016:
"Talk To Her About Marriage Ahead Of Time." This the key!
Unlike Hollywood movies most marriage proposals are not really a "surprise" to the would be bride.
Most couples have already had numerous conversations about having a "forever future together" long before a marriage proposal is given.
By the time a proposal is made it was (expected) on some level.
The guys who get rejected or find themselves in limbo after the woman tells them they have to "think about it" are the ones who never allowed their relationship to deepen to the point of having conversations about building their future together. Essentially the proposal comes "out of the blue".
Oftentimes their uncertainty about how the woman feels about them is what causes them to attempt to come up with some elaborate proposal that will put pressure on her to say "yes" such as proposing in a public venue or at a family/friends gathering. She won't want to look like a coldhearted witch.
If the woman is "in love" with the man she'd be just as happy being served breakfast in bed and getting the marriage proposal at bedside or having the guy propose at some place that is "special" to them.
As far as the ring is concerned these days couples like to shop for the ring (together). That beats trying to guess what type of ring she'd love.
One man's opinion!:)