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What to Say When Proposing: Ultimate Guide to Popping the Question



What to Say When Proposing


“Will you marry me?”


That’s the easy part.


If you’re wondering what to say when proposing, you’re in good company. Abruptly asking the big question isn’t ideal for every couple. We want to justify the question and create a heartfelt moment.

But the pressure – even when we’re sure this is the right step – can leave us tongue-tied. This is not the time to be at a loss for words or to falter when talking about how we feel.

These worries are normal. There’s a lot we can do to ensure this event is as special as you both dreamed. Here’s your complete guide to figuring out what to say when proposing.


1. Do NOT stick to a script – what to say when proposing


It’s good to sit and write down everything you’d like to say. However, you’re not going to memorize and recite it, let alone whip out the sheet of paper and read it to them. We want to be genuine. We want our partners to recognize that this is an authentic expression of how we feel.

If you’re not usually very romantic or emotionally expressive, that’s okay. Just take all of the advice here into account, and remember that you don’t have to pretend to be a different person to get the message across.


2. Have a degree of certainty


Right behind worries of what to say when proposing is, “What if they say no?” We’re not fortune tellers, so you’re going to have to take a chance here. That said, you should definitely have an idea of how your partner feels about the future of your relationship.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Have we discussed marriage before?
  • How did they respond to discussions of marriage?
  • Has anything changed since we last discussed marriage?
  • When we talk about the future or make future plans, do we include one another?

Your answers to these questions don’t have to be completely perfect, but they’ll reveal whether or not now is the right time to propose.


3. Respect their preferences


Let’s say you’re looking forward to a rather grandiose proposal. Would this embarrass your partner? Would they feel compelled to agree to the proposal just because there are people watching? If they are a private or shy person, avoid putting them on the spot.

Determining the setting can be as important as what to say when you propose. For instance, if they’re outdoorsy, proposing on a hike is more memorable and happier than during a romantic dinner.


4. Reflect on your personal growth


Chances are, this relationship has improved your life for the better. If you research what to say when proposing, examples include things like, “You complete me.” Now, that exact phrasing is a cliché, but it gives us the right idea.

Explain to your partner what you’ve gained through being with them. Maybe you became a more compassionate or considerate person. Perhaps you found the ambition to succeed because you wanted to create a better future with them. These are good points to include when you propose.


5. Reflect on your relationship


When you propose, open up with a very brief synopsis of your relationship. Mention how long you’ve been together, or how you felt the first time you met them. A basic example: “When I went to a party at my friend’s house three years ago, I never expected I would meet the love of my life there.”

In the first place, this orients you both. You’ve been on a journey together, a journey which has led to this moment. And if your partner has been anticipating a proposal at some point, their interest in what you say next will be piqued. We want both parties to be fully present and tuned in.


6. Know the deal with the ring


As you know, proposals traditionally come with a ring. This is another area where special considerations are in order.

  • Would my fiancé/e want to pick out their own ring?
  • Should I get a ring in the meantime that could act as a placeholder for the one they want?
  • What style of jewelry does my partner normally wear?
  • If I didn’t propose with a ring, how might they feel about that?
  • Would they appreciate that it seemed so spontaneous that I didn’t have one ready?
  • Have they ever dropped hints about what kind of ring they would like?
  • What is their ring size?

Ultimately, the ring is not the main feature, but it is an important prop. The final dream ring can be sorted later, but you need to be clear on how a ring will factor into your proposal.


7. Allow yourself to be nervous


Hey, proposing is a big deal. If your hands shake or your voice wavers, that’s understandable. It won’t ruin the moment. Let yourself feel a little overwhelmed if that’s how it really is.

Nervousness will never matter if you maintain good eye contact and continue saying what you want. No matter how shaky you become, remain focused on your partner. After all, it will be over in a few minutes, and if all goes according to plan, you’ll be celebrating.


8. Determine how much of a surprise it should be 


It’s simple: some people like surprises, and others don’t. If your partner is anticipating this but would love telling others about their stunning surprise proposal, plan it at least a few weeks after their last mention of getting engaged.

If your partner does not like surprises, let them know this date is special from the get-go. Don’t admit outright that you’re proposing, but let the occasion speak for itself. Use your intuition and experience with them to create a situation they would appreciate.


9. Tell them why


“When you know, you know” does not suit every couple. Many of us know exactly what it is that makes someone the perfect partner. What better time to share that than during your marriage proposal?

It’s a good rule of thumb if you find yourself at a loss as to what to say during proposal time. Maybe it’s their kindness, loyalty, sense of humor, or all of the above. As long as it’s the truth, they will love to hear it.


10. Don’t replicate someone else’s experience


Ultimately, the perfect proposal will look a little different for every couple. It might seem easier to go with what worked for someone else, but this can ring hollow for you and your partner.

Personal touches are welcome here. Bring them their favorite flowers, play your favorite song, or start off by sharing an inside joke. Take them to the place where you had your first date if you want something more sentimental.


Final Thoughts on What to Say When Proposing


In the end, it helps to ask one question – are you overthinking the proposal? If so, stick to these key points:

  • Authenticity rules

    Don’t rattle off a speech you’ve memorized, and don’t merely repeat what you’ve heard elsewhere. Your partner knows you and can tell when you’re being genuine. If that includes you being a little nervous, it’s fine.

  • Be considerate

    Don’t surprise or embarrass your partner. Take their personality into account and plan the event accordingly. This is probably not the occasion to ask them to step outside of their box.

  • Tell a story

    If you’re worried about what to say when proposing, simply refer back to your relationship. If you had a funny first meeting, or have overcome some serious challenges, these are great points to hit on leading up to the question.

Just in case you’re really feeling the pressure, consider this last tip:

You don’t have to ask at all!

Sometimes, staying mum works in your favor. Have them go on a treasure hunt that ends in a written message popping the question, or spell it out with candles or flower petals. Hire live musicians to play your song as you drop a knee. It’s your chance to show someone how important they are in your life, and we can’t always put that into words.


Other Helpful Wedding Proposal Pages

  1. 5 Best Places to Propose in Boston
  2. She said YES! A proposal at Public Garden
  3. Fan Pier Park Wedding Proposal
  4. Boston Public Garden Proposal


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