How To Propose (So They Actually Say Yes)

With one in five wishing their proposal was, well, better, if you’re thinking of popping the question this Valentine’s Day, you better make it count.

If the ring-marole is giving you a headache, our beginner’s guide to proposing like a pro should give you a head start on marital bliss.

Know The Answer

What do game show hosts, a good lawyer and a man who gets a resounding yes to his proposal have in common? They already know the answer before they’ve asked the question.

While the way you propose should be kept under wraps, you should be pretty certain the other person will say yes (and mean it).

This is one part of your relationship that you don’t want to have to do over again. If you’re not sure on the answer, ask yourself if you’re rushing ahead because it’s what you think you should do, not what’s best for the both of you.

Make sure they want to say yes first

Surprise Surprise

The stakes are high and, assuming they say yes, every single detail of your efforts will be told and retold to every family member, colleague, waitress, checkout person… so, yes, the pressure is on.

Don’t drop hints, however tempting it may be, and don’t try and scope out ideas. As ‘unofficial best man’ website ThePlunge says: “If you talked about getting married last week, then when you say, ‘Hey I was thinking maybe we could go on a hot-air balloon ride together?’ there’s a decent chance [the other person will] crack your code.”

Keep your cards close to your chest. Don’t tell too many friends. Lie if you have to.

Keep it a suprise

Tailoring Is Not Just For The Wedding Day

If there is even a grain of uncertainty in your mind, then Do. Not. Do. The. Proposal. In. Public. Not only will it be uncomfortable if the other person says no, but they might be pressured into saying yes when they don’t really want to. A lifetime of awkwardness because you wanted to get down on one knee at the Manchester derby – not worth it.

If, however, who you’re proposing to is an extrovert and lives for Instagram likes (and you’re absolutely certain it’s what you both want), then something more extravagant can work. The trick to a memorable proposal is to tailor it as close to their likes (and as far away from their dislikes) as possible.

As sex columnist Siobhan Rosen says: “Know what the person is into. Because if they say yes, knowing what they are into will be your job for the next 50 years.”

Tailor the proposal to their personality

Daddy Issues

While we’re not in 1920 any more, some believe it’s still important to maintain some of the traditions involved in proposing, especially if your other half is partial to maintaining decorum.

Asking your potential father-in-law might be (almost) as terrifying as the actual proposal itself, but it’s an important part of showing how serious you are. According to a 2015 study, one in five wouldn’t say yes to a proposal if their family disliked their partner, so keeping the in-laws on side is important.

What if their relationship with their father isn’t great? You should still ask a senior member of their family – you want their approval before you ask as it could be make-or-break.

Ask for approval beforehand

Preparation is Key

Saying, “will you marry me?” might sound easy, but you don’t want to fluff your words when the big moment comes.

According to specialist firm The Proposers, which makes a living out of planning these types of things, you should ensure that you’re comfortable speaking from the heart: “Tell them all the reasons why you want to marry them, and don’t forget to be confident by memorising and practising what you want to say’.

Practise what you're going to say

You Liked It, So Now You Have To Put A Ring On It

Traditionally, the rule of thumb was that the proposer should spend anywhere from one to three month’s salary on an engagement ring. But as our priorities shift, bling is no longer king.

“A lot of people wouldn’t want their fiancé to spend that much money on a ring,” says Kit Yarrow, a former jewellery dealer turned professor of psychology at Golden Gate University. “Make it a personal decision based on the importance of that ring to the fiancée.”

Still not sure what to pick? Read up on our guide to buying an engagement ring, that will tick all the boxes.

Buy a ring

What If I Need A Hand?

It’s not just wedding planners that have made an industry out of orchestrating moments of happiness. As proposals become more important (and scrutinised), specialist companies that allow you to outsource the planning have popped up around the globe.

If you’ve got the cash these services are invaluable, but that’s not to say they’re impersonal. As ‘romance concierge service’ The Proposers says: “When organising the perfect proposal, it will be something that you have helped create. Let’s just say proposal planners are here to be your little helpers – we’ll give you a nudge when you need a push and deal with all the boring bits like booking restaurants, making decorations and taking photos.”

So if organisation isn’t your thing, but you still want a proposal worth writing home – or on Facebook – about, could be a lot more economical than all those headache tablets.

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