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How to Propose: 19 Tips to Guarantee a 'Yes!'

Want to nail the perfect proposal? Our guide tells you everything you need to know about how to propose and what the latest proposal trends are!

A man putting a ring on his girlfriend's finger after he proposed and she said yes in Santorini

Proposing. Popping the question. Asking them to marry you. Getting down on one knee. No matter how you phrase it, figuring out how to propose to the love of your life can be a pretty daunting task. 

There are a number of elements to consider in advance, from buying an engagement ring and deciding on the proposal location, to choosing the engagement ring box and, you know, planning a romantic proposal!

How to Propose Marriage: Your Guide to Popping the Question

Along with all the planning, another reason this can be a daunting process is social media - with proposals becoming ever more elaborate to meet Insta-worthy standards - it's no wonder people get so nervous about deciding how to propose. But we're here to tell you to breathe, keep calm and listen to our advice. 

Whether it's an elaborate social media proposal you're planning, or a proposal at home with a takeaway and some candles - we've got your step-by-step guide to planning a proposal, complete with expert advice on what you should (and shouldn't!) do.

The truth of the matter is, only you know how to propose to your partner in a way that’s perfect for them - but these tips and proposal trend advice will help anyone who's not sure where to start.

Expert Tips on How to Plan The Perfect Proposal

Here at Hitched, we like to support couples from the dating stage all the way through to celebrating those milestone wedding anniversaries, which is why we've created the ultimate proposal guide to help you nail popping the question.

As well as getting it right for your partner, you also need to remember that this should be an amazing experience for you as well. Just because you're the one planning the proposal, doesn't mean you don't get to bask in the 'they said yes!' joy as well. Let's work through those nerves and focus on the excitement that’s waiting for you on the other side. You've totally got this!

1. Consider the Story

One of the first things you experience when you get engaged is the urge to tell the proposal story to pretty much everyone who will listen, so you want to ensure than when you plan the proposal, you're planning a story you know your partner will be excited to tell. This doesn't mean it has to be an all-out elaborate gesture by any means, but it should be well thought out.

Keeping things thoughtful, no matter how big or low-key the gesture is will always guarantee you an amazing proposal story. Being thoughtful in your proposal means different things to every couple - only you will know how to plan that the right way. As you're planning the proposal, think about how the story will be retold and use that as a guide to nail all the little details.

2. Incorporate Something Special

A woman holding her child while her boyfriend is down on one knee proposing to her with a view of the sea and mountains behind them

Speaking of thoughtfulness, incorporating something special into your proposal is so important to making it sentimental and unique to your relationship. The sentimental aspect of your proposal could be linked to the location you choose to pop the question, the design of the engagement ring or incorporated into what you say in the proposal. 

The key to making it special is all about ensuring that this proposal couldn't be made to anyone else but your partner. Giving it a bespoke feel will make it feel a thousand times more special than if it feels like a one-size-fits-all kind of moment.

If you're stuck for ideas, think back to special moments you've had in your relationship. Could you return to a momentous location, print out pictures from all of your best dates, create a video montage of your most special moments, pen a poem with your favourite memories highlighted or show pictures of you asking all their family members for permission? 

Your special aspect could be anything from a live band playing your special song or your children holding up 'Will you marry me?' signs, to a re-enactment of your first date or an engagement ring with the date engraved. Whatever it is, ensure at least one of the proposal details is unique to your relationship - it really will make all the difference. 

3. Speak to The Family

Not everyone buys into the whole 'asking permission' process as, to many, it feels outdated and unnecessary. But the key thing to consider here is, what would your partner want? If you know that asking their family's permission is super important to them, it's definitely something you should tick off the list before proposing. 

It's also worth noting that speaking to the family doesn't always have to involve asking permission per se. Whilst asking for permission may not be something you and your partner are a fan of, involving both their family and yours in the decision can be a really nice way to bring two families together and ensure everyone feels included in the big proposal. 

Before you propose, consider which members of your family and your partner's family should be aware first. You could arrange a really lovely dinner moment with all of the most important people in your lives, where you tell everyone what your plans are. An occasion like this could be a great way for you to seek some advice or calm your nerves if you are feeling a little shaky about it all. 

4. Don't Shout About It

A man with his finger on his lips holding an engagement ring box while his partner looks away at the view of Tower Bridge

We do advise speaking to really close family members or friends about this as getting opinions and blessings from certain people can really aid the proposal planning process - but don't get this confused with telling every soul you come across about the upcoming proposal. Loose lips sink ships and your proposal isn't a ship you want sinking - trust us!

Make a list of the people who need to know and keep the circle small. We get that keeping a secret as exciting as this can be difficult - you probably just want to shout about it from the rooftops, but consider your partner in all this - the last thing they want when announcing the engagement is lots of friends revealing they already knew.

By telling too many people, you also run the risk of spoiling the surprise which would be a real shame. As tough as it is, keep the news on a need-to-know basis, it'll be well worth it. 

READ MORE: The Key Signs They're About to Propose

5. What Would They Want?

Whilst there are many proposal trends and plenty of proposal ideas out there - it's important to not lose sight of what your partner would want. Whilst popping the question in front of a huge crowd at the foot of the Eiffel Tower may be a hugely romantic gesture - is being proposed to in public your partner's worst nightmare? 

Think about what is important to them. Is it having family nearby afterwards to celebrate together? Is it being alone just the two of you so it's a private moment? Whatever it is, you know your partner better than anyone else so considering the type of proposal they would want is super important. 

Other things to consider are whether or not you (and your partner!) want the moment captured on camera. In our latest National Wedding Survey we found that 59% of couples chose to share the news of their engagement on social media. Many online engagement announcements include the actual moment that the proposal took place - if that's your goal too, you need to plan how the moment will be captured. 

6. Choosing the Engagement Ring

A couple who have just got engaged smiling at each other as the bride to be shows off her ring

A huge part of planning the proposal is of course, deciding on the ring you choose to propose with. From how much to spend on an engagement ring to choosing the style that they will love the most, buying an engagement ring can be overwhelming, so start from the beginning and do your research.

Consider their existing jewellery collection to find out their preferred aesthetic, and shop around to get a rough idea of cost (you can get some online engagement rings). If you’ve got no idea at all, ask a trusted friend or relative of theirs for a second opinion – they might not have told you what their dream engagement ring looks like, but chances are their closest pals or siblings have had the full breakdown the in past. Perhaps there’s even a family heirloom that they’re hoping will be passed down. 

Remember, they’re going to be wearing this ring for the rest of their life, so there’s no reason why they can’t be involved in the decision making too. More and more couples are turning to temporary engagement rings as proposal rings before shopping together to pick out the ‘forever’ band – some jewellers even let you offset the cost of the proposal ring against the eventual pick.

You could also consider proposing without the ring completely – it’s increasingly common, especially if you’re certain that they will want to choose the ring themselves. You could even do a Breakfast at Tiffany's moment and propose in a jewellers, allowing your partner to choose the ring immediately after. Now that's romantic!

READ MORE: The Most Popular Landmarks for Proposals, According to Instagram

7. Plan Your Words

A proposal should come from the heart, so we’re not talking a full-blown script here, but writing notes that outline what you want to say during the proposal can really help. You may find yourself scrapping the paper in the moment and speaking completely from the heart - and that's completely fine - but having something just in case will give you the option in the moment.

Take this opportunity to tell your partner how happy they make you, and what you love about them the most. Just because proposals are traditionally romantic and sentimental, doesn't mean your speech has to be if that just isn't you. Your partner loves you for you, so make sure the words you say during the proposal are 'you'. 

If the basis of your relationship is inside jokes and constant sarcasm - why not incorporate that into your proposal speech? It will feel and sound the most natural if it feels like words you would actually say. 

When the moment finally arrives, you may find that all of your preparation falls out of your head completely, and that’s okay –  a little spontaneity never hurt anyone. You can keep it short and sweet or spill your guts in their entirety – as long as the genuine emotion is there, they’ll definitely get the message - just remember to say ‘Will you marry me?’ at the end of it!

READ MORE: How to Get a Proposal

8. Vet the Location

A man down on one knee proposing to his partner in front of the Eiffel Tower

This is especially important if you’re proposing outside – what’s the weather like? – or in a public setting – are there any events happening in the area that might impact your plans? If you’ve made a booking in a restaurant or hotel, call ahead to reconfirm – you might even want to let them in on your plans so they know just how important your reservation is.

We'd always recommend trying to visit the place of your proposal beforehand if it's somewhere you've never been. This will help you to plan it properly and make sure you know exactly where you want to be and how you want it to go down.

However, life never unfolds quite like we expect, so don’t freak out if things veer slightly off course – you can still make a magical, meaningful moment, even if you end up kneeling in the pouring rain. Read your partner’s mood and find the right moment – you’ll know when the time has come. 

9. Plan the Details

Often, it's the little things about a proposal that people really remember and hold onto as memories. If you know your partner loves small, romantic gestures, focus more on these than the bigger, more elaborate things.

If you are planning a more low-key proposal, maybe one at home or when you're out on a Sunday walk, the small details will really make a difference. This could be a special breakfast in the morning, a sweet note before you go out, or a coffee in bed to start the day right. Don't be afraid to give anything away - you're just being nice, right? There's nothing suspicious about that...

10. Be Practical

Whilst it's not the most romantic part of planning how to propose, it's certainly one of the most important. The practical elements of your proposal can really make or break the moment. Think about what the proposal entails. If you're expecting your partner to walk up a lot of steps to a gorgeous view for the proposal, ensure they have appropriate footwear to do so - it's little considerations like that that will make such a difference. 

It can be tricky to make this happen without giving the game away, so try to be casual with your suggestions. You may want to ask a friend to suggest a nail shop trip earlier that week if you know that;s important to your partner, or tell a white lie about your plans for the day to ensure they’re dressed appropriately. Trust us, they’ll forgive you once they realise what’s going on!

11. Remember the Ring!

A man proposing to his boyfriend on the London Eye with a view of the city behind them

You may think you’ve checked it a million times, but it still happens – keep that ring safe and secure no matter where you’re headed to pop the question. You’ll probably need to carry it on you, so make sure you use a pocket that zips or buttons up, or slide it down the side of your (clean) socks. 

One thing that many experts recommend but doesn’t always occur to the rest of us is to insure the ring as soon as you purchase it, even if that’s well before you propose. It might seem a little premature or overcautious, but if the worst does happen, you’ll definitely be grateful you got it covered.

12. Let Them Process

You knew this was happening, they didn’t. While you’re likely relieved to have finally proposed and shared the secret you’ve been hiding, it’s not unusual for the other person in the equation to end up in a slight state of shock. Let them cry, hug, scream with happiness if they need to – everyone will react differently, so give them time to let off that steam and take everything in. 

They might want to put the ring on immediately, they might be so enthralled with the setting and the speech that they forget about the ring completely. Follow their lead and let them decide what happens next – the more you try to control the situation, the more out of control it will usually get, so let the rest of the proposal evolve organically. 

13. Plan a Celebration

Your final order of business is to celebrate this momentous occasion! Again, the way you choose to do this will depend on what type of couple you are – some will want all of their friends and family gathered to party with them, others will prefer a more intimate option, like a bottle of champagne waiting for them at home or in their hotel. 

As we hope you’ve realised by now, there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding how to propose – it’s all about tailoring it to yourself and your fiancé in a way that feels true to you both.

If you know you’re ready but need some more inspiration on the how part, here are 60 romantic and unique proposal ideas to help you on your way. 

READ MORE: 5 Proposal Pictures Tips from a Professional Photographer

Marriage Proposal Trends You'll Want to Consider

We spoke to Daisy Amodio, founder of professional proposal company The Proposers for her insight on the biggest proposal trends and things to consider. Having planned more than 3,500 proposals (with a 100% 'yes' rate) - there's no one better equipped to give us the insider scoop on what's in, in the world of proposals. 

14. Simple But Effective Decor 

A hotel suite decorated with red lighting, red balloons and Marry Me lights for someone's proposal

When it comes to decorating your proposal spot, Daisy advises that you keep it simple and romantic. "Petals, candles, flowers and marry me balloons that are bigger than you both - they may be the classic proposal decorations but there's a reason why they are so popular."

And these proposal decorations don't have to cost a fortune either. Retailers like Amazon, Etsy and Not on the High Street all have amazing options for engagement decorations if your budget doesn't stretch to having a professional planner.

15. Privacy is In!

"Gone are the days where flash mob proposals and popping the question in public are the in thing - now, it's all about privacy. At least 50% of our clients are looking for a proposal which is planned either in the privacy of their own home, or in a luxury hotel suite. Privacy is a big trend - people want the moment to be as intimate as possible and you just can't do that surrounded by strangers" says Daisy. 

Keeping the proposal private is also a great way for you and your partner to bask in the enjoyment of your engagement before being overwhelmed with all the congratulatory messages that are soon to come. Daisy also pointed out that hiring a hotel room or suite for your proposal means you have the privacy of the space for the entire evening, and the morning after.

Drinks and dinner to mark your engagement and breakfast in bed as fiance's? Who wouldn't want that? 

16. Romantic Settings With a View

A man down on one knee in Santorini proposing to his girlfriend at sunset

It's not just the setting of your proposal that's worth considering, says Daisy: "It's all about the view. Couples want a stunning view as the backdrop for their proposal and it's clear to see why!" 

Before you start to panic, guaranteeing a breath-taking view for your proposal may require a bit of research, but it can be easily secured with a carefully chosen table at a restaurant, or a particular hotel suite with a balcony overlooking a magnificent setting. 

17. Get it on Camera

Whether you're into social media or not, getting your proposal on camera is almost always a must nowadays. Even if you aren't too bothered about capturing the moment on camera, your partner may be. Often, proposals are a complete blur for the couple who are both so overwhelmed with emotion, so getting it on camera enables you to look back at that moment time and time again.

"Photographers are so good at making themselves hidden if you want to ensure the proposal is a complete surprise - your partner need never know they are even there! A professional photographer or videographer will guarantee you an incredible proposal video or set of pictures, but if your budget doesn't allow for that, iPhones are amazing!

"Hide one in the corner and press record or film a time-lapse in secret. Even if it's never going to be shared on social media, you'll never regret filming or photographing your engagement" says Daisy. 

18. Making it Bespoke

A man down on one knee proposing to his girlfriend surrounded by pictures of their relationship

Before you get worried, we want to be super clear about something - bespoke does not have to mean expensive! Don't get us wrong, it can be - packages at The Proposers can range anywhere between £1,800 - £800,000 - but there are ways of making something bespoke that doesn't come close to that!

Daisy explains, "We always like to get to know a couple before we plan anything. Why do they love each other so much? What's special to them in their relationship? How can we make this really personal to them? Once we have that insight, we can help the person proposing to plan a proposal that is completely unique and bespoke to their relationship - that's how to make a proposal really special.

"We once had a client who's girlfriend absolutely loved cats, so we helped them hire out a cat cafe in London for the proposal. All of the cats wore adorable bow ties and the setting was just perfect for the couple. The proposal was so unique and tailored completely to what our client's girlfriend loved the most - it was really sweet.

"But proposals can be made bespoke in ways that don't cost much money at all. When clients don't have a huge budget, we often give advice on what they can do free of charge to ensure they are fully equipped with all the ideas they need to nail their bespoke proposal." 

19. Instant Celebrations

No, we're not talking about planning an engagement party soon after they say yes. When we say instant, we really mean it.

"A huge trend we're seeing right now with proposals is couples wanting that instant celebration straight after the proposal. There's lots of ways that this can be done, from inviting your closest friends and family to the private suite where you proposed to celebrate with you, to jumping in a taxi to a nearby bar you've hired out for an immediate party. 

"A lot of couples choose to host their instant celebration in the location they proposed in because, when you've paid for and arranged such elaborate and gorgeous decor, it feels wasteful to rush off somewhere else. Whilst this does require a little more planning, it's well worth it if you're a couple who wants to share the moment with those closest to you" says Daisy. 

Once you've got that big old yes from your partner, it's time to start thinking about creative ways to announce your engagement. Get ready to write that Instagram engagement caption...