Planning the perfect proposal can be daunting. It can also be complicated, especially with thousands (millions?) of proposal ideas floating around the internet. Deciding whether to plan a proposal that’s simple, extravagant, or somewhere in between is a lot of pressure, but there are a few ways to ensure that you’re planning the best possible proposal for your partner. The first best step? Consult with a professional, if you can.
“For instance, if you are proposing to a quiet, low key partner who doesn't like the spotlight, you would plan a proposal that is special and private, perhaps at home or on top of an isolated mountaintop, as opposed to in front of a group of people or any large public displays,” Galley says. “If your partner is extroverted and is a ‘more is more’ type of person, you might hire a flash mob, have a fireworks display, or propose on an action-adventure based outing.”
It’s also good to consider the timing of things long before you ever purchase a ring or plan the proposal event. “Timing, of course, is everything,” Galley says. “Have discussions about the future beforehand. Know that your partner is ready for a proposal and that it doesn't come out of the left field. This avoids awkwardness or pressure.”
If you’ve talked about the future and considered your partner’s personality type, the next step is getting into the details of the proposal. Here are 38 ideas that would be great for nearly every person.
Set Up a Picnic
A picnic can be one of the most romantic activities if you plan it the right way. Add some candles, a nice bottle of wine, and some chocolate-covered strawberries (or whatever your significant other’s favorite food is) to a basket and you’re off to the races. Plus, a picnic makes it easy to incorporate other people, like your partner’s family and friends, or keep it intimate.
Include Your Children
Finding ways to incorporate you and/or your partner’s children is sure to make for a proposal that will be just about as memorable as it gets. Plus, it’s pretty much guaranteed to make them cry, which is always a bonus.
Go to a Local Park
Spruce up your most beautiful, beloved local park with some flower petals (or whatever else you might want) and ask the question there. It’ll be a familiar, comfortable location that is made to feel that much more magical. Plus, you can relive the moment every time you walk by the location in the future.
Put It in Writing
Having friends or family hold up a sign that spells out the proposal is a WOW moment and seamlessly incorporates your partner’s favorite people into the moment. If you have them display the sign from a distance, it also means you get to ask the question outside of the earshot of other people—a private romantic moment.
Create an Insta-Worthy Moment
Want to go all out? Hire a florist, set a generous budget, and let them work their magic. Add some candles to the mix and it will be the most romantic, Instagram-worthy proposal you’ve ever seen.
When planning an epic proposal such as the above, photographer Iris Mannings says it's important to "plan, communicate, and execute!" As for the photos, specifically? "Communicate the best possible locations with optimal lighting that would be the backdrop for the Insta-worthy image," she adds.
If you’re musical, then there’s nothing more romantic (or vulnerable) than playing a special song for your partner pre or post-proposal. You could even work the proposal into the song if you really want to surprise them with something unforgettable.
Ask While Christmas Tree Shopping
Going Christmas tree shopping sometime soon? Why not include a proposal?
“Preselect the tree and have the tree farm owner place a ‘will you marry me?’ ornament on the selected tree,” JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli says. “I suggest having warm blankets and hot cocoa once the proposal has been made. If allowed, have a sleigh on standby to whisk you both away to a wonderful dinner.”
Wrap the Proposal Into a Family Tradition
Cara McClenny tells Brides that her fiancé proposed on the same annual family friends’ trip that originally brought them together. The trip in itself was a tradition, but the proposal was a total surprise. The combination meant that the setting was familiar, but the proposal was still as exciting as can be—plus, it was sentimental, too.
“It was truly the best weekend with our favorite people in our favorite place — I still cannot understand how he pulled it off! The best part was hearing all of the different stories from my family and friends about how they kept it a secret from me for so long. My sister even had to turn off her 'Find my iPhone' setting so that I wouldn't see that she was on her way to South Carolina,” McClenny shared.
Take a Spontaneous Trip
“What better way to up the ante on your outdoor proposal than jetting off to paradise? Many all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean offer amazing proposal packages that make popping the question extra special,” Jen Avey, VP of marketing for Destination Weddings Travel Group suggests.
There’s also cooler destinations to consider, like, say, Iceland or a place you've always dreamed of visiting together.
Make an Ordinary Spot Romantic
“Choose a location that is either already meaningful to both of you, or choose an exotic or cool location that will then hold significance after the proposal! Maybe you have a favorite hike, favorite beach spot, or favorite city park,” Gosselin suggests. “Choosing something that already holds significance to the two of you will only make the proposal more meaningful! Alternatively, choosing a spot that you've never been to but know your fiancé would love will then always be remembered as the proposal spot and will hold significance from that day forward.”
Choose the Spot Where You First Said ‘I Love You’
“Choose an outdoor location that’s important to both of you. Where you first met, had your first kiss, or the first place you said ‘I love you,’” Faith Folayan of This Love Weddings suggests. “Set up a picnic for two at one of these significant spots. Be sure to provide family and friends with blankets to use as they hideaway.”
Incorporate a Family Dinner
Following a proposal with a family dinner is never a bad idea, especially if you and your partner are especially close to your families and/or they live nearby.
“Two of my friends were hiding in the bushes (one of whom is a professional photographer) to capture the moment,” Juls Sharpley of Bubbles & Bowties explains about her own proposal. “We popped the champagne, took some photos, and went to our dinner reservation with my parents!”
Throw an After-Party
“This past summer, I was contacted by a man who wanted to propose to his girlfriend in the iconic living room at the Hotel Jerome, followed by a party for 50 of their closest friends and family on one of the hotel's private patio spaces,” Sharpley describes of a recent proposal she helped plan. “He requested balloons covering the ceiling, rose petals to 'mark the spot' of where he should propose, and then for the party: a U2 cover band, sushi from Matsuhisa (Nobu), sliders from Hotel Jerome, and lots of candles!”
Create a Romantic Beach Scene
“If you're lucky enough to be near a beach, do a romantic beach set up to surprise your significant other upon your arrival,” Kristen Gosselin of KG Events & Design suggests. “This will elevate any beach proposal by adding some beauty, context, and additional thought into the proposal. This idea is so much more unique, extraordinary, and creative than your average proposal. Again, be aware of the tides and wind direction, and be sure to set up in an area that will not end up underwater by the time you get to it!”