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 you’re planning the best possible proposal for your partner. The first best step? Consult with a professional, if you can.
As Brett Galley, director of special events and owner of Hollywood POP Gallery explains, the key to a perfect proposal is really understanding what the person you’re proposing to loves in life.
“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.”
Meet the Expert
- Brett Galley is the director of special events and owner of Hollywood POP Gallery, where she takes on celebrity weddings and events.
- Iris Mannings is a photographer based out of Washington, D.C. and New Orleans.
- JoAnn Gregoli is an event designer at Elegant Occasions by JoAnn Gregoli.
- Jen Avey is the VP of marketing for Destination Weddings Travel Group.
- Kristen Gosselin the owner and creative director of KG Events & Design.
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.
Take a Hike Together
Proposing at the end of a hike is a classic for a reason. It’s intimate, memorable, and picturesque, and it gives you a fun, physical activity to distract yourself from nerves before you pop the question.
Embrace the Season
If you’re hoping to propose during a certain season, why not embrace it? Plan a proposal for the biggest, most impressive snow day of the year. Add some twinkle lights to the mix, and it’ll be an absolutely gorgeous scene that requires almost no prep work on your part.
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.
Do It on a Rooftop
If you’re lucky enough to have a rooftop (or have a friend with a rooftop) with a killer view, consider dressing up the space with floral bouquets or other details. Go up to watch the sunset and then get down on one knee. Beautiful, intimate, and budget-friendly.
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.
Climb Into a Treehouse
Find a local treehouse (or something that looks like a treehouse) and pop the question amidst a romantic video montage, string lights, and any other special touches you can think of. The setting will feel straight-up magical.
Put It in Writing
Having friends or family hold up a sign that spells out the proposal is a WOW moment and can seamlessly incorporates your partner’s favorite people. 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.
Recreate Your First Date
This idea is a classic for good reason. There's something unassuming yet totally romantic about popping the question at the restaurant where you first met. Bonus points for adding additional touches like hitting the bar where you had a nightcap after.
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.
Go on a Boat Ride
Love sailing? Pack a picnic and some bubbly and hit the open waters. We love the idea of proposing while doing an activity you love. Plus, there's something poetic about popping the question on an actual journey.
Take a Pre-Proposal Photo
There’s something so exciting about a simple pre-proposal DIY photo like this. The idea that your partner has no idea what’s coming, and you’re planning such a special event is thrilling, so why not create an image to remember that feeling forever?
If you’re musical, 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.
Embrace the Rain
No matter what type of proposal you plan, it’s worth remembering that even proposals that don’t go exactly as planned can be as romantic. If it’s raining, embrace it. Turns out, the whole kissing-in-the-rain thing can be quite romantic, so just go with it.
Incorporate Baked Goods
These ‘Will You Marry Me?’ donuts are perhaps the cutest, most delicious proposal accessory ever. Whether you’re doing a long-distance proposal like this couple or are IRL, spelling out a message via your partner’s favorite sweet treat could be fun.
Plan a Selfie-Taking Session
After your special someone says "yes," consider taking some memorable selfies together. Including furry friends encouraged.
Let Your Pet Join the Fun
For couples with pets, choosing to involve a furry friend in the proposal will be the, “aww” moment you’re hoping for during a proposal. Get a customized dog tag that has the big question engraved on it or opt for a bandana as this couple did.
Take a Secret Video
A great way to capture the surprise of a cozy, at-home proposal but still keep the intimate, just-you-two feel is to capture it yourself. Grab a mini tripod and your cell phone, and you’re good to go.
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,” says event designer JoAnn Gregoli. “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.”
Bring a Bottle of Champagne
No matter what your proposal plan is, bring a bottle of Champagne. It will make the entire experience that much more special. Save the cork after to write the special date on it.
Use a Waterfall as a Backdrop
Waterfall. Backdrop. Need we really say more?
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.
Plan It Around Your Partner’s Favorite Holiday
Have a significant other who’s really into Halloween? Christmas? Easter? The Fourth of July, perhaps? Plan the proposal around that day, so it’ll make their favorite day better than they ever thought it could be.
Use a Dock
A dock sounds a little simple in theory, but it’s actually a very romantic proposal spot. You’re out in the middle of the water without actually being in the water. Plus, they’re relatively easy to find if you do a little research—and you can make sure that it’s just you two.
Style a Loft or Other Unique Space
As this proposal proves, sometimes all it takes is creating a romantic space somewhere unexpected to build a proposal that’s truly unique.
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,” says Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group. 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,” event planner Kristen 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!”
Take a Sunrise Hike
Ending a sunrise hike with not only a gorgeous sunrise but the proposal is what dreams are made of. Plus, it’s a good way to switch up your usual hiking routine if you tend to go in the late morning or afternoon.
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 [in Aspen, Colorado], followed by a party for 50 of their closest friends and family on one of the hotel's private patio spaces,” says Sharpley. “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!”
Rent a Float Plane
Want to get really creative? Involve a plane. Sure, it might be a little complicated, but as this picture proves ... very worth it for the memory.
Incorporate Your Partner’s Favorite Things
If your partner is a fan of something very particular (say, Friends), then get creative and find a way to incorporate that into the proposal, as this person did.
Create a Romantic Beach Scene
“If you're lucky enough to be near a beach, do a romantic beach setup to surprise your significant other upon your arrival,” Gosselin suggests. “This will elevate any beach proposal by adding some beauty, context, and additional thought into the proposal.”
Find a Winter Wonderland
If you can manage to find a great stretch of space covered in snow, it’ll make for a beautiful proposal spot. Chilly, yes. But absolutely beautiful. And if your partner happens to love winter, this will be their dream.
Incorporate the Proposal Into Your Favorite Activity
If you and your partner love a certain activity or sport, weave your proposal into the time you spend doing that activity together. Bonus points if that activity happens to take you to the top of the mountains with beautiful views.
Make a Flower Delivery
If your partner is a total romantic who appreciates the gesture of just-because flower delivery, make it part of your proposal. Organize for four arrangements to be delivered, each with a note that says, "will you marry me?" Of course, you'll want to deliver the last on!
Plan a Fake Wedding Shoot
If you can manage it, tell your partner that you’ve both been selected to be models for a faux wedding shoot. Get all dressed up, and then during the “photo shoot,” ask the big question.