Whether you’re high school sweethearts, met through a friend, both swiped right, or actually managed to meet in a bar, somehow you found love—and it’s time to make it stick! Planning a wedding proposal is a major undertaking (hello, ring shopping and memorizing that speech!), so we’ve rounded up 12 things you can’t forget to do before you get down on one knee.
1. Make sure you’re on the same page.
This might seem obvious, but before you start plotting, it’s important to make sure you and your partner both have marriage on the brain. Talk to your partner about the future. Let them know that one day you’d like to be married, and ask if they see marriage in their future, too. Nervous about making this conversation feel too much like a proposal? Keep it broad by discussing your best friend’s recent engagement, and lead into it that way. Is it a hard conversation? Yes. But hopefully you’ll come away from it with an idea of what your partner will say when you open that ring box!
2. Chat with their parents.
Old school? Yes. Important? Also yes (depending on the family). If your partner has hinted in any way that you need to ask his or her parents for their hand in marriage, do it! That doesn’t mean your partner is anyone’s property, though. Try something like this: “I am deeply in love with your son/daughter, and we want to spend our lives together. I am planning to propose, and want you to be involved in this exciting moment!”
3. Save up.
Tradition says an engagement ring should cost three months’ salary, but that’s no hard and fast rule. Instead, start saving a few dollars here and there (try packing lunch or making coffee at home!) and decide what you’re comfortable spending.
4. Size it right.
Ring sizing is definitely one of the hardest parts of buying an engagement ring, unless your partner knows the proposal is coming. If it’s not a secret, just ask. If you’re going the surprise route, check your partner’s jewelry drawer. Find a ring that he or she wears regularly (and make a note of which finger it goes on!), then either bring it with you to a jeweler or mark how far it fits on your own finger. Many jewelers can also make a good guess at a ring size based on your partner’s height and weight. And of course, there’s always resizing!
5. Do style research.
This is a piece of jewelry your partner will be wearing every day for the rest of their life, so get a sense of what they’ll really love! Snap photos of the jewelry they wear everyday, look for that secret Pinterest board, or ask a close friend or family member to help you narrow it down.
6. Determine the priorities.
There are so many details that go into buying an engagement ring: Metal, stone, shape, and size! Would your partner rather have a bigger diamond (meaning you might need to sacrifice the clarity or color to keep it in your budget), or does having a nearly-flawless stone top the list? Or would your partner rather have a ring with a different center stone altogether?
7. Choose the right jeweler.
Sure, you might walk past a jeweler every day on your way to work, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best place to look! Ask around for recommendations (or see if there’s a friend or family member in the biz who you should talk to!) to make sure you’re purchasing from a trusted store with great reviews and service.
8. Get personal.
Now that you have a ring, it’s time to plan the proposal! Really think about the type of proposal your partner will love, whether it’s a grand gesture, an intimate moment, or a surprise surrounded by family and friends.
9. Take notes.
You don’t need to have your speech totally written out, but spend a little time jotting down what you’d like to say. Getting your thought on paper and in order will give you some direction when it’s time to pop the question, even if you end up winging half of it anyway.
10. Plan a celebration.
You don’t need to plan a full-on engagement party, but make sure you’ve got an idea of how the two of you will celebrate the big moment. Book a table at your favorite restaurant, tuck some champagne in the fridge, or have a few friends waiting in the wings.
11. Find the right moment.
Life happens, so be prepared to go with the flow. Don’t rush the proposal just because the sun is about to set or dinner is nearly over—wait until the moment really feels right. And if you’ve planned something a little more low key, that very well might mean waiting a few days if your partner is stressed from work or the weather isn’t cooperating.
12. Keep the ring safe.
From the second you have the ring in your hands, keep it safe! Invest in insurance right away, then find a safe place to hide the ring until it’s time. When you’re ready to propose, safety is still key! Make sure the ring is secure in a zipped pocket or safely in the box, somewhere you’ll be able to reach easily without dropping it.
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