11 Truths About Vacation Engagements

Real brides share stories about what to expect when it comes to far-away proposals

Updated 12/13/16

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The idea of surprise wedding proposals that happen while you and your S.O. are on vacation sounds picture perfect. A guy down on one knee in front of an island sunset with the waves crashing around him? It's pretty much out of a movie. And while they can be just that, when you look at it realistically, there are pros and cons of popping the question far away from home. "When you're in the bubble of vacation you have some opportunity to prolong reentry into your social orbit where the news isn't just yours, it's shared," says relationship expert April Masini of AskApril.com. In the words of people who have been through it (all of whom, by the way, confirmed that they wouldn't trade their far-away proposals for anything), here are 11 truths about getting engaged on vacation.

1. There Is A LOT of Pressure Around It
At a certain point in any relationship, people inevitably start chattering about your engagement (as if it's any of their business) and that can potentially get in your head. Katie Watson, who got engaged on the beach in Nantucket, was constantly being bombarded with people telling her she needed to "get her nails done!" and "buy a new outfit!" before every vacation she and her now-husband ever went on. "We had been dating for eight years when we got engaged, and every single trip we went on, everyone would be like, "Oh my God, when you think you'll get engaged...," she says. "People put so much pressure on the moment and it gets into your head." As always, it's best to just ignore them and #doyou (though if you want to get your nails done and buy a new outfit before a trip just because, go for it).

2. But It Can Still Be a Complete Surprise
While you may think a romantic vacation proposal would be totally expected (especially with your coworkers telling you to "make sure you have a blowout!" before you board your flight), vacation wedding proposals can actually be completely surprising. "I don't think that people expect a proposal on vacation they way they might on an at-home Christmas or birthday," says Masini. Melissa Shea expected an at-home proposal on her birthday and was "300% surprised" when now-husband popped the question during an impromptu weekend trip to Puerto Rico. "I was so surprised — I genuinely didn't see it coming. Not that I didn't foresee us getting engaged, I just didn't think it was going to happen there."

3. It Removes Any Distractions
"It really allows you to focus on how amazing and special the moment is, rather than being distracted by the outside world," says Julia Aparicio, who got engaged in Nantucket last year. Masini suggests "going dark" for 24 hours and holding off on sharing the news (which may be difficult!) so that the two of you can really enjoy what just happened. Troy Vernon, who popped the question in front of the Eiffel Tower this spring, chose the foreign locale for exactly that reason. "I wanted it to be special, surprising, romantic and without distraction — just the two of us. I made sure we had a way to quickly notify our closest friends and family, but then we are able to shut the phones down and loose ourselves in the streets of Paris with nothing to do but celebrate as a couple," he says.

4. But You May Miss Those "Distractions"
"While it was absolutely amazing to get engaged on this little island far away from civilization (sort of), it was also difficult being so far from our families and closest friends who we wanted to be a part of the celebration," says Aparicio. But she also admits that the best part of getting engaged away from home (particularly somewhere with very limited cell service), was that she and her fiancé really got to enjoy the moment.

5. It Gives You a Chance to Breathe
Even though celebrating your engagement with everyone you know the minute it happens can be fun, it can also be overwhelming. On vacation, "You get this time where you're not bombarded with people wanting to see you or wanting to go out for drinks or something like that, you have time to be by yourselves," says Watson. According to Masini, couples who are used to constantly being around friends and family may be anxious to be with their loved ones to share the news and excitement over the engagement. "But there's something really nice about focusing on the two of you for this special moment," she says. And don't worry — people will be dying to take you to drinks and check out your ring the minute you get home.

6. It May Be Difficult to Share the News the Way You Want to
When you're in the midst of a surprise engagement, remembering to charge your phone isn't exactly at the top of your mind. "Right after it happened my phone was at a whopping 10% battery life, so I called my best friend and my parents, then threw up an Instagram picture to let the rest of the world know," says Aparicio. "In hindsight, I really should have taken the time to let more people know individually, but in the heat of the moment when you have one bar of service, no battery life, and you're on a faraway island, it's hard to think clearly."

7. It Helps if It Happens at the Beginning of the Trip
Molly Parlin, who's husband proposed at the very beginning (as in, during the first hour) of a wine-tasting trip in the Fingerlakes, wouldn't have wanted it any other way, even though there arguably would have been some more romantic moments to come. "Toting around a diamond ring for the last few weeks was the most stressful thing he had ever experienced and handing that responsibility over to me brought him serious relief," says Parlin. "And he thought that by doing it at the beginning, every moment of the trip after that would be more memorable and special. He was right!"

8. Because It Lets You Live in "The Bubble" for Days on End
Engagements (even long ones) aren't ever really that long, and being away allows you to keep it about the two of you for as long as possible. "Had we been in the city, the first thing we would have done was call all of our friends and go out until five in the morning and not kept it a secret," says Shea. "I think that night, we just called family and really close friends, and then I called people that I wanted to know but I didn't feel like being on the phone the entire evening. It gave us a chance to let it soak in without being immediately bombarded."

9. It Turns the Proposal Into a Multi-Day Event
Vernon chose to propose abroad because he wanted to make the actual proposal last for as long as possible. "It allowed the engagement to be more than one act, to be part of a multiple day celebration and event," he says. "There were no responsibilities we had to get back to for five days. Just celebrating each other with some French wine and cuisine." According to Masini, the wedding planning can become a crazy blur that tends to erase some of the excitement of the engagement, so having this separated space and time away from everyone while on vacation is a nice way to memorialize the intimacy of the moment.

10. You May Want to Get Home and Immediately See Your Friends
As amazing as it is to cherish the moment by yourselves, it's also totally normal to want to get home and celebrate with everyone you know. "While I wouldn't trade having that entire week together for anything, I was definitely antsy by the end of the trip to get home and see my parents and friends," says Aparicio. Masini, who also got engaged on a trip, admits that she "really really wanted to go home and see everyone, so I didn't make the most of the vacation." Remember that you'll see everyone (and have to get back to real life) soon enough, so it's important to try and make the most of the alone time while you have it.

And Most Importantly...

11. It Gives You a Yearly Excuse to Travel
"I wanted to do it somewhere abroad and fun so we always have a good excuse to travel on our anniversary," says Vernon. After all, what better way to celebrate your anniversary than to go back to the place where it all began?

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