“I got engaged on New Year’s Eve, which was amazing! But we were on holiday in Thailand,” Suzannah, 29, tells Brides. “If it had been at a party with all of our friends, I think I would have been overwhelmed, though.” The holiday proposal is a divided issue; some people think that it’s the most romantic, amazing time to propose, while others just find it a little, dare I say, cheesy. But all the major holidays are very much looming—Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and, of course, Valentine’s Day—so is it time to just decide yay or nay on holiday proposals, once and for all?
You might be surprised at the popularity of the holiday proposal. A survey of 10,000 people looked at the best day of the year for a proposal—and a whopping 31 percent said Christmas Eve was their number-one choice. And 19 percent said New Year’s Eve, but Valentine’s Day, which is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year, got only 12 percent. Interestingly, 5 percent said the person’s birthday was the best time, and 10 percent said the day you two met would be great for a proposal, so it wasn’t just major holidays getting some love. Sometimes, personal holidays were preferred.
But if you’re not sure about whether a holiday proposal is the right fit for you, here’s what you need to consider—because it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation.
The Benefits and Drawbacks
As much as it makes some of us cringe, there are some really great things about a holiday proposal. “Two of the reasons the Christmas season is so magical is due to romance and family, two elements which proposals combine so perfectly,” Sandy Moretta, director at UK Alliance of Wedding Planners said regarding the data. “So planning a proposal in the winter months makes a lot of sense. On a practical note, if they wish to be really traditional, they are also likely to see the bride’s father without raising suspicion to formally ask for her hand at this time of year.” You can see why having your friends and family around would make for a fulfilling, celebratory time for a proposal. And let’s be honest, it’s just a special time of year.
But there are also some definite drawbacks—not the least of the which is that it’s not very original. Holidays are the most popular time to get engaged, so if you want to stand out from the crowd, you should stay away from the December options. Also, not everyone is comfortable with public display of affection. “I love my fiancé so much, but if he had chosen to propose in front of everyone I know, I would have felt self-conscious,” says Melissa, 31. “I’m a private person—and it would worry me that he didn’t know or respect that about me, especially when proposing! It would have felt like he didn’t know me. Luckily, he did it at our apartment and it was perfect.” For some people, a crowded Valentine’s Day restaurant would be their worst nightmare, so remember that having people around can be a positive or a negative, depending on the person involved.
Does the Day Mean Something Special for You?
Even though holidays seem like an obvious choice, a proposal is ultimately about the two of you. If your partner is obsessed with Christmas or New Year’s or is especially close to his or her family, then it might be the right choice for you. But proposing on a holiday just because it’s a holiday probably isn’t a good enough reason. For me and my partner, for example, who don’t put special weight on holidays and have families that live in two different countries, it would just seem a little…random. But for others, it’s a perfect fit. The significance should be about you and your partner rather than just a major day in everyone’s calendar.
Know Your Audience
Ultimately, think about your partner. If you know that she’s a more private person or someone who prefers intimate moments, then a New Year’s Eve party just isn’t the right setting. But if you know your partner is the life of the party who will enjoy being the center of attention and surrounded by loved ones, then what a way to celebrate the clock striking midnight!
And even though it shouldn’t have to be said, I’m going to say it: A public proposal is only appropriate if you know she’s going to say yes. If you haven’t been together that long, if you haven’t discussed marriage, if you’re just doing it on a romantic whim, it’s not fair to your partner to put her on the spot in front of people she loves and respects. So if you’re going to choose a holiday, you better be damn sure that it’s a yes. Or else you’ve ruined both the proposal and pretty much everyone’s Christmas.
Finding out the right day to propose is tricky. You want it to be absolutely perfect, and with such high expectations, it can become a very stressful experience. If you want your friends and family to be able to join in the celebration, then Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are popular options that have some built-in magic. But make sure it’s a fitting choice for you as a couple rather than just a popular day, because you want to get your engagement started off in way that’s right for you.