How to plan a cinema-worthy surprise engagement proposal for your girlfriend
Our customers love coming in to recount their proposal stories. Some proposal tales have been worthy of Ryan Gosling's The Notebook performance. Others were closer to Seth Rogan in Knocked Up. While it is very much the thought that counts, a dreamy proposal with some effort can really mean a lot to a girl.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but you do need to make it special.
Here’s our complete guide to proposing to your girlfriend - from romantic dinner ideas to exotic locales travel precautions.
Proposing at dinner is traditional and quite spectacular. Everything you need is at your finger tips. The champagne (make sure you have it come after you propose so the surprise isn’t ruined); the intimacy of a cozy table (ask the restaurant for a corner booth); the excitement of having everyone around you toast and congratulate you afterwards. The best way to execute this is to call the restaurant in advance. You may want to propose right after the appetizers come, which is a natural lull in service and good time for to prearrange for the wait-staff to let you be for a while so you can execute your proposal.
Great locations for such a proposal are your favorite restaurant where everyone knows you guys or the site of your first date. We’ve even heard of fantastic proposals where all of their family and friends joined the couple for dessert and drinks at the restaurant after the proposal.
If you choose to go the fancy restaurant route instead, then try to conceal your intentions. For example, you can try to throw her off by telling her that you want to go to dinner there because it’s with an important potential client or an out of town friend. This will ensure that a proposal won’t be on her mind. Then set your phone alarm and pretend that your client or friend is calling you. Step outside to take the call and say they canceled on you and it’ll just be the two of you. She won’t be disappointed and it will guarantee a surprise.
In front of the jewelry store
Almost every girl vividly remembers Breakfast at Tiffany’s and that episode of Sex and the City when Charlotte picks our her ring from the jewelry store window. Imagine her giddiness if you grab brunch with her and then take a stroll down Union. You stop in front of La Bijouterie and say something like: “Should we get you a beautiful engagement ring today?” She might laugh but right then you can tell her everything you feel and walk right in to choose the ring of her dreams. (Of course you'll want to give us a call in advance so that we’re prepared for you to come in and choose among a variety of diamonds and rings in your budget range.)
Doing a mundane task
If you really want to guarantee a surprised reaction - give her the ring while you’re doing the dishes or walking the dog. Having a proposal come out of nowhere is very exciting. You can have her family on standby later, or take her to dinner afterwards.
This is a particularly great proposal plan if she thinks romantic comedies are cheesy or if she isn’t the type to like frilly dresses and random strangers congratulating her. Just be sure that what you say isn’t mundane. Make it very heartfelt and romantic, and she'll have the most unique story of all of her friends.
On a beach or mountain top
Proposing at the beach or on a cliff can be very dreamy for many couples. If you hike or visit the beach often, then treat it like an everyday activity so that she doesn’t suspect anything. If you don’t often visit the beach, and you insist on having a beach day out of nowhere, then she might be suspicious, especially if you’ve discussed engagement in the months prior. So just make sure that the beach is a common activity for you and that you have a way to maintain the element of surprise.
Abroad on vacation together
This is a very romantic way to propose. Especially if you do it when she least expects it.
If you haven't let her in on your engagement plans, you have the freedom to propose in just about any famously romantic locale - whether that’s the Eiffel Tower or the Taj Mahal. Just be sure to pull her away from the tourists so that you don’t get interrupted.
There’s something very sweet and romantic about proposing somewhere like the Empire State Building or on a Venetian gondola. Like a 1950’s Clark Gable movie, it’s classic and guaranteed romance.
While guys often think it’s cheesy, girls love tried and true proposal edifices like the Eiffel Tower; you’re almost guaranteed that she’ll cry happy tears.
On the other hand, if she’s aware of the fact that you might propose soon, then you can still absolutely propose overseas, you just need to be strategic about it. If she suspects that you have a ring in your pocket, then be sure that you don’t visit traditional proposal spots before you propose. She might be anticipating a proposal, and it can be a bit of a let down if you take her somewhere that feels like a proposal destination and you don’t pop the question.
A few things to keep caution of regarding travel w/your ring. Every airport is different, but all of them do body scans. So if you keep your ring in your pocket, be careful that they don’t make you expose it in front of her. If you want to let it run through screening in your carry on luggage, be sure you place it in a secure nonchalant bag so that it doesn’t get stolen or fall out.
If you are traveling somewhere potentially dangerous, it may be smart to propose using a cubic zirconia - also known as a CZ - so that you don’t risk getting it stolen or lost. Make sure that the diamond is around the same size that you plan to give to her eventually, so that’s it’s similar to the real thing she’ll be wearing.
After you’ve proposed and shared the special moment, ask her: “What kind of an engagement ring would you like?” The next part is extra fun - she gets to work with you and your jeweler to help design her engagement ring.
A word to the wise - whether you purchase and design your ring with or without her, be sure to hide the ring receipts somewhere she will never find them. Many proposals been ruined when the check receipts or bank statements arrived at the house. Also be sure to engage her in some element of proposal talk beforehand so that you can figure out what kind of ring she wants. For more proposal tips check out our blog post on how to create the perfect ring for her.
The Best Time of Year to Propose
Ah yes, the smell of summer is in the air and with that comes the excitement of summer proposals. Although summer isn’t the most popular time to propose, (that would be winter, more specifically, Christmas Day), it is when many who are hoping for a summer wedding wish they would be proposed to.
Typically speaking, planning a wedding takes roughly a year, so whichever month you decide to propose often times determines the season of your upcoming nuptials. This is because most vendors require you to book at least a year out.
Instead of using a cliche holiday like Valentine’s Day or your significant other’s Birthday to pop the question, try finding a special date that the two of you can celebrate and reminisce on each year.
There is no right or wrong time to propose since it is so personal to each couple. Perhaps hinting to find out if a snowy white proposal vs. a beach proposal is something your person might prefer and working off of that. Are you planning an upcoming trip with just the two of you? That might also be a great time to get down on one knee. Does your love like being the center of attention? If so, do we dare suggest a dance mob as part of their ultimate proposal. On the flip side, a more reserved, private person might just prefer a quiet in home proposal.
One helpful tip that can make a lasting impression is finding out if having family nearby is important to them once they do get proposed to. Meeting up with both of your families can be the grand finale to a wonderful day!
Whatever the type of proposal or time of year you decide, when it comes from the heart there is little else that matters.