Hello [Ladies and] Gentlemen!

Guys, I'm looking at you. Do you know that girls fantasize about their future husband, proposal and wedding for years? No, really. Like, we plan this stuff out before we exit our mother's womb. And it has probably changed 100 times over because, well, we are women. The point is, whether she has dreamed of you flying her to Paris and getting down on one knee with the Eiffel Tower in the background or being proposed to in front of her entire family at Christmas, most women would tell you all of these things before you pop the question:

1. Ask her parents. I cannot stress this enough. If your almost-fiancé has any sort of relationship with her parents, it's important that you ask their permission. Even if she hasn't said it to you, trust me she wants to know that her parents fully support her upcoming proposal and impending nuptials. And the parents will absolutely love you for it.

2. Talk to her best friends. Before you even had a thought of proposing, I can guarantee you that she has already talked to her best friends about you, the ring, the proposal and the wedding. So do yourself a favor when you start looking for rings and planning it and just talk to her best friends. It will be like tapping into a secret Narnia of engagement wisdom, all specific to your almost-fiancé. Her friends can probably tell you where and when she wants it (or expects it) to happen, and what kind of ring she wants. Now, that doesn't mean you have to follow that exactly (because that's maybe a little too safe), but it will at least tell you what she wants and envisions and what you can do to throw her off in the weeks leading up to it.

3. Make it personal. If she likes the big cliché stuff, like proposing in paris, or at Christmas in front of her whole family, then go for it. But if she hasn't expressed a desire to get engaged during a flash mob (so 2014), let's move on. Think about your relationship. Where did you first meet? Where was your first date? First time you said I love you? How about a place that is meaningful to only you, but involves her, like the first place that YOU realized you were going to marry her? When guys put some thought into proposing and make it wildly personal, girls melt over that stuff. It doesn't have to be expensive, or extravagant, or beautiful. In fact, one of the most special proposals I have ever seen was this one on YouTube. The supplies for the proposal cost probably $20 in photos and some string and voila! Are there onions in here? I'm not crying, you're crying.

4. Research her ring. If she's anything like me, I'm crazy picky (and most girls are), which is funny because I want the most SIMPLE ring you can get. But before you even tackle diamonds (the four C's), there's so much to know about the setting, metal type, ring size, matching bands, I can keep going.... Again, this is where talking to her friends, and maybe even stalking her Pinterest board might come in handy. If you don't know what Pinterest is, go to www.pinterest.com, make yourself an account, search for your girlfriend's name, and then find a board that says something sappy and cliché, like "Best Day of My Life" or "Miss to Mrs." You're welcome.

5. Make sure her nails are done. Recruit help for this; do not try to do this on your own - she will suspect something is up. This is where her best friends come in real "hand-y" (I couldn't resist that pun).

6. Get creative. If she even thinks it's coming, she will anticipate it at every single event. Yes, even Chinese takeout. If you shave out of the blue, she thinks it's happening. If it's your anniversary, her birthday, or a holiday, she thinks it's coming. If it's Saturday night, she thinks it's coming. And God forbid you go to the beach... she definitely thinks it's coming. You and her friends and her family are [probably] going to have to tell her a few white lies to get her to stop anticipating it. Make up stories and scenarios that set the scene for something totally different than a proposal.

My best friend recently got engaged (on a Tuesday) after going to dinner with her mom that was disguised as a girl's night of dinner/shopping. Dinner was brought to you by a recent restaurant gift card (lie) followed by shopping at her favorite store because a big sale was happening (lie again). I even told her that I had won two manicures in a work raffle earlier that month (lies, lies, lies) to convince her to get her nails done earlier in the day because I was having a crappy week and needed girl time (lie). In fact, all day she kept complaining to me that her boyfriend hadn't popped the question yet. By saying nothing to her complaining, it would raise suspicion that I knew something, so I told her (with my best poker face) "well, he hasn't given me a date yet for the proposal, so..." (TOTAL lie), to throw her off.

7. Put some thought into what you want to say to her. Some guys are really great with words and can walk into any situation - nerves and all - and whip out the most heartfelt speech. Unless you're a pro with words, I wouldn't advise this. Although she will probably be in hysteria from emotion and excitement and won't remember much of what you say, it is still important. Tell her what you love about her. Tell her when you knew. Tell her why it's her and it will always be her. Tell her what kind of husband you promise to be. Tell her what you're looking forward to in your life together. Tell her why you chose that day and location (if it holds any significance). Your words are so important.

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Need some inspiration? Check out these proposal stories:

Other things to consider:

  • Should you hire a photographer and/or videographer?
  • Would she like to have a celebration afterwards? I.e. dinner, party, etc.
  • Does she want her family and friends involved?
  • Does she want a public or private proposal?
  • Does she want to pick out her own ring?

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