So, you've found the girl (or guy) of your dreams, decided it's time to pop the question, and picked out the ring. Now what?
We know how overwhelming it can be to figure out how exactly to ask someone to spend the rest of their life with you, so in honor of National Proposal Day on March 20 (yes, apparently it's a holiday), we called in the experts. Professional proposal planners know better than anyone how to put together the perfect proposal, so we asked them: What are your biggest pieces of advice for people planning to pop the question? They responded with tips and guidelines you won't want to forget, no matter how big (or small) your plan is.
Check out the slideshow below for eight tips on planning a spectacular proposal.
Personalize The Proposal
The number-one tip cited by many of the proposal planners we spoke to is to make sure the proposal is personalized. Proposal planner <a href="http://lizieanne.com/">Lizie Anne Hunt</a> said you should think about two things: what describes you as a couple, and what makes her smile. "He should know what she likes to do. If she's a party person and loves going out and having a good time, then bring that in," Hunt said. "If she likes reading, maybe have the proposal at the library." Hunt said she doesn't know any woman who wouldn't appreciate a proposal that's personalized to what she likes. "To a girl, it just shows they took that extra step to make it really special," she said. "It speaks volumes to a woman."
Pick A Time That's Least Expected
Unless she's indicated she wants you to propose on a certain day, avoid popping the question at expected times like holidays and during vacations, said proposal planner <a href="http://denverproposalplanning.com/">Chelle Smith</a>. "If it's unexpected, it catches you off guard and your true emotions come out." For the proposal pictured left, the groom-to-be surprised his girlfriend one ordinary weekend with s'mores and a fire while they were out exploring the mountains.
When it comes to being prepared, Boy Scouts have it right, said Sarah Pease, The Proposal Planner from <a href="http://www.brillianteventplanning.com/">Brilliant Event Planning</a>. Think about everything that could go wrong with your proposal and plan accordingly. "It doesn’t have to be an elaborate plan, but many times even a simple plan can be thrown off," Pease said. "If you’re planning on doing it on a Friday night, what if she works late or what if she plans an early morning yoga class and doesn’t want to go out to dinner that night? What if you expect her at 5:30 and she gets there at 6?" For the proposal pictured at left, the bride-to-be was surprised at her hotel suite with a trough filled with crystals, a tiara, Queen Mary Louboutin shoes and a ring.
Make It Memorable
Engagement planner Crystal Adair-Benning, of <a href="http://www.distinctoccasions.ca/" target="_hplink">Distinct Occasions Event Planning</a>, said the advice to "make it memorable" is "kind of 'duh,'" but it's important. "Yeah, if she loves you and you just kneel down in a snowbank she'll probably say yes, but don't you want that amazing story and memory for you to share and tell your children and grandchildren about one day?" she said. "It means everything." Adair-Benning said the key to making the proposal memorable is to get inside her head and figure out what would "wow" her. For the proposal pictured to the left, the groom worked with an artist to draw his "vision for the future," then he gave it to his bride-to-be at a castle in Toronto.
Take Three Deep Breaths
Before you pop the question, calm and center yourself by taking three deep breaths. Erin Mavian of <a href="http://blueprintproposals.com/">Blueprint Proposals</a> said that when it's time to propose, everything you planned to say often comes rushing out, so it's crucial you give yourself a moment to pause and take it all in. "By taking those three deep breaths it really is going to ground you and remind you what it is that you're doing, so you don't just blurt everything out all at once," Mavian said.
Listen To Her Cues
Before you can figure out how you're going to propose, you need to listen to the signals your partner is already giving you about how she'd like you to pop the question, said Damon and Sarah Goude of <a href="http://www.regalodesign.com/">Regalo Design</a>. Pay attention to how she's reacted to various proposals she's seen in movies and magazines, and think back to what she's said she would want. For the proposal at left, the bride-to-be had expressed her desire to be dressed up and have a photographer there, so she could use the photos for their save-the-dates -- and that's exactly what she got. "You really need to listen to the cues she’s giving you about the way she wants to be proposed to," Damon said. "And if she hasn’t told you, she's definitely told her girlfriends," Sarah added.
Don't Confuse "Shock" And "Surprise"
Proposal planner Michele Velazquez of <a href="http://www.theheartbandits.com/">The Heart Bandits</a> cautioned men against "bamboozling" their girlfriends instead of simply surprising them. "Some people ask us to hire policemen to chase down their girlfriends, and then at the end the guy's going to be the hero because no one would have ever expected this crazy proposal," Velazquez said. "It's not about doing something totally crazy and bizarre and she would never expect it and is uncomfortably shocking. It's more of just creating a plan and making it not seem like an obvious thing." In the proposal pictured at left, the groom-to-be surprised his girlfriend by filling a room with candles, pictures and love notes and serenading her with a song.
You want to be able to remember your proposal, so don't forget to ask a photographer to snap some photos. "Having a photographer there to take pictures so you can remember the moment forever is a really big deal for girls nowadays," said proposal planner Heather Vaughn of <a href="http://www.theyesgirls.com/about-us/meet-the-yes-girls.aspx">The Yes Girls</a>. "They are always so ecstatic when they find out a photographer was there." Have the photographer hide during the proposal, so they don't spoil the surprise.
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