There’s nothing quite as intoxicating as the days and weeks leading up to your marriage proposal. Hey, you’re madly in love—head over heels so to say—and you can’t seem to stop thinking about her, how to propose, and your future together.
The mere idea of moving her relationship status from girlfriend to fiancée can be all-consuming.
Yet, it’s not enough to go engagement ring shopping, drop to one knee, and to pop the question. There are loads of articles out there on how to propose to your girlfriend (or how to propose to a man); such resources are fine if you want to spend hours trying to figure out which advice actually works (hint: most of it doesn’t).
Here’s the truth: asking your partner to marry you is a big deal and you only get one shot at pulling off a deeply romantic proposal she’ll love forever.
Most people make one of three mistakes when they propose to their loved one:
- fail to come up with a sound game plan, which should be the starting point for any memorable proposal;
- underestimate the time it takes to pull off a personalized proposal (the average gentleman spends approximately 4.5 months planning how to propose);
- make the surprise wedding proposal about themselves instead of their significant other.
… and with so many details to keep track of, popping the question can quickly become a little overwhelming …
But not with us.
You see, as #1 reviewed proposal photographer in Paris, I get to plan and witness fabulous marriage proposals almost daily (yes, that’s hundreds of proposals per year).
Importantly, I went through the process of planning how to propose myself … and spent countless hours analyzing why some surprise proposals just work while others tend to fizzle out.
If you’re serious about your surprise proposal, then you need to first watch this mini-film by Cartier.
Well, because when it comes to extraordinary proposals that touch the heart, this surprise proposal video offers three insanely inspiring ideas on h0w to propose (the Airport Proposal will give you Goosebumps and have you in tears …).
In this guide, I’m going to walk you through 14 essential tips on how to propose. Each tip contains proven, actionable advice that you’ll be able to turn to again and again as you plan a dream proposal that will make her proud (and her friends envious).
Ready to dive in? Let’s do this!
1. What’s your game plan?
We all want a surprise marriage proposal that will make her heart sing—one that flows naturally, feels sincere, and crescendos with an emotional surprise-element. But the difference between wanting and achieving is your ability to create and stick to a gameplan.
Interestingly, it’s less about the budget than your earnestness, effort, and personalization.
You know what? The proposal is not about you! It’s her day and all about her.
When you keep that in mind, it’s easier to invest in the right ring, select a location worthy of the amplitude of the moment, come up with a truly personalized proposal concept, and confidently deliver a message from your heart that will touch her deeply.
In turn, she’ll tell everyone she’s the luckiest girl in the world to be engaged to you—her loving and dedicated true love.
So while each proposal concept is as unique as the relationship you both share—and assuming she’s the soulmate you want to spend the rest of your life with—it’s crucial that your “Roadmap to Yes” starts with a gameplan that prioritizes your effort, time, and resources.
Personalizing your proposal can make a massive difference in how she experiences, remembers, and even tells everyone about it.
In fact, just by reading this guide on how to propose, you’re already ahead of the game … as long as you kick-off your proposal planning well in advance of your envisioned proposal date.
This fabulous “Do’s & Don’ts of Marriage Proposals” infographic, courtesy of John Cunningham (the owner of The Wedding Band Shop), suggests that the average gentleman spends 4.4 months planning his proposal.
You appreciate the need for a gameplan. Check.
But what to do when you’re short on time or simply lack creative proposal ideas? Well, you’re not alone.
My recommendation is to start with available online inspiration but then go one giant leap further by personalizing (and expanding upon) existing proposal concepts. Here’s a list of some of our favorite surprise wedding proposal resources:
Pinterest (search for the following keywords and consider adding your target city before or after the keywords, for example, Paris Proposal Tips):
- Proposal Ideas (Unique)
- Simple Proposal Ideas
- Cute proposal ideas
- Proposal Tips (for Guys)
- Marriage Proposals
- Marriage Proposal Ideas (Surprise)
- Surprise Proposal (Ideas)
- How to Propose (to Your Girlfriend)
- Best Ways to Propose
- Where to Propose
In this romantic Eiffel Tower proposal—filmed on an exclusive terrace at the Shangri-La Hotel by Ping Pang Films—you’ll see a scavenger hunt, a vintage Rolls-Royce, Champagne pop, classical harpist, a hand-written love note, and plenty of additional proposal inspiration.
2. Get her dad’s blessing.
And I’m not talking about a casual “I’d like to marry your daughter” phone call.
Officially asking your future father-in-law for his daughter’s hand is a signal of respect to him, to her, to tradition, and to the romantic institution of marriage.
With that said, you need to time your in-person visit to your girlfriend’s family such that …
- her dad is available and able to commit quality time (be respectful of his work schedule);
- Select a date and time when you know your girlfriend will be out of town or otherwise engaged as to not raise any suspicions. If you can trust your girlfriend’s best friend to keep a secret, I like the idea of sending them on a weekend-getaway together. Like this, you can visit your girlfriend’s family in peace of mind;
- If for some reason it’s not possible (or desirable) to ask her father, simply ask her mother or brother for permission. Remember that it’s about being considerate and paying respect to her and her family.
3. Decide when to propose.
Timing your surprise proposal date is easier said than done.
According to a British survey, Christmas Eve is the most popular day of the year to propose … followed by Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and the couple’s anniversary (interestingly, the same study maintains that 23% of women prefer that the proposal take place on Valentine’s Day).
The greatest advantage I see to proposing on a holiday or birthday is that your partner is less likely to suspect the surprise proposal, which means it’s easier to explain why she’d need to dress sharp, get out of bed early, or even why you’re taking her on a trip to Paris.
With that in mind, pick a date with personal significance to you as a couple while paying attention to the following calendar-related considerations:
- is your girlfriend available on your favored date? Consider her work schedule, school, kids or pets, birthdays, holidays, previous commitments, and other responsibilities;
- You need an official proposal date before you can hire a proposal photographer, make a restaurant reservation, book your flights and hotel, …;
- Will your marriage proposal involve extensive travel, the need to secure a visa, requesting her employer for time-off, …;
- Any seasonal constraints, e.g., expected weather conditions for an outdoor proposal, sunrise and sunset hours, airfare deals, availability of key vendors and venues, special events that could obstruct your fancied proposal spot (real examples I’ve experienced include Paris Fashion Week, United Nations event, demonstrations by the Yellow Vests, etc.).
Below is an actual email from a client who had booked me … just to realize that her girlfriend would not be able to get time off from work.
Happy New Year! I’m writing to get your opinion: I had originally scheduled the surprise proposal for October 1, and am now wondering whether we can postpone it until February? I know your schedule is extremely busy and I feel awful to ask you for this favor. I just found out that Kathy is unable to get this October off from work. Please let me know if it’s possible to switch the date? Anytime in February that works best for you. Thank you so much and have a great day.
Congratulations on picking a date for your surprise proposal. You’re all set to kick things into high gear, meaning you can now confidently hire a proposal team of vendors, get her ring engraved, book flights and hotel, reserve the perfect table for your first dinner as fiancées, …
With that said, choosing the right time of the day to propose has important ramifications—let me explain:
Whether you propose at sunrise or in the early evening, your goal should be to indulge her five senses every waking moment of the day.
In general, the two most popular times of the day to propose are at sunrise and before dinner.
- get things out of the way and have the maximum amount of time to celebrate your first day as fiancées
4. Get a ring as unique as your love.
In many cultures, the diamond engagement ring—made out of almost indestructible material—is considered a romantic symbol of endless love and commitment.
I’m not a big fan of spending more than you can afford (you don’t want to begin your marriage in debt, no?) and don’t give much credence to the 1-3-Months’ Gross Salary Rule, national averages (according to The Knot, the average cost of an engagement ring in 2016 was $6,163), or other general guidelines.
With that said, when you’re ready to put a ring on it, you can look at her diamond engagement ring as an investment in an appreciating asset, her happiness, and the commitment it represents to you as a couple.
And while there’s no right answer, you need to carefully balance your financial situation with her expectations, keeping the following in mind:
- the best place to start is by thinking in terms of a total marriage proposal budget that includes the ring and also accounts for travel + hotel, surprise proposal photographer & videographer, a romantic dinner, Champagne, flowers, musicians, and other personal touches;
- Be prepared to do plenty of research since you’re likely to spend real money on her engagement ring. As with any significant investment, quality jewelry comes at a cost;
- This nifty engagement ring affordability calculator allows you to estimate the cost of an engagement ring based on the quality of the diamond you’re after. I highly recommend that you first familiarize yourself with the 4Cs—cut, carat weight, color, and clarity—and ideally visit a reputable jewelry retailer in-person to get a sense of what kind of ring you want;
- Do you desire the distinctive Tiffany Blue Box? Well, you’re not alone, but you’ll need to pay a premium for the convenience that comes from dealing with a luxury brand. Just appreciate that companies, such as Tiffany, Cartier, Bulgari, and others spend millions on marketing and operate with higher margins … which in laymen’s terms means you’re paying more for an equivalent diamond ring;
- Finally, it happens that despite best efforts, she may still not love the ring or its setting. For instance, my wife didn’t like the modern setting I created for her diamond and so we ultimately changed it to something more classic. The point is to go with a reputable retailer who offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee with a hassle-free return policy, which amounts to increased peace of mind and value.
A popular option to save money on the engagement ring is to go with an online retailer, such as Blue Nile, which offers a fantastic 30-Day return or exchange policy as well as free, insured shipping. We are also big fans of James Allen, which offers a lifetime warranty, free international shipping, and a 100% money-back guarantee.
If you’re willing to put in a little extra work, then I’d book a ticket to New York City’s diamond district and get a fabulous GIA-certified loose stone diamond at wholesale … and then have a jeweler design a pretty setting for you. You can save up to 30%-50% off the retail price of a comparable ring at, say, Tiffany.
Another solution to keep costs down is to simply sacrifice on one of the 4C’s. Again, Blue Nile’s nifty calculator effortlessly lets you play around with the 4Cs variables and instantly see the impact on estimated price.
The diamond engagement ring is a precious investment she and others will enjoy on a daily basis … so you need to go with a ring she’ll absolutely love … one that speaks to her personality. Let’s face it, your beloved will be the one wearing the engagement ring and expect you to produce a fabulous piece of jewelry when you get down on one knee.
That means you should take your time to understand your girlfriend’s style and expectations first. Statistically speaking, 1 in 3 couples go engagement ring shopping together. Yet, unless your upcoming proposal is an open secret (some people are so particular about the ring that they want to pick it out themselves), try to figure out her style before going ring shopping.
You typically know your partner best, but there’s nothing wrong with enlisting her mom, sister or best friend for advice as long as they can keep a secret. Ask yourself whether your partner prefers gold or platinum, vintage or modern, trendy or classic, bold design or understatement, a natural fancy colored diamond or a white diamond (here’s a phenomenal primer on fancy colored diamonds).
And while we’re at it, take this quick quiz by Shane Co. that will ask you a few simple questions about your girlfriend’s lifestyle to help you understand her perfect engagement ring style.
If your girlfriend already wears a ring on her right ring finger, you can use it as a guide once she takes it off (just trace the inside of the ring on a piece of paper, or even slip it onto one of your fingers and mark the spot where it stops).
If you ultimately need to take a wild guess, note that the most common ring size for women is size 6 (16.5mm) and size 9 (19mm) for men.
Importantly, most rings can be resized if they don’t fit, which a reputable retailer will usually do complimentary. For example, James Allen will resize your engagement ring free-of-charge for 60 days from the date of purchase.
Adding an eternal message of love, a monogram or graphic, your proposal date, or initials is the ultimate way to personalize her diamond engagement ring.
Many reputable dealers will offer complimentary engraving but ask how long it will take so you can plan with confidence. If or some reason your jeweler is unable to engrave her ring, ask the jeweler to recommend someone who can.
Just make certain to double and even triple-check the desired inscription before you approve the final engraving design.
Well, you’re not done yet:
- make 100% sure that the engagement ring will be in your hands well before the marriage proposal date (no ring => uncool surprise proposal);
- Protect your investment against loss, damage, and theft with worldwide jewelry insurance; you may also want to check your homeowner’s insurance policy to see if it covers damaged or lost jewelry. Do note, however, that many homeowner’s insurance policies are subject to exclusions or maximum limits that may not cover the full replacement value of your ring (here’s a list of 16 ‘listed perils” that are typically fully or partially covered by homeowners insurance;
- If you’re considering a destination proposal (i.e., one that includes travel), you unquestionably want comprehensive insurance coverage. Importantly, you need to come up with a foolproof method of keeping the ring unnoticed as you and your girlfriend go through airport security and share a hotel room.
5. Do I need a proposal planner?
Well, it depends …
- are you considering a more elaborate surprise proposal and find it challenging to put together all the pieces on how to propose;
- Perhaps you just want to hire a wedding proposal planner to help you come up with creative proposal ideas;
- Or maybe you have your heart set on a destination proposal and don’t have the time to assemble an experienced local team of vendors;
- Flash mob anyone?
- Hey, I’ve worked with clients who hired a professional marriage proposal planner just to gain access to an exclusive venue, a rooftop terrace, celebrity performer, helicopter, vintage car, or a yacht …
If you go with a marriage proposal planner, make sure to understand her approach to proposal planning. Have her spell out the process from initial consultation over concept design to execution. What’s her method and frequency of communication? Does she charge the vendors she recommends a commission (think of conflicts of interest)? Can she leverage her relationships and reputation to secure a discount or added value for you?
The bottom line is that an experienced and well-connected marriage proposal planner will save you loads of time, inspire you with unique proposal ideas, and provide invaluable peace of mind on the date of your proposal. If you can afford a proposal planner, it is almost always worth it.
Some luxury resorts will direct their guest relations officer or catering staff to assist you when you book one of their exclusive suites, salons, roof-tops, or grounds & gardens. This works out well since such hotels have well-oiled systems and vetted vendor relationships in place. Essentially you’ll get the equivalent of a day-of coordinator at no additional cost to you.
And yet another option would be to lean on the experience and network of your photographer, videographer, and other vendors; it’s quite common for me to assist my clients with location choice, attire recommendations, timeline, a curated list of my favorite vendors, and even memorable ideas on how to propose like a rockstar.
6. Decide where to propose.
I’m going to come right out and connect the dots for you … your partner’s experience will be shaped by two things:
- how does reality meet (her) expectations;
- your ability to create a setting that stimulates her five senses in concert.
That should be music to your ears since you pretty much have full control over both elements and it’s relatively easy to move the needle in your favor when you appreciate the importance of location choice.
If she’s more the sentimental type, I’d consider taking her to a spot of personal significance, such as where you first met or professed your love for one another—it kind of symbolically brings your relationship full circle.
As you note in the photo above, Jeff chose to propose to Koeun at the Atelier Cologne, her favorite perfumery boutique. Jeff used his charm (and relationship with the New York-based Atelier Cologne) to privatize the Atelier Cologne in Le Marais, Paris. He even got the store manager to engrave their names and proposal date on her favored fragrance, Clémentine California.
Say she’s into adventure or the untamed wilderness, then a private helicopter tour in New Zealand or a majestic hot-air balloon ride in Colorado might just be beyond legendary! Hey, there’s always the mountaintop in Aspen, Colorado, where Paris Hilton said “yes” to Chris Zylka.
This crazy-epic proposal post by BRIDES is well worth your time if you’re after an extraordinary destination proposal, but are not quite sure where to go.
Next, ask yourself whether she’s more of a public or private person. Unless you think she would appreciate curious onlookers and spectators, I’d recommend making your proposal as private and exclusive as possible.
Public proposals don’t necessarily make things easier—especially when you’re thinking of, say, a flash mob or streaming your proposal onto a jumbo-screen in a stadium during a live event (here’s how to propose at a live baseball game).
Then again, the whole idea of a public proposal is presumably to have it witnessed by the cheering masses, right? As such, you at least don’t need to worry as much about crowd management and other potential distractions, and can instead shift your focus to messaging and logistics.
To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with proposing in front of family, friends, or even thousands of people. After all, you know your partner, traditions, and cultural practices best.
Well, as you might imagine, you’re not done yet. Most cosmopolitan cities offer plenty of fabulous options. Options, in turn, mean you’ll need to make some decisions … let me explain applying a simple, real-life example:
Say you have your heart set on a romantic Eiffel Tower Paris surprise proposal. You could propose in plain public view, e.g. the Bir-Hakeim Bridge, Champs de Mars, Alexander III Bridge, along the Seine River or Trocadéro.
As you see from the photograph above, the public view can be stunningly beautiful and, at times, even offer privacy … if you’re lucky …
With that said, as in any major cosmopolitan city, it’s equally possible to arrive at, say, Trocadéro just to find the square
- blocked off for the filming of Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster;
- congested with tourists, Paris photographers, street vendors, thieves, and other bystanders;
- obstructed by large cranes building out a runway set for Yves Saint Laurent during Paris Fashion Week;
Or you could opt for a more discrete vantage point of the Eiffel Tower, e.g., from an exclusive terrace or rooftop at the Shangri-La Hotel, The Peninsula Paris, Raphael Paris, or the Four Seasons Hotel George V.
Enhanced control over your environment:
- more privacy: privacy and intimacy seem to go together. In the absence of any public boundaries, some of us simply do not feel comfortable expressing our true self, exposing vulnerability, and sharing our most personal thoughts;
- Noise control: allows you to reduce noise from cars, bystanders, and other unwanted distractions … and you might even be able to softly play her favorite song in the background;
- Ability to personalize the marriage proposal setting: since you now de facto rented space, you, the proposal planner, florist, or the venue’s catering staff are free to transform the environment according to your vision and surprise proposal concept—candles, rose petals, musicians, scavenger hunt, candlelight dinner, a personal butler, and a host of other cute proposal ideas;
- Predictable lighting conditions: light is the one element nobody wants to pay for; yet, it affects our five senses and helps bring the atmosphere to life. Imagine being able to create a romantic setting with the same exposure as the Eiffel Tower at night—it’s just you both and the most magical structure in the universe.
Timeline flexibility is a significant side-benefit of acquiring a private venue—notably for surprise proposals given that it’s not always straightforward to get your partner to be ready and show up at the designated spot without giving away the surprise.
Weather contingency plan: well, I always tell my couples to box up their worries and not stress over factors beyond their control, such as the weather. I don’t give much credence to Plan B thinking. With that said, venues that offer both indoor and outdoor solutions will often accommodate a surprise proposal location switch on short notice … which, ultimately, amounts to more sanity, right?
7. Book a photographer & videographer.
Let’s make this one easy: you absolutely need to hire a professional proposal photographer to document your surprise proposal forever.
Sure, we’ve all heard horror stories of proposal photographers who ruined the surprise element, missed the actual proposal, or otherwise diminished the experience.
Then again, that’s all the more incentive to take the photography decision seriously and invest in the best proposal photographer you can afford—an experienced and caring professional who’ll deliver extraordinary pictures fast (yes, you’ll typically want a few spectacular photos that very same day … when you announce the great news to the world).
The simple answer is you need to get to know and trust your photographer and love her work.
Identify a handful of professional surprise proposal photographers whose proposal photos and style speak to you. A great place to start your research is Google. Other helpful sources include Instagram, Pinterest, Yelp, WeddingWire, your proposal planner, authoritative wedding blogs, and friends and family.
Next, find out what other customers have to say about the photographers you’re considering. Any photographer worth hiring for such an important life-event should have plenty of 5-Star testimonials readily available on the Knot, Google, Yelp, Facebook, …
Now you’re ready to reach out to your favorite photographers; do so as soon as possible to ensure their availability. Chances are that if an artist is good enough for you, she’s also good enough for other gentlemen. In other words, good people get booked fast and well in advance.
For a multi-photographer studio, make sure to understand whom you’d be working with and have it documented contractually.
In your inquiry email, be personable, engaging, passionate, and forthcoming with as much information as you feel comfortable sharing. Tell the photographers about you as a couple, why your partner is your soulmate, your initial ideas on how to propose, and what you love about their photography.
People like to work with people they like … and you might even get a better deal when a photographer feels like you’re a brilliant fit.
It’s a good time to ask potential photographers for their collections and pricing options. Just be mindful to not make your inquiry about price per se. It’s a touch uninspiring and can come across as though you’re looking to buy a commodity rather than invest in a compassionate companion to document one of the most special moments in your relationship.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices of potential proposal photographers, you must decide how much you want to invest in your photography services?
The answer depends on multiple factors—notably on your economic situation, your overall proposal budget, and how important the photos and photography experience are to you as a couple. Just keep in mind that there are no do-overs and that photography may be more important to her than to you.
You see, proposals (and weddings as you’ll find out soon) do not come cheap … and chances are you’re already spending a pretty penny on the ring, a fancy hotel, potentially flying your families into town, props & Champagne, fine dining, the proposal setting, and a host of other elements related to your proposal concept.
Why then take a risk and cut corners on the documentation?
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The short answer is a resounding “Yes” since proposal videos—when done right—are splendidly complementary to photography.
Take a look at one of the best proposal videos ever, masterfully filmed at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte by Chris from Zen Film Works, to get a sense of how marriage proposal videos add emotional context, movement, and energy in a different way from photography.
Just imagine streaming your love story film onto a large screen at your wedding reception moments before your grand entrance … Goosebumps and tears are virtually guaranteed.
If you’re not convinced, yet, then here are 10 wedding proposal videos sure to have you in tears.
Filmmakers—and, by extension, marriage proposal videos—are not created equal … and you pretty much get what you pay for.
That’s why you need to step up and confidently invest in a professional cinematographer who is experienced, discrete, and appreciates that this will be a once-in-a-lifetime moment for you. Anything less is probably a waste of your resources and potentially sets you up for disappointment.
Here are some of the most common questions and answers we get all the time when it comes to proposal videos and proposal videographers.
What are surprise proposal videos?
The best marriage proposal videos typically fall into one of two categories:
Budget-friendly marriage proposal videos: your proposal videographer primarily captures the actual surprise proposal on film—pretty much from the moment you approach your proposal setting until she accepts the diamond engagement ring.
Typically, even such basic coverage includes so-called b-roll of the general vicinity and details as well as footage of you both connecting, kissing, hugging, holding hands, and celebrating. Your edited marriage proposal video will be set to music with a duration of 1-2 minutes.
Deluxe or upscale marriage proposal videos: your proposal videographer spends several hours (sometimes even multiple days) with you after documenting your surprise wedding proposal. There is really no creative limit to what you can achieve, including Goosebumps-inducing interviews and your proposal speech.
The final product will be a substantial film of 4-5 minutes beautifully set to music … something you’ll want to watch over and over, possibly stream at your wedding reception before the grand entrance “… let us welcome for the very first time as husband and wife …,” and even include on your wedding website.
Why do people like surprise proposal videos?
People love wedding proposal videos for pretty much the same reasons they like surprise proposal photos, namely because proposal videos capture a once-in-a-lifetime moment forever … for you to enjoy and relive with your loved one.
If you’re still undecided on whether a marriage proposal video is for you, then check out these 10 marriage proposal videos that will make you cry.
How can I identify and hire the right proposal videographer for me?
I’d suggest applying a similar approach to what you’ll use to secure your proposal photographer. Also, note that it takes a unique skill set and experience for a videographer to capture a proposal. Just because a filmmaker is great at capturing, say weddings or stylized films, does not mean she’d be qualified to document a live proposal.
First, identify a handful of talented filmmakers whose work you love; you can use Google or YouTube to search for videographers near you or who are located in the city you intend to propose. Make sure you understand their work and look for some element of consistency; avoid stylized films since they allow for do-overs and are not representative of what you should expect.
If you’re using a proposal planner, ask her for 3-5 recommendations that suit your overall proposal budget. If your planner can negotiate a better rate or additional value on your behalf, ask her to reach out for availability and pricing.
Alternatively, ask your photographer, friends, or even the catering director of the hotel where you’ll spend the first night as fiancée and fiancé for recommendations. Oftentimes, catering managers have a curated list of vetted film vendors they know, like and trust.
Next, reach out to a short-list of potential proposal videographers and openly share your story, why you like their work, and be forthcoming with any additional information to better manage expectations. You might want to already mention your approximate videography budget and specify your preferred date(s) and anticipated hours of video coverage.
How much videography coverage do I need for my proposal?
Well, it depends on multiple factors, including your budget, whether it’s a complete surprise proposal and, of course, your vision for the final film product. If you’re merely looking for a videographer to just capture the actual proposal, then the artist’s minimum coverage should suffice (typically 30 minutes or 1 hour).
However, when you’re after a film that tells your story, the sky is seriously the limit and you probably want to invest in as many hours as you can afford.
We have seen films where the videographer will secretly interview you before the proposal (possibly in your hotel lobby if you can sneak away from your girlfriend for a few minutes) or have you narrate your own film after she says “Yes.”
Is it important that my photographer and videographer have worked together before?
No, it is not really necessary when you hire professionals. With that said, it is desirable that you connect your proposal photographer and videographer as early in the process as possible. They can then coordinate amongst themselves so you are assured of a smooth, discrete and amazing experience.
Do I need more than one videographer to capture my proposal?
Typically, two cinematographers will add additional angles, focal lengths (wide and zoom), and creative interpretations of your proposal. The result should be reflected in a stronger overall film.
Hiring two videographers allows you to capture her reaction in addition to the main perspective of the proposal (i.e. you both parallel to your desired backdrop).
One often-overlooked benefit of booking two filmmakers is that the probability of actually missing a significant moment is substantially reduced (keep in mind that when your proposal takes place in a public setting, there’s always a small chance that a car or bystander could suddenly obstruct the main perspective).
On the other hand, more videographers typically imply additional costs and sometimes an increased potential to intrude or possibly even give away the surprise element.
Can you recommend any amazing proposal videographers?
Of course. While this list is by no way exhaustive and constantly updated, here are a few recommendations we have personally vetted. They are exceptionally talented, passionate, caring, and experienced … and will do an amazing job for you.
Zen Film Works
Ping Pang Films
Ray Roman Films
8. What to say when you propose.
It’s not enough to come up with a romantic proposal concept, an eye-catching engagement ring, and to drop to your knee. Your partner likely expects more … and deserves more.
And while there are no hard rules, it’s probably safe to say that you should budget a fair amount of time and effort to perfect your marriage proposal speech. When you rehearse, try saying the words out l0ud, look in a mirror, and practice opening the engagement ring box with the ring facing up and forward.
Just like with her engagement ring—which symbolically brings your relationship full circle—your “Will you marry me?” moment should be prefaced by a story that powerfully sets the tone, sharpens her senses of what’s about to happen, and connects the dots between how far you’ve come as a couple and where you’re going on your life journey.
Chances are you’ll be a nervous wreck in the hours leading up to the proposal. If she knows you well, she will likely suspect that something is not quite normal … and that is how it is supposed to be.
As already mentioned, whether you’re a polished speaker or not, I highly recommend jotting down some notes months ahead of the proposal date. Then, over time, pull out your proposal speech to refine and rehearse. This is an iterative process … and the more you practice and refine, the more confident you’ll feel.
There’s plenty of advice out there on what to say, including a crash course courtesy of The Knot and Martha Stewart. Yet, you know your partner best. So when your heart is pure, and you’re completely focused on her and convey how much she means to you … then that’s perfectly fine.
Here are a few starter-questions to help you make your marriage proposal speech more meaningful:
- provide some historical context on how your relationship has evolved since you met;
- How is she the soulmate who completes you?
- How does she enrich your life, inspire you, and make you better?
- Why is she the person you aspire to live with forever?
- What is it about her that you love before you fall asleep and when you wake up?
- Where do you see your future together—paint a picture and tell a story?
I’m a big fan of Richard Gere’s surprise wedding proposal pitch to Julia Roberts in The Runaway Bride, where he so magically delivers the following lines:
If you’re too nervous or simply not great with words, it is acceptable to put your marriage proposal speech in writing as one of my clients did recently:
“Life before you was colorless … life with you has been a dream … life without you will be unknown from this moment on. Your future husband, Ashton.”
9. The do’s and don’ts of proposals.
Practicing the pitch is one thing. Then there’s still that little detail of getting on your knee. Even the less traditional gentlemen among us … suck it up, drop down, and make her feel like the most desirable woman in the universe. It will make the proposal more romantic and visually impactful. Anything less would rightfully be considered lazy.
Chances are you’ll be comforting her tightly while you deliver your “Will You Marry Me” pitch. However, when you’re ready to get down on your knee,
- do take one big step backward;
- Do kneel down on your knee (it doesn’t really matter which knee touches the ground even though many people will try to convince you otherwise … what is important, however, is that the tip of your rear foot touches the ground as in the photo below);
- Do mind your posture and feet spacing;
- Do present the open ring box (with the ring facing her) with both hands as you would anything precious;
- Do look her directly in the eyes and ask her to marry you;
- Don’t get up from your knee until she comes to you to accept the ring (it might feel like an eternity, but be patient);
- You can put the ring on her finger while you are on your knee or after you get up. But Do make sure to leave the ring box on the ground so you can use both hands to put the ring on her finger;
- Do slide the ring up to her knuckle and pause briefly to look her in the eyes (and always remember how she looked at you when you put the ring on the finger);
- Don’t feel obliged to immediately turn to your photographer or videographer, but instead hold her tightly, enjoy, and connect;
- Don’t carry a wallet, phone, keys, or anything in any of your pant pockets. Bulkiness will show in your photos and video (and cannot easily be removed);
- Do maintain perfect eye contact throughout the duration of your proposal—notably, while you’re on your knee asking her to marry you;
- Do discretely try to get her to tie her hair into a bun or pull it back so it does not conceal her face/reaction when she accepts the ring (it’s a little challenging but well worth the effort);
- Do dress to impress and unbutton your jacket buttons since your jacket might otherwise look clumsy when you lift the ring box up towards her.
In most western countries, the engagement band goes on the “ring” finger of the left hand (the fourth finger).
10. What to wear when you propose?
Look, figuring out what you should wear is the easy part. After all, you only get engaged once and you might as well dress to impress. Formal wear is by no means necessary, but stylish attire is.
Your choice of proposal location will typically influence your outfit choice. For instance, you’d presumably bundle up warm for a mountain top proposal whereas you’d probably not wear a suit and tie when you propose at home.
As a rule of thumb, style trumps comfort.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need to be able to hide her engagement ring box; also appreciate that the knee portion of your pants might take some abuse.
Now, do not underestimate the importance of comfort
13. She said “Yes.” What’s next?
I’m not a big fan of proposing in a restaurant—it certainly does not photograph well, and is typically not private. Some restaurants may even deny you the possibility to bring a photographer along.
That said, you need to invest in an amazing brunch and/or dinner on the day you propose. Make reservations well in advance.
- TAKE YOUR TIME, before, during, and after she says “YES”
- send a selfie to me on the day of the proposal so I can instantly spot you from a distance
- do not carry any wallet, phone, or keys in your pockets so they do not show in your photos
- we need to see her face and reaction; ideally, try to have her pull her hair back or in a bun
- deliver your “Will you marry me?” pitch before you get on your knee
- stay on your knee at least 5 seconds; have her come to you to get you off your knee (do not feel obliged to get up fast)
- mark your ring box in a way that you can easily figure out in the heat of the moment what the front and back is so you can open the box with the ring facing her
- bring your relationship full circle as you comfort her and gain her full attention. Then take a step back and drop to your knee
- look her in the eyes and make her feel like the most amazing woman in the universe
- we can also organize a violinist which is always a special touch and you might want to consider Champagne?