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How to Propose to Him

When you're ready to take the plunge and do the proposing, read on for our eight man-friendly proposal hints.
Gold wedding bands
Clary Photo
Lori Seto
by Lori Seto
Updated Jul 20, 2020

Can a woman propose to a man? Yes, of course, she can. And the best part about proposing to your man? You decide when it happens. No more waiting around for Mr. Slowpoke to get in gear. Better yet, this is relatively uncharted territory, so there are no pesky rules or protocols to follow, unless you want to ask his mom for permission!

That said, we polled experts for their advice, including Paul Alden, president of Will You Marry Me? Proposal Planners, and Christy Anderson, who authored Down on One Knee and proposed to her boyfriend a year after he had proposed -- unsuccessfully -- to her (she wasn't ready at the time and, out of respect for his feelings, decided it was her turn to put her neck out). Believe it or not, women proposing to men is not a new concept. Plenty of women have decided to drop down on one knee and do the asking themselves. Interested in popping the big question yourself? Here are our eight hints on how to propose to a man. 

Tips for Women Proposing to Men

Be Sure You're Ready

First things first. Take your relationship's temperature: Is it truly time to make it official? If you're still feeling significant uncertainty, concentrate on strengthening your relationship first. If you two are the model of a marriage-ready couple, forge ahead with our next piece of advice on how to propose to a man. 

Be Honest About Your Motives

Don't propose because you want to see where your relationship stands. If you don't know, wise up: Alarm bells, not wedding bells, are what you're hearing in your head. Never propose out of desperation for feedback; resorting to this type of ultimatum on such an important issue means you're not ready to tie the knot. Also, don't propose out of necessity or the fear of losing your relationship due to outside circumstances, such as military deployment, school or job relocations. 

Consider Your Partner's Stance

Have you had conversations about the idea of marriage? Have you discussed the possibility of marriage or what your future together may look like? Is he open to the idea of marriage and does he have any hangups? Before popping the big question, make sure you and your guy are on the same page. At this point in your relationship, getting married should be about when, not if. You don't want to take a gamble. Only propose if you're fairly certain he will answer with a loud and resounding "yes!"

Know Thy Mate

By far the most important part of planning a successful proposal is to remember that this is not about your dream proposal, it's about his. Just as a man should know better than to broadcast his proposal across a blimp to a girlfriend who is quiet and shy just because he thinks it would be cool, you should cater your proposal to his personality. This goes double when proposing to men because it's so unusual for a woman to do the asking (Alden estimates that only 6 percent of his clients are women). If he's old-fashioned or doesn't like surprises, parachuting into his softball game in a wedding gown is definitely a bad idea.

Choose a Meaningful Location

When in doubt, a private location for a proposal may be best when it comes to women proposing to men. Do you have a favorite hiking trail or spot to catch the sunset? Maybe consider where you had your first date or a place that is especially meaningful to your relationship. It doesn't have to be a widely public proposal if that's not you or your man's style.

Be Sensitive to His Ego

Kudos to you for being the first to pledge faith in your future together, but keep in mind that he may be a little disappointed that you stole his thunder, whether he was planning a proposal or not. If this is the case, Anderson suggests reminding him that your proposal doesn't mean he can't ask you back when he's ready (with a ring)!

Buy a Gift for Both of You

On that note, don't expect him to go out and buy you an engagement ring and don't give him a ring -- or any other form of promissory jewelry -- without buying one for yourself. Some of the items Alden's clients have used include matching necklace pendants, I.D. bracelets, and simple gold bands. It doesn't have to be expensive, just meaningful.

Think Unique

Plan a proposal with your shared history in mind. Choose a meaningful day, significant location and theme, for example, and be very attentive to details. Take the time to make it special and personal so that he'll feel cherished and understood -- and realize that you're taking this idea very seriously!

Keep It Simple

Forget the airplane banner and firework displays. Alden suggests that people planning their own proposal keep it simple so that the proposer isn't distracted by too many details. The point is to enjoy the moment! After all, where and how you propose is important, but in truth, you will be all your sweetie sees when you ask, whether you're sitting on the beach in Bali or on the corner barstool of his favorite local dive.

Plan for Success

Be smart about the logistics: Plan ahead, have contingency plans in case Mother Nature or traffic decide to wreak havoc, and choose a day and time of day when he'll be relaxed, and far from any looming deadlines at work or school. It's also smart to check and double-check reservations (restaurants, hotels, hot-air balloons, monkey costumes) and, if you've recruited friends or family to help you, to be sure that they understand their "lines" or roles in the event.

Be You

Yes, you may be a woman proposing to a man, but at the end of the day, you're just "you" proposing to the man of your dreams. Try not to get caught up in gender roles and expectations or other peoples' ideas of what you should and shouldn't do. If proposing to your man feels right to you, then, by all means, get down on one knee and do your thing. 

All things considered, the when, where, and how of proposing is much less important than the who! (In this case, one very lucky man!) Follow our tips on how to propose to a man and you'll be all set to walk down the aisle, all thanks to you. 

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