How to Propose the Right Way, According to a Professional Proposal Planner

Pull off the engagement of a lifetime with these essential tips.
Couple hugging in front of "Marry me" sign
Photo: Courtesy of Premium Romance Concierge Cloud Nine
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated Sep 15, 2023

Getting engaged is a monumental relationship milestone, and it's the first step to hosting the wedding of your dreams and kicking off the rest of your life with your best friend. While this is an exciting journey, figuring out how to propose brings plenty of nerves. It's important to note there's no right way to get engaged—proposals look different for every couple. But if you're not sure where to start, don't worry. Below, we've created a step-by-step guide for how to propose to your partner. Plus, we got tips you didn't know you needed from a professional proposal planner. (Yes, that job exists, which can definitely help you take some things off your plate.)

In this article:

How to Propose to Your Partner

Yes, proposing to the love of your life can be nerve-wracking, but there are steps you can take to make the process go as smoothly. Here are things that should be on your wedding proposal checklist:

  • Ask yourself if it's too soon to propose. If you're unsure, there are telltale signs that'll let you know if you're ready to take the next step.
  • Buy an engagement ring your partner will love. We suggest talking about what kind of ring they would like before proposing––not everything needs to be a surprise.
  • Think of the most romantic proposal idea to wow your partner. You can propose while on vacation, at home or even hire a skywriter to spell your feelings.
  • We will talk more about this below, but we think hiring a proposal photographer is a must-have. You won't regret having someone document such a beautiful moment.
  • Prepare a marriage proposal speech you'll be proud of. Just remember to speak from the heart, and things will go well.
  • After you propose, there are lots of things to do after getting engaged. But before you get into that, don't forget to have time alone to celebrate.

10 Important Proposal Tips

Proposing can seem a little complicated. That's why we contacted Julia Di, owner of Premium Romance Concierge Cloud Nine, to give her top tips for proposing. Di and her husband created Cloud Nine together and have over 10 years of experience in the "cupid industry." Keep reading to learn what this professional proposal planner thinks everyone should know.

1. Plan, plan, plan.

    Wondering, "How to prepare for a marriage proposal?" Di believes having an abundance of time to plan is the first step. "We think the planning process should take as much time as possible so you have enough time to choose the date, time, and location [of the proposal], determine what you want to do and how and who will help you. Normally, one month in advance is good. However, everything can be planned within two weeks. [I advise you] start earlier if you plan to propose in another city."

    2. Set money aside for the proposal.

      One of Di's most important marriage proposal advice is to "save or earn the money you want to invest for the big day. No matter what you decide to do, a big proposal setup or a small proposal at the boat, the money you pay will help you get the 'yes' and a one-of-a-kind experience that you'll remember forever."

      Couple standing in front of "Marry me" sign
      Photo: Courtesy of Premium Romance Concierge Cloud Nine

      3. Find a proposal planner.

        Consider this the first step to knowing how to propose. "A professional [proposal] company or person may save your time and budget and help to come up with great ideas. A proposal planner will invest your money correctly so you and your loved one get an unforgettable day. They'll help you to find the perfect location and choose the perfect time to get nice pictures," Di explains.

        4. Hide the engagement ring.

          After you buy the jewel of your partner's dreams, you'll need to find an engagement ring hiding spot for it before you pop the question. Get as creative as possible when deciding the best place to conceal the ring. You can hide the ring in a hollowed-out book or bouquet, but just ensure you always keep track of it and store it in a durable and waterproof container.

          5. Hire a professional proposal photographer and videographer.

            "In our opinion, there is no place for amateur photos or videos. For the best result, you need to hire a professional proposal photographer and videographer and listen to their advice on proposal time, outfits and pictures you want to get. If you work with a planner, they'll do this part of the job for you," Di says. Use these proposal photos on your save-the-dates, put them on your wedding website, holiday cards and much more.

            6. Come up with a reason to dress nice.

              If you plan on hiring a secret proposal photographer, you'll need to create a believable story for why your partner needs to dress up so you don't arouse suspicion. One reason you can give is that you want to take them out for a nice date. If you think your partner would like to have makeup on, their nails done or be perfectly groomed in any way, you should treat them to a pamper day so they can get everything accomplished.

              Di's proposal advice is to say you want to do a couple's photoshoot to conceal the surprise. "Nice outfits are the key to outstanding photos. We recommend helping your loved one choose an outfit and even book the makeup artist."

              7. Don't stress about it being a surprise.

                Movie and TV show proposals are often portrayed as complete surprises, but your engagement most likely won't be totally unexpected. According to The Knot 2022 Jewelry and Engagement Study, 29% of people who proposed said it was a complete surprise. But 53% of proposees/proposers knew the proposal was coming but didn't know when, and 13% had a feeling it was happening. We recommend talking about engagement ring preferences before the proposal and about the future of your relationship to ensure you're ready for marriage. In having these crucial conversations, the proposal won't be a surprise—and that's okay. You can still wow your significant other with an incredible experience that'll blow them away, even if they had a hunch something was coming.

                Couple kissing on a beach in front of a heart made of white roses
                Photo: Courtesy of Premium Romance Concierge Cloud Nine

                8. Figure out which knee to get down on.

                  Decide if you want to get down on one knee, which is a proposal tradition but in no way required. There are numerous cute alternatives, like involving your furry best friend, putting the ring in a cake or booking a flash mob. But if you want to stick to this medieval tradition, you'll have to bend your left knee and hold the ring in your left hand (even if you're more dominant on your ride side).

                  9. Take a deep breath.

                    Getting nervous jitters right before the proposal is totally normal, no matter how long you've prepared for it. Just take several deep breaths and say positive affirmations throughout the day to calm yourself and not give away the surprise. "It's all about the moment. Take the hands of your loved one, tell them the mindful speech you prepared, get on one knee and pop the question. There are no right or wrong words. Live this moment, every single second," Di advises.

                    10. Celebrate the engagement.

                      Once you're officially engaged, it's time to celebrate. "Only you can choose if you want to celebrate the moment alone or with your family and friends. The same day after the proposal (according to our experience, a lot of people like to invite friends and family members for proposal moment) or later at the engagement party," Di explains.

                      Think about how you'll want to relish the moment after you've slipped the ring on your partner's finger. Our study found that 58% of couples celebrated with drinks, so don't forget to pack a bottle of bubbly to pop if that's what you envision. We also found that 42% of couples went to a nice dinner afterward. You can also invite friends and family to join in on the fun, as we found that 32% of couples had an in-person celebration with loved ones immediately after getting engaged. This is especially important to consider if you'll have your nearest and dearest on standby to watch the proposal.

                      There's no right way to celebrate—perhaps you want to make dinner reservations at your favorite restaurant, or you can enlist the help of a friend or family member to organize a party at someone's home after getting engaged. While there aren't specific rules for how to properly propose, there's one thing we do recommend: celebrate as much as you want.

                      Remember: There Are No Strict Rules for Proposing

                      If you take anything from these how-to-propose tips, remember these poignant words from a pro. "Know your loved one's preferences and customize the proposal as much as possible because the perfect proposal is all about the details. Find the perfect ring (you may be surprised, but not everyone likes diamonds), choose the location your partner likes, determine 'your song' and play in the background while popping the question, add the custom sign with a mindful phrase, add photos in the frames, choose their favorite color for flowers and decor," Di encourages.

                      The only "rule" is to ensure the proposal is hyperfocused on your relationship and what your partner would like. If you do that, we guarantee you can't go wrong.

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