What to Say When Proposing to Your Partner Before Popping the Big Question

Check out these thought starters below to help you personalize an unforgettable, "Will you marry me?" proposal speech.
Marriage proposal speech and presenting engagement ring
diane hall senior editor and wedding expert the knot worldwide
Diane Hall
diane hall senior editor and wedding expert the knot worldwide
Diane Hall
Contributing Senior Editor & Wedding Expert
  • Diane writes and edits articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a specialty in weddings, party planning and couple lifestyle.
  • She produces editorial content for The Knot, The Bash and WeddingWire Canada.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, she was the publisher of 2life Magazine and WeddingBells Magazine.
Updated Aug 03, 2022

Sure, getting down on one knee while holding an engagement ring box sort of says it all. But because the moment you get engaged should be an unforgettable occasion, it pays to have some eloquent words prepared. Here's a crash course on finding the right words for your marriage proposal speech.

First, sit down to collect your thoughts a day or two before you plan to ask—even though you don't think you'll be nervous when the big moment comes, you will be, and chances are slim you'll be well-spoken if you put yourself on the spot.

But what should you say when you propose to the love of your life? To trigger inspiration for a wedding proposal speech they'll always remember, follow these tips and ask yourself these questions and you're sure to find romantic ways to express yourself leading up to the big question.

Speak from the Heart

First and foremost, let yourself be emotional and authentic when you deliver your marriage proposal speech. Sure, you may be a bit nervous, but exposing that vulnerable side will make this a very special moment for both of you. You also don't want to sound like you're delivering a rehearsed speech when you're asking the love of your life to marry you. You should write down a rough draft of what you want to say so you can go over it a few times to prepare for what is sure to be the perfect proposal if you speak from the heart and let your emotions guide you.

You could open with something heartfelt and direct, such as "[insert name], I love you." or "[insert name], you are my soulmate. I love so many things about you."

Reflect on the Past

The next thing to say is something about how you met or your first date and the relationship milestones that led you to this big moment. Answer these two questions and you're sure to find a few meaningful nuggets to really personalize your prose.

What did you think when you first met?

Reminisce about the first time you laid eyes on them. Talk about how you were awestruck by their eyes, or amazed to find someone who shared your passion for the same sports team, or how you just knew that someone seriously special had entered your life. Say something like: "When I first talked to you at [blank], I thought [blank]."

Of course, if your first meeting was less than romantic (you were hitting on their best friend, while they spilled Pinot Noir on you), you won't want to bring it up. Besides, you'll have plenty of time to relive that moment later, when the best man plays it for laughs during the rehearsal dinner toast.

When did you realize that you might want to spend your life with them?

Try to identify one specific moment when it hit you that you'd found the one. Was it when the four-star restaurant lost your reservation and they cheerfully suggested you head across the street for pizza and beer instead? The time they came over when you were sick in bed with the flu and watched a kung fu movie marathon with you? Say something like: "The time you [blank], I knew we were meant to be."

Describe How They Make You Feel

Focus on how much better your life is now that they're in it. What do you have now that you didn't before you met? Have they helped you laugh off little things that used to stress you out? Taught you the value of having more in the fridge than take-out cartons? Show how much you appreciate and need them in your life by saying: "Before I met you, I was [blank]. Now I am [blank]."

Explain Why You Love Them

What is it about your significant other that inspires you and makes you want to be more like them? Their patience and kindness to others? Their sense of adventure? The value they place on making the world a better place? Revealing how much you admire them will show that you love them for all the right reasons. Say something like: "I love and respect your [blank], and it makes me want to try harder to be that way myself."

Talk About Your Shared Values and Future Together

Talk about the things that are important to both of you. Sharing the same values and goals will emphasize why you're a perfect match and why you should spend your futures side by side. It's these shared values that will help get you through the ups and downs and middle grounds of married life (not to mention wedding planning and the big day itself!). Also, mention the plans you've discussed for the future. Say something like: "We both love [blank], and dream of [blank], so together we can [blank]." It's the perfect lead-in to the words they've been waiting to hear (drumroll, please). "And those are just a few of the reasons I'm hoping you'll spend the rest of your life with me. Will you marry me?"

Remember to Actually Ask the Question "Will You Marry Me?"

If at any point you feel overwhelmed or forget a few of the things you'd planned to say, fear not. Enjoy the moment and say the four most important words of all: "Will you marry me?" After all, you don't want to try to say so much that you get lost in the moment and forget to ask them to marry you. And, be ready to put the engagement ring on their left ring finger (cue the happy tears).

Marriage Proposal Speech Example

Having broken down all the things to say, let's string them all together to give you an outline of what a proposal speech in its entirety could look like.

"[insert name], I love you.

When I first talked to you at [blank], I thought [blank].

The time you [blank], I knew we were meant to be.

Before I met you, I was [blank]. Now I am [blank].

I love and respect your [blank], and it makes me want to try harder to be that way myself.

We love [blank], and dream of [blank], so together we can [blank].

And those are just a few of the reasons I'm hoping you'll spend the rest of your life with me.

Will you marry me?"

P.S. If you're thinking about capturing it on film, read our tips about hiring a proposal photographer. They're sure to capture some adorable photos for you to announce your engagement on social media (only after you shared the big news with family members).

Looking for a unique proposal idea? Visit our sister site How They Asked for real proposal inspiration, a proposal idea generator, and hundreds of the best marriage proposal videos.

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