So! You've found the one! The one you want to spend the rest of your life adventuring with and growing with, fighting over who gets to eat the last cookie, the one you want to wake up next to and who you think looks damn good with bed head. You are one lucky duck! Congratulations!!! Now what?
I cannot claim to be an expert on proposals or engagements. I'm not. I have never personally planned a proposal (not yet at least). What I do know, and will share, I have picked up by being a wedding photographer head over heels in love with love and with people's stories. I listen intently every time someone tells me their proposal story (whether or not they're a client). What went wrong, what went pretty ok and what went very very right. I'm sharing the things I've learned from my clients and from the people I've met over the years.
Happy National Proposal Day! And good luck to all of you planning to pop the big ole question! xo
1. BE YOURSELF
This sounds so obvious! Be yourself! Wow. Thanks. But I mean it. There are lots of people who plan elaborate proposals that are super amazing based on things they've seen on the internet, but if you and your significant other hate flash mobs, does it really make sense to set up a flash mob with friends and family? Probably not. What does make sense is planning something that means something to the two of you. I met with clients recently who told me about their swoon worthy proposal that took place in the exact spot they met. It is a place that means a lot to them and their relationship so it only made sense to pop the question there.
2. ASK THE PARENTS
I sound super old fashioned, don't I? Yep. I guess I do and I guess I am. I'm not suggesting you ask for "permission", I'm suggesting you take a minute to talk with their parents and ask for their blessing or at least let them know what's up. It's a gentle and respectful nod to tradition, one that means a lot to Moms and Dads alike. My bestie just got engaged. Her fiance tried for quite a while to get a hold of her dad to ask for his blessing. He could have just given up and asked her without talking to her dad but he persisted and eventually had a chance to talk with him. It was an extra step, for sure, but it meant a lot to her dad and that's not something her dad will forget any time soon. Brownie points?
3. THE RING
The ring! The bling! The rock! This one is a biggie. I know a couple of guys who struggled with this one and who lost sleep over it. I don't think that's right. Don't get me wrong, I understand why it's such a big deal. It's a symbol of the question, of the answer and what's to come. It's supposed to be a statement of your love. I have seen so many beautiful engagements rings that are stunning and unique and perfect for their owners. But I don't think it should be a deal breaker. Two months salary? Sure. Maybe. Or maybe it came from a vending machine, or from your grandmother, or from a favorite etsy shop of theirs. I don't think there are any hard and fast rules about engagement rings and I don't think there should be. I think the question and the answer should be more important than the bling. If you're struggling with finding the right one, why not ask for help from friends or family? (swear them to secrecy of course!) Or maybe get a place holder ring (twist-tie?) and have your future spouse pick the ring for themselves. You know this person incredibly well, you should have a good sense of what's right in this area.
4. DON'T FORGET TO TELL THEM WHY
You'll see lots of advice on the internet on HOW to pop the question, and how much you should practice saying it, but try to remember the WHY. Tell them why you love them and why you want to be with them. Why are they the right one?
The people who have shared that part of their story with me always bring me to tears and I'm not even the one on the other end of that why. Imagine how your partner will feel when they hear how much you love them and why you want to make this commitment.
(oh man. I'm getting teary already. I'm such a suck)
5. GO WITH THE FLOW
Just as in life, your proposal may not go as planned. Don't sweat it! Go with the flow. It's never a bad idea to have a plan B just in case of rain or something along those lines, but if things just aren't working out, roll with it. My all time favorite proposal was the most roll with it I've ever heard. He had planned an elaborate proposal and bought a rock he knew she would love. They had been apart for the longest time in their relationship and he was setting up for a proposal shortly after she returned, but the moment she walked in the door he was overcome with emotion and couldn't hold back. He proposed to her on the spot and the rest is history. It still makes me teary every time I think of this one.
6. HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER!
okok. I'm biased on this one. Lots of photographers are being requested for portrait sessions that turn out to be proposals. SWOON! I'm a big fan. It adds a little extra something to the final album/story. I won't lie. Part of my love of these sessions is purely selfish. It's pretty special to be included in such an emotional milestone. Before I even began shooting weddings I shot a surprise proposal. It was actually a turning point in my career. I was out skating with some friends in Toronto and a gentleman on a date asked me to take their photo (he had no idea I was a photographer). I said sure and set up my shot. As I snapped my first one, he started to bend to one knee. He proposed to her in the middle of the rink and I caught it all (and cried a little). I've never seen the photos, but that moment sticks with me. I bet it does for them too, and they have the photos to bring it all back.