How to Propose to my lucky girlfriend?
December 28, 2005 5:43 AM   Subscribe

Ok, that's it, I can't hold any longer - I'm gonna propose to my lucky girlfriend. But how?

We live in the UK and I'm not a natural romantic - any ideas of how I can make it special (I'm not a millionaire, but can afford a reasonable amount)? Also, I'm in the market for an engagement ring - any advice on UK jewellers (online or offline)?
posted by wibbler to Human Relations (35 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Roses always help. Get a few dozen or so, deleiver them one by one throughout the week and on day 12 or 24, you deleiver the last one along with the ring. Also, saying your girlfriend is "lucky" sounds like your getting too confident, chill out and think about her desires.
posted by wheelieman at 5:53 AM on December 28, 2005

Response by poster: wheelieman - thanks, the "lucky" was sarcasm! I'm the lucky one...
posted by wibbler at 5:54 AM on December 28, 2005

Write a letter. Letters are always good, and she can keep it forever, and reread it whenver she starts to question why she married you!

No really, write a long letter, give it to her to read in the car, drive her to somewhere pretty, and then when she's done reading, pop the question.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:05 AM on December 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

Is she expecting you to, or not? That makes all the difference in proposal-springing.
posted by By The Grace of God at 6:09 AM on December 28, 2005 is where I bought my now-wife's engagement ring. Easy to use, good prices, and she loves the ring.
posted by papercake at 6:12 AM on December 28, 2005

Response by poster: Nope, she's not expecting it, but she's been dropping hints for around 2 years...
posted by wibbler at 6:13 AM on December 28, 2005

Most guys say something along the lines of, "Will you marry me?" or "Will you be my wife?"

Kick it up a notch. Ask her, "Will you give me the honor and the joy of being your husband?" Ask to be hers instead of asking her to be yours.
posted by Gator at 6:13 AM on December 28, 2005

Is there a hobby you both enjoy together? I know a rock climber who proposed to his girlfriend by sliding the ring down the belay rope. Another guy who got down on one knee in his telemark skis. Someone else arranged for a string quartet to be waiting on a summit for when he and his girlfriend arrived.

I proposed publicly via a sign held by SCUBA diver at an aquarium/restuarant at EPCOT center. I'm not a diver, nor is my wife, but we were on a trip to Disney together. It seemed like the thing to do.

Do you want it to be private or public? If you go public, be 100% sure she's going to say "yes." I saw a guy on the news who proposed via Jumbotron only to be turned down. That's how serial killers are created.

Does she have a sense of humor? IMHO private romantic proposals are overrated. Do something unique. Hide the ring inside a turducken. Show her an x-ray of your lower GI after swallowing the ring. Set her house on fire so that she'll find the ring after combing through the ashes of her previous life. Cram the ring up your nostril and ask her to check your nose for boogers. You know, unique.

Is she a geek? Tell her to check out this awesome thread on metafilter.

On second thought... don't.

Grandchildren don't want to hear stories about getting down on one knee. You only get to do it once (let's just pretend we're in an alternate universe for a sec) so make it something you'll enjoy and remember.

A warning thoguh, there is one drawback to having a unique proposal, for the rest of your life you will have to tell the story over and over and over again. It's fun for the first couple of years but it gets old after a while.

Good luck!
posted by bondcliff at 6:24 AM on December 28, 2005

If you have a favorite place (like a restaurant) that you don't go to very often, then make stealth reservations. When my husband proposed, we went to a place like that, but it was also a place that had memories for us already - we'd done anniversaries there, it was one of the first places that he and I ate out with my friends early in our relationship. And, if you're taking your time, this is a way to actually make Valentine's day special instead of a hallmark invented holiday -- it becomes the day you proposed to her, and you get to celebrate that every year instead of just some random day that other people expect you to do something about.

We were also both sick as dogs, so there was an added cuteness of sniffling, but I'm not advocating catching a cold. :)
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:29 AM on December 28, 2005

It's going to be special no matter what you choose - just pour your heart into it, show her how much she means to you, and it will always be special to her.

That said, we need to know more about her - my best friend would love a Jumbotron proposal at a stadium, I would rather have my sweetie ask me somewhere quiet and romantic.
posted by Puppy D at 6:37 AM on December 28, 2005

If you do go to a restaurant, go there yourself and make arrangements. Tell them what your plans are, select the exact table. Study the menu in detail, etc.

You can also leave some money or a credit card and prearrange that no bill will be brought. When its time to leave just shake the waiters hand. Tell her: "its been taken care of."
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:42 AM on December 28, 2005

Response by poster: Puppy D - she's shy, loves football, would love the more romantic side rather than the public show of affection. Also, it's our first times...

Thanks for all your ideas so far!
posted by wibbler at 7:02 AM on December 28, 2005

Don't waste money on jewelry, get something basic and use any money you'd have spent on jewelry on something she'll really like.. season tickets to her favourite team, or..?
posted by wackybrit at 7:08 AM on December 28, 2005

Don't waste money on jewelry, get something basic and use any money you'd have spent on jewelry on something she'll really like.. season tickets to her favourite team, or..?

Bad idea. Waste money on the ring. Trust me. I'm a woman.
posted by Savannah at 7:12 AM on December 28, 2005

I think both wackybrit and Savannah could be right, depending on the girl in question. But if wibbler knows her well enough to propose, he should already know her well enough to tell if she'd like expensive jewellery, cheap jewellery and something else, or no jewellery and something else.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:20 AM on December 28, 2005

Mmm, definitely waste some cash on a ring. Also a woman voting here. A woman who never wears jewelry. Everytime I look at that ring, I think of my SO's proposal to me and it makes me happy.

I've had friends do some pretty creative things. Frozen the ring into an ice cube and dropped it into her glass of bubbly. The ring box nestled in a box of chocolates trick. I wouldn't suggest floating the ring to her while you are sharing a bath...they didn't feel comfortable sharing that story with the elderly relatives. (But, I don't know. Maybe yours are more progressive!) Whether unique or cliche, it is the sincerity of your proposal that will make all of the difference to her. My DH's attempts at a surprise proposal kept getting thwarted by strange events (long story) until one evening he was forced to get down on one knee and propose in a snow covered alley in Chicago. Turned out to be incredibly romantic and definitely memorable :)
posted by jeanmari at 7:20 AM on December 28, 2005

Go to a spot that you both like, but not a restaurant or pub, maybe out in the middle of a moor, somewhere fairly remote, but make arrangements for a fantastic meal and drink to appear out of nowhere when you say something like "I could really go for a curry [or whatever your favorite meal is] right about now", perhaps presented by a fancy waiter who pops out of nowhere (or dressed as a sheep, depending on where you are), and (if you want to take it a little further) you could of course say "All this needs is a little music" and have a small musical combo appear out of nowhere (or also dressed as sheep) to play some music she likes. If you do this in the right spot, it will seem a bit surreal or at least a bit funny (and endearing) to her.

Or maybe you could rig something like this so you're both watching this stuff appear in the middle of nowhere and laughing about it -- "What the hell's going on here? Let's stick around and see what happens." -- as if you might take the piss out of whoever shows up. And then the surprise (to her) is that it turns out to be for her. Unless she's afraid of men dressed as sheep.

Then she says no and leaves you standing in the moor. But you've still got your curry, haven't you? And the band.

And men dressed as sheep.
posted by pracowity at 7:28 AM on December 28, 2005

Whatever you do, make it special for her. And yes, do "waste" the money on as nice a ring as you can afford. Take her to a spot she loves, buy her flowers, make her feel special.

It doesn't have to be some outlandish, overly public event, but it does need to be memorable. Think about what makes her happy, where the two of you have had the best time and go for it!
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 7:39 AM on December 28, 2005

Grandchildren don't want to hear stories about getting down on one knee.

Who cares what the grandchildren might want? Do what feels good to you (and hopefully her). The first time I sort of drifted into marriage (we'd been living together for years, and frankly I can't even remember how we decided to make it legal); the second time I decided to do it right, with restaurant, ring, and getting down on one knee. It was embarrassing and thrilling, and I'm very glad I did it. (Do get a ring, but don't worry too much about the size—you can always get it resized, and if you do that beforehand based on a guess about her ring size you'll probably wind up having to do it afterwards anyway, like I did.)
posted by languagehat at 7:50 AM on December 28, 2005

For heaven's sake, don't do something too outlandish. You're proposing marriage—it's going to be memorable no matter where or how you do it.

What kind of ring should you buy? That depends on your (presumed) future fiancée, and you know her lots better than anyone on AskMeFi does. If she's the traditional sort, then a ring with the biggest diamond you can afford is probably the way to go. If she's more into artsy or funky things, and doesn't care much for tradition, go to a cool artsy jewelry store and find her a simple, but neat-looking ring that fits her personality. If she doesn't like rings, buy her a necklace or a bracelet. In my case, I bought my now-wife a funky gold ring that looks like a snake swallowing its own tail, because I knew she didn't like big jewels, and because at the time she was working with small children with autism, and wouldn't have been able to wear a big diamond to work in any case. She loved it, and still wears it often six years after our wedding.

As for where and how you should propose, you should do whatever feels right. As long as it feels right, I guarantee you it'll be romantic; contrived scenarios are fun, but just make people nervous. My personal scenario:

When I wanted to ask my now-wife to marry me, I knew she was (and is) a very emotional person, so I didn't want to ask her with a lot of people around (like in a restaurant) because I knew she'd be embarassed. I asked her as we walked along the same beach we'd walked on on our first date—after starting to ask her once, and failing to get the words out, I managed to say "I was wondering..."

"Yes?" she responded, turning to face me.

"I was wondering," I repeated, puling the hand with the ring in it from my pocket, "if you would marry me." I showed her the ring. Her first response, due (she says) to being overwhelmed, was to laugh.

"That's not the response I was hoping for," I said.

"Oh my god, YES!" she said. I put the ring on her finger, and we kissed.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:04 AM on December 28, 2005

It really depends on your intended. I proposed to my wife when we were alone as I know that she would have been mortified by a big scene. After she said yes we went for a nice dinner and I ordered champagne, and she thanked me for not making a scene during the proposal...
posted by ob at 8:14 AM on December 28, 2005

I don't have any recommendations about the proposal other than to echo the people who have said to think long and hard about the sort of person she is.

- is she traditional? does she even want an engagement ring?
- if she does, would she want to pick it out herself? would she be pissed if you made a unilateral decision on what she'll be wearing on her finger?
- (sidebar: consider an uncut diamond? then you could both decide on cut and setting)
- would she even want a diamond? (back to the traditional) I have friends with very cool emerald/sapphire etc. rings
- is she going to know what's going on? are you looking to completely spring it on her? would she like or hate that?

Of course I have to share my story: We decided to get married, but didn't want to tell anyone without an "occasion" (because we decided over a hungover brunch one saturday morning). So we went away for a weekend a few weeks later to a romantic little B&B. I thought that we would just come back and announce our engagement, but my husband had other ideas. When we got there, our room was filled with all my favorite flowers, then he took me out, to a remote spot on the side of a mountain (overlooking the shenanndoah river, in WVa) and got down on one knee as the sun was setting. It was awesome, and completely unexpected for me as I didn't think we were going to do anything ritualistic.
Because I hate engagement rings, he gave me a very cool necklace. I gave him an ipod.
posted by gaspode at 8:20 AM on December 28, 2005

(or dressed as a sheep, depending on where you are)

pracowity, you owe me a cup of coffee now and a possible cleaning charge for my laptop.

I proposed to my ex-wife on a beach. It was nice. Simple can be good.

At this point, I gotta side with the proponents of the unique. One thing you also need to consider - does she have very small hands? A large stone on small hands looks strange. If you do go the diamond route, go with quality over size - a 1/3 carat or 1/2 carat stone with a VSI 1 rating and high clarity is going to shine better and more brilliantly than a 1 carat stone with an SI 2 rating and yellowish color.

Spend lots of time looking at many diamonds. Do not be afraid to make multiple trips and fear not wasting the salesman's time. This is critical. Quality over size.

Also - don't know about the UK, but many jewelry stores in the US offer a diamond upgrade program. At some point, if you both decide you want a larger stone, they will exchange the stone with full price credit against a larger one. Just a thought.
posted by TeamBilly at 8:22 AM on December 28, 2005

On the ring thing: my husband bought me a grand piano instead of a ring. That meant so much more to me than any engagement ring (I trained as a pianist and had never had my own piano before, and certainly not a new one). I did have friends who seemed dismayed by the fact that I didn't have a ring as "proof" of our engagement, but I really didn't find that to be a problem. Ten years later, the piano is still as wonderful as it was the day we got it, and our kids play it now, not just me. As for proposing: my husband asked me to marry him when we were in bed, falling asleep one night. It was sweet.

If you're not usually inclined to big romantic gestures, now's probably not the time to do something extravagant or out of character. And really, if you're sincere and genuine in the asking, that matters way more than what kind of amazing movie-scene you have planned. My proposed-to-in-bed story is pretty lame compared to a friend whose fiance put together an elaborate treasure hunt that ended in an engagement ring, but it was sweet to me, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Still, having said all that, flowers are a nice touch, as is a special dinner somewhere.
posted by mothershock at 8:22 AM on December 28, 2005

And, since you're in the UK, you might be able to make a trip to someplace like Antwerp and pick a stone there. Get a better deal, perhaps? I dunno.
posted by TeamBilly at 8:23 AM on December 28, 2005

Everyone always thinks their proposal was the sweetest, most romantic ever, because it was...for them. I guarantee you that, whatever you do, every second person you tell your proposal story to for the rest of your life is going to think, "Man, that's tacky. I'm glad that didn't happen to me."

I'm with the people in here who are sensibly saying that you know better than us what will work.
posted by MarkAnd at 9:05 AM on December 28, 2005

If you do go the diamond route, go with quality over size - a 1/3 carat or 1/2 carat stone with a VSI 1 rating and high clarity is going to shine better and more brilliantly than a 1 carat stone with an SI 2 rating and yellowish color.

From just buying some diamond earrings for my lady I can back this up. I strongly suggest taking a minute to read the wikipedia entries on color and clarity. If I'd had the sense to do so before my initial purchase I'd have saved myself some time and trouble.

And for what it's worth, if you have a past history of ranting about price fixing, artificial scarcity and conflict diamonds you get a lot of credit for gritting your teeth and buying anyway. Apparently many women like it when your soul dies a little.
posted by phearlez at 10:21 AM on December 28, 2005

You should do what comes natural. You know her better than anyone, or should, so you should be able to decide what would be memorable for her.

IMHO, classy is normally safe and doesn't seem unwise over time. There is nothing wrong with "will you be my wife" or "will you marry me".

Something cheesy like this:

Kick it up a notch. Ask her, "Will you give me the honor and the joy of being your husband?" Ask to be hers instead of asking her to be yours.

is probably going to lead to laughter, unless you normally converse in such a manner.

Bottom line, the event itself should make it special, not the wording or location. They're the side dish.
posted by justgary at 10:58 AM on December 28, 2005

Bad idea. Waste money on the ring. Trust me. I'm a woman.

you're a member of the category, not the blueprint for the entire category itself. All that can be categorically said of women, by definition, is that they are female humans. I'm a woman too, and personally would not give a shit about the financial value of the jewelry and would probably be kind of uncomfortable wearing a ring at all if it weren't reciprocal. Creativity and sincerity would rank high on my list, though I kind of imagine if I ever end up getting hitched it will just kind of mutually become a realistic possibility.

But anyway, to wibbler, hopefully you know what your lady would appreciate. Think about things she loves, try to remember great memories you share, and just try to really be open and warm, show how fully you want her in your life forever, kinda thing. I really think the look in someone's eyes or their tone of voice has a deeper impact than how many musicians were hired to perform some generic (to you) concerto.

But, symbolic/ritualistic things can be really powerful too, so if it appeals to you and you think it would appeal to her, by all means go for it... Symbols can be powerful because they are connected to your private, personal relationship & history, as well as because they are connected to tradition and the story of humanity as a whole. On bended knee with diamond ring brings with it all the power of centuries of human life and love, so lots of people are touched by traditional moments like that.
posted by mdn at 1:49 PM on December 28, 2005

Plan a day doing things she enjoys - (is football still in season? can you get tickets to a game, then dinner or dessert after?) just think of what she would enjoy doing, and plan some time doing those things with her. At the end of the day, take her to someplace special - do you have a special place you share, maybe a first date place or the first "I love you" place? Tell her you love her so much that you want to be with her forever, want to wake up with her every morning for the rest of your life, and ask her to marry you.

As far as the ring - do you think she would want to pick it out with you? If yes, when you actually ask her, have a ring in a box that is not a diamond - maybe a stone of her favorite color, or even have a little ring with a tiny soccer (football) ball. Put it on her finger and then tell her it's time to go diamond shopping - you can share the experience of choosing. If you think she would rather you make the choice, notice if she wears gold or white gold and choose accordingly - princess cut is a little unique but also conventional enough, I would say you wouldn't go wrong with that.
posted by Puppy D at 2:17 PM on December 28, 2005

Hopefully I can add some advice that hasn't been given already--it's OK not to propose with the ring in hand. If the choice is between a ring she might hate or the chance to pick her own ring out later, I think most women would like to choose. [You know how opnionated we are, hard to please, etc... :) ]

And as Puppy said, depending on how cheesy you are willing to be, you could giver her a little plastic ring or something, or if there are any family heirlooms in your family, you could give her Grandma's ring for the night, with the promise that she gets to choose her very own diamond the next day (unless that's's the in-law situation?)
posted by folara at 3:26 PM on December 28, 2005

Ack! I mean, it's OK to propose WITHOUT the ring in hand!
posted by folara at 3:26 PM on December 28, 2005

Ditto on okay to propose sans-ring. You could even have a ring-box with a little piece of paper that says "will you marry me" or something.
posted by radioamy at 5:22 PM on December 28, 2005

Personally, when I did it two months ago, I had two options.

1. Buy a ring with a huge diamond, lots of bling.

2. Buy a smaller ring with a cute diamond, and spend the rest of the money on something else to make it special. So I took her to the Empire State Building. :D

The stories from that endeavour alone (the mad dash to get there before 11pm, narky elevator operators talking about their divorce, incredibly annoying-but-well-intentional Texan couples taking an interest) provide a much better talking point than "oooh, it's huge ... how many carats is it ... what did it cost?"

For comedy reasons, you may want to read my friends' differening accounts of their marriage proposal.
posted by badlydubbedboy at 12:47 AM on January 11, 2006

How did this turn out?
I hope it was wonderful and she said yes.
posted by pdf74 at 10:16 PM on November 1, 2006

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