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The Complete Marriage Proposal Checklist

Author: Hollie Bond

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Getting ready to pop the question? Here’s everything you need to consider to make sure it’s the perfect proposal.

You’re ready to ask the love of your life that all-important question… “Will you marry me?”. It’s an exciting time, but if you want your proposal to go down in history as one of the most romantic and thoughtful ever then you need to do a bit of preparation.

Read on for the top 10 things to do before you get down on one knee.

How Do You Plan A Proposal?

The brilliant thing about proposals is that they are completely unique and there are no rules you need to follow in order to make your engagement official. Don’t want to propose with an engagement ring? Then you don’t have to.

In fact, some couples love going shopping for the ring together after the proposal. Think going down on one knee is old fashioned? Then don’t do it. If your partner is shy and hates being centre of attention, then you can simply pop the question in a really intimate setting without any fanfare or fuss.

However you’re planning to propose though, whether it’s low key or a huge affair surrounded by family and friends, with a professional photographer snapping the big moment, it’s important to think it through carefully and plan ahead using our proposal checklist, so it doesn’t come across as a last minute decision or sound flippant.

After all, you’re asking your partner to spend the rest of their life with you and to commit their entire future to you and that’s a big question!

The Ultimate Marriage Proposal Checklist

1. Talk To Your Partner's Family

Marriage Proposal Checklist

This might seem an old fashioned idea to open with, but these days it’s less about asking permission from your partner’s father or parents and more a lovely gesture to involve their family. Your partner’s parents will love being in on the surprise and will be really touched that you thought to tell them your plans.

Talking to family and friends before the proposal can also really work in your favour as they will know your partner so well and be able to offer you advice and come up with proposal ideas that they’ll love.

2. Set A Budget

Before you head off to buy the sparkliest ring you can find, it’s really important to have a think about how much you can afford to spend.

Remember, once your girlfriend or boyfriend has said yes to the proposal you’ll have to start budgeting for a wedding day, so it’s important not to empty your bank account just because you’re popping the question.

You might hear some people say you should spend a certain amount of months salary on an engagement ring, but don’t listen. It’s a personal decision how much to spend on the perfect ring.

3. Find Out Their Ring Style

Another piece of homework on the proposal checklist before you hit the jewellery shops is to try and work out their ring style. Some couples openly discuss their preferences when it comes to engagement rings, while others have never even touched on the subject.

If you’re the latter, you can speak to their friends and family to find out what sort of style they normally love when it comes to rings. Or you could try and subtly work it out yourself. If someone you know has got engaged, mention the ring and ask what they think of it. Or if you pass a jewellery shop window, play a game where you have to guess which ring each of you likes best.

Remember you need to find out the metal, stone and style they like in order to really nail it.

4. Work Out Their Ring Size

The ring doesn’t have to fit in order for the proposal to be special, but it’s an added bonus if your future fiancé(e) can wear their new sparkler straight away. So if possible spend a bit of time and effort working out their ring size, we have a guide here that will be able to help you figure this one out.

You can do this a few ways, including using one of their other rings to get an approximate size, asking one of their engaged friends to suggest they try on the new ring for fun, size their finger while they sleep with string or a ring sizer, or ask them for their ring size outright (but do this well in advance of the proposal so it’s still a surprise).

5. Shop For The Perfect Engagement Ring

Marriage Proposal Checklist

Think about where you want to go to buy the ultimate ring. The traditional option is to head to a jewellery boutique or high street jewellers and discuss in person with an expert what your requirements are. You could also buy a ring online if you really feel sure you know what you’re after.

Or you could head to a jewellery quarter like Hatton Gardens where you can work with a diamond or precious stone dealer to design your own unique ring – choosing everything from the diamond and metal to the design.

Once you’ve bought the ring, make sure to take out some wedding insurance for it, as it’s a big purchase and sadly many engagement rings get lost every year.

6. Purchase A Smart Ring Box

Now you’ve got a dreamy ring in your possession, the moment for proposing is drawing near.

But it’s important not to forget to present it in a romantic and special way. No-one wants to have a ring that’s covered in finger prints or is presented after the giver has rummaged around in their pockets for five minutes!

If the jewellery company provides a really lovely ring box then happy days. If not, or you want to make it extra special, then you can buy a pretty ring box. Velvet ring boxes look particularly gorgeous and you could have it personalised with your partner’s name to make it even more magical.

7. Choose A Good Hiding Place

Now you’re this far down the marriage proposal checklist, it would be a shame to ruin the surprise. So spend time and care looking for a safe and secret hiding place that your partner won’t accidentally come across before the proposal. An outfit with hidden pockets when you’re proposing is a good idea too, so you don’t give the game away at the last minute.

8. Find The Perfect Location

Think about a proposal location that is special to you both or that looks and feels magical enough for a proposal. A lot of people go for a favourite restaurant when it comes to proposals, but your special place could be a holiday location, your own house, or the spot you first met.

Also plan whether you want to incorporate an activity of some sort? A Champagne picnic perhaps? A photo shoot with a professional photographer? Or a fireworks display if you want to do something over the top.

If you’ve chosen a restaurant, make sure they know before you arrive so they can help make sure you’re not interrupted at the big moment.

9. Get The Timing Right

Feminist Wedding Proposal Checklist

This sounds obvious, but in all the excitement it can get overlooked – make sure your partner is free on the day you want to propose. Ask a friend to “organise” something for that date with her/ him, so that it’s a real surprise when it’s actually you who turns up. If you want to involve other people in an impromptu engagement party once they’ve said “yes” you’ll need to plan well in advance to ensure everyone can make it.

10. Have A Proposal Speech Ready

Last but not least on the proposal checklist is to ensure you’ve got a few words ready so you don’t get tongue tied in all the excitement and ruin the special moment. Write a little speech in the run up to the big day (it’s excellent practice for your wedding day anyway) and say the words a few times in your head before you start proposing. Your partner will be wowed by a nicely prepared and heartfelt speech that covers all the reasons you want to marry them.

You’ve popped the question, congratulations! Now it’s time to share the happy news and enjoy the moment, before starting the exciting process of planning your wedding. When you’re ready, head to our wedding planning pages for brilliant ideas and tips for the ultimate big day.


Written by

Hollie Bond

Hollie is a lifestyle journalist with over ten years’ experience working in the wedding industry as Lifestyle Editor for You & Your Wedding magazine Also a Regional Editor for Muddy Stilettos, Hollie has written for Square Meal magazine, Family History Monthly, BBC History magazine and Homes & Antiques. In her spare time you can find Hollie in a dance studio practising ballet…

Learn more about Hollie Bond