How to make a Marriage Proposal like a Gentleman
Planning a home run marriage proposal is a little like, well, setting yourself up to hit the perfect home run: for either grandiose achievement, there are two people involved, there are rules to the game, and you need some insider info on the other person. Anyone can hit a solid grounder that gets the job done, but if you’re an aspiring gentleman you’re swinging for a home run. The kind of home run proposal that gets recounted at every family gathering years later. Sure, getting the perfect engagement ring helps — we’ll get to that — but there’s more to it than that. Here’s how to propose to a girl for a hall of fame kind of story.
Consider her preferences and traditions
Let’s clear something up right away: Popping the question doesn’t have to be a huge Instagrammable event to be a knockout. But it also can be. Confused? It boils down to one basic rule: there’s no “right” or “wrong” marriage proposal if it fits her and the two of you as a couple. Although for the purposes of this article proposing on the jumbotron while watching your favorite team play works perfectly — but it’s not for everyone, know your soon to be bride before making a public spectacle of your proposal.
You aren’t the only two people to have considered this during your planning. We’ve outlined your three basic concerns below, along with how to go about getting the answers you need without ruining the surprise if she’s into surprises.
Should you ask her father for permission?
This one’s a biggie. It’s no secret that the father-in-law, son-in-law relationship has the potential to be either very tense or tenderhearted. But even if you don’t plan on hanging out with her dad, you want him to think you’re a good catch, respectful, and worthy of his daughter’s hand in marriage. A surefire way to screw that up: not asking his permission to propose if he happens to be the traditional kind of guy.
Just make sure to consider all factors here. If she’s not traditional, but her dad is, it still might be worth asking his permission to ensure smooth sailing with the in-laws. You should absolutely do it if your future fiancé is traditional, but her dad isn’t — that just means the conversation will be an easy one. If she’s traditional but not close to her dad, it might be worth tweaking the tradition and asking her mother for her approval. It’s a little unorthodox but shows that you’re taking her values and traditional sensibility into account even before you’re married.
Should you schedule the marriage proposal around the family?
If you’re not so traditional, you might not have considered the possibility that this might not be a private event between just the two of you. But if you’re figuring out how to propose to a girl who’s close with her family, popping the question might have the most sentimental value if you make sure all her loved ones are around for the big moment. Figuring out all those schedules can be a challenge, but that’s probably one of the reasons why proposals around the winter holidays are so popular: families tend to be already gathered in one place.
If you’re from a family that isn’t traditional or maybe even not that close, you’d be forgiven for feeling like this is a bit of an imposition. Before you give in to those feelings, consider the benefits: she’ll be overjoyed at their inclusion, they’ll love you for respecting their family dynamic, and you’ll automatically get people who can help you with everything from logistics to hints about her engagement ring preferences.
Should you two shop for the ring together?
Chances are you were either pretty neutral reading that question or had a very strong negative reaction. That’s because if this isn’t right for your relationship, you already know it. If the very idea of shopping together seems counter to her preferences, like the surprise factor, then this one’s a no go for the two of you — and that’s fine.
But if you’re open to the idea, then maybe a collaborative effort is the right path forward. This doesn’t mean you have to split the cost, although some couples do that too. But the person who knows your special someone’s tastes the best truly is, well, her. There are ways around completely taking the surprise out of choice, too. For example, Clarity offers free at-home try-on of replica rings. She could get a couple of styles she likes to try on and give you a sense of what she prefers, but leave the final decision up to you. Check out their free Home Preview option.
Determine a sensible budget
Don’t go into debt to get a beautiful engagement ring; you can always upgrade the main jewel later when you have the money. Unless you’re tied to the symbolism behind certain diamond characteristics — a flawless diamond for the woman you believe is also flawless, for example — there’s no reason to pay for things you cannot see. With that as a guiding principle, With Clarity’s on-staff expert gemologists share insider tips all day long on how to get an engagement ring that’s beautiful but also budget-friendly.
But how do you even go about figuring out an engagement ring budget? Some say you should spend one-quarter of your salary on an engagement ring, But you should consider these things beyond just taking a look at your bank account.
Are you making this decision together?
More couples are approaching the ring buying process as a collaboration. And while there are varying shades, ranging from the woman giving more explicit “hints” about what she wants to browse and paying for the ring together, it’s clear that this process isn’t entirely on the man’s shoulders any longer. (That’s a relief, huh?)
But even if you’re not splitting the bill, talking about the budget can be helpful. Shake off those old ideas of taboo for a second. Giving your future fiance some sense of where your budget lies prevents a really uncomfortable situation, preventing her from falling in love with a style that’s out of reach for your current situation. It’s important that she loves everything about the ring and finds one at your price point because it’s symbolic of your love, and she’s going to be wearing it every single day.
What other obligations do you have?
The traditional timeline for relationships isn’t as common anymore. That means you might be saving for a down payment for your first home together before you propose. You might even already have kids together, who could probably use college funds. Or maybe neither of you feel rushed to get down the aisle. You’d rather spend quality time getting to know each other, at home and through adventures abroad — and that takes some funding.
Consider these financial responsibilities — both those that are ongoing and those that might pop up soon based on your priorities as a unique couple — when planning your engagement ring budget. We’ll repeat it as many times as you need: you don’t need to go into debt to get a beautiful ring worthy of the wonderful woman you’ve found.
Make sure you know her tastes — or recruit help
We don’t want to stir up any stress here, but yes, people do sometimes pick the wrong ring before they propose. Hop onto wedding-related subreddits or forums, and you’ll find women worried about offending their fiances but admitting they don’t care for their rings. But you, sir, are not going to let that happen to you, because you have Clarity here to help you through this.
Where to go to determine her style
To the bedroom with thee! Sleuthing in her closet and jewelry box are fair game when you’re hunting for clues about her signature style. But if you’ve been dating a while, you probably have some aspects figured out. But start looking for the small details: Is her jewelry all one type of metal? Do her favorite outfits have some elements of old fashioned elegance to them or is she all about the latest and greatest trends?
In some cases, her jewelry box will answer most questions. But if she’s a tougher case, it’s time to check Pinterest. If she has an account, check to see if she has a wedding-themed board and look for pictures of engagement rings she might have pinned. Are there elements the rings have in common? Write them down. But, as we mentioned before, this is where your future in-laws truly shine. Her mother, sister, and best friend can give you clues, gut-check what you’re thinking, and maybe even point you to an exact style and metal choice. Just keep in mind above all that she’ll be the one wearing the ring forever, so all that really matters (other than your budget) is that she, and she alone loves the design. Don’t know where to start looking? Here’s what to know before you buy: 101 About Engagement Rings.
How to determine her ring size
First things first: you should always check out the additional services your jewelers offer before choosing where to buy your engagement ring. Make sure one thing you check for is complimentary resizing. Clarity offers this service for free for 30 days after you get your ring in hand because they know that getting her ring size on the sly is problematic. (As for pictures she’s going to want to take with her new ring, a rubber band around the finger will make a slightly large ring fit long enough for that perfect selfie.)
If you’re talking directly about the ring together, head down to a brick and mortar jewelry store and have her finger measured for the best fit that means the ring should resist just a little on the knuckle without being too tight of a fit. (Fingers swell throughout the day, so you want to be able to get it off without breaking out the dish soap.) If you’re planning for a surprise, measure a ring she wears on this finger or the same one on her right hand. Note that if she is a righty, the right-hand ring finger size will be about a quarter size larger than the left hand. Finger sizes can differ between hands, but this will give you a pretty close measurement.
Plan your shopping and marriage proposal
It’s finally down to the logistics, and this is the stage at which your research flips from being about her to being about diamonds.
Establish, and be realistic about, your timeline
Even with access to expert gemologists at your fingertips, diamond research takes time. That’s because inventories are constantly changing, especially if you’re shopping online. And that’s a good thing since it ups your odds of finding exactly the stone she’s been dreaming of. With Clarity, they let you send their gemologists into the listings, choosing three top choices for you based on your budget and preferences. For example, you can start with whether you want your diamond to be big (carat), clear (Clarity), or white (color). You can start a live chat anytime with their gemologists.
If you plan on learning about the 4Cs of diamonds and hunting on your own, we recommend planning at least two weeks of research. Clarity rings take ten business days to craft and ship, so plan for roughly the same. If you desire an engraving or appraisal, make sure to allocate a few extra days. And repeat after us: a gentleman never forgets to account for shipping time. There’s nothing worse than planning for the perfect proposal, and finding out the ring won’t arrive on time.
How to make sure the marriage proposal is personal to the two of you
A great place to start is to ask close friends and family members for ideas, but take it with a grain of salt. Only you know what your significant other would love best.
Some key questions that should be answered:
- Are you both private and/or introverted people? Would a private marriage proposal be better (i.e., after a home-cooked meal at home)?
- Is your significant other family-oriented? If so, involve the family in the momentous occasion.
- Does your significant other enjoy surprises?
- What are your favorite places individually and as a couple? Some setting ideas are your significant other’s childhood home, where you met, where you first confessed your love, or where you took the first trip together.
- Do you have a dog together? Click here to read about how to succeed at a dog proposal.
The most important thing to keep in mind is, always meaning triumphs over a proposal’s elaborateness and the money spent. Good luck! We hope you have a marriage proposal memorable for years-to-come!