Proposals: A Girl's Guide to Popping the Question

When you're ready to take the plunge and do the proposing, read on for our eight man-friendly proposal hints.

The best part about proposing to your man? You decide when it happens. No more waiting around for Mr. Slowpoke to get in gear. Better yet, this is relatively uncharted territory, so there are no pesky rules or protocols to follow, unless you want to ask his mom for permission!
That said, we polled experts for their advice, including Paul Alden, president of Will You Marry Me? Proposal Planners, and Christy Anderson, who authored Down on One Knee and proposed to her boyfriend a year after he had proposed -- unsuccessfully -- to her (she wasn't ready at the time and, out of respect for his feelings, decided it was her turn to put her neck out). Here are our eight hints for planning your proposal perfectly. If he's old-fashioned or doesn't like surprises, parachuting into his softball game in a wedding gown is definitely a bad idea.

Be Sure You're Ready
First things first. Take your relationship's temperature: Is it truly time to make it official? If you're still feeling significant uncertainty, concentrate on strengthening your relationship first. If you two are the model of a marriage-ready couple, forge ahead.

Be Honest About Your Motives
Don't propose because you want to see where your relationship stands. If you don't know, wise up: Alarm bells, not wedding bells, are what you're hearing in your head. Never propose out of desperation for feedback; resorting to this type of ultimatum on such an important issue means you're not ready to tie the knot. You should ask only when you're positive he'll say yes.

Know Thy Mate
By far the most important part of planning a successful proposal is to remember that this is not about your dream proposal, it's about his. Just as a man should know better than to broadcast his proposal across a blimp to a girlfriend who is quiet and shy just because he thinks it would be cool, you should cater your proposal to his personality. This goes double when proposing to men because it's so unusual for a woman to do the asking (Alden estimates that only 6 percent of his clients are women). If he's old-fashioned or doesn't like surprises, parachuting into his softball game in a wedding gown is definitely a bad idea.

Be Sensitive to His Ego
Kudos to you for being the first to pledge faith in your future together, but keep in mind that he may be a little disappointed that you stole his thunder, whether he was planning a proposal or not. If this is the case, Anderson suggests reminding him that your proposal doesn't mean he can't ask you back when he's ready (with a ring)!

Buy a Gift for Both of You
On that note, don't expect him to go out and buy you an engagement ring and don't give him a ring -- or any other form of promissory jewelry -- without buying one for yourself. Some of the items Alden's clients have used include matching necklace pendants, I.D. bracelets, and simple gold bands. It doesn't have to be expensive, just meaningful.

Think Unique
Plan a proposal with your shared history in mind. Choose a meaningful day, significant location and theme, for example, and be very attentive to details. Take the time to make it special and personal so that he'll feel cherished and understood -- and realize that you're taking this idea very seriously!

Keep It Simple
Alden suggests that people planning their own proposal keep it simple so that the proposer isn't distracted by too many details. The point is to enjoy the moment! After all, where and how you propose is important, but in truth, you will be all your sweetie sees when you ask, whether you're sitting on the beach in Bali or on the corner bar stool of his favorite local dive.

Plan for Success
Be smart about the logistics: Plan ahead, have contingency plans in case Mother Nature or traffic decide to wreak havoc, and choose a day and time of day when he'll be relaxed, and far from any looming deadlines at work or school. It's also smart to check and double-check reservations (restaurants, hotels, hot-air balloons, monkey costumes) and, if you've recruited friends or family to help you, to be sure that they understand their "lines" or roles in the event.

All things considered, the when, where, and how of proposing is much less important than the who! (In this case, one very lucky man!)


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