“Will you marry me?” These words make up one of the most significant questions posed in a lifetime. If you’re ready to get down on one knee and pop the question to your partner, you’ll likely want to prepare beforehand for this milestone.

Besides choosing a ring, which can be intimidating, you’ll also need to decide how you’ll propose, who will be involved, and an ideal date to propose. Here are some tips on planning the perfect proposal.

Make sure you two are on the same page.

Is an engagement always a surprise? It depends. It turns out that most people have a clue that engagement is on the horizon, but they don’t know exactly when it’ll happen. A 2022 report by The Knot found that 29 percent of people said it was a total surprise, 53 percent knew it was coming but didn’t know when, and 13 percent had a feeling it would happen. Ensure that you and your partner are on the same page before proposing, which could raise some questions about when the question is coming.

You don’t have to share all the details or explicitly ask your partner about getting engaged, but at least make sure your partner wants to get married and is ready for the commitment. Are you both financially in a place to take the next step? Are you both in the right headspace for marriage? Are you ready to commit to your partner?

Get their parent’s blessing.

The old-school way to prepare for a proposal is to ask the parents for your partner’s hand in marriage, but should you still ask today? That depends mainly on your partner’s wants and what’s important to you. For some people, this step isn’t necessary, but for others, it’s a must. If your partner has hinted to you that asking the parents is significant, don’t skip it. It doesn’t have to be a big speech, but that’s your preference.

Buy the ring.

Before you go ring shopping, figure out your budget and stick to it. Go into stores knowing what kind of ring you want to buy. Some couples go ring shopping together, but others prefer the element of surprise. Get an understanding of what kind of ring your partner likes. Understand quality, shape, clarity, size and more. Does your partner wear silver or gold most often? Are they more interested in a diamond, or do they prefer another stone? Listen to any hints your partner may drop about preferred ring types and keep that stored in your brain.

You can always ask in casual conversation. Just because you ask about preferred rings doesn’t mean your partner is going to know when a proposal is coming. If you genuinely can’t figure out a size or preference yourself, do a trial and error with a cocktail ring as a gift.

Plan, but not too much.

You’ll have to plan your proposal, but don’t panic about needing to organize every little thing. Plan whether you want to propose in a private or public space, if family and friends will be present, or if there’s a sentimental location you like. If you want, you can book a photographer, but let the professional take the reins of the type of videos or photos captured.

Book a photographer.

You don’t have to hire an expensive photographer for your engagement by any means, but you might want to have the memory captured on camera. If you can’t afford a photographer, there’s likely a family member or friend with some camera experience. Ask someone close to you to stand by and snap some shots of this precious moment.

Ask for help.

If planning a big gesture or event isn’t your cup of tea, that’s okay. Incorporate those you both love into the proposal and don’t shy away from asking for help. As wedding planners help in wedding day festivities, there are people you can hire to help with your proposal. This may help take some stress off you, especially if you’re a nervous person.

Plan your speech.

When you get down on one knee, your mind will probably be scrambling for the right words to say. Avoid confusion by writing your thoughts down beforehand. As long as you have an idea of what you want to say, you’ll be able to ask the question easily. However, you’ll probably want to avoid reading from a sheet of paper or phone note. Feel free to recite your speech as much as possible to feel comfortable.

Plan a post-proposal party.

After the proposal, there are numerous ways you can choose to celebrate the occasion. Plan according to what’s the most fitting for you and your partner. You can spend the time keeping your news a secret, going to dinner together, and telling everyone the next day, or you could plan a post-proposal engagement celebration with friends and family at someone’s venue or home. You could pop a bottle of champagne with just your pets or parents. Whatever you choose to do, celebrating your engagement at the moment is solely up to you.

Keep the ring safe.

Make sure you keep the ring safe and out of sight from your partner between the time you buy it and when you propose. The longer you have the ring, the more likely your partner will find it. Keep it in a super safe place they won’t look or with your parents. Sometimes, partners may get suspicious that a proposal is coming and look around for a ring.

Have a cover story ready.

Be ready to answer any questions that may come up on proposal day. If you’re acting out of character, your partner may suspect something. Try to make the day as normal as possible so it won’t ruin the surprise, and be ready with a cover story if suspicions do arise.

Be flexible.

Of course, you want the day to go perfectly, but life isn’t perfect, and things may not go as planned.

Don’t let an early sunrise, a little rain, or a mini hiccup ruin your proposal. Your partner will be happy at the moment with you, so if there’s a minor drizzle, it’s more than likely neither of you will notice it, and if you do, it might make for an even better story.

Proposing to a loved one can be one of the best days of your life. It's a day when you decide to commit to your loved one and take things to the next level. However, if you don't usually plan things, it can be scary. Naturally, you want everything to go perfectly, but that may not always be the case. The best way to handle this special day is to do everything with love. Planning a proposal can be daunting, but following these tips can help alleviate some stress and make that day the most magical you’ll ever experience.

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