Okay, we all know that the story of how you proposed will be told to friends and strangers for the rest of your lives (no pressure!). Our best advice: check out these proposal ideas, and let them lead you to an idea that is all your own.
Public Marriage Proposal Ideas
- Choose a favorite place -- whether it's a fountain, a park, a hotel rooftop, or a boardwalk by the beach -- that has personal significance to the two of you. Once you're there, ask someone nearby to take a picture of you together, and instead of posing, drop down on one knee.
- Have a choir, brass band or drum line show up for a surprise performance of your girlfriend’s favorite love song in a park or public location for your proposal. For a really personal touch, ask the performers if they can incorporate your fiance's name into the lyrics.
- Arrange a surprise proposal with a street caricaturist. Have the caricaturist sketch a picture of you two with word bubbles that say, "Will you marry me?" and "Yes!"
- Ask the divers at an aquarium to put on a proposal show inside their biggest fish tank. Give them a (waterproof) sign that says, "Will you marry me?" to hold up against the glass and then position yourselves for what will, at first, seem like feeding time.
- Go out for a night of dancing and ask the DJ or bandleader to pass you the microphone so you can dedicate a song and propose on the dance floor.
- Hire a skywriter to spell out your proposal for everyone around to see.
- Take out a full-page ad in a newspaper, and then pick the perfect spot to have a relaxing morning of catching up on current events. Another twist on this idea is to call into a radio station and then make sure your girlfriend is listening when your proposal is on the air.
- Ask your local movie theater to run your special proposal "trailer," then show up early for the previews.
Destination Marriage Proposal Ideas
- Plan a romantic destination getaway for two. When you're on the plane, use the loudspeaker system (of course, run your plan by the flight attendants first) and propose at 35,000 feet.
- Rent a Vespa, scooter or bikes to tour the city and invite your girlfriend for a ride, but remind him or her to be safe and wear a helmet. Hand over the helmet (with the ring box already in it), and then you can zip around town to celebrate!
- After a long day of sightseeing, have a drink in the hotel bar. When it's time to go, have roses, candles and champagne all set up in your hotel room -- everything for a perfect surprise proposal.
At Home Marriage Proposal Ideas
- For a simple surprise, after she goes to bed, go to her jewelry box and replace her everyday ring with the engagement ring. She'll be completely shocked in the morning when she goes to put on her regular ring.
- Write her a love note with the proposal at the end of it. Tuck it into her favorite book or the one she happens to be reading at the moment, and when she finds the note, surprise her with the ring.
- Turn off all the lights in your apartment and make a trail of candles that leads to a circle of votives positioned around the ring.
- Slip the ring on her finger while she's sleeping and wake her with champagne and strawberries. At first, the gesture will simply seem romantic -- the real surprise comes when she notices her new piece of jewelry.
- Tie a red-velvet ribbon from one spot in your home to another. Attach little notes recalling perfect moments in your relationship along the way. You wait at the last stop, ring in hand.
Playful Marriage Proposal Ideas
- Send your unsuspecting girlfriend on a treasure hunt that ends with your proposal. Start with a clue at home (a handwritten note or text message) that leads to a tour of your favorite spots all over town.
- Create your own crossword puzzle and be prepared to help her work it out over breakfast.
- Spell your proposal out in glow-in-the-dark star stickers on your ceiling. Get into bed, turn the lights off and wait for the inevitable gasp.
- Spell out your proposal with refrigerator magnets.
- Sneak into her office or classroom before she gets there and write your proposal on her desk or on the blackboard. Stay hiding in the coat closet or right outside the room until she arrives.
- Get a ring size chart and ask your girlfriend to look up her size. When she accuses you of ruining the surprise that you're shopping for a ring, say, "Okay, try this one instead," and show her that you've already shopped for a ring.
- Play hangman and have the phrase be "Marry me."
High-Tech Marriage Proposal Ideas
- Create your own podcast proposal and sneak it onto her iPod.
- Upload a video of your proposal to YouTube (tell her you have a hysterical home movie to show her).
- Steal her digital camera and head to her favorite local outdoor spot. Bring a friend with you and have posters made with the words "will," "you," "marry" and "me?" Have your friend photograph you holding each one in a different position. Then, let her know you borrowed her camera and ask her to upload the photos.
- Take the scavenger hunt high-tech: Send your mate a text message leading her to a secret spot. Keep her engaged by text messaging her sweet nothings along the way (and directions, of course) as you lead her to you, on bended knee.
- Create a web page declaring your love and intentions. Leave your sweetie a clue with the web address written on it -- don't say a word. After the proposal has been officially accepted (which, of course, it will be!), she can proudly send the page to friends and family.
- Set up a live-stream channel (on Ustream.com) and invite all your friends and family to watch the proposal live from wherever you choose to propose!
- Upload a video of your prerecorded love story with a surprise ending (the proposal!) to YouTube and then insist you have a hilarious cat video that's a must-see and watch it alone or with friends.
- This one requires some lead time. Without your partner knowing, take a month (or even a year!) worth of video moments each day and set it to play. When the countdown of romantic moments reaches the current day, propose!
Foodie Marriage Proposal Ideas
- Make the box holding her ring a selection on the dessert tray at your favorite restaurant.
- Put together a gift basket of yummy delicacies -- the best chocolate or coffee -- and hide the ring among the presents (in its box, so it doesn't get lost in the goodies).
- Ask the pastry chef to write, "Will you marry me?" in chocolate sauce around the rim of her dessert plate.
- Ask a baker to make a cake with the proposal written in frosting. Have him display it in the storefront and suggest a little window-shopping to your girlfriend.
- Create a personalized fortune cookie with your own proposal message.
Fall and Winter Marriage Proposal Ideas
- During your annual Halloween prep, challenge her to a pumpkin-carving contest and carve the words "Marry me" into your pumpkin.
- Write, "Will you marry me?" on the underside of a kite and take flight one warm, breezy afternoon.
- Have a friend or family member set up a picnic -- complete with wine and cheese, of course -- for you in a park. Take your girlfriend for a hike on a route where you'll stumble upon this surprise proposal picnic.
Spring and Summer Marriage Proposal Ideas
- Propose in a flower or botanic garden when everything is in bloom.
- Gather your families together for a barbecue and make it a family affair.
- Go to the beach and casually build a sand castle (at a safe distance from the ocean!), and place the ring on the highest turret. Then invite her to admire your handiwork.
- Make your own message in a bottle. On the night before a beach day you've planned, write a love poem on a piece of parchment paper, roll it into an antique bottle with a cork and bury it in a well-marked spot in the sand near your towels. Be sure you "find" the bottle as you dig together -- and have the ring at the ready.
Thoughtful Marriage Proposal Ideas
- If you're artistically inclined or just like to make things with your own two hands, integrate something you've made into the proposal. For example, if you have woodworking skills, present the ring in a special hand-carved jewelry box.
- Buy a pet that she’s always wanted (bunny, kitten, puppy) and loosely tie the ring around its neck. Or substitute a stuffed animal -- still cute, but less maintenance!
- Tell your girlfriend you want to make a time capsule together to bury and dig up years into the future. As you're gathering the items, say it wouldn't be complete without a picture of the moment you two got engaged! Have a camera ready to take that shot right after you present her with the ring.
Cheesy (but Hilarious) Proposal Ideas
- Make a list of 10 reasons you'd like to marry your beloved. Read them to her in front of a crowd, have them delivered via singing telegram or send them written on individual note cards over the course of a day (or 10!), with the last card arriving by personal messenger (you!).
- Want to really surprise your girlfriend? Cut out the bottom of a huge refrigerator box, wrap it with pretty paper and ribbon, and attach a card that says, "What's inside the box is a gift to last a lifetime." "Deliver" yourself to her office or front door.
- Make her ring the surprise in a box of Cracker Jack.
- Make her feel like a movie star and set your proposal to the scene of her favorite romantic movie. You could arrange your own Pretty Woman moment (the finale, of course): Rent a white limo and climb through the moonroof with flowers in hand to proclaim your love as you arrive at her place.
- Another funny movie proposal? Steal from that famous Say Anything scene: Park yourself outside her house with a stereo blaring your favorite tune and propose on the front lawn.