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Your favorite restaurant might be a fancy uptown eatery or the dodgy kebab shop downstairs, but deep inside your heart you know it’s one of the most cliché places to propose in. If your girl/boy is a real-life version of Girls’ Shoshanna, aka a bundle of controversions tightly packed in one human body, this might actually work in your favor. Otherwise, try to get a bit creative. It can’t possibly hurt.
Be a stalker
Well, not all the time! But if you want to propose in a place that actually means something and you’re out of ideas even before starting to think about it, you’d better start digging for information. Girlfriends? Mom? Best high school friend? They’re all here to give you what you need. See if you can find out what her favorite place to hang out was when she was a kid. Does she have a secret love for a certain something or somewhere? Did she dream of being Queen of England when she was five?
Google the right way
If you’re googling top ten romantic places in the world you might as well stop right now, return the ring and forget about getting married. The way to your lover’s heart isn’t a back alley, so put your brain to work and start searching smart. Does she/he like Indian culture? Arrange a secret Indian getaway and propose on the plane. Do you both share a shameful love of dog shows or public auctions? Make that happen!
Don’t build up
The secret to an unexpected, but romantic proposal is not letting the build-up make the question popping too obvious. If you’re planning a trip to Paris and you end up proposing in a restaurant your abilities of sweeping someone off their feet are limited. Break the plot. Be strategically impulsive. Does that make sense?
Know her before you ask her
If your partner hates surprises and gets a real kick out of planning everything, if all they see when they think of marriage is the one-knee pose, the white dress and distressed doves flying in formation, then she probably won’t appreciate it if, one day you throw the ring box at her and yell “Wanna marry me?!” from across the room. If, on the other hand, she feels like vomiting when she sees couples getting married, she’ll most likely love you even more. So ask sly questions. Make them seem like non-questions when you push her to give her opinion. For example, while looking at a wedding dress ad online, say out loud “Doesn’t she look silly/cool.” She’ll no doubt pitch in with her wedding ideas.
Proposing is a leap of faith. It puts you in a vulnerable position. To take the edge off, think of making it a little less formal than you imagine. Asking someone to marry you is romantic in itself, so find a place where you feel comfortable. If you both love the beach think about proposing there, or if you just bought a home together think about proposing in a romantic way in your house.
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Make it like a game
If you’re sure she’ll say yes (and you’re probably proposing because you think so), take her on a quest. Make the search for the ring interactive, like a treasure hunt. Just make sure it doesn’t get too complicated, if you don’t want them to say “I quit” even before you guys get married. Try to include some relationship history in your treasure hunt, for that extra romantic factor that they’ll love.
When all else fails (you couldn’t find plane tickets, the restaurant she loved when she was a student burned down and so on), just do it. Don’t wait too long just because you want everything to be perfect. Guess what — nothing is perfect and nothing ever will be. In fact, your marriage won’t be perfect. That’s really the whole point. Accepting imperfection and being the best friend they’ll ever have. Just don’t let your dog poop the ring, like in American Pie 3.
Good luck! If you’ve already proposed in a special place, let us know in the comments section. Some desperate souls might use your ideas as much needed inspiration.
Naomi J. Shaw is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and three children in Southern California. She has contributed to many wedding and beauty blogs such as Bellezza Spa Blog. Her husband proposed to her on a trip to Hawaii, during the sunset at a secluded romantic dinner by the beach.