The Woman’s Guide to Proposing to a Man

    Can a woman propose to a man? Absolutely! Although it challenges traditional gender roles and gender norms in heterosexual relationships, more women are choosing to propose to the men in their lives than ever before. And while the idea of women proposing shouldn’t seem strange in this day and age, there’s scant advice out there on the best way to approach it. Here’s our woman’s guide on how to propose to a man to help you determine if this trending phenomenon in marriage proposals is the right next step in your relationship.

    Making the Big Decision

    Before you start planning, carefully consider how your man might react to his woman proposing. You want to create an atmosphere that’ll elicit a positive response, so take his personality and what he’d be most comfortable with into account. An outgoing person may appreciate a public proposal, while someone on the shy side may prefer a private setting.

    Also, think about whether you’ve talked about marriage. Some men will be delighted to be taken by surprise, but communication is still a strong component in any relationship. If spending the rest of your life together is a discussion you’ve had, and you’re reasonably confident he’ll react favorably, plan to propose in a way that’ll be memorable for both of you.

    The Perfect Time and Place

    Choose a date that has personal meaning such as the anniversary of your first date, your first kiss, or even a special day like his birthday. The holidays are also a romantic time to get engaged—in fact, the stretch between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day is known as “engagement season” in the wedding industry.

    Pretty sure he’d want his family present? Thanksgiving or Christmas would work beautifully, and both have the added advantage of built-in ambiance. Would he want to be dressed up with plenty of friends around? New Year’s Eve might be the ticket. If you prefer to be more lowkey, his favorite sports team’s opening day can be memorable without being too obvious or stressful.

    Choosing the perfect place takes thought, as well. A meaningful locale can range from the site where you first met to the home you share together. But, of course, consider what would make him most comfortable in terms of crowds vs privacy—and avoid the Jumbotron unless you’re sure he’ll say yes.

    Putting a Ring on It–or Not

    The classic proposal—a man proposing to a woman—involves getting to one knee and presenting a diamond engagement ring, but what about when a woman proposes to a man? As usual, it comes back to what you think he’d be most amenable to. If your man’s on the traditional side, feel free to take a knee to pop the question, as nothing says “proposal” like assuming this position.

    We recommend sealing the deal with a token of your love, but it doesn’t have to be a ring. A timepiece makes a beautiful keepsake, as does a bracelet or a pair of cufflinks. If you have your heart set on a ring, invest in one by all means. While you should examine the jewelry he owns for a hint of his style, and research available rings and metals, you also can’t go wrong with a classic gold band.

    Another tradition is asking your lover’s parents for their blessing in advance, though this is a personal decision and entirely optional. If you decide to ask the parents, find their phone number and call to set up a time to meet. Be straightforward and explain your reasons for wishing to take the lead in your proposal, but keep in mind they might be surprised. Or don’t—it’s up to you if you want to observe this tradition, so don’t feel obligated either way.

    Proposal Ideas for Her

    If you think your boyfriend would be delighted by your surprise—and initiative—but you still find the thought of turning him into your fiancé daunting, here are some ideas that’ll spark your creativity and imagination so your proposal moment is picture-perfect and happy.

    1. Holiday Proposal

    A holiday proposal, where the focus is already on family and togetherness, is one of the most romantic ways to express your love.

    If he doesn’t mind being the center of attention, consider popping the question during Thanksgiving dinner while friends and family are present. When it’s your turn to share what you’re thankful for, say some words on how grateful you are for your man. Then, reveal your token and ask him to spend the rest of his life with you.

    For a private proposal, a Christmas gift exchange between you two is easy to orchestrate. Say you’d like a break from the hubbub of the season for a quiet moment alone. Then, set the stage with twinkling lights, mistletoe, and Christmas music—and when he opens his gift, take a knee and speak from the heart.

    2. Sports-Themed Proposal

    If your man is into sports, why not arrange a proposal involving this theme? Whether his favorite pastime is basketball, baseball, football, hockey, soccer, or something else, plan a viewing party (at the field, arena, or elsewhere) and propose surrounded by friends and family—and hope the home team cooperates by winning so you have more than one reason to celebrate.

    If an elegant setting is more your style, consider the local polo field and see if it allows visitors to watch matches. You’ll both be dressed up, and you can plan a lovely picnic to go with your proposal.

    3. Beach Proposal

    Few things are more romantic than a walk on the beach, and it’s no wonder why this tried-and-true proposal setting is so popular. You can start the evening at a beachside restaurant, then continue to the sand where you pause your stroll to express what’s in your heart. A beach bonfire is another option where you can include a lot of people like family and friends.

    Don’t live near the ocean? A lakeside proposal can be equally romantic. A picnic for two, complete with champagne, is easy to execute and provides the alone time you need for an intimate proposal.

    4. Treasure Hunt Proposal

    If your significant other is the adventurous type, a treasure hunt complete with clues is a magical way for him to spend an hour or two that culminates in your proposal. Map out the path, composing clues that lead to each locale. You can take him on a journey through significant sites from your relationship and involve friends and family members if you wish.

    Each clue should lead to the next location where he’ll find the next clue, eventually leading to you. The final destination can be public or private, as long as you’re there waiting to pop the question.

    5. Trip Proposal

    Taking a vacation together is intrinsically romantic and offers plenty of opportunities to propose. The world is your oyster, so why not plan the moment at a scenic overlook, famous tourist site, romantic dinner for two, or in the privacy of your hotel room?

    Be sure to pack the token of your proposal carefully so he doesn’t ask questions ahead of time, and keep it close until your big ask. 

    You may even be able to get help. Let the concierge know you’re planning to ask your man to marry you, and he or she can assist with securing privacy or even point out beautiful spots for you to carry out your proposal.

    6. Staycation Proposal

    If a complicated proposal isn’t your style, a romantic night-in could be the perfect setting. Remember that a beautiful dinner doesn’t have to be stressful–takeout on fine china by candlelight can be just as sweet.

    If you do want to venture out, a weekend at a local inn, bed and breakfast, or boutique hotel a few miles from your home provides a change of pace without the investment of a full vacation. Plus, you’ll likely be near family and friends, so you can either include them in your plans or, if you prefer a private proposal, share the happy news with them in-person, right after he answers with a resounding yes.

    Need more inspiration? Read about the experiences of eight women who decided to propose to their men.


    Marilyn Oliveira is a writer, editor and content creator whose work has ranged from editing Inside Weddings magazine to launching the content section of Evite.com. She co-founded the website LuxElope.com, introducing the concept of luxury elopements to the wedding industry. A California native and UCLA Bruin, Marilyn loves seeing live theatre and attending outdoor movie screenings, as well as hiking local trails with her dog, Vita.

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