Inspiration » Proposal Ideas » 35 Simple Proposal Ideas

35 Simple Proposal Ideas

by Joy Editors
A simple proposal in a tropical destination with a couple standing on a rock with water in the background

Dreaming of the perfect proposal but don’t want the fuss? A simple proposal can be — and often is — just as magical. In this guide, we’ve curated 35 of the best proposal ideas that go big on love and light on stress. Whether you’re considering popping the question in the comfort of your own home or on a blanket nestled under the stars, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our top tips for creating a stress-free proposal that’s as low-key as it is memorable. 

1. Make it a Gift

Arrange your proposal on a gift-giving holiday by putting the ring box in an inconspicuous box. Then, depending on the holiday or event, put that wrapped box under the Christmas tree. Pass it to your partner on their birthday, or make it the last gift they open on Valentine’s Day. 

2. Local Love Story

A man kneeling on a small town street lined with trees, about to propose to a woman holding his hand

Live near their childhood hometown (or yours)? This proposal idea can take you on a tour of where they grew up and celebrate the unique places that have shaped their journey to your love. 

3. Last Day of Vacation

No one likes the last day of a vacation, so why not sprinkle some joy on it with this simple proposal idea? Take your love to a favorite spot at the destination and pop the question.

4. At a Family Gathering

A gathering of family and friends around a rustic wood table with a guitar leaning on blankets

If you’re part of a tight-knit group of friends (or family) and you think their presence will elevate your proposal, plan the big ask for when everyone happens to be together. When your loved ones are in the same room as you and your partner, wait for a moment to collect your breath. Then, do the classic glass clink and commence your romantic speech.

5. A Night at the Museum

It’s simpler to propose in a museum than you may think. Call up guest services at your favorite local museum for a recommended spot to pop the question. Choose an institution with personal meaning, such as a maritime museum for a Coast Guard vet, and it will be somewhere you’ll be able to return to every year on your proposal anniversary. 

6. The Peak of a Hike at Sunset

A happy couple hiking in the woods

Active couples can enhance their endorphin high when they reach the top of a hiking trail by getting engaged at the peak. To make it a perfect proposal, time the question for sunset. Just make sure you’ll have enough time to make it back to your car before dark (safety first!).

7. Photo Album Proposal

This unique proposal idea is guaranteed to make them feel special. Make a photo album chronicling favorite moments from your relationship so far. Then, make sure that the last photo is an image of you holding a sign that reads “Will you marry me?” or your preferred version of the big question.

8. Get Your Pets Involved

A couple smiling at a dog between them

If you and your soon-to-be betrothed have fur babies, securely attach the ring to one of their collars. For this marriage proposal idea, you’ll need a clever way to get your love to check it out. For a cute proposal story, try: “I think Fluffy’s collar might be a little tight. What do you think?” and hope that they take the bait.

9. Valentine’s Day

While it’s an obvious choice, there’s still something to be said for taking this well-trodden path. For an ultimate simple proposal idea, give your love a Valentine’s Day to remember. Fill a room with heart-shaped balloons, petals, candles or boxes of chocolates. The final surprise? You holding up that ring. 

10. On the Water

A couple sailing with a cityscape in the background

If you have a shared passion for all things aquatic, consider a proposal idea that helps you become at one with the water. Rent a double kayak for an hour, go for an easy paddle in calm waters or take a swim. There are myriad low-key ways to pop the question while surrounded by the deep blue sea. 

11. Written in the Sand

If you live near the water, why not have a sunset picnic on the beach? When your love is distracted by the waves and mesmerizing sunset, simply write your proposal in the sand. It’s a romantic beach proposal you’ll remember for the rest of your lives. 

12. Return to the Spot

A man kneeling at the foot of steps and a happy woman smiling with her hands by her face in surprise

One of the most romantic ways to propose is to take your partner to the site where you had your first date or kiss. For this proposal idea, another location that evokes positive memories about your relationship will also work. It takes minimal planning — just assume the OG proposal position and wait for them to utter “yes.” 

13. Game Night Proposal

Invite a couple of friends or family members over for a game night. Then, pull out Pictionary and make sure your special someone is your teammate. About halfway through the game, ignore the word on the card you draw. Instead sketch out clues for your proposal question. But if you trust your acting chops more than your drawing skills, you can also play charades with the same intention. For a game night for two, dust off that Scrabble box — just hide the correct letters in your pocket for the big moment. Bonus points if they spell out “yes” on the board in response. 

14. Breakfast in Bed

A kneeling man holding an open ring box in a bedroom while a woman perches on a windowsill

Begin your journey to forever with breakfast in bed. Let the coziness of the moment, the aroma of coffee or tea, and the comfort of your favorite foods set the tone for a day that marks the beginning of many more breakfasts to come. Maybe even include a little bubbly to celebrate this next chapter. 

15. Say it with the Stars

Everyone loves stars, especially the glow-in-the-dark variety you can stick to the wall or ceiling. For a romantic proposal idea, use adhesive stars to spell out your favorite version of “Will you marry me?” on your bedroom ceiling. Just make sure you go to bed when your partner does so you don’t miss their reaction.

16. Dessert Ask

A close-up of two people holding ice cream cones. One woman is wearing an engagement ring

Brighten the restaurant patrons’ nights — and your special someone’s — by asking the chef to use some sugary sauce to write “Marry me?” on your shared dessert plate. You can either have the ring propped up in the dessert as it arrives at your table for a creative proposal idea, or open that velvety little box while your partner processes the contents of the plate.

17. Seasonal Charm

Celebrate your love in sync with the season’s beauty. Cultivate an enchanting fall proposal surrounded by pumpkins or capture the winter magic under the mistletoe. For a holiday proposal idea, embrace the symbolism of a new beginning by welcoming the new year, ring box in hand. No matter the season, let nature be the backdrop for the next step in your journey together. 

18. Artistic Expression

A couple smiling and embracing with their eyes clothes. One is holding a paintbrush and the other is holding a paintbrush and paint bottle

Whether it’s a privately curated paint and sip or an at-home easel setup, imagine proposing with brushes in hand. This proposal idea can literally or figuratively paint a romantic picture that symbolizes the beauty of your relationship. Your artistic expression adds a layer of creativity to this already memorable moment!

19. Say it with Snacks

Capitalize on the big moment’s sweetness by indulging in your partner’s favorite snacks. For a touch of timeless charm and playfulness, consider hiding the ring in a box of Cracker Jacks. You could also write “Will you marry me?” on a message in a fortune cookie and pop the question over your takeout containers. Conversation hearts and doughnuts spelling out “Marry Me?” are also simple ways to bring this proposal idea to life.

20. Nature’s Embrace

A couple embracing in front of a waterfall

This proposal idea relies on the beauty of the great outdoors. Take a hike, grab a picnic basket (maybe even a bottle of Champagne) and find a scenic spot. Let the rustling leaves, the gentle breeze or the serene water elements act as your witnesses to the commitment you’re about to make to one another. Pro tip: Choose a spot you can return to year after year to celebrate the anniversary of your proposal. 

21. A Bookworm’s Dream

For the literary soul in your life, craft a proposal that revolves around books. Incorporate their favorite classic or write your very own love poem or story, making the proposal the focal point of your shared narrative. Not a writer? Try creating your very own engagement ring bookmark or find a creator on Etsy to help. Remember, it’s the thought that counts! 

22. Backyard Bliss

A man holding a ring behind his back in a backyard

Here’s a cozy at-home proposal idea, with a twist. Get creative with your space and curate an intimate outdoor setting for a proposal in your very own backyard. Plan for a celebration under the open sky, amidst the comforting familiarity of your own home. We’re thinking string lights above or flameless candles scattered around, rose petals and a blanket or cozy rug fit for two. If you’re feeling ambitious, prepare dinner or light bites. Then, cue up a playlist of special songs and pop the question. 

23. DIY Photoshoot

Capture the exact moment of the proposal with a DIY photoshoot, preserving the magical memory forever. Ask a friend to discreetly hide nearby to snap some candids. This DIY approach adds a personal touch to the memory, turning the act of proposing into a collaborative and creative endeavor you can both cherish.

24. Romantic Rooftop Picnic

A couple clinking wine glasses having a picnic on a rooftop

Make your special moment unforgettable by having a romantic dinner on a rooftop. Whether you’re gazing at city lights or enjoying the beautiful scenery of your hometown, set the mood with a sunset or starlit backdrop for the picnic. Whether you wait until you’ve finished your meal or decide to say it with your first sips, it will be a dinner to remember. 

25. Say it Under the Stars

This proposal idea is for the stargazers. Set up a cozy picnic under the stars, complete with your favorite treats and Champagne or a drink of your choice. Whether in a quiet park or a secluded beach, let the night sky radiate its beauty as the backdrop for this unforgettable moment. 

26. Home Sweet Home

A couple smiling at each other in a living room

Comfort meets romance with a carefully and cozily curated proposal at home. Create a comfortable atmosphere with your partner’s favorite scents, music, blankets and their most-loved home-cooked meal or takeout order. These details will make this living room proposal idea feel deeply personal.

27. Adventure Awaits

If you’re into mountain biking or climbing, why not spice up your proposal with something active? Surprise your partner during one of your regular adventures, be it an exhilarating hike, bike ride or other shared sport. Let the excitement of the moment inform the time of the proposal or plan ahead for the perfect place to rest (and to pop the question).  

28. Botanic Gardens

A man on one knee proposing to a woman in front of a body of water and greenery

Create a dreamy proposal scene by taking a walk through a vibrant botanical garden. If there are no gardens in town, stroll through a field of wildflowers in a serene outdoor spot away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Embrace the beauty of nature as your backdrop. It’s the perfect way to set the mood for the heartfelt moment.

29. Farmers Market

Explore your local farmer’s market together under the guise of buying ingredients to make your favorite dish. Whether you decide to propose at the market or in the midst of your cooking adventure, your significant other will appreciate the thought that went into a day well spent — not to mention the question they’ll never forget!

A person sitting in a darkened art gallery

Is your partner more of an art connoisseur than an avid adventurer? Plan a uniquely intimate proposal at a local gallery. Paintings or sculptures set the stage for the heartfelt question you’re about to pose. Maybe even secure a piece of their choice to remember the moment with. 

31. With Flowers 

Whether you opt for a store-bought bouquet or homegrown succulents, this proposal idea is simple and sweet. Hide the box in the bouquet or nestle the ring in your potted plant before surprising your partner with the floral arrangement and popping the question. 

32. Cook Dinner

A couple cooking in a kitchen with a fry pan and a spatula

Skip the farmers market and get straight to cooking with this proposal idea. Pop the question while preparing your favorite meal or after you’ve sat down to enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you’re feeling extra playful, stage a food fight and pull out the ring while they’re taking cover under the table. 

33. Crossword Puzzle

Simplify a romantic scavenger hunt proposal idea by creating a custom crossword puzzle. You’ll still enjoy a whimsical walk down memory lane, but with a fraction of the time and money. Just provide all the clues to a maker from Etsy who can deliver a ready-to-print puzzle. 

34. Milestone Moment

Take advantage of any major milestones coming up in your partner’s life — maybe a graduation, birthday or your own anniversary. Pop the question on that day to add a layer of sentimental value to the moment. Bonus: It will be a date neither of you will ever forget. 

35. Just Ask

Two men sitting in a living room enjoying a meal of pizza together

Don’t overthink it. Celebrate the big moment in the simplest way by asking “Will you marry me?” in a moment that just feels right. Whether you’re stuck deciding how to pop the question or you’re pretty sure they’ll love the laid-back, real-life vibe (and spontaneity) of it all, this proposal idea may be for you. It could be during a walk, a movie night or even while making breakfast — no need to stress about the setting! What matters most is the love between you two. 

Proposal Etiquette FAQ

Navigating this exciting time in your life involves more than just settling on the perfect proposal idea. It’s about ensuring that this significant milestone is approached with thoughtfulness. And now that you’re ready to pop the question, here are some of the dos, don’ts and the maybes when it comes to proposal etiquette. 

Do I need an engagement ring to propose?
While tradition often includes an engagement ring, it’s not a strict requirement. Some couples opt for alternative symbols of commitment or select a ring together after the proposal. The key is understanding your partner’s preferences and finding a gesture that appropriately reflects your relationship.
Is a public proposal a good idea?
Public proposals can be memorable, but they may not be ideal for everyone. Consider your partner’s personality and comfort level with public displays of affection. If your partner loves their privacy, an intimate setting may be more appreciated than a grand public gesture. Not everyone needs or wants a flash mob of a proposal! 
How do I plan a surprise proposal without giving it away?
Planning a surprise proposal requires strategic coordination. Enlist the help of close friends or family members who can assist with logistics without revealing the surprise. Pay attention to your partner’s habits and schedule to ensure the element of surprise is maintained.

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