In an age when seemingly every moment needs to be social media-worthy, many people might feel pressured to make their proposal a spectacle. But if you think your partner would prefer a more laidback ask, a simple proposal idea could help you to enter your engagement in a way that’s authentic to both of you. Plus, one of the best things about asking someone to marry you is no matter how lavish or simple the proposal—or wedding planning, for that matter—the foundation is always the same: true love.
Tip: These ideas will go smoother if you prepare what you’ll say in advance. Write down all that you love about your partner, funny or poignant moments you’ve shared, why you want to spend the rest of your life with them, or anything else that’s important to you. Then, write a script and practice in front of the mirror. And no worries if you don’t recite your speech verbatim during the actual proposal, as your love will be too distracted by your question to notice.
1. Dessert Ask
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.
2. Marriage Request in Magnets
Purchase enough letter magnets to spell Will you marry me? on the front of the fridge. Then, ask your partner to make you a snack—and discover their irritation quickly turn to elation with this surprise proposal.
3. At a Family Gathering
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.
4. Ring Inside a Rose
Few things are more romantic than a beautiful red rose. Simply hide the ring within the rose petals, and present it to your girlfriend or boyfriend during a tender moment. Plus, you can keep that rose as a keepsake by flattening it inside of a book.
5. Last Day of Vacation
No one likes the last day of a vacation, so why not sprinkle some joy on it by taking your love to a favorite spot at the destination and popping the question?
6. Make It a Gift
Arrange your proposal on a gift-giving holiday by putting the ring box in an inconspicuous box and wrapping it. Then depending on the holiday or event, put that 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.
7. The Peak of a Hike at Sunset
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, but make sure you’ll have enough time to make it back to your car before dark (Safety first!).
8. Get Your Pets Involved
If you and your soon-to-be fiancé have fur babies, securely attach the ring to one of their collars and cleverly get your love to check it out. For a cute proposal story, you could say, “I think Fluffy’s collar might be a little tight. What do you think?” and hope that they take the bait.
9. Photo Album Proposal
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 that question.
10. Written in the Sand
If you live near the water, why not have a sunset picnic on the beach? When your hun’s distracted by the waves and mesmerizing sunset, simply write your proposal in the sand for a simple yet romantic moment.
11. 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 V-Day to remember with a room filled with heart-shaped balloons, petals, candles, boxes of chocolates, and you holding up that ring.
12. Propose With a Pumpkin
Commence the holiday season with the promise of everlasting love by purchasing 2 pumpkins and planning a carving party with the two of you. Tell your partner you’ll each work secretly and reveal your art at the end. Just be ready to pop the question once you’ve carved your best Marry me? attempt on your pumpkin.
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 you draw and instead draw 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.
14. Return to The Spot
One of the most romantic ways to propose is to take your partner to the site where you had your first date or kiss, or another location that evokes positive memories about your relationship, and assume the OG proposal position.
15. Disney Magic
Create a whimsical proposal and photo op by treating your honey to a Disney adventure, then standing in line to take a photo with their favorite character. When it’s your turn, drop to one knee and…
16. 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.
17. Cracker Jacks
Who doesn’t love finding the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jacks box? Though it’s usually a worthless piece of plastic, the way you do it won’t be. Purchase this favorite ballpark snack, replace the plastic prize with the sparkly engagement ring, and help your person get to the bottom for a truly special moment.
Bailey Gaddis is a travel writer and author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood. In addition, she works as a childbirth preparation educator and birth doula who supports mothers-to-be and new mothers. She is also a regular contributor to media outlets including Disney’s Babble, Working Mother, Pregnancy & Newborn, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, and Woman’s Day. In addition to her childbirth-prep work, she volunteers for families in need of postpartum support. She lives in Ojai, California.