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Seven Tips for a Perfect Proposal

If you are looking at this blog, then it means you are most likely looking to get engaged. If that's the case, congratulations!

Proposing is one of the scariest things you'll have to do. The key to a perfect proposal is to have a plan and to be personal. Think about things like timing, location, even attire. Be sure to learn about engagement rings, including the four Cs of diamonds, whether you want a silver or gold band and how much you can afford to spend. There is a lot to consider, but the most important thing is making it personal. A proposal is the perfect time to be sentimental, even if you're not an overly sentimental person.

Here are seven tips to keep in mind when planning your proposal ... and a few sub-tips sprinkled in!

Don't Spoil the Surprise

Outside of blatantly telling your partner you're about to propose, there are a few things that might tip them off that you're about to pop the question. While it might be difficult, try to avoid being — or at least showing that — you're nervous. (In addition to potentially tipping off your upcoming actions, they might in tern be worried that your nerves are an indicator of something else.)

Also, if you're not normally a romantic person, don't tip your hat by planning something super romantic. Enlist a friend's help or come up with a reason for something romantic, say a birthday or a tickets to a theater show. Or have a friend plan something fun and surprise your partner when they're out. When planning, make sure to pick a time when your partner isn't incredibly stressed, like a crazy busy time at work or when there are difficult family dynamics going on.

Before the day of, it's important to decide on clothes that will conceal the surprise and that you can comfortably bend a knee in. If you've got a ring box, know that the size of it might stick out and add a little extra bulk in your pocket. Try to find a smaller box, don't bring the box or find pants that will keep the ring box bulge hidden. When Jared proposed to me, he bought passes to the Botanical Garden in advance ... only to find out that it was a special event weekend and he needed to by different tickets to enter. His perfect plan of placing the ring box in his pocket above his wallet to hide the bulkiness of it was done for. He had to find a subtle way of moving the box around to get to the wallet below, without making it obvious there was his wallet and a ring box hiding in his pocket. Keep things like this in mind when planning your clothes.

In a related tip, be sure to have a ring, even if it's a "placeholder" ring. If you want to let your new fiance pick out their own ring, that's great, but you'll need something for your partner to show off their new engagement status, and something for you to pull out of your pocket when you get down on one knee.

Select a Sentimental Location

Think back on different points in your relationship, and pick a spot that's sentimental. Keep in mind the previous tip of not spoiling the surprise by picking a sentimental location you have no reason to visit. Or, if you're like Jared, find a new reason to go there (he said he got free tickets from a co-worker). Think about places like where you met, your first date or kiss or your favorite place, like a sporting venue.

If it's somewhere in public, make sure your partner — and you! — are up for public proposal. Even though you know the answer will be yes, will it make you more nervous? What about your partner? If you don't want all eyes on you, which will happen during a proposal, find somewhere that it can just be the two of you, even if it's a more crowded place, you can always find somewhere private.

Similarly, be sure to check for any permits you might need or any restrictions the location might have, especially if you're doing something elaborate or are hiring a photographer. For example, some places might require a permit or fee for taking pictures there. Other places might have restrictions on things like balloons. If you're doing anything special or are bringing anything, be sure it's okay, so you aren't asked to leave before, or right after, your big moment.

Speak from the Heart

This can be a difficult one, especially for guys. Take some time to think about what you're going to say, and be sure to speak from the heart. Tell your partner why you love them, how you knew they were the one, why you're excited to marry them. Plan out things that are important for you to say, but don't write out something word-for-word and don't read from a script for any notes. Look into your fiancee-to-be's eyes. If something strikes you in that moment that you want to say but wasn't planned, that's great! But at least you'll have some ideas in case your nerves take over.

Capture the Moment

No matter how you do it, try to find a way to capture the moment. It'll be a memory you and your future spouse will treasure. Jared and I still celebrate "engagement day" on Oct. 1 to commemorate the day we got engaged. There are plenty of options for ways to do this. Enlist the help of a friend (as long as it doesn't spoil the surprise). Use a Go-Pro or whip out your phone.

Consider hiring a photographer to capture the moment. One of the benefits of doing this is that they can help you prepare the engagement if you'd like help, and then you and your new fiance will get to do mini engagement session together after you pop the question!

A big thing to keep in mind if you chose to capture the moment: try to plan something earlier in the evening or when there is still light out. If you use your own gear, it might not be a good picture if it's too dark out, and if you have a friend or hire a professional, you don't want flashes to ruin the surprise.

If you are looking for a photographer, or would like some help, get in touch with me!

Think About What Comes Next

Another reason to do something earlier in the evening is so that you can enjoy the night as an engaged couple. A lot of people focus so much on the proposal and the moments leading up to it that they don't think about what to do after popping the question. And after such a sentimental moment, come up with something special to do after to celebrate.

When thinking about what to do, be sure to plan accordingly. Consider things like whether you and your fiance will be on the phone all night telling family and friends. Do you have a dinner reservation or plans and is it okay if you're late, in case it takes a little extra time to get the courage to propose or you and your fiance spend more time at the proposal location reminiscing over the proposal or you end up talking to mom and dad longer than expected. In the same vein, decide if you want family and/or friends to be involved in any way, whether it be the proposal itself or a gathering after.

If you decide to work with a photographer, she will be able to help with suggestions on timing, and the post-engagement proposal session will be a fun way to commemorate your day.

Be Yourself

You know your partner, and you know yourself. Think about what is true to you as a couple, and incorporate it into your plan. For example, don't go to a trendy, swanky restaurant if it's not your thing, or don't take hike through the park if you're not outdoorsy. Think about what you both will like; even opposites have shared interests, so find something that fits you that you both will enjoy. Even though the focus is on surprising your partner, it needs to be special for you, too. And remember, this proposal is just as much about you as it is your partner.

Have a Backup Plan

In case you get nervous and "miss the moment" or something doesn't go quite according to your initial plan, have a backup. And if you do have to have a backup plan, be sure to commit to that plan. As you're coming up with that plan, think about reasons why it might change. For example, if you plan to propose on a hike and it ends up raining that day, do you have a second location idea or do you postpone to another day? If you're planning to have help, whether it be from a friend/family member or maybe a musician or limo, and they're running late, what will you do, or do you have a plan to kill a few minutes before? This can even include an unexpected event, like illness, a job loss or even something as simple as your partner being grumpy because they didn't get to eat lunch. Hope for the best, but plan in case something doesn't go as planned.

Also be sure to discuss this backup plan with your photographer and make sure to discuss how you'll get in touch if you do have to change plans.

If you decide you want help, reach out to friends, family or even an event planner who can help you work through your ideas and plan the perfect proposal. And, most important, be sure to enjoy the moment! The "yes" moment is one that only happens once!

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