How to propose: 9 marriage proposal ideas to sweep them off their feet

Proposal Ideas

So, you’re madly in love, you’ve found the perfect engagement ring, and you’re finally ready to get down on one knee and say those four little words. But there’s just one tiny thing: you have no idea how to pull off the perfect marriage proposal.

Your proposal is a milestone occasion you’ll both remember for the rest of your lives, and with all that pressure to live up to, it can be tough to think of a way to do it justice. If you’d like to ask that special someone to marry you, but you need some inspiration to help you pop the question, look no further than our handy guide. We’ve shared 9 romantic proposal ideas, so you can sweep your one and only off their feet in the most memorable way possible. Just read on to find out how to propose.

1. Treasure hunt

Treasure Hunt

If your spouse-to-be loves solving puzzles, hunting for clues, and you’re looking for a proposal idea that’s a little out of the box, then a treasure hunt could be just right. To pull it off, you’ll need to create a clever trail of clues for your partner to follow, each one bringing them one step closer to the ‘prize’: a breathtaking engagement ring.

The beauty of this proposal is that it can be achieved with a small budget, and you’re free to carry out your hunt anywhere you like. You could leave clues around your house for a smaller, more intimate proposal, or you could widen the scale of your hunt to include multiple locations. You can even customise your treasure hunt to make it extra personal: your trail of clues could lead them across a series of landmarks significant to your relationship. Perhaps the final clue leads to your home, where you’ll have friends, family, and a bottle of chilled champagne ready and waiting to celebrate.

2. A proposal for pet lovers

Pet Lovers

Pets are part of the family, so it’s only natural they should play a part in your marriage proposal. You could even get your furry friend to propose on your behalf: surprise your partner when they arrive home by tying a ‘will you marry me?’ balloon to your pet’s collar. You could even hang your chosen engagement ring from it, too.

If you don’t have a pet, but both of you would like to get one, you could go the extra mile and present your partner with a new pet as part of your proposal. For an extra-cute touch, present your new four-legged friend in a collar with a tag that reads ‘will you marry me?’, and be ready and waiting with the ring in your pocket. Just make sure you’re both ready to become pet owners before you take the plunge.

3. On the holiday of a lifetime

Holiday Proposal

An exotic location provides an idyllic backdrop for a romantic proposal. So, if there’s somewhere your fiancé-to-be has always wanted to visit, this is the perfect opportunity to treat them to the trip of a lifetime. How and when you spring the surprise is up to you: maybe get down on one knee in front of a famous landmark, or under the stars in a romantic location. Whatever you do, arrange for a bottle of champagne to be waiting for you next to a bed strewn with rose petals at the hotel.

4. Where you first met

Restaurant Proposal

This is one of the most romantic proposal ideas: it’s unique to your relationship, it’s meaningful, and it shows you’ve put a lot of thought in. So, why not propose to your partner in the place you first met?

If you really want to go the extra mile, you could even recreate your first date together. Little details — like where you shared your first kiss or re-watching the first movie you saw together — will add a heartfelt, personal feel to your proposal. Bonus points if you still have any keepsakes from your first date to present to your partner, too.

5. At a stunning viewpoint

Proposal on Stunning Viewpoint

If you both like to spend time in the great outdoors, your partner is sure to love a proposal that takes place amid spectacular scenery, like a mountain top or other local beauty spot. This proposal idea also provides a great opportunity for some stunning engagement photos, so be sure to bring a camera with you to capture a few snaps of your special moment.

If you’ll be tackling a long hike or scaling a mountain, remember to pick one that suits your fitness levels: you don’t want to be so worn out that by the time you get there you both look exhausted in your engagement photos.

6. During a romantic walk on the beach

Beach Proposal

What could be more romantic than a proposal on the beach? Visit your chosen beach ahead of time to find a secluded spot for your proposal, and write ‘will you marry me?’ in the sand (make sure it’s not in a place where your handiwork will be washed away by the tide). Then, return a couple of hours later with your partner for a romantic stroll along the beach. Once they read your message in the sand, it’s time to reveal the ring and get down on one knee.

7. Over a homecooked dinner

Sometimes, if you’re not sure how to propose, it’s best to keep things simple. Proposing over dinner — preferably a homecooked, intimate affair — is a tried and trusted way to pop the question, and it’s a great choice if you’d both prefer to keep things private and low-key.

While this might be a simpler option, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pull out all the stops to make it special. So light some candles, set the mood, and prepare a showstopping menu, ensuring it includes a few of your beloved’s favourite dishes. Present the ring as part of the dessert and be sure to have some chilled bubbly on hand to toast with.

8. "Reader, I married him": A bookish proposal

A Booking Proposal

If your spouse-to-be loves nothing better than losing themselves in a good book, then a literary proposal is sure to make them swoon. Write your proposal on a bookmark, slip it into a beautiful edition of one of their favourite books, and present it to them over dinner or during another special event.

If your partner’s a real bibliophile, you could even use their book collection to create a sort of literary treasure hunt. Buy an old hardback book from a charity shop, hollow out the pages to create a unique ring box, then hide it somewhere on their bookshelf. Write out a series of clues on bookmarks or pieces of calligraphy paper, and then hide them between the pages of a few of your partner’s favourite books. Be sure to write the title of the book in which the next paper is hidden on each clue, leading up to the final surprise. You’ll get bonus points if you can leave your notes on pages featuring romantic passages or proposals.

9. Organise an all-singing, all-dancing flash mob

Flash Mob

You want to spend the rest of your life with your partner, so why not make a real song and dance about it? Flash mob proposals — where friends and family descend on the lucky man or woman in question and perform a song and dance routine — are all the rage at the moment, and it’s little wonder why. It’s the perfect choice if your partner loves to be the centre of attention, and it’s a great way to get your friends and family involved, too.  

While these exuberant displays of affection certainly aren’t for shy and retiring types, if you have a flair for the dramatic then it’s sure to be something you’ll remember for years to come. They can take quite a lot of careful work and preparation, so check out TopSecretAgent’s guide to planning a flash mob to learn what you’ll need to do.  

Be warned: this is about as public as a proposal can be, so it’s only going to be suitable for extra-outgoing couples who love to put on a show. You’ll also be proposing in a public place, so you’ll want to be 100% certain that they’re going to say ‘yes’ before you commit to this idea.  

Before you propose: Hints and tips for all proposals

Proposal Tips

There’s no one-size-fits-all proposal, and the best way to pop the question will be different for every couple. But, there are a few ground rules you’ll want to bear in mind when planning your proposal, to make sure it's something your partner will love. Here, we’ve shared a few basic pointers to help you get it right.

Be sure this is what they want

Many people assume the ideal marriage proposal should be a surprise, but that doesn’t mean it should come completely out of the blue. Before you pop the question, you’ll want to make sure both you and your partner are on the same page in terms of your long-term goals, and that you both feel the same way about getting married.

That doesn’t mean you need to tell them the exact time and date of your proposal: you just need to be confident they are going to say yes. So, if you haven’t had ‘the talk’ yet, speak to your partner about if — and when — they want to tie the knot.

Bear your partner’s personality in mind

If you want your proposal to be memorable for all the right reasons, then you need to propose in a way that suits your partner’s personality. One person’s idea of a dream proposal could be another’s nightmare, so think very carefully about what they’re likely to enjoy. For example, an outgoing person who loves to be the centre of attention might love a showy public proposal, but a wallflower could curl up in embarrassment, so think carefully about how your partner will react to your plans.

If you’ve already talked about getting engaged, then the chances are your partner has already dropped a few hints about the sort of proposals they would like. If you want to probe a little further without giving the game away, try speaking to their friends (assuming you trust them to keep a secret), or ask them to quiz your partner about their likes and dislikes on your behalf.

Make it as personal as possible

The perfect proposal is thoughtful, meaningful, and unique to your relationship. It should show your partner you know their tastes and personality inside out, and that you’re committed to making them happy. So, plan a proposal reflective of who you are as a couple: you could recreate your first date, or theme your proposal around one of their favourite hobbies, books, or films. This will make your declaration of love all the more heartfelt, meaningful, and intimate.

Time your proposal carefully

The timing of your proposal is crucial. Ideally, you want your partner to be relaxed, happy and totally loved up when you ask them to marry you, so do everything you can to make sure you’re having a great time before you get down on one knee. Try to pick a time when your intended will be at ease, and not stressed out by work or other pressures: this way, they’ll able to relax and enjoy the moment.

If possible, try to build some flexibility into your plan: that way, if something unexpected pops up to throw your day off course, you can postpone the big moment until a better time. This is why so many people decide to propose on holiday, as your partner will be relaxed and happy, and you can wait until the time is right.

If you’re looking to pop the question to that special someone, then these tips should have given you some ideas for how to propose. Still shopping for the right ring? Take a look at our guide to choosing the perfect engagement ring, where you’ll learn how to choose a sparkler sure to take her breath away.

Take these proposal ideas on board, and you’ll be planning your wedding in no time. We also have a huge collection of wedding rings so, when the time comes, check out our ultimate guide to buying a wedding band to learn how to pick the right rings for your special day. Good luck!