Your engagement begins with a proposal ‐‐ so what are you waiting for?
It’s the wedding season. What do you do? Avoid the arguments, seize the moment and get down on that knee? Or are you still nurturing ‘Terry and June’ nightmares of interminable couple hell? Get real. It doesn’t have to be that way. It’s time to do the decent thing!
Is the time right?
If you’ve been stepping out or living together for what seems like a lifetime already, there comes a time when it just becomes rude not to have popped the question. Understand that every woman reaches a stage in her life when she wants you to be legally obliged to come home every night. Don’t fight it ‐‐ like a bungee jump, you know you have to do one sometime.
Listen to your heart
Don’t panic. You will know in your heart of hearts if you do want to get hitched. If it feels like you’re about to resign yourself to a life sentence, don’t do it. However, if you feel like moving your life on and putting a bit of deep and meaningful into your daily grind, then now could be a good time.
Be aware that not only do you have to get your own head around the ‘lifetime commitment’ thing, but also the whole politics of the proposal. Do you really have to ask her dad first? What about the ring? A choice to be made together? Or be bold, be traditional and buy it solo? And how much do you spend? What are her favourite stones? Where do you ask her? In the pub? Over a curry? Aaaaagh, so many decisions!
Breathe. That’s it, relax. In terms of good long‐term diplomatic relations, do ask her dad for her hand. Have you ever wondered why there are so many in‐law jokes? It’s because they’re true. So manage them. Believe me, vast sums of good will could be generated by you doing the decent thing. Of course, if they hate your guts and would rather be hung, drawn and quartered than see their innocent baby girl marry a no‐brainer Neanderthal like yourself, then we’d advise you to get your girl’s agreement first. The last thing you want is the love of your life being bundled into the back of a white transit, her parents pushing a one‐way ticket to Katmandu into her hand.
The next concern is the ring. The ring is crucial. No girl wants to wear something for the rest of her life that looks like it fell out of a Christmas cracker. Take advice. Mutual girlfriends come in handy here, BUT NOT EXES. Bitter ex‐girlfriends have been known to select rings that would not look out of place on a curtain rail. As a general rule, diamonds are a good thing. The bigger the better. Just go for the most expensive diamond you can afford ‐‐ how hard can that be? Alternatively you could wait and choose it together ‐‐ if you want to spend twelve weekends window‐shopping, that is.
A not so modest proposal
You may be wondering at this moment why you have to bother with all this preparation. Well, bear one thing in mind ‐‐ her expectations are high. Even the coolest cat goes to pieces when her ideal man drops on one knee, so proposal performance had better be an Oscar‐worthy.
Right place for romance
Select your location with care. Your local curry house is a thought, but only if you want to leave wearing your vindaloo. Think location, location, location. Her favourite beach as a child. Her favourite restaurant, or maybe over a sunset on some exotic island, if you can stretch to it.
There’s a right way… and a wrong way
Always keep in mind you are doing the groundwork for making memories. You want the best possible start down a long, but rewarding road. Now all you have to do is actually ask her. You have permission, the ring and the ideal spot, what could possibly go wrong?
Be careful with being too ambitious. In Paris, the city of love, one would be‐fiancé, Francis Limond, attached a ring to the collar of his fiancée‐to‐be’s cat, assuming it would trot into the living room to be scooped up affectionately by his unsuspecting girlfriend. Then he trod on its tail. The cat screeched to high heaven, bolted out of the cat flap and across the road into oncoming traffic. The ring was never quite the same.
Then again, one wealthy chap took his girlfriend on holiday for three weeks in Australia. While up near the Great Barrier Reef he had them both picked up by private helicopter, flown 30 miles out to sea on the reef, where he had a table for two set up in the shallow water, miles from anywhere. On the table were Champagne, oysters and a diamond‐encrusted engagement ring. She couldn’t get her ‘yes’ out quickly enough. Bottom line is that all you need is a bit of inspiration and imagination (enter stage left confetti.co.uk) ‐‐ oh and cash helps too.
Don’t go public
The ‘miles from anywhere’ is a nice touch. Proposing in public often backfires, so drop the chat show, radio request and PA system ideas. Bear in mind the sad story of Chris (no cash, no sense) who popped the question by turning up at his girlfriend’s place of work and dropping on one knee in the middle of her trading floor. She almost died of embarrassment, refused point blank, dumped him and ended up taking out a court order against him. Not exactly a Champagne scenario.
Sincerity is sweet
Do propose face to face. In America, e‐mail seems to be an increasingly popular medium through which reticent Romeos pop the question. Why isn’t that hard to believe?
As for the question itself, that’s the easy part. Once you’re on the beach/cliff top/restaurant (or all three), you’ll be so psyched up you’ll probably blurt it out over your starter. But at least it’s out there. And if she says no? Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Take your ring back and go on a bender with the boys.
Good luck ‐‐ and remember K.I.S.S. ‐‐ Keep It Simple and Sincere. A banner unfolding along Tower Bridge saying ‘Will you marry me?’ may have worked in ‘Hart to Hart’, but let’s face it, a 70s TV detective couple you are not. And just think, once you’ve proposed, all you have to worry about is the wedding…