How to propose to your partner, offbeat style

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So, you're ready to propose to your partner. Congratulations! Popping the question is a memorable moment that you'll both want to look back at with all the warm and fuzzy feelings. But figuring out how to propose? Eek! Naturally there's going to be a ton of nerves and a lot of pressure to get it right. It doesn't help that the wedding industrial complex will tout that proposing to your partner is a once-in-a-lifetime moment (so don't screw it up!), that it has to be elaborate (ie: those public proposals with flash mobs and fireworks in front of the Eiffel Tower), and that it has to be expensive (like how the ring has to costs 3 months of a paycheck).

Although those are all great concepts in their own right around planning a proposal, they're not the end all be all of how you should propose to your partner. We've featured tons of unique proposal ideas over the years and have seen all sorts of new trends! Many couples are opting for new rituals like double proposals (or mutual engagements), proposing without a ring, and more intimate, private proposals instead of a public display. We're even seeing more women propose to men and we're SO here for it!

There are so many different ways to get engaged, and a heartfelt proposal will look different for everyone. We're sharing our guide for how to propose to your partner, plus real proposal stories to inspire you!

Step 1: Talk to your partner

Hold up…shouldn't a proposal be a surprise? All those be-yootiful proposals in TV and movies make it out to be spontaneous and totally unexpected!

But there's something that's ginormously more important to get out of the way before you even begin thinking about rings and hiring proposal vendors. Communication!

So before you get to picking out rings and hiring proposal photographers, have a heart to heart with your partner. Are y'all ready for marriage? What are your expectations in a proposal? Do they like surprises, or maybe they want to keep things intimate and low-key with a private proposal. Who is proposing? Do you both want to have a double where you propose at different times, or even at the same time?

Sure, these aren't the most romantic questions, but they're important. And yeah, it'll make the proposal “less” of a surprise. But that's ok! You can still plan a memorable experience that your partner will cherish forever, even if they knew it was coming.

How to Propose Ian Chin Photography 2 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Who said a girlfriend can't propose to their boyfriend? We love seeing women flip the script on proposal traditions. Photo by Ian Chin Photography

Step 2: Confirm Ring Preferences

Older wedding rituals didn't exactly encourage people to talk about engagement ring preferences before the proposal. So it was kinda “you get what you get” deal. Today, couples have acknowledged that the expensive piece of rock and metal that's going on your hand for LIFE is a massive investment.

Therefore, it's worth taking the time to discuss ring preferences, figure out what their perfect engagement ring looks like, or whether they even want a ring! Whether your partner prefers jewelry that showcases their fandom (like a Lord of the Rings-inspired engagement ring) or a classic solitaire cut, talking it out will help you find a ring that totally reflects them!

How to Propose Ken and Dana Pembroke Elven Ring alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Lord of the Rings fans will love this elven nature-inspired ring. Pembroke by Ken & Dana Design.

It's no longer considered taboo to go engagement ring shopping with your partner. Hitting up the jewelers is a great time to figure out details like ring size and explore various diamond types (and learn what words like clarity and brilliance mean).

Your offbeat fiancé might fall for a goth engagement ring with skulls.

How to Propose kipkalinka alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Wanda in 18k palladium white gold with champagne diamond by Kipkalinka

Not a fan of diamonds? Try colorful gemstones!

How to Propose Takayas Sailor Moon alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Sailor Chibi Moon Inspired Engagement Ring with pink tourmaline and rubies by Takayas
How to Propose Harry Potter Ring Ken and Dana alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Get a load of that ring box! Lebow setting in 14k yellow gold featuring an oval Montana Sapphire by Ken & Dana Design

Or perhaps rocking a stone-less engagement ring or band with embedded gems is their vibe.

How to Propose Takayas Mens Ring alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
This Final Fantasy video game-inspired engagement band is called “To the Hero of My Kokoro” by Takayas

Similar to discussing your ideal marriage proposal, open communication before the proposal is essential! So don't be afraid to whip out the Pinterest board and do your research together before hitting up the jewelry store.

Step 3: Figure out when and where you want to propose

Although proposals aren't nearly as extensive as weddings, they do take time to plan!

Think about a special date that would be most meaningful to your partner. Perhaps you want to pop the question at your dating anniversary. Maybe Christmas Eve with the family is important to them and you want their loved ones there to witness the surprise proposal.

Same thing goes if you want to propose at a specific venue. If you're planning a destination proposal, you'll have to work out the nitty gritty vacation details like passport renewals and researching vendors in that area.

If your future fiancé is a foodie, maybe you want to coordinate dinner at their favorite restaurant and have a waiter bring out the ring in a glass of champagne (cliché but cute as hell, so who cares?!).

How to Propose Zack Wolf Photography 2 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
This intimate proposal was at the chef's table of a famous restaurant in Boston. Photo by Zac Wolf Photography

Thinking of proposing on a rooftop with a gorgeous view of the skyline? Make sure you get permission from the right people so your romantic proposal doesn't get interrupted by “Do you have permission to be up here?!”

You'll want to think ahead to give yourself time to coordinate with the venue (if any), and hire vendors (more on that in a second). If you need extra hands on deck, you might want to talk to their close friend or family members to help pull off this special day.

How to Propose Kathryn Cooper Photography alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Family members helped Don propose to Weanne by setting up the rose petals and candles! Photo by Kathryn Cooper Weddings

Whatever you decide to do, make sure it's a thoughtful representation of what your partner might want. Your ideal proposal might include being dragged up on stage at a concert, but your partner might prefer an intimate moment in your living room.

Step 4: Hire proposal vendors

Did you know a wedding proposal can have vendors too? A proposal planner can help by focusing on the specifics of the big day whether it's setting up decor such as rose petals and candles or laying out a romantic picnic to surprise your sweetheart. The goal is to take care of all the little details so all you have to focus on is your grand gesture!

How to Propose Fotomaki Photography alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Claudia & Cerys had a destination proposal and worked with proposal planners to plan a surprise picnic. Photo by Joy Story

Many folks choose to work with a proposal photographer who takes secret photos! Once the question is popped, you can even coordinate an engagement photoshoot immediately after. A new fiancé and photography for your Save the Dates? That's what we call working smarter, not harder!

There are tons of romantic ways proposal vendors can make your moment extra special. Offbeat soonlyweds have hired musicians to serenade them during the proposal, a helicopter to fly by with a “Will you marry me?” sign, and even a videographer to film the proposal and make a sweet video. Vendors can add that extra pizzazz to your proposal, plus take more stress off you so you can focus on one important thing…proposing!

How to Propose Koontz Photography2 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Carla hired a violin/cello duet to play “All of Me” by John Legend. Photo by Koontz Photography

Step 4: Practice makes perfect

Yes, we acknowledge that practicing getting down on one knee in the privacy of your room sounds super silly. But if you want your perfect proposal to go off without a hitch, you better get rehearsing! Plus, practicing what you'll say will help soothe your nerves and make it feel more natural.

Also, again this sounds dumb, but practice pulling out the ring box. You'll want to soak in your beloved in that moment! Not having an internal freak out like “Which pocket did I put the ring in? Do I put it on their left hand or right hand? Oh no did I accidentally call them my MOM'S name?!”

Practicing your proposal plan will help relieve you of any pre-proposal jitters so you can focus on the emotion of the moment!

Step 5: Celebrate, duh!

Woohoo, they said yes! You are officially engaged, baby. Whether you choose to pop the bubbly and party with your friends and family or enjoy some quiet cuddle time with your new fiancé, there is no wrong way to celebrate your new engagement.

How to Propose Zack Wolf Photography alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Enjoying a sweet moment alone post-proposal. Photo by Zac Wolf Photography

Oh, and this part is kinda ironic for a wedding blog but…Don't feel the immediate need to make an announcement or even begin wedding planning.

Cherish this monumental moment and soak it all in. Wedding planning will be there later. And when you're ready, we've gotchu!

Ready to get down on one knee? Find alternative engagement rings, inclusive proposal vendors, and more inside the Offbeat Wed Vendor Guide!

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