How do I tell my partner I don’t want a big proposal?

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a silver wedding band with two kissing skulls is presented on a bone
Kissing skulls ring by Offbeat Bride vendor KIPKALINKA

My boyfriend and I have been casually talking about getting married for some time now. We’ve got some ideas for the budget, clothes, venue, and catering, etc. However, I’m balking at what he is planning for the proposal.

My boyfriend says he needs time to find a photographer, setting, and day for the perfect proposal. He says he’s been inspired by Broadway Musicals and my own love of Bollywood films and wants to give me an “over-the-top” proposal.

I don’t know how I feel about this. I appreciate his desire to do something special but I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with the idea of a big proposal. Help!

First of all, can I tell you how much I LOVE the fact that the two of you are openly communicating? You've been discussing marriage, you've talked budget, venue, etc. Major kudos to you here, because frankly I feel like many folks treat wedding planning like a taboo subject until the question is officially popped. I'm of the opinion that it needs to be openly and thoroughly discussed, just like you would do with any other major commitment that involves a massive amount of time, money, and emotional investment. You don't just wake up one day and say “Hey, I think I wanna buy a house,” and then do it. And if you happen to be one of these people who can wake up and buy a house in 24 hours, remind me to send you my Venmo handle.

I feel you and your partner have already laid the groundwork for excellent communication, and these skills will be absolutely crucial when spending your life together. Discussing your expectations for the type of proposal you want is just one of many important conversations you'll have throughout your marriage.

Ok, so let's talk about the proposal. This is going to be a memorable moment for the both of you, and likely a story you'll both tell over and over! Of course you want it to be a memory that makes both of you smile. Key word here: both of you. Proposals should feel good for everyone involved, and sometimes that entails meeting your partner where they're at.

Hellcat Jewellery Mens Til Death Wedding Ring alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
‘Til Death wedding ring by Offbeat Bride vendor Hellcat Jewellry

1. What are you comfortable with?

It sounds like your partner wants to incorporate something public and performance related as part of your proposal. They likely suggested this not just because of your love of Bollywood films, but because it must bring them joy to some extent. Now the question is, what would bring YOU joy? If your partner wants to do something “over-the-top”, what version of that would sound ideal to you? Does that look like a proposal at a small restaurant in front of strangers? Or perhaps a private venue with just a few family and friends? How about nixing the photographer altogether? Maybe you'd rather it be just the two of you and have your favorite show tunes playing in the background. Think of what your dream proposal would look like and ways you can make it memorable for your partner, too.

2. What are your “don'ts”?

The last thing we want is for you to be put in a situation where you feel like you can't enjoy the moment of the proposal! Make a list of major “must-nots” that you know will 100% make you uncomfortable. This doesn't mean you're dictating how the proposal should go! Expressing your needs and your boundaries is another crucial part of entering a marriage together, and are important to practice long before anyone walks down the aisle.

3. Serve the “truth sandwich”.

Most of us are familiar with sandwiches, right? So you've got your bread, meat, and bread. A truth sandwich is love, truth, and love. Your first piece of bread is acknowledging they're operating from a place of love:

“I love how you're considering a proposal based on our passion for Broadway musicals and Bollywood films. I know that you want this proposal to represent our personalities and be memorable for both of us.”

Now for the meat, er, the truth!

“When I think about being proposed to in an “over-the-top” way, it makes me feel [insert how it makes you feel]. For example, [insert your list of “don'ts” here] would make me feel really anxious and take me out of the moment. A proposal that would make me feel good looks like [insert list of what you're comfortable with here]. ”

Time to finish your truth sandwich!

“I really love that you're thinking through this so thoroughly. I know that [insert thing your partner wants] is important to you. I want to help come up with a proposal that we'll both really love.”

Based on the success and openness the two of you have had while communicating your wedding expectations, I feel confident that you'll be able to communicate your proposal expectations too!

KIPKALINKA on Offbeat Bride 3 alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
Engagement ring by Offbeat Bride vendor KIPKALINKA

Have you had to communicate to your partner about how you want to be proposed to? Tell us how it went below!

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