Proposal shaming: When people say you need to do over your proposal

Guest post by SparksinKY

I avoid talking about the “proposal” part of our life because a lot of people don't understand it. We are in the age of “ommggg look at this YouTube flash dance wedding proposal that went viral and is now being featured on Good Morning America!” Our story just doesn't fit into that American narrative.

It was simple, I was a part of the conversation, and it was nothing big and romantic. It was more of just us agreeing to make it official, tell our families, and seal it with a bad-ass ring for my hand.

We recently got back from a week in the Bahamas where we chartered a boat and lived on it for a week. There were some crew members we got to know as well and they asked me how my fiancé proposed. I told them, and they made such a big deal about how bad it was. “You need to do over your proposal. Give this babe a proper engagement to remember!”

I know they were doing it more in good fun, but it made me feel so bad for my future husband. He was being ridiculed, and a little bit shamed, and I was being pitied. I tried to defend him by explaining it better, but how do I tell people who I've known for a week that we are a couple that does things a little more alternatively, and that I don't feel like I'm missing something here? You can't, so I don't bring that part of getting engaged up unless asked.

Getting engaged and wedding planning has made me more private than ever. Or maybe growing up has made me more private. I don't want people to know every little thing anymore (this coming from a former Facebook addict who liked to think she perfected the humble brag). It went from that over-share level to not even wanting to post about our engagement on there at all. I think it's weird when near-strangers ask me questions about my proposal or wedding plans, and I don't really want to talk about it all the time.

It does my five years of getting to know this man a true disservice when I have to sum it all up in a few sentences about one night of our lives. He gets defined by that one night last summer. (I don't even remember the date of when we got engaged, that's how inconsequential that part is. Sometime in August?)

Maybe my new answer to the people who ask will be, “That's private, just between us.” Then they can imagine wild scenarios for themselves while we continue on in our own understanding of each other and our relationship.

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Comments on Proposal shaming: When people say you need to do over your proposal

  1. Oh, our was a simple proposal in a restaurant. I was pregnant and we had already decided that we were going to get married after the baby was born. So I didn’t expect a proposal and a ring. It was very very simple, the ring was cheap, because we don’t have much money and we had a baby on the way, there was no singing, just him asking shyly.
    And a few weeks later a close friend of mine got engaged on London Eye and a few months later, another one on the Eiffel tower. And I was like – what?! I am going to marry the most uncreative person in the world. But then I slapped myself and remembered that I had chosen him to be my husband, the father of my child, because he is the most nurturing and loving man I’ve met. He cared and still does about me, he adores our son and I’ve never felt so safe and secure. Which is kind of important as I was divorced before I met him. And yes, all these singing and dancing proposals, or proposals on landmarks in front of ton of people may make me cry a little, but as they had pretty ordinary weddings, I had a person who agreed to (almost) all of my crazy ideas. Being the more creative, I am happy to live with a person who leaves everything art related to me. YAY!:)

  2. I hate getting the “How did he do it?” question so much. I was really happy with how it went down, even though I knew it was coming and even showed him which rings I liked. He actually gave me a toy detective’s badge at first instead of a ring because of an inside joke in which I’d point out something or figure something out and he’d tell me, “Good work. You’ll make detective yet.” At some point, it became a goofy metaphor for a promotion from girlfriend to fiancee so he gave me this goofy speech about the hard work I’ve put in and how I earned this promotion before he handed me a jewelry box with the badge inside. That part of it was completely unexpected. When I started laughing, he then pulled out the ring box that I was expecting.

    But when I told people about that part of it, they thought it was weird. So I started leaving it out and just saying vague, “Oh we were sitting by the river before dinner and he just asked.” I feel like I’m supposed to prove how much we really love each other and really want to get married by sharing this elaborate, romantic story. It’s a very weird sort of pressure. The story itself is pretty underwhelming, but it’s perfect for us so I’m getting married with a toy detective’s badge pinned to my dress and anyone who thinks it’s weird can shove it.

    • “Weird” and “underwhelming”?! What?! Reading this made me tear up a bit, the detective thing is absolutely adorable! Anyone who thinks your proposal story is lacking is shallow and needs to screw off! … in my humble opinion. 🙂

    • It IS sort of weird and quirky. But it’s YOU. Other folks don’t have to get it.

    • That is so sweet. If some idiot doesn’t understand, it’s their problem. It means something to just the two of you and that’s more important.

    • I love the inside joke part of your proposal! It’s the personal touches that make things special!

    • I LOVE the detective badge story! That’s so sad that you’ve gotten negative reactions to that – haven’t those people ever had inside jokes like that with people they were dating? I think it’s adorable and to proves how much you love each other and are right for each other!

    • That makes me smile. Our proposal had an inside joke in it as well. And I agree people just don’t understand that part, and it makes telling the story awkward. He asked me if I was ready to trade in my miles. And no one had to tell me what that meant, and I’ve come to realize that it’s totally fine that I’m the only one that totally gets it, and loves the entire story.

  3. I’ve had to stop telling people how I was proposed to because I got tired of all the crappy responses. Apparently me being happy about it wasn’t the important part, I should have had some HUGE thing surrounding it instead of in a parking garage being asked if I’d play the Old Republic with him. *eyeroll*

  4. Kudos to you and your fiance’ for doing what feels right for you. I was proposed to with a loud, dancing, very public flash mob that was both filmed and photographed, put online, and leveraged for a very public blog post. It wasn’t me. But I said yes. But you know what? Our relationship was dysfunctional and she wasn’t the right one for me. A few years later we called off the wedding and broke up. I secretly envied people whose proposals were simple and sweet, and most importantly felt authentic and true.

    The people who give you a hard time don’t know you, they don’t know your fiance’, and they don’t know your relationship. In this world where “pics or it didn’t happen”, the people who give you a hard time about your quiet decision – they’re bringing their own stuff, it has nothing to do with you. And there could be a little envy mixed in with their teasing.

  5. I think that kind of attitude just feeds the big bridal business, in that having someone ask you to spend the rest of your life with them isn’t enough on it’s own. It has to be all big and flashy and YouTube worthy. It’s so silly. It’s ONE NIGHT out of the rest of a couple’s life together. Who cares HOW it went down when the focus should be on just the fact that two people found each other in this big ol’ world and love and like and respect each other enough to want to commit to each other’s quirks and craziness for forever.

  6. He said “I was going to propose today, but now I’m freaking out about it.” Then we had a short conversation about whether or not we should get married. Out of nowhere: “fuck it, let’s get married.” Me: “Are you serious?” Him: “yeah. WAIT.” *runs to get a cheap ring I bought myself for sizing out of the bedroom so he could “do it proper”*

    We lucked out I guess, because people said “he would” when they heard our proposal story. 😛

    (Plus that cheap ring? Graduated into being my wedding band. Accidentally. But 2.5 years later, I wouldn’t change it for a “real” one. The story is worth so much more.)

  7. I usually just tell people that it was simple, and very “us”. If I feel like giving details, I say we had dinner at the restaurant where we had our first date, got ice cream sundaes and took them out to the park in the neighborhood where we’d just bought our first home (which is also the neighborhood where I grew up), and he proposed there. I usually only give the details to people who understand us as a couple. My brother had just proposed in a lavish way shortly before we got engaged, and he scoffed at my husband’s proposal when I told him about it. I’ve rarely been so angry.

    • I do the same, Mary. I tell them it wasn’t anything fancy, but it was totally “us.” He proposed at my apartment one night after we’d come home from a friend’s birthday party. It was perfect and I wouldn’t have him do it over again. Ever.

  8. When I proposed to my wife, I kept things simple. A few days after the matching rings I ordered came in, I couldn’t bear waiting anymore and simply proposed to her when we got out of the shower one day. No preamble or whatnot, I just asked her if she would marry me as I slid the ring on her finger. (Needless to say, she said yes ^_^ )
    While it certainly wasn’t flashy or clever, I wouldn’t trade that moment for the world, and I don’t think she would either.

  9. My husband and I are also pretty non-conventional and had a very non-conventional (some would say boring/lame) proposal that suited us perfectly. I also did not divulge the proposal story unless specifically asked, and even then I knew people wouldn’t “get it” so I would keep it short and sweet. For example, “It was at home, just the two of us. It was really sweet.”

    My husband, on the other hand, loves making up grandiose stories. Like telling complete strangers who ask how we met that we found each other at rehab to make them feel uncomfortable. Even going into detail about our “drug of choice”.

    I find either method usually works to get the conversation flowing in another direction.

  10. Ours was so inconsequential that honestly I don’t remember the month. Our families live a few states apart from each other, and we had convinced his mother to visit us down where my family lives instead of her annual trip to where we live now. My husband and I had been together for almost 10 years and no one in our families had ever met each other, and this would probably be the only time it happened.
    I joked with him that we should take them to dinner, then surprise them with a wedding instead since it would probably never happen again. He agreed which I was shocked about and asked if he was serious about twenty times.
    We spent the next month trying to plan a secret wedding in a location several hours from where we live in a small lake town and then gave up in frustration at the price it would cost. I had given up on the idea of even a surprise tiny wedding on account of the cost without even having everyone there, when he suggested just doing it for real and bigger. I asked him another twenty times if he was serious. We didn’t even think about or get rings for another month or two after. Lol

  11. When we were first engaged, and everyone found out that I was the one who proposed to him, some of our friends were telling me he had to propose back to make it “real”. WHAT?! I put a lot of thought and heart into how to propose! They said I took the romance out of it. WHAT?! I made him pie! On Pi day! Phhhhht!!! I think it would take some of the uniqueness of it from us. I wouldn’t have done it, if I felt I was going to be missing out on something, and he gets puffed up and proud when someone asks him about it. It’s not the flash, pomp, and story that means anything, it’s the heart and soul behind it. And of course, the end result! 🙂

    • Right, I get people making assumptions about it all the time, but I, the woman, proposed! The occasional high-five or other props for it are the best, that’s not all we get. Anyone who feels that tradition has been violated and that’s more valid or important than our happiness can suck a big one. (Same goes for anyone without a big, flashy song-and-dance proposal.)
      When he got over being shocked and eventually got me a ring he proposed in return at the restaurant where we had our first date, but that was to be nice, rather than to try to make it “real”. In both cases we opted to get each other unconventional, inexpensive, remarkable rings.

  12. Our story is pretty much the same as yours. After four years together, we had a conversation where we laid everything out and made it really, truly official. We make all our decisions together, and we didn’t feel like this should be any different. It was very “us,” and we’re both happy.

  13. We’re the same, we had been talking about it for quite a while before it happened. We looked at rings even.

    My fiancé is a very private person, he’s introverted and doesn’t like to be the center of attention. I’m a flashy, center of attention, omg surprise me! kind of person.

    His proposal was when we were on a walk with our dog at the place that we had our first date. Was part of me a little disappointed there wasn’t a production? I’d be lying if I didn’t say yes. But then I remembered that this isn’t just about me. This is him putting his heart out there and asking me If I want to spend the rest of my life with him. It’s hard enough to do that without a ton of people watching.

    Now as I look back on that proposal, I smile because it echos are first date. How excited I felt to be with him and just be surrounded by nature.

    When I proposed to my FH, it was in bed, making promises to him (silly and serious) about our relationship. He thought I was being weird and I asked him to marry me. Because it wasn’t just about me, so there was no flashy-ness. No big moment and that’s okay.

  14. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, and sometimes the total shock makes it worth it.

    I had asked my fiance out by passing him a note during a corporate philanthropy meeting. Yes, very 4th grade “check yes or no” stuff, but he said yes. A year later at the kick off meeting of the same corporate philanthropy group, as we are all sitting around our committee tables, he passes me a note asking me to marry him. I read the note, and blurted out quite loudly, “really? Are you sure?” (perhaps not the most romantic response). He grinned and said yes, he was sure; so I said yes, absolutely. I must have been pretty loud because we suddenly had the attention of 24 other people.

    The cool thing was that all the people in the room, who 3 minutes before had been trying to gear up for a serious meeting, now saw that the budding romance they had watched for a year had the ultimate follow through. But that was it… a note, passed in a meeting. No ring, no balloons, no skywriting or flashmob or video. We’re pretty low key people.

    So low key that our wedding is going to be a potluck & bbq on our patio. We figured we’ll get married somewhere between brisket and brownies. Maybe we’ll just pass notes to each other and have the officiant notarize them.

  15. Sigh. I JUST watched the Gilmore Girls epi with a 1000 yellow daisies too haha, and though I was elated when he asked The Q, I couldn’t help but feel a *tad* disappointed. My dude is all about doing things big. He’s painted himself blue and ran into the frozen bay (twice!) for polar plunge. He has sewn himself his own “burger suit” Halloween costume. He has walked out in public in cutoff jean shorts for a country western themed party. He has run a 5k in a green full body spandex suit. So I thought when the time came, it’d be a big production. It was not. It was a quiet Saturday morning and he attempted to have our pooch deliver me a ring while I was still rubbing sleep out of my eyes. She botched it, haha, but it was super sweet and writing this comment, I realized that I’m so lucky to have a guy where seemingly little things are made into big productions instead of this one little question being his defining moment or the biggest thing he ever does. Don’t use the proposal to define your wedding or marriage. Think about why this lucky guy or gal is in your life and the life you’re committing to living together. Congrats on your engagement!

  16. I love love love every single word of this post. I had a great formal old fashion proposal, that i loved at the time, and that is all that matter; people want to know every single detail, but they are not really interested, they just want to compare with other’s. The important thing is you two are happy about each other; it will be the same about your wedding, don’t bother about them, keep it simple and yours.

  17. I agree *so much* with you! Whenever I see the proposals where an entire group of people has been convinced to do a choreographed dance, or if someone gets a custom Mass Effect level build, or when someone has made some sort of quest, I do feel the tiniest twinge of ‘why not meeeeeee!?!’ Then I tell my inner three year old to STFU and remember that I would probably feel hyper-nervous when put in a situation like that.

    However, I’ve only ever told our proposal story to a couple of my best friends, because they would understand. We didn’t even publicly change our status on FB so no-one had the option to comment on it. Either we tell you in person/over the phone or you don’t know us well enough to hear it first-hand and don’t necessarily need to know.

    (I was proposed to by my SO while making pizza. We’d had a series of convo’s beforehand and I didn’t expect it because he was ambivalent about getting married due to his parent’s divorce.)

  18. Yeeesh, this attitude frustrates me so much. Our proposal was also a “conversation at home and deciding to make things official”, and I also kind of cringe when people ask. Fortunately, anyone who knows me expects that I do things untraditionally, but Husband’s side sometimes has to warm up the the weirdness that is our life.

    The frustrating part is that I don’t think this is that unusual. Everyone acts like big, romantic proposals are the vast majority, but I think that’s because they don’t see/hear about the more private/smaller ones. Plenty of people have silly, unromantic proposals or no proposals at all, and society needs to stop acting like that’s not a perfectly reasonable option.

  19. I was wearing my love’s Slayer shirt and we were at home, surrounded by our cats. The proposal involved carrot cake cupcakes and him getting down on one knee. Very simple and very magical and perfect for us. But I’m always surprised by people that think it wasn’t enough, when it was enough for us. I have stopped talking about the proposal because of the responses I’ve received, and it makes me sad.

  20. My husband tried to do it big, he had a plan and I completely ruined it, lol. He was having a New Years Eve party, and had gotten everyone “in on it” but me. It was going to be a big to-do…. But at 10:30 I decided I really didn’t NEED to bring in the new year with fireworks especially since I was already beat. He tried to convince me to stay up but it just want happening. So, he announced that since I’m going to bed, he is going too because he didn’t want to stay up if I wasnt going to. I now know this was him saying “she’s going to bed, no big proposal, feel free to leave” haha… Back then I wore chunky rings that I couldn’t wear to bed, and my side is the bed was against the wall so I would get in bed, realize my rings were still on, and pass them to him for him to put on the nightstand. This happened, but he passed “a ring” back to me. I was REALLY tired, and confused, so I asked what he was doing he took the ring from me and asked me to marry him and slipped it in my finger. I smiled and said “only if you let me go to sleep now”…

    All too often I hear that he “should have pushed the proposal to Valentine’s day”, I say it was perfect 🙂

  21. We witnessed a public proposal in a park fairly early in our relationship, and I told him that elaborate public proposals were not for me.

    He ended up proposing while we were on a hike – we were resting on a log next to a river and he said “I have a question for you,” pulled out the ring and asked me to marry him. It was sweet and beautiful and perfect for us.

    Who can say what is right, weird, over the top or underwhelming? My parents have been married for almost 50 years and he asked my mom to marry him by saying “well, I think we should try to make a go of it”.

    • I love it! My parents decided to get married when my mom said, “If you proposed to me, I’d say yes.” It’s one of their favorite stories after 36 years of marriage.

      • On their 37th wedding anniversary my sis-in-law finally asked my dad why he proposed on the night he did (he didn’t have a ring). My mom said, “yeah, honey, why that night” and dad said “because I was tired of waiting to sleep with you!!”

        I love this story!! They are still together after 47 years!

    • When we told our parents we were getting married, I asked them how it went down when they decided it and my mom said. “Well if I had left the decision to your dad, we would probably still not be married. We were sitting on the couch in the evening and I said to him: ‘So, how about finally marrying?’ ”
      and my dad said “Well, she did not leave me any choice I guess. But it turned out go be a good decision.” and they both laughed.
      And they have known each other since they were 2 years old and have been together since they were at university and are married now for almost 30 years, very happy with each other.

  22. When we got engaged, it was more of a slowly accumulating thing. We didn’t have an “officially” proposal, we just realised independently that we wanted to be married and then confirmed it in conversation. When we decided we wanted to start telling people, he went out and found a ring, and gave it to me. Then we started telling people. Most people didn’t ask about our proposal, and to those who did I told them the truth: he gave me the ring one night in our kitchen when we were talking about the best way to tell people about the engagement.

  23. The lead-up was more dramatic than the proposal … complete honesty, I don’t think either of us actually proposed. We had broken up six weeks previously because he was completely and totally ready to spend the rest of his life with me, but we had a dealbreaker that couldn’t be sorted out. Flash-forward through six weeks of hell without each other and me doing some soul-searching, and we met at yoga class where I said, “Okay, I think I can make a go of it.” A few days later, he picks me up out of the blue, we get pizza and flowers at Aldi’s, go back to his place for dinner, and we work out what we expect in spending the rest of our lives together. We got the ring a month later at the pawn shop, and it was slipped on my finger then. Nothing dramatic by that point.

    We’ve been living together for a year-and-a-half now, and our lives change from week to week – finances, jobs, etc – so we don’t know when the wedding will happen. I still wouldn’t trade how we got here. The most we ever spoke about it was, “We decided that we wanted to spend our lives together after we broke up for six weeks.” That statement is enough to satisfy anyone’s curiosity.

    Strangely, I have never felt “proposal envy”. I’ve had “budget envy”, but never anything concerning showmanship. I guess I prefer my Fifteen Minutes of Fame to be something else rather than a private moment between my beloved and myself.

  24. My ex-fiancé proposed to me at home, on our couch, as our relationship was dying, as a way to kick a little spice into it. He had picked a ring that was huge, and gold, very flashy and flamboyant. So not me. He didn’t even bother putting clothes on while he proposed, and he just said “I’ve got something for you” and disappeared then came back with a ring. I said yes because I knew he was trying to kick start things which was the most effort he made in months. Looking back now, I should have just said no and ended it there. My current fiancé went above and beyond with his proposal to the point where he bought me a crochet pokeball that he ordered from overseas and it arrived the day before he was wanting to propose. The crochet pokeball was a nice touch because I’m a crochet person and a Pokemon person but the day he wanted to propose was his touch… He proposed on phi, when we’d been together 1.618 years, perfectly timed to a Thursday night (he’s a math teacher) and we’re getting married on pi (when we will have been together for 3.14 years, not pi day). My fiancé planned the proposal to look like a Pokemon battle where he “caught me” in the masterball and then had me evolve from girlfriend into fiancé. He went to so much effort to create a proposal that suited me (and I almost screwed it up by being distracted by a leia headpiece that I bought our cat), and he arranged for our families to have dinner with us at my favourite restaurant afterwards… It was perfect! But even though it was perfect, only nerds and Pokemon geeks understand, so I’ve resorted to telling them that he proposed at home in a way that was perfect for us and then he arranged dinner with our families afterwards. Because the genius of his plans are wasted on them. Haha.

  25. Same as everyone above, our proposal was “underwhelming” But it was us. We knew we wanted to be married, we’d talked about it, I had sent him a ring image email. After a long day off working on our house he handed the ring to me. We aren’t romantic people, it wasn’t a romantic proposal. Had he done the flash mob rout I may have ran. We don’t tell the story. We tell one line that I heard him tell his mom “I realized in that moment that I didn’t want to be with out her.” Probably because it’s easier laying flooring with two people. 😉

  26. I feel this about my proposal story aswell!

    The people that know us well and can manage to see the romance in it get to hear the whole story. The rest, well, they get the “it was a spontaneus thing, but it happened at the place where we first dared to say “I love you”- short version of it.

    I leave out the details of february cold, the wet snow, smelly roller derby gear, the many beers we had consumed, and that the conversation went from “is it my turn to scoop the kitty poop from the litter box tonight” to “will you marry me” in less than 30 seconds. Oh and the place where we first said “I love you” five years prior: at roundabout next to the grocery store in our area. <3

    But yeah, I feel that proposals are in 9 cases of 10 a very private thing, and most people don't share all the details. Those who do are the ones with the big romantic things. Maybe that's one thing that makes so many of us feel that a "proper proposal" needs to be youtube worthy, because those are the only other proposals that we get to witness.

  27. Thank you so much for posting this! Our engagement was very similar to yours– just a quiet, adult conversation where we agreed to get married. It worked for us, I’m glad it worked for you too! 🙂

  28. I find these over the top proposals so ‘Eh.’ Hubby and I are not over the top ppl. We do not exchange extravagant gifts or do crazy things to impress each other. A random slow dance in the kitchen while he hums a grateful dead tune during dinner prep is romantic enough for me!
    Our proposal happened at our kitchen table on a Wed night, and I loved it. That table was the place where we had the most significant discussions of our lives: do we want to get married, do we want kids, how will we raise them, where should we raise our family, how should we move our business ahead, ect.., so it seemed perfectly normal that we got engaged at the table.
    W are currently in the process of replacing that old beat up table, and he promised to cut out a chunk and have it made into something so we can always have it with us. Now that’s romance to me.

  29. One thing we’ve agreed on from the start is that we DON’T want to be married, even though we’re deeply committed, and even with my religious family pestering us for years. So picture my surprise when he hands me a box one chilly night on a camping trip. In the box is a smaller box, and another one, and finally the ring…
    I was confused, happy, misty-eyed, but mostly terrified of being asked in marriage. He didn’t ask. It was a simply a love ring (cheese-ballz I know). No wedding bells on the horizon, no til-death-do-us-part or contracts, just our love and this beautiful ring as a symbol of it. We held on to each other in the cold and cried for a solid hour. Gah, I love this man.

    Anyways, the crazy thing from this experience is that I came home super excited and everyone felt SORRY for me! Wtf?! Mostly girl friends and coworkers, thinking I must be so disappointed it wasn’t a “real” engagement and my man was a pussy.

    I’m not sure if this connects to the article, but I guess my point is that other people will always make you feel inadequate if you don’t do things exactly as they are culturally expected. It’s complete bullshit and has nothing to do with your love.

    • this is such a lovely story, I think it is very romantic. don’t let others take you down on that, this seems just perfect!

  30. My DH is such a private person that he would NOT propose with other people around. We spent a loooong time sitting at the top of the water tower in Volunteer Park in Seattle waiting to have it to ourselves on a sunny August afternoon so he could propose. It was the second time I said “I think I’m ready to go now” and he said “not quite yet” that I realized something was up. Someone came up the tower in the middle of the proposal, and so we sat there, in silence, until they left and he could finish. It was perfectly him! And I love that about our “story”.

  31. I don’t really remember our proposal. It was Christmas eve and we had been out all day at my parent’s house, his parent’s house, my grandparents’ house, his grandma’s house, then to my cousin’s house. It was a very busy day! I was so tired when we got home, I layer down in the clothes I had on and closed my eyes. He told me (the next day) that he got down on one knee and asked and I said yes with my eyes barely open. I woke up the next day with a ring on my finger. I was so excited, but he was hurt that I didn’t act like that the night before. It wasn’t a flashy proposal but I love him with all my heart and I wouldn’t want it any other way…except that I was alert. We married two years later in 2010 and have been together a total of 11 years 🙂

  32. Our proposal (the second one, worth noting; the first was 4 months into the relationship when I said “We should get engaged” and he said “Not yet” so I waited 2 years before doing it again) was me showing up at his place for our weekend visit and saying “Look, I went and got a ring for 20 bucks, so…can we make this official or what?” with a few more words. Basically we’d already had a discussion that when we moved in together, it would be our engagement, and I was fine with that…until moving in together had to be postponed because of money issues, so I made that point that the *only* reason we weren’t living together at that point was money so technically we were already emotionally engaged so what was really stopping us?

    He said give him the weekend to think about it. I said OK, and then on Sunday I said “You’ve had the weekend. So?” We chatted for another 20 minutes, I allayed a lot of his weird neuroses, we had a very specific conversation about how “We are saying we’re getting married but we can’t actually PROMISE this will happen because one or both of us might get hit by a bus or something before the wedding so, so long as that’s UNDERSTOOD with this commitment then yes, we can make this commitment,” because even though that’s…kind of implicit he wanted it all out on the table. Clear communication. I appreciate it. Then at the end of the convo he said “Ok, go call your mom and change your Facebook status and tell your friends or whatever.” And I squeed and hugged and kissed him and went to call my mom and then my best friend.

    It was perfectly in line with our entire relationship and I don’t regret a thing about it. No do overs. (Though I did need to get a new ring this last weekend, as the one I picked up was a bit of a rip off and has been slowly decomposing on my finger since 2013. The new ring is fantastic and the old ring is sitting on my altar to Aphrodite.)

    The reactions I often get? Turn me into Feminist Hulk.

    “YOU proposed? Wow, that’s *progressive*.”

    “That’s not very romantic….”

    “Oh, no, you need him to do it PROPERLY!”

    And my favourite:

    “Girls *can’t* propose!”

    You heard it here first, ladies, girls are functionally incapable of proposing to their loved ones. It simply can’t happen. Not possible. If it were to happen the world would flip off its axis and go spinning into the sun.

    (I almost responded with “Actually I’m genderqueer, so would it make you feel better if I told you the day I proposed I was a dude?” but I refrained in time. I think heads would have exploded and Mama always taught me it was rude to make strangers’ heads spontaneously combust.)

    • We actually “proposed” to each other many times over… but no ring (we´re not RING people, we had it tatooed on our fingers a week before the wedding), so we actually bickered last night about who “really” proposed to who… LOL!
      The first time (I remember), I wanted to started composting worms, but his “let´s get married!” derailed the conversation (I jsut erealized that never did get those worms! :P), another time I proposed, he said yes but chickened out when he should have told my folks (they JUST HAAAD to talk ON THAT FRIGGING DAY how X´s wedding wasn´t complete bc there would be less than 300 relatives) , a few months later when I was stressed out crying and wanting to quit my job, instead of answering my sobs, he made the (final) proposal! 🙂 It´s SOOOO us!! <3 Oh, and he wore a kilt to town hall!! 🙂 I would have BROKEN OFF THE ENGAGEMENT if he´d gone in a suit (he HATES suits, and I wanted town hall to be special for him too!!)!

  33. Our engagement was just like yours initially, we spoke about it and agreed it was what we both wanted and then started planning the wedding.
    However, unknown to me FH was planning a nice proposal for me because it was something he really wanted to do.
    I had always thought that the proposal wasn’t important and to a degree still do, BUT, the proposal he planned was so lovely and suited us so well! It wasn’t flashy or anything, it was just so personal to us.
    So, I have ended up with a proposal story, admittedly not one that everyone would find romantic but I am so glad he did what he did because it was a lovely moment between us.

  34. I dread being asked, but because our proposal was pretty bad… But you move on. It’s a moment, not our life.

  35. This makes me feel SO much better. Mine was very much the same way. A conversation about did we want to and the reasons that we thought it was a good idea and thoughts on if it was a bad idea ending with the decision for him to find a ring. We are married now but if people ever ask me (now) how he proposed I’m definitely going to use “it’s private, between the two of us”.

  36. My fiancé kept planning these super romantic proposals that kept getting messed up and one day while I was on Christmas break from school I sent him to the store to get me a snack. He comes back and I start yelling at him because he forgot me zebra cake (I may have had a touch of pms) and he reaches in his coat pocket and gets on one knee to which I respond omg I hate you yes but I hate you lol

  37. I feel so sorry for this generation of the Prom-posal; they are never going to get a good enough marriage proposal!

    When asked about our proposal, I always say, with a smile and all-knowing look of satisfaction, “It at home during the Packer game. He paused the game and everything!” I say if you’re saying it with satisfaction, that’s all you need.

    You know, when he proposed, I asked if he was asking for real, because we’d talked marriage so much I didn’t know if it was a conversation or a proposal!

  38. I don’t think people used to make much of this moment of proposal, safe from an emotional point of view, in Portugal. But (thanks, Hollywood!) that has been changing lately. It’s not enough to be happy, there must be knees, restaurants or something more unusual and (straight from the movies, not tradition!) a ring…
    We’d been together 15 years before getting married. We had to immigrate to get jobs so it was kinda like : if we don’t get married before we go, we probably will never have the big party with our family and friends. There was discussion and decision, like with all important stuff in our lives.
    Then people ask me how did he propose and are disappointed by the response. Really?! What’s better than this?
    Such demands for the Hollywood way didn’t even exist when we started going out!…

    • So sweet. I always made a point to comment to him that I wanted a proposal that waa, spontaneous and not a big plan. It was a sweet proposal but I wish I hadnt been sleeping lol. He walked in… kneeled down next to the bed and woke me up… I was so confused and half asleep lol. He was all excited but I just rolled over and went to sleep. By the next morning my family all new and I was disappointed I didnt get to call and tell them first. Anyway… cheers to spontaneous proposals… they are the best!

  39. My wife and I are all about the simple. We didn’t have anything glamorous either. To tell you the truth it happened while we were walking out the door of this small one bedroom apartment we were living in at the time. But, for us it was special and I knew that she didn’t want anything that would cause a lot of attention to her as it’s not her style. But it was memorable for us and I think that’s all that matters : )

  40. I always lie about our proposal, simply because of the response it gets. “Oh, that’s sad”, they say. I tell people now; “We were on the deck at the front of a cruise ship, overlooking the harbor at a stop in Vanuatu. It was just the two of us and he got down on one knee.” Sounds super romantic, doesn’t it? I fail to mention I was ridiculously sea sick, I had told him not to propose while on the cruise (because I knew he’d planned it) and had literally said, “Do not ask me to marry you” about 30 seconds earlier; he never really officially asked, he just held out his hand with the ring, and there was an old guy staring at us and taking pictures from afar (creepy).
    The only things I would change would be the sea sickness and the old guy. Because, while the proposal sounds quite silly, we’re really silly people. We laugh and giggle about the way the proposal happened. It’s still super special to us. Besides, the next morning he got down on one knee and said, “I better make that speech I wanted to last night, before you told me off!” 😛

  41. Some people claim that my fiancé and I are not “really” engaged because of how the proposals–yep, that’s right, there were two–happened. He kind of proposed first. I was married before and had made statements that I would never do it again and that I really had not wanted to get married the first time but had did it because it is what everyone expected. My soon-to-be husband was my friend before we started dating and knew all my feelings about it all. When we started dating, I jokingly mentioned one day about him making me an honest woman. (We are both feminists, so it was a very laughable moment. It still is.)He then said he would marry me if I wanted him to. I told him that I can think of nothing I would want more than to marry him. Thankfully, he took my comment seriously and had a friend of ours make my engagement ring. He gave it to me a few weeks later, reminding me that I had already said yes, when I asked what it was. Months later, I bought him a LOTR ring and asked him to marry me so we can legally bind our lives and put our love on public record. (Yes, that is how I put it, and, no, we are not lawyers: We are dorks.) When we have told people about how we proposed, they say he never really asked me, and that my proposal does not count. I can tell you how many times people have asked if he is ever going to “officially” propose! Neither proposal sounds like much to others, but both were perfectly romantic and beautiful.

  42. I like running into the “How did he propose?” question, but only because it gives me the excuse to say “He didn’t. I did.” Usually, it surprises people enough that they forget to ask for the rest of the story. I really like it when people pause a moment and then laugh, and tell me I have confused their gender expectations.

    Some people have said that he should have. I just shrug and say that if I waited on him, I’d still be waiting.

    It’s kind of good that nobody remembers to ask for the rest of the story, because there really isn’t one. I was snuggly and it was before bed, and I just asked. Snuggles are romantic, right?

  43. We actually had two “do-overs” but not because there was anything wrong with the first proposal. We had been in a long distance (7 hours up the interstate) for over a year and we had been talking in terms of our future home and our life together for several months. One weekend he came down to visit me and in the course of a conversation it just came up. I don’t remember the exact words he said but they weren’t “Will you marry me”. I wanted to be sure what I was hearing and asked, “Is that a proposal? Because if it is I need to hear the words.” So he asked if I wanted him to get down on one knee and I said no, nor did I want an engagement ring, especially a diamond ring. Then he looked me in the eye and asked me to marry him and I said yes and we were so happy. But we were already happy just being in this relationship, and the truth is we were already committed to each other without the words or rings. A couple days later I worried that I had pushed him into proposing, possibly before he was ready. He insisted that he had come to see me with the intention of proposing and had even brought with him the only ring he could put his hands on before he left the house which was a Halloween plastic eyeball ring. I laughed so hard. !st Do-Over: A couple weeks later I visited him for the weekend and asked if he still had that eyeball ring because I actually would like to have it. He ran to go get it for me and when he came back he got down on one knee and proposed again. I accepted again and wore the eyeball ring for several hours until my finger began to swell because it was for a child’s finger and I do not have a child-size finger. But I kept the ring. 2nd Do-Over: A couple weeks later while looking at wedding things online I saw this simple and inexpensive silver ring with a blue amethyst in an unusual setting. It reminded me so much of that eyeball ring and he bought it for me. It had to be ordered and when it arrived he asked me again, and I said yes, and he slipped it on my finger where it remains. Nothing about this relationship has been what I expected, or dreamed about, or in some ways even wanted as a child. It’s all been so much better.

  44. “It does my five years of getting to know this man a true disservice when I have to sum it all up in a few sentences about one night of our lives.”

    I couldn’t agree more!! I feel the same way about the wedding day, to a certain degree. Let’s not forget the many days before that were important to building this relationship, or the many days after of continuing to build and work on the relationship.

  45. It is pretty interesting that people make such a big deal out of proposals. While my SO and I haven’t gotten engaged yet, I know he plans on doing so formally with a beautiful ring and in a lovely way because he is an traditional kind of guy. But in the meantime, people almost look at me foolishly when I refer to an upcoming wedding like they can’t be happy for me because I’m not ‘officially’ engaged. Is it not official until I have a ring literally on my finger? I guess so in their opinion.

    Who cares EXCEPT the couple when/how someone asks you to marry them, even if its simple. Its special because that’s when you made the decision to do so. I think that was one of my favorite things about the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding- they were just relaxing in bed together after sexy, intimate time together when he proposed. How is that not special yet simply, blissfully happy?

  46. Our proposal story? There was no ring, he was drunk, and I was naked. But it was 100% sincere. He had just been milling it over in his mind while I was taking a shower. Once I dried off I was sort of laying on top of him (still naked) and we were talking, and he said I want you to marry me. I questioned how serious he was (because booze), and he said for real. We kissed, I couldn’t stop smiling, and it was awesome.

    Later on we picked out a ring together, I was with him when he picked it up, but he didn’t let me have it right away. He later “surprised” me during a walk down the beach all dressed up in nice dinner clothes because he wanted to do it properly, but we both knew what was going on, lol.

    No one likes the naked and drunk story. But I think it perfectly defines us. He did the silly beach thing because he didn’t want to just hand me the ring and say “here you go”. It was sweet of him, and that’s something I love him for, but the whole time we were walking in sand dressed in nice clothes I was thinking “when’s he going to do it already”, haha. Turns out he was just trying to find a spot with no people.

  47. I know most of what you are talking about. Our moment happened while on the phone talking about insurance changes and paperwork, completely not on purpose. It’s pretty much impossible to explain to people. Thankfully we’ve not had the need to answer many questions about how it happened.

  48. Snarks are gonna snark. Those who have private/casual/notyoutubeworthy proposal have done themselves a disservice, and those who DO go all out are attention seeking or compensating for something. Everyone gets judged (we did, from everything from the timing to the method to the ring) and life’s a lot easier if you shut out the judgement and remind yourself that it was perfect for you guys.

  49. FH and I had been living together for a while, had plans of getting married after he completed his PhD in a year or two. One night (after a few drinks) he shared a story about one of his co-workers asking if he’d started “ring shopping.” Our conversation shifted from “what’s the rush?” to “why the wait?” and we ended up setting a date for a small morning wedding at my mom’s house. I initially didn’t want him to get a ring, but he expressed feeling weird not buying me one so we picked out a small rose gold band from Etsy. People who know us laugh and describe the proposal and ring as “perfect” for us, but I have gotten some comments about how tiny my ring is, and how “unromantic” the proposal was. It’s hard to defend our decision when people have made up their minds about how we should have done it. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve known him for a decade now, and we do everything together, so a discussion followed by “…Um…does this mean we’re engaged?” is US. And that’s all it should be!!

  50. Haha, oh gosh I don’t feel so bad for not remembering the date either!

    We already had agreed before we wanted to be married wayyyyyyy before August of this year. So when he was on leave, we went to a pawn shop and I picked out a sapphire ring I liked. Then later that evening he hauled me off to the garage (we were staying at his mom’s when we stopped through NorCal) and got down on one knee.

    Even though I picked out the ring and we already had planned, it still made me teary-eyed.

    Simple, just how we like it.

  51. My hubby proposed when I was nearly 9 months pregnant. He took me shopping and I was being difficult from the start, refusing to bring a bag (he secretly wanted to put the ring box and stuffie in the bag). So when we got out of the car he handed me a stuffed penguin and said I was gonna go e this to you layer but I guess you can have it now. Later he took me to see the real penguins and swiped back the stuffie. All I heard was hey boo (his nickname for me). I turned around and he was holding the penguin with the ring on it’s flipper. I cried, hugged him and that was that. It was simple, sweet and meant the world to me. No one else around us probably realized what was happening. It doesn’t matter what other people think, if you or your partner proposed they obviously put thought and love into it. Fancy isn’t everything.

  52. This post and all the comments make me so damn happy. My fiance and I had been together 5 years when he proposed. We’d be through a lot, including him becoming my daughters father (we got together when she was under 2) two miscarriages, and the birth of our son. I’d been wanting to marry him for a while, lol but he was very adamant about needing a ring and needing it to be expensive. (he has the same attitude about our wedding being ‘big’) I’d been saying that I’d be happy to marry him at the courthouse for a while lol. It was our 5 year dating anniversary and we dropped the kids off at my cousin’s, went to dinner, and then grabbed a cab up to the movie theatre where we watched “This is The End” and laughed our asses off. We walked out and the sun was setting as we walked to the bus stop, lol, it was actually really pretty, but the truth is that he wrapped his arms around me in an attempt to get in to our usual “Love you, love you more, prove it” conversations. instead I farted when his hand was near my butt (romantic, right) which he actually had the ring in. Then he got down on one knee and I said “What are you doing?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” And then said yes and we got on a bus. Then we got off the bus to everyone lighting fireworks since it was Canada Day the next day lol.

    He always goes on and on about how he had more planned and I wasn’t leaving the kids at my cousins fast enough and we ran out of time, etc etc. I can’t watch youtube proposals without him getting a little sad and going “sorry.” .. my now ex best friend told me if she got proposed to at a bus stop she would have said no.

    Was I upset? after the excitement wore down, a little, but only because he likes to tell stories of the big romantic gestures he used to do for his exes and he hasn’t done stuff like that with me and I expected this to be it. But the more I thought about it the more I realized… we don’t need that stuff. It’s not us, and I love that. I love that I can fart on my engagement ring and we can laugh about it now.

  53. When people ask, I say it was mutual. When I get the look I say, “I don’t like surprises” and leave it at that.

  54. I was perfectly happy with how our proposal went down. It was a lazy Saturday evening after spending the afternoon on our console, playing Lego Batman, beating up bad guys together and eating junk food and drinking soda.
    We were lying around in bed, watching our favourite series and cuddling. And then he just popped the question. No ring, no kneeling down in front of me, no dinner on the Eiffel Tower. Just us, doing our favourite things together and being happy with each other. In fact it was not even a question. He just said “You know what? I love you and I think we should get married.” and I said “You think so? I think so too.” 🙂 and he said “I know, this may not be the most romantic proposal…” and I said “I don’t care.” and he told me, he had ordered jewellery from a goldsmith for our hobby (reenactment) which I could wear with my costume. I love that idea. I think a ring is so old fashioned, it’s not like in ye olden days when a woman only had one chance for an income that was marriage and it is not like in ye olden days where a women had to be marked as “taken”. Marriage is a mutual promise and agreement between 2 people with their own lives and income and not an act of pleading from anyone side.
    I personally am not that much of a romantic roses, glitter and bling bling person. I think that a proposal should fit the couple and it should not be determined by Hollywood-Films and TV-Shows. I owe no-one any explanation about how we decided and how our wedding is going to go down, so why would I owe an explanation about the proposal?

  55. Yay! We also had a conversation, not a proposal. It went something like, after weeks of talking about what we like or don’t like at weddings, what we would do or not do, I said: “Dude. Sounds like we’re planning a wedding here.” A week or so later we called our folks and went ring shopping. Like you I’ve been a little surprised and disheartened at how many people ask about the proposal, and seem disappointed when I tell them there wasn’t one. But then I also run into people who tell me they also just decided — there are plenty of us out here. A few weeks ago I was getting my nails done and chatting with the lady who runs the salon, she was tickled to hear I was engaged. Business was slow and she decided she’d get a pedicure, so we sat there for a while with her telling me all the wild engagement stories she’s heard over the years. Then she asked me how my beau proposed and I told her he didn’t. She laughed and pointed at her husband who helps her run her business and said: “Yeah, us too. We just decided.” Nice!

  56. Best proposal article ever. Thank you for this! I just got engaged and everything I’ve read and seen so far makes me think that if you don’t pop the question while playing your jazz saxophone and tap dancing out her favorite song on top of a mountain in front a crowd of friends/family/strangers/you-tube viewers, that it doesn’t count or it’s not as valid. To be honest, I was terrified of my boyfriend trying to do something like this and I warned him plenty of times not to even think about it.

    Thank goodness, he didn’t. He proposed on Christmas. Just a lovely scene in front of our tree. I knew it was coming (we had already talked about it for a year) and also because a week before he had asked my dad for my hand (he’s more traditional than I am) and my dad had to run inside and tell me immediately. That’s the story I like to tell when people ask, mainly because it’s hilarious and also because the proposal was such a quiet, private, and intimate moment for us both that I just want to keep it to myself.

    Someone asked me a few days ago if someone had recorded him asking and I did my best to not throw up in sheer terror at the thought of it.

  57. I always hated the pressure on people when it came to proposing. So when “The Q” turned out to be a conversation and happy, mutual decision between my fiancé and I, I was ecstatic and almost relieved. My father, coming from a traditional background AND already despising my fiancé, was more than nonplussed, especially since he didn’t ask him for my hand. When politely explaining that I had mentioned to my fiancé while dating that I didn’t like the idea of “asking for my hand” didn’t back Dad down, I had to remind him of a story his own mother loved to tell.
    When she and my dad’s father were teens, her parents didn’t exactly approve of my grandfather. She grew up in a Mennonite community. Though he never verified (but HEAVILY hinted), it was believed that he was running moonshine for the mafia in Chicago during the prohibition. Her parents wanted her to marry a rich, flashy man in town but she hated the guy. She was in love with my grandfather, who then began earning money by driving truck.
    My grandmother was doing laundry via washboards with her mother one afternoon when my grandfather came by. “I’m going out of town again,” he told her, a little gruff as usual. “Gonna be gone for a few weeks, maybe longer. I need to know if you’re still gonna be here waiting for me when I get back. So you gonna marry me or not?”
    My grandmother blinked, baffled for a moment before looking at her mother. Her mother looked at her, then looked long and hard at my grandfather. Without a word, she gave my grandmother a single nod and went back to scrubbing. “I’ll marry you on one condition.”
    “What then?,” he growled, impatient.
    “You promise to buy me one of those new machines that washes clothes for you and I’ll marry you.”
    “Fine! Fandangled washing thing it is. See you in a few weeks.” And he went out the door leaving my grandmother grinning.
    Its here that I reminded my dad that they were teens when they married, and they survived war, the Depression, and feeding and raising 9 kids. He bought her that washing machine a few years into their marriage after a lot of saving. My grandfather was almost 93 when he passed. Before that they had over 76 YEARS together. There’s thousands of couples with glamorous proposal stories and big rings that marry and divorce in a few short years. Some do make the long haul. My grandparents started with a little promise on an appliance and really had “till death do us part”. And my father grumbles when I ask, “Grandpas proposal was traditional enough, right?” 🙂
    I’ll pass the Redo on my proposal, thank you.

  58. People are too focused on the proposal, the ring, and the wedding. It’s not about any of those things really, it’s about what they symbolize: The commitment. You have found the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with, and that is the most important thing…that’s the only thing anyone should care about.

  59. Wait, so you chartered a whole boat in paradise and the crew goaded you both into rethinking your self worth and relationship? Really? A. Don’t go back there again. B. Find your locus of control and bring it back home. To both of you where it belongs. I proposed to my hubby because I couldn’t wait any longer. It was a simple chat in the privacy of our home and he said yes. We’ve been together nearly 8 years and nobody who *gets* us cares about heteronormative roles and the WIC (they catch you at engagement and reel you in) or all the other bs out there. I’d be more worried about why you feel inadequate rather than the apparently underwhelming engagement (as if marriage isn’t a big enough deal alone)

  60. I get proposal shamed every time someone wants to know how it happened. I am happy my fiancé stayed true to himself and in the end, we are going to be married, so I think I get the end result I want anyway. One of our friends (who knew him before we met) was so mad about how he did it that she half-jokingly said she wanted to “beat him up” about it. I had to tell her to shut up because I wasn’t mad about our “boring” engagement…it was her issue not his! I didn’t want her to make him feel bad!

  61. Honestly, our engagement was a discussion about pub wifi, “Wifi” became “wiffy”, “wiffy” became “wife” and it dawned on both of us he’d actually just said “I’d like you to be my wife.”

    We were sat in the pub (fourth pub of an ale trail around the town) after a few pleasant beers, an afternoon on the arcade 2p machines and a hike across town, and we’d ended up in a gorgeous 16th century pub over a really good pint of porter – which is basically heaven in a building as far as we’re concerned.

    He panicked that he hadn’t got me a ring, and I told him not to worry (I was too thrilled about being finally engaged after talking about it for a few years) so he, in a flash of slightly tipsy inspiration, took a keyring off of his bunch of keys. It was hilarious, it was fun, and I wore that damn keyring until we went ring shopping together the next day.

    It doesn’t need to be about the social-media-friendly story, or how many ‘likes’ the ring gets. The point is you’ve both committed to each other for basically the rest of your life. Screw those who will think I need a ‘do-over’ – the only thing I’d do differently is I’d probably have stopped for fish and chips after the pub. So there. 🙂

  62. I don’t get why someone would do a big flashy proposal in front of lots of people anyway – if the proposee says yes then it might just be from the pressure and because they feel like they have no other option after all that fuss (how romantic, making someone feel like they have no choice!); and if they say no then the proposer gets rejected in front of a bunch of people.

    Of course, the proposer might be confident enough to ask in front of witnesses (restaurant, flash mob, whatever) because they already know the answer, in which case this isn’t a proposal – that’s already happened. A proposal is basically asking the question “Shall we get married?”, and you can only ask and get an answer for that once – unless the answer changes, no matter how many other times you “propose” you already know the answer so why ask the question again just to make a bigger deal out of it? The answer’s the same and isn’t going to be any more valid just because this time you asked while bungee-jumping.

    If there’s a personal touch to a proposal that makes a sweet or funny story that’s great, but far too much emphasis seems to be placed on how the question is asked, rather than the answer and its significance.

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