ring box for proposal behind back

When it comes to proposing marriage, the words you choose can really make or break the moment (for proof, watch the '90’s movie The Bachelor). It certainly can be difficult to come up with marriage proposal speech ideas in advance—and deliver them smoothly on the spot. Of course, most proposers stumble over their words a bit during the big moment—and that’s totally okay (and frankly, kind of adorable). And in the end, as long you end with “Will you marry me?” you’re probably in pretty good shape.

Need some inspiration? Check out these marriage proposal speech ideas to help get you started!

The “How I Knew” Marriage Proposal Speech

Giving your proposal a personal touch can make it even more meaningful—it’s pretty much a must. The easiest way to make your marriage proposal speech personal is to recall the moment you knew that your beloved was not just another fling, but “the one.” Tell the story of that experience. Sure, it could be something emotional (her nursing you back to health after an illness) or something seemingly trivial (the time he drove in the pouring rain to help you change a flat tire). The point is that you’re sharing a story that encapsulates your relationship, and talking about how you felt at that time. You may even choose to take him or her back to the spot where it happened (the diner where you had your first date, the college campus where you first saw each other), though that’s not necessarily a must. Of course, finish the story off by asking the big question.

The “What I Love About You” Marriage Proposal Speech

If you’re ready to propose marriage, you can probably list an infinite number of things about your beloved that you adore. Turns out that’s actually a great way to pop the question! Write down a list of the qualities that you love about your partner—from the mundane (the way she brings you coffee every morning) to the super-meaningful (his compassion and love of his friends and family). Start off the proposal with, “I just wanted to tell you all of the reasons that I love you.” Then, recite the list and finish it off with: “And I know that this list will continue to grow for the rest of our lives. Will you marry me?”

The Experience-Based Marriage Proposal Speech

Many times planning a special experience is a great way to pop the question. Whether it’s taking a romantic trip or going on a special hike, it can be particularly memorable to propose during an activity. During a quiet moment, perhaps while viewing some beautiful scenery or after a particularly exciting experience (rock climbing or parasailing, for example), say something like: “I can’t wait to have moments like this for rest of our lives. Will you marry me?”

The Short and Sweet Marriage Proposal Speech

Your marriage proposal speech doesn’t have to be something lengthy—keeping your words short and sweet can be really meaningful as well. If you also think you’re going to be super-nervous during the big moment (and really, who isn’t?), keeping things brief might be your best bet. Really, all you have to say is “(Partner’s name), make me the happiest guy/girl in the world. Will you marry me?” Pro Tip: Saying your partner’s full name (first, middle, and last) makes whatever you say even more romantic!

And if words fail, put it in writing

For some people, the idea of verbally making a marriage proposal speech can be absolutely terrifying. Proposing marriage should be an exciting, memorable, and joyful experience—so if the stress of making a speech will take the fun out of your proposal, skip it. Instead, put your thoughts in writing—or even on video. Make a scrapbook of memories and photos from your relationship, and write “Will You Marry Me?” on the last page. Write a meaningful letter expressing your feelings and end it by popping the question. Attach the ring to your pet’s collar and have him/her do the work for you. Or create a video featuring friends and family members and pop the question at the end. There are lots of ways to propose without making a speech—let your proposal reflect your personality and comfort level.