private beach proposal
The Yes Girls

In the past, marriage proposals have varied widely, from over-the-top public spectacles to private moments. With the COVID pandemic altering life around the world, marriage proposals are looking a little different, too. We’re seeing a decline in faraway destination proposals and popping the question at large public events (sorry, Jumbotron) in favor of more intimate, one-on-one moments. But just because proposals are more private doesn’t mean they can’t be elaborately planned, too. From renting venues to finding scenic locations, hiring professionals, adding unique decor, and more, we’re seeing more unique and creative proposals than ever before.

According to top planners, the most popular proposal trends for 2021 prove that popping the question privately can be pretty darn incredible.

Home Transformations

It should come as no surprise that many couples are ditching destination proposals for the moment in favor of at-home proposals. But while a casual proposal at home can be super-sweet and romantic, some proposers are taking popping the question to the next level. “At-home proposals definitely feel more personal and special. People are going out of their way to make sure a home proposal feels just as special as a baseball game Jumbotron,” says Alex K of Vision in White Events in Nashville, Tennessee. “How to put a home proposal over the top? Attention to detail! Transforming an apartment into an exotic destination they may have missed traveling to, playing a slideshow of their greatest moments together, cooking their favorite meal – whatever they have to do to make this moment about them despite everything going on.”

Private Venue Rentals

While at-home proposals are certainly on the rise, some proposers are looking for a change of scenery. Though renting an entire venue just for your proposal might seem a bit over-the-top (and expensive!), it ensures complete privacy. “Most requests are that the venue or location has a pretty backdrop or view and that it is fully private,” says Heather Vaughn of The Yes Girls in Trabuco Canyon, California. “The private rental spaces, especially outdoor spaces with beach views and rooftops right now, have been the most popular because it ensures a couple’s proposal can safely take place without hiccups; because the space is rented just for the two of them, it keeps the couple safe and vendors (like a photographer) socially distanced.”

Scenic Outdoor Proposals and Staycations

“Now that there are safe ways to be out of the house, we’re prepared to see an uptick in outdoor proposals – think hiking, walks around the park, a casual stroll in the neighborhood,” says Alex. Proposers are scoping out scenic spots in their city of residence or even planning short road trips to the perfect locale—from a majestic mountaintop to a stunning vineyard, a serene lake, and more. “It’s more about local destinations so couples still feel like they are getting away but it’s more within a smaller radius,” says Heather.

movie night proposal
The Yes Girls

Incorporating Hobbies

In recent months, many of us have reconnected with old hobbies or developed new ones. Many couples have also had to be extra-creative when it comes to planning date nights. Many proposers are letting their partner’s favorite at-home pastimes or date night activities serve as inspiration for their proposal, such as creating a customized crossword puzzle or cooking a multi-course dinner. “We just had a client propose via a luxury movie screening on a rooftop in Jersey City,” says Heather. “The private rooftop was intimate and curated to the couple’s movie-loving side. After she said yes, they watched her favorite movie on the outdoor screen so it was a full date night experience. I think that is a great example of what proposals will look like this year.”

Professional Photography

“One trend that isn’t going away is a hidden photographer and it’s one we love,” says Alex. “Pandemic or not, you’ll want to remember this moment forever and the photos are a great way to share the moment with your family and friends later.” A professional photographer (and even a videographer, too!) can also ensure that your proposal is totally Instagram-worthy. Just make sure that you work with your photo and video pros in advance to ensure they’ll be well hidden and not to spoil any surprises!

Floral Decor

For many proposers, a few scattered rose petals and candles just won’t cut it in terms of decor. In 2021, expect to see elaborate, Kardashian-worthy floral arrangements decorating homes or other proposal locations. “Our couples are all about the flowers right now and making sure the set-up is beautified with some of their partner’s favorite flowers and colors,” says Heather. "What is great about the décor and set up aspect, is we can arrange for vendors like a florist to set up ahead of time so it’s all no contact.”

Zoom Proposal Parties

Because of COVID, those post-proposal surprise parties, where the couple’s family members and friends celebrate in person immediately after the question is popped, are on hold for the time being. “We’re seeing a shift toward one-on-one proposals with a virtual celebration to follow instead of a party,” says Alex. “This way, everyone stays safe while also being included. If anything, COVID has made us want to celebrate love and happy moments even more. A virtual celebration is the safe way to get your nearest and dearest together.”