Dinner proposal
Dream Photo & Video

If you're planning a dinner proposal, you've likely picked the restaurant, found the engagement ring and thought through what to say. But nailing down the timing can be tricky. If you've been wondering to yourself, "Should I propose before or after dinner?" there are several factors to consider. Everything from the food you've ordered to your personality can help inform your decision. For example, if you've ordered a six-course prix-fixe meal, you might want to hold off on proposing until the end so you can fully enjoy the food. However, if you get extremely nervous, it might be better to pop the question first so you don't spend the entire night stressing.

Below are the pros and cons of each option so you can make the best decision for you. No more tossing and turning at night wondering, "Should I propose before or after dinner?" After reading this, you'll be able to make your decision confidently. Plus, we include other proposal night information you'll need (like how to pick the right place and what to wear) as well as a few creative proposal dinner ideas.

Below, see everything to know about planning a restaurant proposal—including if you should propose before or after dinner.

How do I pick the right proposal dinner restaurant?

So you've settled on a proposal dinner at a restaurant. Now comes the fun part: picking the place. There are two different ways to settle on a location for your special night.

One way to decide where to eat is to think about your love story. Maybe you can revisit the Italian bistro where you had your first date or the sushi spot where you first said you love each other. Or, turn to your go-to date night restaurant (like that little taqueria down the street or the pizza place around the corner). If none of those seem right, consider your partner's favorite foods or restaurants for more inspiration.

Some people want the proposal to be extra special, so they might look for an upscale restaurant instead of something familiar. If that's the case, spend time researching different places so you're confident in your decision. Think about what kind of food your partner likes, read reviews and look at pictures. You can also ask your friends and family for recommendations if you're struggling with the search.

Should I propose before or after dinner?

There's no right or wrong answer. Below are pros and cons of each option so you can choose what works best for you and your partner.

Proposing Before Dinner

Think of this approach as "ripping the bandaid off." If just the thought of sitting through dinner stresses you out, you might want to propose before the meal. That way, you're not feeling anxious the whole time. It also allows you and your partner to celebrate the engagement together over a delicious meal. Proposing before dinner can also help give you a buffer if you're planning on meeting up with friends and family later. You can enjoy the meal together and then celebrate with your loved ones afterwards.

Proposing After Dinner

On the other hand, if you've paid for an expensive meal, you might want to hold off on proposing until the end. Getting engaged is super exciting, which means your partner (and you) might be too amped to truly enjoy the food. Additionally, proposing after the meal means you can go somewhere a little more private to celebrate if that's what you and your partner would prefer.

What to Wear to a Proposal Dinner

If you're wondering what to wear to a proposal dinner, think about the restaurant you're going to. A five-star tapas bar might call for a more formal look (think black tie or cocktail) while a laid-back pub would lend itself more to a business casual outfit. Research the restaurant ahead of time and look into the suggested dress code they have. Remember you'll likely be taking pictures after you propose, so you'll want to make sure you dress nicely. After all, you'll treasure those pictures for years to come.

What are some dinner proposal ideas?

Racking your brain for the perfect way to propose? Here are a few ideas to get you inspired. Once you've decided, make sure to coordinate with the restaurant so they can help you pull it off seamlessly.

  • Place the ring at the bottom of your partner's champagne glass—just make sure your partner sees the ring before taking a sip!
  • Have the waiter place the ring on your partner's plate
  • Leave a note in your partner's napkin
  • Leave a note in your partner's menu
  • Propose to them at the table
  • Have the restaurant band serenade your partner