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The Girl's Guide to Proposing

If you’re a woman ready to put a ring (or something else!) on it, read along to get the low-down on proposing.

city engagement photos romantic

If your wedding is the summer blockbuster—the show-stealing, glittering jewel of a moment that simultaneously represents both an important ending and a beautiful beginning, then it’s nice to think of a proposal as a sort of movie trailer. A really great proposal captures the tone of your relationship with your beloved and is filled with the promise of a beautiful wedding.

Traditionally, the menfolk have been left to orchestrate the proposal, while women are typically given deference for the actual wedding. However, in this wacky world where everything from pants to Snapchat flower crown filters have become gender-neutral, the hugely important task of proposing is no longer the sole domain of guys.

Are you a gal who wants to pop the question? Here's our guide on how to make it happen. 

Why on earth would I even want to propose?

So, hear us out. There are about a million reasons why a woman would want to propose to her love. First of all, if you’re a woman in a relationship with another woman, then, by default, there will be a woman doing the proposing. But there are also reasons women in straight relationships would also want to propose. There’s much excitement, planning and loving declarations involved in just about any proposal, so even if your fiancé has already proposed to you, you might be interested in reciprocating that special moment for them. Plus, some women just want to take control of the proposal timeline and plan one themselves.

Much ado about the engagement ring.

Although much emphasis is put on where it happens and how the surprise was achieved, the uncontested star of the proposal is the ring, traditionally. For women who want to propose, this might require some creative thinking. LGBTQ women who are proposing to other women sometimes have the possibility of following a more traditional track by purchasing an engagement ring to present during the proposal. If your sweetheart isn’t much for sparkly rings, think about that person and what would represent the promise of marriage to them. If you feel compelled to present something during the proposal, consider a nice watch, personalized cufflinks or a photo album that documents your relationship. There’s also the completely acceptable option of not offering up anything but your heartfelt words when you propose.

Start to fill in the proposal’s blank slate.

Here’s where you, as a woman, have a definite advantage as the proposer—your love likely won’t see it coming. Whether you’re in a gay or straight relationship, the class of women who propose marriage is still relatively small, so, unlike your male counterparts, you probably haven’t had to endure months of guessing when you’ll pop the question from your friends and family. You’re free to craft a proposal that’s unique to your relationship, as far outside of the well-meaning eyes of your community as you’d like.

Now it’s your turn to do what you will with this great advantage, whether that means an elaborate, surprise for your future spouse, or something smaller. Think about your love’s personality: Are they more of an introvert, or extravert? Do they enjoy attention and crowds, or prefer more intimate environments? What are some of your favorite places to go as a couple? Did you meet at a special place, like your college campus, a specific beach or a cool restaurant in town? The answers to these will help you think about the where and how of your proposal.

marriage proposal

Timing is everything.

The major crux of a proposal is, typically, that the person being proposed to is caught a little off-guard. It’s intended to be a sweet surprise, so once you’ve figured out how you’ll propose, you’ll want to plan the perfect moment. If you’re buying a ring for your love, you’ll want to time that purchase as well. Do you need time to save money for it? Will you need to coordinate with your love’s friends to find out their ring size? Does the ring need to be shipped to you? Whatever the answers, be sure you are in a position to have the ring before setting a proposal date, especially if it will involve inviting others or traveling away from home. If your proposal plan is more informal or improvisational, you’ll still want to spend some time thinking about the right time. Consider your partner’s work schedules and when they are most likely to be in a good mood. Also try to avoid general times of the week or month when schedules could change suddenly.

Plan as much as you’re comfortable planning, but don’t be tripped up if something does go a little bit wrong. As with a wedding, something not going exactly to plan will likely only add to the charm of the proposal (and all of the re-tellings!), not distract.

A day to remember

Now that you’re fired up and ready to propose, don’t forget about photography. There’s nothing like the magical moment when your bride or groom to be realizes you’ve proposed, and you’ll want someone to be on hand to capture it. Professional wedding photographers are experienced at being covert and will be sure to catch lots of gorgeous moments. If you know you’d like to go this route, be sure to book them as soon as possible, especially if you’re proposing during wedding season (roughly May to October), as their calendars will be full.

Even if a professional photographer isn’t in your budget, you have options. A close friend staked out in the trees with a nice camera will do the trick, or even some crafty smartphone photos after the fact. Just be sure you have some way to document the special moment!