Get 20% off the new Gentleman’s Journal Clubhouse membership. Limited time only.

Planning to propose? These are the cliches women wish you would avoid…

It’s the most important question you’ll ever ask. Here’s how to do it right.

Like most things wedding related, proposals have got a little out of hand. In fact they’ve become their very own billion-dollar industry. In 2018 the world’s most expensive proposal involved exclusive hire of Disneyland Paris, private jets for 40 guests, taking over all the screens in Times Square, a fake arrest and, finally, a trip to Niagara Falls. It cost $800,000 – and is many women’s idea of hell.

So, if you are planning to pop the question, how do you get it right? While much of the event should be about things that are special to you as a couple, there are a few scenarios almost every woman would rather you avoided. We’ve opened our little black books and spoken to the coolest girls we know. Here’s what they had to say…

Choose your moment

valentines day

“Don’t do it on Valentine’s Day. Or Christmas. Or New Year’s Eve. Or my birthday.”

This was a sentiment we heard from almost every woman we spoke to. Look, we know you might think it makes sense to propose on a day already marked out as an occasion in the calendar but, frankly, it’s just too obvious. Christmas? A cop out because you didn’t know what to give her as a gift. Her birthday? Ditto. And Valentine’s Day? Don’t even get us started on the lack of thought that goes into selecting the universal day of love to propose.

Instead, pick a completely innocuous time and date. Holidays are good – just do it over lunch at a little local cafe rather than during a candlelit dinner at a fancy restaurant. Equally, a nondescript Tuesday night or a sedate Sunday morning are brilliant because she’ll never see it coming and surprise is really what you’re going for here.

Think carefully about location

eiffel tower

“If someone proposed to me at the top of the Eiffel Tower I think I’d have to reject them out of principle.”

It may sound extreme but, again, it was an opinion we heard more often than not from our panel. Also on the banned list: a beach at sunset, The Shard, the Spanish Steps in Rome and the Magic Kingdom in Disneyland. See the connection here? They’ve all been done a million times and, most importantly, have nothing to do with your relationship.

Again, if you’re going for the surprise element, then choosing an unexpected location is key. And unexpected usually doesn’t mean expensive or out of the ordinary. In fact, the memory will probably be far more special if you propose at the brunch spot you’ve been going to every weekend for years, while walking your dog on the same country route you do every day or even just over coffee and papers on a Saturday morning at home.

Please, don’t do it in public

dinner party etiquette

“At a restaurant is a big no. Also, do not propose in front of my family.”

We get it. You’re about to ask the person you love to marry you – you want to shout it from the rooftops and public proposals have always gone down well in every rom com you’ve ever seen. Just look at Love Actually – Colin Firth proposed in a restaurant and in front of his wife-to-be’s family. What could go wrong?

Well, a lot, actually. Firstly she could say no. Sorry but it happens. And, even if she’s over the moon, chances are she doesn’t want the entire King’s Road branch of The Ivy to know about your engagement before her friends and family. Speaking of which, there’s nothing less romantic than spotting your Great Uncle Dave giving the double thumbs up over her shoulder because you’ve unwisely decided to go down on one knee in front of your extended families. That’s what engagement parties are for.

Don’t hide the ring


“Sticking it in a glass of champagne or a piece of cake is really just a waste of good food.”

The ladies have a fair point with this one gents. It seems it’s also one that needs making as the latest big proposal trend is to put a (likely very expensive and hard to clean) engagement ring in an avocado or, bizarrely, a cheese burger. Call us crazy but we can’t imagine any girl in the world being excited at the prospect of wearing a diamond covered in melted cheddar and beef grease. It’s lazy, unhygienic and you’re running the risk she won’t realise and end up choking on it. No great love story ever started with the Heimlich manoeuvre.

Do not, ever, propose on social media


“A text, Tweet or Facebook post are not the way to my heart.”

Less a cliche than a worrying trend we whole-heartedly agree needs to be nipped in the bud, it is never, we repeat, never, acceptable to slide into someone’s DMs with a marriage proposal. Scarily, this has been going on practically since the inception of Twitter, but, even if she does say yes, think of the precedent you’re setting. What’s next – Facebook Live streaming the ceremony? Documenting the birth of your first child on Instagram Stories? No, sorry, but if you can’t be bothered to propose in person then perhaps you shouldn’t be proposing at all.

Now we’ve got that sorted, here’s how to find the perfect engagement ring

Join the Gentleman’s Journal Clubhouse here.

Become a Gentleman’s Journal Member?

Become a Gentleman’s Journal Member?

Like the Gentleman’s Journal? Why not join the Clubhouse, a special kind of private club where members receive offers and experiences from hand-picked, premium brands. You will also receive invites to exclusive events, the quarterly print magazine delivered directly to your door and your own membership card.

Click here to find out more

Further reading