What to know if you’re planning to propose

Thinking of popping the big question? Gentleman’s Journal has compiled its ultimate dos and don’ts for the special occasion…

Ah, winter. Such a romantic, evocative time. All those cosy evenings bringing us closer together. All that merriment throwing joy into the spirits. All those breezy walks, cold-weather getaways and perfect – seemingly magical – moments to split a bottle of Burgundy with the person you love most. It’s joyous, heart-pleasing, perhaps even ideal for a proposal?

But just hold it right there. Winter may be a lovely time to pop the question – and we’d never want to stand in the way of true love, of course – but don’t rush into anything just yet. You might just be drunk on all that merrymaking and festive imbibing. So, instead of jumping for the ring too quickly, take a look through our list of hints and tips first. After all, it’s one of the most important questions you’ll ever ask… and you’ll want to get it right…

Do: find the perfect moment and keep calm

Given that marriage is a commitment between two seemingly inseparable lives, make sure to keep your relationship at the centre of the proposal – try to book or head to somewhere that is personal and sentimental to the both of you; perhaps it's the restaurant where you went on your third date; a pub where you spent endless evenings together; or a getaway destination that has always been a soft spot in both of your hearts. Every woman is different – a blanket, cliché approach should be circumvented in all cases – so make sure to cater to her individual preferences while taking inspiration from previous romantic gestures.

When it comes to the moment itself, prepare yourself and remain relaxed – deep breaths, as one would usually say. In other words, try not to go in blind (give your mind a few pointers and directions) but, equally, don’t overly rehearse it. Your partner likely doesn’t want to feel as if you have scripted this romantic exchange, as it can feel a little forced, even transactional – instead, present your heartfelt words in an eloquent and smooth manner, which often means going for a prosaic, conversational tone. Moreover, don’t spill your words out and rush the moment – it deserves to feel as if this point in time were frozen, distilled and set aside for just the two of you.

Don’t: spring it out of nowhere

It is important to strike the right balance between surprise and suspicion. Though one wants the excitement of romantic revelation, your partner still likely wants to feel their best throughout it. In the event that they want the moment to be captured, they will want to feel and look good, therefore it is key to bear this factor in mind when planning your proposal.

So, for example, the premise of a special night – drinks, dinner, events of such ilk, as we mentioned – will allow them to prepare themselves for some kind of occasion, allowing for a hint of excitement, but without giving away the true purpose of it all. Proper planning can also ensure that the right type of mood is curated – a dinner, for example, will allow for a spirited atmosphere around you, and, depending on the restaurant, there will be factors, such as mood lighting and great wine, to create an intimate feel.

Do: ensure the right people are nearby

Depending on how private your partner is, try and determine if they would want their close family members nearby to share the good news with – hence, it may be worth pre-planning and letting them in on the plan.

Our suggestion would be to prepare a separate location for congratulations to take place in the aftermath of the proposal – it can still be completely centred around the two of you while a special few can assist in celebrating the big moment. Equally, if it needs to be a private affair, make sure to allow time for that – it all really depends on your partner’s character, and, even if that’s difficult to decipher when it comes to such an intimate, life-altering moment, it might be worth asking a few of their friends and relatives what they think would be the best approach.

Don’t: pop the question in a hectic public place

As we’ve briefly discussed, location is an integral factor in a successful proposal – but, part of this also entails what type of place to avoid, and one of our suggestions is to definitely eschew a hectic public place, for a multitude of reasons.

No-one wants to be ambushed by people they don’t know – the wandering selfie taker; the loud pang of neighbouring conversations; rogue comments from Joe Public – in a regular situation, let alone during an engagement. A neighbourhood bistro, trattoria, or the local wine bar will do just fine.

Do: take the time to get the perfect ring

The engagement ring isn’t just a beautiful piece of jewellery, but it's also a symbol of the commitment you two are about to embark on – and, hopefully, it is a testament to how well you know your partner. Therefore, it is important to take the time to listen to what style or design your partner might desire. We recommend you go bespoke, for that added special touch. At GJ, we would usher you towards Blackacre, the celebrated British jeweller who will help you create the perfect, most unique piece. Moreover, if you want to dive deeper into the bespoke experience, read more about it here.

Don’t: buy the first ring you see

One thing to bear in mind when selecting the ring is that choosing one isn’t a matter of just buying the biggest and most expensive item on offer (unless, of course, that is their preferred taste). Like a timeless piece of clothing – a navy-two piece, say, or a well-fitted herringbone coat – this is something to be cherished for the rest of your lives (including future generations).

So, take note of what she likes – we’ve found it’s actually useful to ask her straight up about her preferences, rather than dancing around the subject, as, that way, you can get a clear answer and know exactly what’s required. Also, regarding sizing, there are few things more dispiriting to the occasion than a ring that doesn't fit – when in doubt, size up or subtly figure out her true sizing. Again, asking the question in a non-hesitant way will do you no harm. After all, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Now for the honeymoon. Here’s where to find some autumn-winter sun…

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