The gentleman’s guide to proposing

Deciding that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone is certainly not a decision to take lightly: it’s possible that this is the biggest decision you will ever make. It takes careful consideration and time spent with someone through the good, the bad and the ugly. Above anything, you need to take the appropriate steps to ensure that this is a decision you’re happy with. You aren’t deciding that you want to date someone; you’re deciding that you want to spend the rest of your life with them. While we would always advocate that a man strives to be gentleman at all points in his life, a proposal is definitely the time where it’s most important. Your level of gentlemanly behaviour can make or break your relationship at this point, so take note and follow our guide on how to propose – the right way.


Ensuring that you’re 100 percent certain of your decision to ask this woman to spend the rest of her life with you is the most important step in this entire process. Once you’ve made up your mind, it’s never acceptable to backtrack; that is not what a gentleman does. Check in with yourself; be sure that you’ve really thought about this, that you’re happy with your decision and that you know it’s the right one. You’re both as important as each other in this decision and your relationship will never recover if you go through all the stages of the proposal only to go back on your decision a few weeks later.


While you certainly want there to be an element of surprise during the proposal, you definitely don’t want her to be taken totally off guard, to think that this has happened far too quickly or to be so shocked that she says yes – only to actually mean no. Deciding to ask someone to marry you has hopefully been proceeded with a couple of casual conversations which conclude that spending the rest of your lives together is something that you both want. You need to know that she definitely wants to get married – and that she wants to get married to you. This by no means entitles you to tell her that you’re going to propose on a certain date at a certain place, but it’s always good to know that she’s going to say yes.


The most gentlemanly and polite way to ensure that you’re making the right decision and that other people think that it’s the right decision (which is definitely important) is to ask permission. Yes, this might seem old-fashioned but you are a gentleman with proper morals and values and this is an extremely important step of the proposal process. If you don’t get along with her family or the most important people in her life, it’s pretty certain that deciding to marry her is the wrong decision. You’re a gentleman and you must ask permission.


So, you’ve made the decision and you’ve asked the relevant person or people in her life for permission to marry her. The next thing that you need to remember is that a gentleman never tells: do not have one too many drinks and decide that everyone at the pub needs to know that next week you are proposing to your girlfriend. You do not want her to find out what you’re planning – that will take any element of surprise away from the whole event. Once you’ve made your decision, you need to keep it to yourself.


One of the biggest sins the modern day man possesses is disorganisation, but you’re a gentleman, and this should not apply to you. You need to have a plan for the day that you are asking her to marry you – both of you are going to remember this day for the rest of your lives. While it’s always good to have a little spontaneity in your life, this is not a time for last minute decisions or for unoriginal ideas. With the risk of causing offence, taking her to Paris and proposing in front of the Eiffel Tower is not original (or even that romantic). Equally, taking her to Pizza Express and casually asking her if she wants to marry you is not the right way to go about it, either. You need to find some kind of balance: try taking her to the place where you had your first date, or to a place that you know is going to mean a lot to her. A gentleman considers things like this and will appreciate the importance of forward planning. May we please also remind you that you are not starring in a Hollywood romantic comedy and therefore it is imperative that you keep the ring in the box and that you do not put it inside the cake that she’s eating or the champagne that she’s drinking. Be original, think of an idea that you know she’s going to love, consider your options and always, always remain a gentleman.


Every gentleman will know just how important it is to get the ring right, and yes, you need to propose with a ring. Even if you’re proposing with another ring that you’ve bought her in the past, and not the ring you intend to be her engagement ring, there needs to be a ring involved. We’ve already mentioned the importance of making sure that she’s on the same wavelength as you when it comes to getting married, so hopefully you have some kind of an idea as to the type of ring she’s going to like, and if you don’t; ask her mother, her sister or her best friend – but not all three because it’s a secret, remember? If you know that she wants to pick the ring herself, ensure that you have all of the relevant plans and appointments in place for the day that you propose. Trust us when we say that no girl wants to tell people she’s engaged without a ring to show for it.


The final step in acting like a gentleman when you propose is to ensure that you, no matter what the day/weather/terrain throws at you, will go down on bended knee when you ask her to marry you. This is as gentlemanly a tradition as asking for permission, and is highly important. You are a gentleman, you have manners and, if you’ve followed our guide, you have so far done everything right. Don’t be tripped up at the last hurdle by not getting down on that knee.

Further Reading