So you're planning to propose to your girlfriend... Have you already figured out how stressful it is to plan the perfect proposal without the best list of proposal ideas?
You want that incredibly special moment to be romantic, thoughtful, personal, unique, and maybe even funny/entertaining…
...and planning that kind of moment can be a hugely intimidating challenge.
But... I have some good news for you!
The perfect proposal doesn't have to be intimidatingly complicated, expensive, or even stressful. It only needs the right details that custom-make it for her.
That's why I’ve laid out these romantic, unique, and (most importantly) customization proposal ideas. I even included guides for how to adapt any proposal (by adding thoughtful, personal details), and/or how to craft your own proposal.
With all those resources, you can custom-create the perfect proposal for your girlfriend (immediately lowering your stress), and make every detail perfect.
15 Best Proposal ideas
These ideas are perfect for the girl who can’t imagine celebrating this hugely special moment without her close friends/family nearby.
If you know that your girlfriend would want to be congratulated/celebrated in person when she gets engaged, consider implementing any of these ideas into your proposal.
50. Have her friends and family propose ‘for you’ using handmade signs
Gather the people she loves in one place: your house, her parents’ house, a public location, etc. When she arrives, have the family hold up lettered signs that spell out a message for her.
You can even have the letters spell something else, like ‘Happy 26th Birthday’, and then flip over to reveal ‘Will You Marry Me?’.
49. Plan a party for another occasion… and surprise her with an engagement party
Tell her you’re going to a party for work/Christmas/a housewarming, and propose before you leave at home...
…and then take her to the party, which is really a surprise engagement party for the two of you.
48. Propose on the plane/in the car on the way to a family vacation
Ask her to marry you while you’re on the way to see family. This way, you get to share the news in person soon after, but you still get a little personal time before you’re surrounded by congratulators.
I personally like how adaptable this proposal is … you can propose before a family vacation, before Christmas, or before a surprise vacation... and there are tons of creative ways to propose on a plane or in the car.
47. Play Pictionary, or charades, and make her draw a Marry Me card
Suggest a family game of Pictionary/Charades (with a secret ‘Marry Me’ card in the deck). Before your girlfriend’s turn, make sure everyone knows to let you guess the phrase, and make sure she draws ‘Marry Me’.
When she acts it out, shout ‘Marry Me!’ (and then give her the ring, so she knows this is for real).
46. Make a 'movie' of greetings from her family
Have her friends/family film themselves telling your girlfriend why they love her, and send the clips to you. Compile them on your computer, and show the ‘movie’ to her (you can even pretend the movie is her 'birthday gift').
…And the last clip of the movie? Your proposal. Slip the ring in her hand while she’s watching.
This proposal allows you involve her family, but still get the special moment to yourselves.
45. Have a Hidden Photographer
Hidden photographers are a huge trend right now. They can capture the moment of the engagement without your girlfriend even knowing they’re there, and the photos make an awesome surprise/memory to hold on to.
A lot of girls want photos of their proposal, but some will want total privacy, even from photographers. Know if your girlfriend would want a photographer (or hidden camera) taping her before you set it up.
44. Hire a close friend as the hidden photographer
Instead of hiring a professional photographer (who will be a stranger), ask a close friend who’s good with a camera to photograph your proposal.
Now... this idea has two benefits: you won’t have to pay a ‘real’ photographer, and your girlfriend will get to share the moment with her friend.
43. Tell her a photographer friend needs a model, and he asked if she could pose
Now, of course… this photographer isn’t really a ‘friend’ (he’s a professional photographer), and your unsuspecting girlfriend is actually walking into her proposal.
You get to choose the exact location, time, and clothing you propose in (you can even tell her to wear a costume, a formal dress, or all white, and then you immediately have your engagement photos made.
42. GoPro your proposal when picking her up from the airport
A GoPro is a great way to secretly video your proposal... the tiny cameras are incredibly easy to hide.
Propose when you pick her up from the airport, and videotape the whole thing with a GoPro (or even better, use several GoPros for multiple angles).
41. Propose in a photo booth
Instead of hiring a photographer, propose in a photo booth. This is a classic proposal that you can make extremely personal: take a normal first picture, but in the second, hold up the ring, a sign, or reveal a t-shirt that says will you marry me.
You can even hide a GoPro inside the photo booth so the moment is videotaped as well as photographed.
40. Take her on a scavenger hunt to important relationship milestones
Lead her on a scavenger hunt to where you met, had your first date, rented your first apartment together, etc. You can either go with her (handing her clues to the next place), or leave clues at each stop.
For the last stop, tell/leave her the address of a new place that you’ve never been to together. When she says she doesn’t remember why this place is significant, tell her you’re pretty sure she’ll remember it forever… then pull out the ring.
39. Take her to a wedding venue for a ‘party’
Tell your girlfriend there’s a party (for a friend, or for work) at a nearby wedding venue (these places are beautiful and extremely romantic).
When she gets there, she’ll see there’s no party… just you with a ring. You can even take this one a step further, and tell her that you want to get married right where you proposed.
38. Re-create your first date (or best date)
Take her where you had your first date, or most memorable date. Even wear what you wore on your first date, and order the same food.
At the end of the date, tell her that as memorable as your first date was, this date is even better (then give her the ring).
37. Take her to a place she’s always wanted to go
Let her help plan a trip wherever she most wants to go… and propose there.
If you’re not 100% sure what proposal setting your girlfriend wants you can get her help planning the trip... so it’ll be exactly the way she wants it.
36. Propose at work
If she loves her job (or you met at work), you can make her workplace part of your proposal.
Here’s some ideas: if she’s a barista, put the ring in a tip jar… if she works with kids, have them help you surprise her… if she works in an office, decorate her work area with lights and flowers.
Pro tip: this proposal works best of you get help from her boss or a coworker, and make sure your girlfriend is available when you’re there to propose.
5 Proposal Ideas on Valentine’s Day, or Her Birthday
She’s already expecting a gift…
…but she’s probably not expecting a ring and a marriage proposal! Proposing on a holiday is a perfect chance to really surprise her.
35. Give her yourself in a box
Find a refrigerator-sized box, cut the bottom out so you can stand inside, and ‘deliver’ yourself to her house.
Hang onto the ring, and when she opens the box, tell her the gift isn’t just the ring, but all of you (she’ll completely understand why you’re the best present).
34. Put wooden/paper letters in a box spelling out 'WILL YOU MARRY ME'
This gift will look very basic… especially if you wrap it in a box from a clothing store (most places will give you an empty box). Simply stack wooden or paper letters inside that spell out WILL YOU MARRY ME.
When she opens the box, all she’ll see is ‘W’… but as she digs through the letters, it won’t take long for her to figure it out.
33. Give her a necklace with her initials… and your last initial
It actually might take her a minute to realize the initials aren’t her current initials…
…but when she does, be ready with the second gift (the ring) and ask her to marry you.
Pro tip: Etsy has many beautiful, simple initial necklaces like this one.
32. Organize a scavenger hunt for her gifts
Give each of her birthday gifts to a different family member/friend, and have her ‘hunt’ for the gifts (have each family member give her a clue to next gift).
Have the last friend give a clue about where you are, and then wait for her, with the ring as her last gift.
31. Hide a proposal in a picture frame
Get her a cool/pretty picture frame (digital or regular). If it’s digital, tell her to look through the pictures you loaded on there… make the last photo yourself holding the ring.
If it’s a classic frame, place a photo of you holding the ring, you holding a 'Marry Me' sign, or even just the ring in the frame.
5 Proposal Ideas on Christmas
There’s something special, and well, magical about Christmas for most girls.
That’s why Christmas proposals have been popular for many years… and why there are so many unique ideas to use her excitement for the season as fuel for your proposal.
30. Propose while picking out a tree
Take her to a Christmas tree farm to choose a tree (she definitely won’t expect anything big is going to happen, since this is such a normal activity).
Under one tree, hide a wrapped box (and a tag with her name on it). Act surprised when you see it… but get down on one knee when she finds a note inside that says marry me.
29. Use Christmas lights to spell out a message for her
Take advantage of the Christmas lights everywhere, and use lights to set up a proposal message (or scene) for her.
You can decorate a friend’s yard, your own house, or even some public buildings/parks.
28. Decorate a personal tree for her
If your girlfriend is really a Christmas lover, go crazy with decorations and lights in your house or yard.
Put a small tree up too, and fill it with ornaments that represent memories from your relationship. Wrap the ring box underneath as the only gift.
27. ‘Fake her out’ with a stocking full of ring boxes
Fill her stocking with as many ring-sized boxes as it will hold. Put a different small gift in each box (some ideas: lipstick, earrings, candy).
She’ll freak out when she sees the first ring box… and then by the last one, she’ll be insanely confused… and excited. Make sure the box in the very bottom of the stocking contains the ring.
26. Propose with snowmen
Guys, you can really get creative with this one, and build any scene you think she’d like.
Take her to build snowmen, and build yours down on one knee… or put the ring box in his hand… or build a giant ring out of snow instead of a snowman.
You can even build two snowmen getting engaged while she’s sleeping, so she wakes up to a snowy proposal outside.
5 Proposal Ideas on Vacation
Vacation proposals have been around forever, and for a good reason:
Vacations are instantly romantic and relaxing… the perfect combination for a marriage proposal.
These ideas cover a range of destination proposals, but no matter what you choose, you’ll make this the best vacation she’s had. Ever.
25. Propose with airplane tickets
Plan a surprise trip for her (anywhere you both want to go), and give her the airplane tickets in a box as a gift.
Under the tickets, hide the ring. She won’t believe it when she sees it, and then she’ll know why you planned this special trip for her.
24. Sunrise on the beach
Start the day with coffee, and then ask her for a morning walk on the beach (you can have a surprise proposal area set up on the beach, or not). When you’re ready, tell her you wanted to start the day by asking her to be your wife.
There are fewer people out to watch the sunrise (opposed to sunset, when it’ll be crowded)… plus you’ll start the day off on the highest possible note.
23. Propose in the snow on a ski vacation
Take her on a long-weekend ski trip (you can even take friends and family too).
Before you both head for the slopes, hide a banner that says ‘her name, will you marry me?’ on a downward slope, or write a proposal in the snow that she’ll see from the ski lift.
22. Have professionals set up your hotel room
Most hotel coordinators will be happy to put flowers, massage oils, champagne, or even gifts you ship in your room ahead of time. When you arrive, she’ll see the most romantic environment imaginable.
Tell her you want to spend the whole vacation celebrating your engagement, and get down on your knee.
21. Give her the perfect day
Let her choose every activity for one day of vacation: shopping, visiting a spa, relaxing at the bar, playing on the beach, etc.
At the end of the day, ask her if it was the perfect day, and if there’s anything you can do to make it more perfect.
No matter what she says, tell her you thought of one more way it could be perfect… and give her the ring.
5 Proposal Ideas Based on What She Likes
Many girls think that they’re ‘nerdy’ about something: a TV show, a celebrity, a book, or movie.
But here’s the thing:
Designing a proposal around the thing that makes your girlfriend feel like a nerd shows her that you know her true personality, and that you completely embrace her ‘nerdy’ qualities.
20. Put a funny picture/quote inside the ring box
Choose a famous line from the nerdy thing your girlfriend loves, and put it in the ring box when you propose.
Some ideas: ‘Engage’ (Star Trek), ‘I choose you’ (Pokémon), ‘The Unbreakable Vow’ (Harry Potter), ‘I love you… I know’ (Star Wars), ‘Be my Player 2’ (Mario).
19. Draw her a comic
If your girlfriend likes comics (and/or you have some artistic ability), draw her a personal comic, in which you ask her to marry you (any story plot can lead up to this moment!)
I can’t express how romantic and thoughtful this idea is. Taking time to create a book for her (that she can hold onto forever) really shows her how much she means to you.
18. Film a movie for her
Make a custom movie (starring you), and sneak it onto the TV when she’s not looking.
Now: the movie can be anything you want, as long as it’s about the two of you. One idea is to make a ‘parody’ of her favorite movie, making sure your proposal is the center of the plot.
17. Make a playlist for her
Put a custom-made playlist on her iPod/phone, and hide a recording of you, asking her to marry you, in the middle of the playlist.
Then turn it on for her while you two go on a walk/run, or wait for her to just start playing it at home. Her reaction will be priceless either way!
16. Set up a scene like her favorite movie
Design the proposal spot to look like a scene from her favorite movie.
And get really creative when you plan this one... have the scene look as much as possible like the carnival scene from the Notebook, or the ballroom scene from Phantom of the Opera, or (my ideal) the Endor scene from Return of the Jedi (I know... that's as nerdy as it gets).
5 Big Gesture Proposal Ideas
These proposals are not simple… or subtle. They require a lot of a planning, and a girlfriend who doesn’t mind public attention.
They are incredibly fun (and romantic!), so if you think your girlfriend would appreciate a big gesture like these, then go for it.
15. Propose at the zoo, aquarium, or ball park
When you take her on this date, she’ll be expecting a fun day with you… not a huge surprise.
Sometimes, the venue will even help you plan, set up a romantic spot, or close off areas for you to have a little privacy. Find out what the zoo, aquarium, ballpark, etc. can do to help you.
14. Get her adrenaline when you ask
Take her to do something thrilling: ride a rollercoaster, fly in a biplane, or go skydiving.
After it’s over, or even during the ride (when her adrenaline is really pumping) propose on the spot.
13. Hire a unique transport to get her from work
After a long day at work, she won’t be expecting a horse-drawn carriage or a limo to be waiting for her (but she definitely will be excited when she sees it).
Have the driver take her to where you’re waiting to propose… and make sure it’s a special/romantic place (and she’ll be expecting even more romance after the ride, so make sure there are candles, music, flowers... etc.).
12. Propose in the movie theater
Did you know that most local theaters will sell you ad space on their screen before the movie starts?
Use the ad space to play a filmed message (bonus points if it looks like a trailer for a new movie), and get down on one knee when she figures out that you’re asking the question.
Pro tip: have her family and friends sitting in the back row, waiting to celebrate when she says yes!
11. Propose at trivia night
This is an insanely fun way to propose, especially if you and your girlfriend love trivia.
Get the leader of trivia night to slip in some questions about you and her, and have the last question be Will you marry your name?
5 At-Home Proposal Ideas
For girls who’d rather have a private moment when they get engaged, instead of a big public gesture, plan an intimate proposal at home.
Bonus: these proposals are often the most inexpensive, and easy to plan.
10. Have your dog do it
If you have a pet together, get him/her to give the ring box to your girlfriend.
She’ll think it’s sweet, and love that you included her favorite pet.
9. Play Scrabble
Use your romantic, at-home game night as the perfect proposal setting.
Pour some wine, put on some music, and use Scrabble tiles to spell out will you marry me on the board.
8. Hide a secret message at home
Spell out will you marry me in glow-in-the-dark stars on your ceiling, or write it in fog on the bathroom mirror while she’s in the shower.
She’ll be expecting a normal bedtime, or a normal morning routine… not the big question!
7. Propose in a fortune cookie
Make your own cookie, or order a custom one, and slip it in the bag when you pick up Chinese food. It can say ‘will you marry me’, ‘her name, you’re my fortune’, ‘I see a marriage proposal in your very near future’, or even just hide the ring in the cookie!
Bonus: serve fortune cookies as wedding favors, to commemorate your romantic proposal.
6. Candlelit proposal
Instead of making dinner, or surprising her when she gets home from work, propose in the middle of the night.
Sneak out of bed and light a trail of candles from outside the bedroom door to where you’re waiting with a roomful of candles.
Play some soft music to wake her up, and when she sleepily follows the trail to where you’re waiting, tell her you couldn’t even wait until morning before giving her the ring.
5 Outdoor Proposal Ideas
For any girl who loves the outdoors, proposing outside is incredibly cool and romantic.
You can choose any location: the woods, the beach, a meadow, or a river (to name a few). Just pick a place you know she’ll love.
5. On a hike
Choose a private trail, and go when there’s few people around.
Pick a spot to ask the question ahead of time, and surprise her with the ring when you reach it!
4. Take her to the planetarium
Ok so this isn’t truly outdoors, but it’s still incredibly romantic.
Rent a private star dome at your local planetarium, and plan ahead to have the staff spell out the question in the stars.
3. Carve it in a tree
Take her for a walk (preferably in a quiet, meaningful place), and intentionally walk by a tree where you’ve carved the proposal.
This is a classic proposal… and she’ll be able to visit the tree over and over again.
2. Propose during a fireworks show
You can give her the ‘fireworks’ moment without having to plan your own show.
Propose under the stars and sparks of a public fireworks show.
1. In a quarry, or other places that you search for rocks
Have a contest for who can find the best-looking rock while you explore a local quarry.
You’ll win, obviously, when you hand her the ring.
How to Choose the Best Proposal Idea For Your Girlfriend
While all these ideas were handpicked because they are extremely romantic, you may not find the exact, perfect, ideal proposal on the list (in fact... you probably won't.)
That's because each girl is incredibly unique, and no list of ideas could possibly contain the perfect proposal for every unique girl.
You can design a proposal to fit your unique girlfriend by using any of these ideas... just change a few aspects, and that moment can be immediately more custom/personal.
1. Change the proposal location
If you like the idea/details of a certain proposal, but think the setting won’t impress your girlfriend… just change it.
Take the memorable idea she’ll love, and move it somewhere that means something to her:
- Your home together
- Her childhood home
- The place you met
- Her favorite coffee shop
- The zoo
- A botanical garden
Plan the proposal anywhere that will make the moment more special for her.