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How Not to Propose to Me

One of the cool things about blogging is that I’m rarely at a loss for post ideas.

(…I said rarely, not never.)

This is partially because many ideas stem from real-life experiences and conversations… and during these conversations, if I don’t immediately recognize it as an opportunity for a blog post, someone else will point it out for me. (“Hey! You should write about that!”)

This was the case during a happy hour with my coworkers on Friday, when we got into a discussion about marriage proposals.

The girls (all of us unmarried) went around the table talking about the best and worst proposal ideas. One girl said jokingly that she’ll probably be proposed to on the couch while watching TV… and we all debated whether that would be lazy and uninteresting, or cozy and sweet.

Another girl expressed bafflement that “public” has become synonymous with “romantic.” Why does the thing have to happen center-stage? Why can’t we enjoy this moment privately?

In any case, there seems to be a lot of disparity on the topic. Far be it from me to criticize the most important moment of someone else’s life… but for me personally, here are the ways NOT to ask for my hand in marriage:

At a sporting event.

075proposalThis marriage proposal is brought to you by the Zales Fan Marquee.

First of all, this proposal would make no sense in my case, since sports aren’t really my thing. But even if they were, I can’t identify with people who are comfortable sharing this life-defining moment with tens of thousands of strangers, with their response being captured on a 100-foot-wide jumbotron. Why do they always look so surprised? Because nobody goes to a sporting event, in jeans and a jersey, stuffing their face with hot dogs, expecting to be proposed to. There’s a reason.

Anything with a character count.


…ke dinner tonight?

I’m not exactly known for my brevity. So I would hope that whenever I’m asked the most important question of my life, it’s through a medium that doesn’t limit expression at all. I would just never want to miss out on any small detail of the proposal because it wouldn’t fit in the space provided.


wedding-proposal-plane-banner“Insert partner’s name here.”

Asking someone to spend the rest of their life with you should be an experience completely unique to each couple. Any “propose-by-number” option where the question is template-ized feels lazy and insincere.

In food or drink.


I have no idea who came up with the idea that putting an engagement ring in something edible is romantic. Worst case scenario, I swallow it. Second worst, I’m about to swallow it but your frantic yelling and waving stops me short. So then, what, I have to gag it back up into my open palm? How romantic.

Even if consumption wasn’t a risk at all… what is the appeal here? If I notice my engagement ring in a champagne glass, what am I supposed to do? Reach into the glass with my fingers? Pour it out on the floor? Still drink it, only slowly and cross-eyed? I just think people who propose in this way haven’t spent a lot of time thinking the whole thing through.

Anything that puts the ball in my court.


Possibly my greatest fear is being proposed to in a way that requires me to make the next move. I am the most awkward person alive, and just the thought of this makes me squeamish.

Like… billboards. When I lived in San Diego, there was a month where every day on my way home from work I passed a billboard of a man proposing to his girlfriend. Eventually they added a red banner to it, “She said yes!” and I’m sure she was thrilled and they’re living happily ever after now.

But all I could think about was how it went down between the two of them. Was she alone in the car when she drove by it? What did she do? Call him from the road? “Sooo, hey. I saw your billboard…” Or did she wait until she got home? Was he waiting there? What if she hadn’t seen it? Took a different route home?

Overall, it just seems like a lot could go wrong, and a lot is riding on the girl’s role in passing the billboard and then doing something about it. No thanks.

How TO Propose to Me

Lest I sound like a cynic, there are some proposal ideas that I would go absolutely gaga over. I won’t go into them all here, but they usually follow a few guidelines:

They involve some foresight. Spontaneity is lovely (if you can pull it off effectively), but generally speaking the best proposals are thoroughly thought-through. Many boys aren’t great planners, so when they take the time to orchestrate their question it’s especially endearing.

They are personalized to the ask-ee. There’s nothing sweeter than catering the question to be meaningful to your partner specifically. If he/she is a dancer, or loves horses, or is very in touch with their Italian roots… customize the experience to their passion, background, and personality.

They are an experience. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with just dropping to one knee. But I do think it’s sweet when the question is encompassed in a larger event or experience. After all, this story will be told for decades… make it something worth telling.

They echo the flavor of the couple. Whatever the proposal is, it should be completely unique to you and your partner – something that reflects the nature of your relationship and history together. This is your moment, your experience, and your story. (I feel the same way about weddings.)

They are meaningful. Ultimately, when it comes to asking someone to spend their life with you, it doesn’t matter how you do it… so long as it is genuine and sincere. And if (for you) that means proposing at a sporting event, newspaper ad, plane banner, champagne, or billboard… so be it.

2 thoughts on “How Not to Propose to Me

  1. I never liked the big public proposals simply because they pressure the girl into accepting even if she wants to say ‘no’. Who wants to be the b*tch who said no on the jumbotron and broke Mr. Sport Fan’s heart?

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