Proposing in Public Is the Worst and You Should Never Do It


Repeat after me: I will not propose in public

by Stephanie Kaloi, Content Manager

rihanna and drake at the vmas

A few months ago, Chinese diver and all-around badass Olympian and woman He Zi won a fucking silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games. A silver medal, guys! That is huge! I would actually love to be able to link to a video of the silver medal winning dive, because I think you guys would really like it, but unfortunately all of the videos I can find are all about her boyfriend, and how he proposed to He while she was standing on the podium, receiving her fucking silver medal. The world was just totally jazzed about this picture-perfect moment: what’s better than seeing a talented, empowered woman get knocked down a peg or two while her moment—the moment that singularly only belongs to her—is taken away because OMG YOU GUYZ!!! HER BOYFRIEND JUST PROPOSED!!!!!

So let’s take that as object lesson one of my greater point: if you are thinking of proposing in public, don’t! And before we get worked up about it, let me state that a public proposal and quietly proposing in public are two different things—one involves a lot of hoopla and drama, and the other is discreet, heartfelt, and awesome.

But really. Don’t. And before you think I’m a heartless, love-hating, romance-shunning beast, let me tell you: I’m not. I’m just a heartless, pedestal-hating flower, thank you very much.

why do people propose in public in the first place?

After reading countless stories about public proposals and articles with titles like “Public marriage proposals must die” and “Men who propose in public should be shot” (and many heated forum threads), I’ve come up with a list of five traits and/or attributes that people who are inclined to public proposals have in common:

1. They think you might say no: To me, few things almost guarantee a “yes” proposal like a) proposing in front of dozens of strangers and/or your whole family under the Christmas tree, or b) actually fostering a real relationship and being a compassionate, caring partner and spending time proving that you are dedicated to your union and want nothing more than to be together forever and ever for the rest of your lives… but I guess “b” is really just a lot of work.

2. They do not actually understand the difference between romance and pressure: For whatever reason, publicly asking someone to spend the rest of their lives with you is often shown as being this ultra-romantic, amazing thing. But you know what? It puts an awful lot of pressure on the person you’re asking, and in this day of Facebook Live and smartphones everywhere, potentially opens that person up to a lot of scrutiny and outright hatred. I mean, we live in a world in which people still don’t realize that “Every Breath You Take” is legitimately a song about stalking, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised?

3. They’re making up for something: I think a hard truth is that generally, the more over-the-top the proposal, the more one or both of you is making up for something that’s lacking in the relationship. Sorry for that dose of #realtalk, but it might be helpful.

4. They like to make your moments about them: See also: He Zi’s boyfriend.

5. They know that you will actually love it: This is one hundred percent okay. In fact, let’s consider it the exception that proves the rule.

Okay, So How Do I figure Out What my partner Wants, then?

I can only think of one time when it’s okay to propose in public, so I’ll gift potential public proposers this: If you’re getting engaged to someone, then I’m going to dance out on a limb and assume you know that person reasonably well. Like, you know if they are inclined to dig public… anything. I mean, my husband proposed after three months of dating and it was very nearly the exact proposal that I had dreamed of, and while I think he’s amazing, what he did wasn’t actually rocket science. Here is how it’s done:

Ask your partner’s BFFs: By the time you’re getting ready to get married, I would hope that you’ve met and hung out with those nearest and dearest to your partner at least a handful of times. (You have, right?) Call or text or Facebook or Snapchat or whatever else the kids are doing these days, and just ask if your partner will totally love it if you propose in front of her entire family at Thanksgiving or in front of the whole coffee shop at 8 a.m. on a Saturday, or like, at the dog park. You know, whatever your plan is, ask about that.

Watch a movie: Public proposals happen in movies all the time because a lot of movies are written by men, and men don’t always know what non-men like. Sit down for a movie night and put on a film that you know has a public proposal, and then just super casually gauge your partner’s reaction to the scene. In Bed of Roses, the dude proposes in front of his whole family, and his girlfriend is not pleased. Is your partner pleased by this scene, or no? On the flip side, when Jamie proposes to Aurélia in Love Actually, he does it in front of her whole family at the restaurant where she works… and we all loved it. Even me.

Ask your partner: Look, you know if you’re with someone who wants a super top-secret proposal… because guess what? It will have come up (see how this works). But otherwise, casually ask. So-and-so did this crazy over-the-top proposal; what did you think about it? Converse. Figure it out.

How should I propose?

Listen, my husband’s proposal was very quiet, intimate, and private. It was exactly the kind of proposal I always wanted to receive. There was no flourish (there wasn’t even a ring), and it’s not for everyone. Luckily, for every example of what not to do, Shonda Rhimes has supplied us with several examples of what to do (P.S. If you haven’t watched Grey’s and don’t want to know anything ever on the off chance that you might watch it one day, stop reading):

Derek and Meredith: For those of you who have made it through life without giving over to the power of Ms. Rhimes (how do you do it? I can’t), Derek and Meredith are the big Grey’s couple. Their backstory goes something like this: They met in a bar and ended up together for what was presumed to be a one-night stand. But then (then!), Meredith went to her first day of residency at Seattle Grace and discovered that Derek is the big-deal neurosurgeon at the hospital/in the world. Fast-forward a few years, and the two have weathered a whole slew of intense things (infidelity, death, childhood trauma manifesting as adulthood pain, etc.) and we have no idea if they’re ever really going to get married… until this.

This proposal works because even though everyone is totally in on it, the proposal itself is intimate and in a place that is key to their relationship; plus he’s decorated the whole damn elevator with basically every single memento that screams “us” that he could find (you know, scans from surgeries they did together, notes they had around the house, etc.). So all negative Derek feelings aside (I really didn’t like him, guys, but I think that’s a whole separate post), I love it.

Cristina and Burke: I know that we all have to be mad at Isaiah Washington for the rest of our lives because of the slur he used (and I am!), but can we please not hate Burke? Because I love that character. Anyway, backstory: Burke is a surgeon at Seattle Grace and Cristina is an intern, and (like they do tend to do on Grey’s) the two of them hook up even though they shouldn’t. Cristina gets pregnant, and before she can even figure out what to do about it, she has an ectopic pregnancy. They cool it for a while, and then get together to see if they’re good at other things besides sex. It turns out they balance each other well.

This proposal is EVERYTHING because Cristina is strong, nuts, and the best. She is magic, and Burke is kind, thoughtful, and totally in love with her, and he recognizes that magic and just wants to be near it. Plus, the proposal itself is so simple, so obvious, so the best. Also, not in public. See what I did there?

Bailey and Ben: Bailey was married for ten years and then divorced by the time she met Ben, and she resisted getting involved with him for what felt like forever. Then, after they did get together, they broke up (with good reason, but I won’t spoil it), and ended up getting back together after Bailey began dating someone else casually.

To truly appreciate this moment, you have to first see Ben’s proposal in the OR. They’re fighting in the OR (like they do), and she is really giving him shit in a way I think several of us have… and then realizes that OH. OH THAT WAS A REAL MOMENT RIGHT THERE. Later on, Bailey proposes to Ben… and then proposes again while we all sob in that way only Shonda Rhimes can make us. She’s not proposing romance, mister.

the grey’s proposal you never want to do

Of course, Shonda wouldn’t be Shonda without also giving us plenty of over-the-top, perfect for network TV public proposals to choose from, but girlfriend manages to do that while making the exact same point that I’m making here. Super public proposals? Probably not a great idea.

Thus, this flash mob proposal is at the top of my “Whatever you do, don’t do this” list. In summation, Matthew the paramedic decides that the best way to propose to April Kepner is by… setting up a flash mob at the hospital and singing to her in front of a hundred people? This made me want to crawl out of my skin the first time I saw it, and it turns out it never gets any better, even if you watch it over and over again. It’s everything that is wrong with public proposals: April has no way to say no, is slightly mortified by the attention, and you know who really walks out of this proposal as the big “winner”? The guy who clearly felt the need to make up for something that’s missing in the relationship. See also: Matthew and April’s wedding. (Hooo boy, did that end badly. Point made, Ms. Rhimes. Point made.)

Sorry Not Sorry

TL;DR: If you want a public proposal and your partner wants to do a public proposal, by all means, y’all go have that public proposal. But for the rest of us… let’s just not.

(A possible exception to all this: in When Harry Met Sally, Harry totally proposes at a party on New Year’s Eve at midnight—aka maybe the most manipulative move ever—and I think just about everyone loves it, even the most outraged misandrist in the world, because it’s so great that they’re finally getting their shit together. So if you guys are like Harry and Sally and finally getting your shit together after a decade, I guess it’s okay. Otherwise, nah. And hey, if you totally disagree with me, never fear: in two weeks we’ll be talking about wedding proposals gone right, and maybe then I’ll make it up to you.)

Now that we’ve cleared all of this up, let’s dish. tell me your proposal stories—because I bet they’re really good—and include everything: tips, thoughts, etc. I bet some of them are public and you have fighting words. Let’s have at it. Burn it down, y’all.

Stephanie Kaloi

Stephanie is a photographer, writer, and Ravenclaw living in California with her family. She is super into reading, road trips, and adopting animals on a whim. Forewarning: all correspondence will probably include a lot of punctuation and emoji (!!! 😊 🎉 🎉).

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  • Christina McPants

    I proposed to my now-wife at home in 2009. I did the thing that immediately popped into my head when we were out drunkenly karaoke-ing and someone asked how I’d propose if I did and the whole situation was genuine and very us.

    But I had specifically thought about taking her out to our favorite restaurant and proposing there and decided against it. Because we were two women. Because I couldn’t control the entire situation. Because I had a small terror that someone would take our moment and twist it with hate.

    I am not a huge fan of flash mob proposals, but the one with the two men where there’s a giant dance in Home Depot a couple of years ago? In Utah of all places? That was huge to me.

    So, yes, public proposals are the worst, but sometimes they are not.

    • Nell

      YES TO THIS!!!!

      My wife proposed to me privately, but I re-proposed to her in public in a park in our neighborhood. When people were passing by they were like “is it your birthday?” And we were like “uh, no, we just got engaged. . .” Coulda been really awkward, but they were so excited for us! They wanted to take pictures for us and cheer us on. That was really gratifying, honestly.

  • Violet

    As a fellow non-fan of public proposals, the one in WHMS doesn’t bother me because while Harry proposes in a place that happens to be public, it isn’t a Public ProposalTM. Because he doesn’t ask for everyone’s attention. Nor does anyone really give it- if you look at the extras in the scene, it’s not like everyone at the party stops and stares for the duration of his proposal. They’re just sort of carrying on.
    The Love, Actually one is very similar- I think Colin Firth (he’s always Colin Firth to me; Uncle Jamie my foot) is just trying to find Aurelia, and she happens to be at work. He flew all the way there and needs to find her. In both these proposals, the guys aren’t planning a public proposal to get attention for themselves, they just genuinely can’t wait anymore to marry their person. Which skews pretty romantic, in my book.

    • stephanie

      Oh totally agree on both fronts! I included When Harry Met Sally because it’s at the top of everyone’s “public proposals in movies” list, but I don’t think it super counts. I also love love love the Love Actually one because like.. they each learned each others languages! They’re also clearly perfect for one another! And I excuse everything that happens in that movie, even when I wouldn’t in real life.

      • Violet

        I excuse everything about that movie except the lack of explanation as to how Emma Thompson and Liam Neeson are connected.

        • Lisa

          I think I’ve seen it theorized that she was friends with his late wife?

          • rg223

            Oooh I thought she refers to him as her brother at one point.

          • Violet

            Can’t be, because then wouldn’t he be brothers with the Prime Minster, too?

          • rg223

            Ohhhh, right… maybe he’s her brother in law? But is she at his wife’s funeral? I feel like she’s not, and THAT I can’t understand, because she should have been there no matter who she is to Liam.

          • Rebekah Jane

            She is at the funeral, but her husband isn’t. I always assumed she was good friends with the wife and was there during the entire process of them getting married, finding out her diagnosis, etc and thus Liam feels like he can lean on her for support.

          • rg223

            Haha my memory of this movie is quite faulty! Okay, I too think she’s a friend of the late wife!

          • Violet

            I mean, maybe, but they never say it. They could be exes. Could be on the PTA (or whatever the English equivalent is) together, etc. Who knows?

          • stephanie

            I feel like I remember reading that they cut out a great scene with a principal, and they cut some of Emma’s scenes as well, but I totally agree.

  • Ashlah

    Proposals can be a surprise, but engagements never should be. You should know that your partner is going to say yes because you’ve both discussed the fact that you want to get married. So, in that scenario, I’m not so worried about the pressure to say yes of a public proposal. I think the main takeaway, assuming you’ve got that first part down, is simply to be aware of what your partner would like. Either you already know, or you ask them. If you’re marrying someone, I feel like you should at least know whether they like to be the center of attention or not, right? If they like big, public romantic gestures? If they hate soppy Facebook posts, they probably won’t like a flash mob.

    FWIW, my husband proposed to me super privately, and I actually sometimes wish it were just a little more public. Not flash mob public (I would die), not one where he demands the attention of strangers, but maybe somewhere where a few people might see and congratulate us. (Like on the beach itself instead of on our hotel balcony). I’ve found I love the infectious joy that strangers share at romance–people honking on the freeway at our “Just Married” car gave me warm happy feelings–so I get that part of the appeal.

    • Violet

      I would not have liked any attention during the proposal. But a different benefit to proposing in a public place (like a park) is that you can revisit the spot later. Which I would have appreciated. How romantic, to go back to the location a year later, on a special date, etc. While I’m glad my partner proposed in private, we can’t randomly go to our old apartment and ask the new tenants to let us in so we can have a little reminiscing moment.

      • laddibugg

        I mean you could ask but………lol

        • Violet

          Can you imagine!?

          • Jess

            Honestly, I would totally let you in.

          • laddibugg

            IDK about letting you in my apartment, but I could see letting you in my backyard or something.

          • Eenie

            I got engaged in the hallway to the bathroom in my old apartment.

          • scw

            I grew up in a pretty old house and we had more than one former resident stop by and ask to see the house! but I basically grew up in mayberry so I could see this being weird elsewhere.

          • Violet

            10 points for Mayberry reference.

      • Lisa

        I think the issue with a public proposal is the commanding of others’ time and space. Proposing in a public place can still be a private act. (See: our engagement on a cliff in the Marin Headlands.)

        • Violet

          Yes, THIS distinction! Exactly, thank you.

          • Scalliwag

            Absolutely! My now husband proposed on an extended scavenger hunt that end in a quiet park (he’d tried for an even quieter one, but they weren’t open for the season yet). We do still go back to that park and sit on “our” bench, which I love. It wasn’t look at us, look at us – most people didn’t know it was happening. but afterwards, a woman did realize and come up to take our photo. I don’t consider it a “public” proposal, though I guess others might disagree, but it was very us.

          • Ours was similar, but fiance chose a spot in southern Spain during a family vacation (tricky to go an visit, lol).

            No one else really noticed, it was really brief, so I’m not even sure if the two guitarists busking there at the moment even noticed it happening. Private in a public space can be a little mortifying for the non-center-of-attention folks, but when you realize no one actually noticed, despite it being in public…it works.

          • A

            My fiancé proposed in a “private but in public” space and actually hid when we saw someone come by. We both don’t like attention and he thought everything through except for that we went to a museum on January first so it was packed. He had planned three different places where he could possibly propose and all of them had tons of people there. We eventually made it to the second floor of the museum to a hall behind the main exhibit that overlooked the bay. People kept poking their heads there, saw it was just a hall, and then would leave. We went in the museum, he proposed, and left and not a soul knew.

        • rg223

          Right!

          I’m thinking about my friend group, and only one of my friends was proposed to in a non-public place. ONE. And she was proposed to in a hotel room, and her now-husband had friends of theirs hiding in the bathroom and behind a curtain recording it, so it DID actually command others’ time and space (and, she is the only person I know who said she didn’t love her proposal, because it was so weird having the friends pop out right afterwards!)

          BUT, all my friends who did have public proposals had ones that didn’t particularly command others’ time and space – they just happened to be outdoors/in a restaurant/wherever, and life went on around them. So I feel that distinction is really necessary – thanks for pointing it out!

          • laddibugg

            I don’t think that ‘commands’ other people’s space and time–there’s a difference when people have no choice but to witness your proposal.

          • rg223

            Fair enough!

          • Orangie

            “hiding in the bathroom and behind a curtain recording it” So, basically my worst nightmare…

          • Jess

            Yeah, that sounds HORRIFYING.

          • Meg Keene

            To clarify, this post isn’t about “proposals in public spaces” but “public proposals”, which are two fundamentally different things.

        • Jess

          For me it’s less making demands on other people and more just the knowledge that people are looking at me.

          I get pretty self conscious being on stage as myself (oddly, I’m fine if I’m playing a character), and it would really take me out of the moment.

          Since I did have a semi-public space, but private proposal – there wasn’t anybody around when R started talking, but afterwards we found out people had shown up about midway through, because they congratulated us.

          It turned out great, because they gave us enough time on our own and then just got to be really happy for us, but I do kind of wonder if I had seen them get there at the start, whether I would have been really distracted.

      • Ashlah

        True! Our “engagement hotel” is one of our favorite places for a weekend away, and we often go on the anniversary of our engagement. We’ve never asked for the specific room, but I suppose we could, just to make it extra special!

        • laddibugg

          You totally should. And let the front desk know!

          • LJ

            DEFINITELY do this, you may get some awesome perks :)

      • Lawyer_Chef

        Yep, we got engaged at a little riverside park, and now whenever we’re close by my fiance always wants to go down and walk around there together, which I think is super sweet.

      • Bethany

        My fiance proposed in a public place but I definitely wouldn’t consider it a “public proposal”. It was outside a historic theatre in our city, and it made one of our favorite places even more special. Luckily the theatre was closed at the time and there weren’t many people around. It was a private moment on a public street. One random girl, who I never even noticed, did see what was happening though and snapped a pic of us. She came over to us a few minutes later and was able to text it to me, which I thought was so nice. I definitely would NOT have wanted a huge public proposal with lots of people staring at me, but I love that we can (and will) visit the spot whenever we want and that we have a candid photo to go along with it.

        • Violet

          This sounds so ideal to me. Lovely!

      • Kaitlyn

        I love this idea of going back to remember the occasion!

      • Meg Keene

        We do that! We had a private proposal on the Filbert Street Steps, and we go back sometimes. One day we’ll probably take the kids. https://goo.gl/images/6Cxvxz

      • Meg Keene

        We do that! We had a private proposal on the Filbert Street Steps, and we go back sometimes. One day we’ll probably take the kids. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8e03b118a1ba0b12f1ea2eaad931f76dde081d0999227a44fa0254f526e46229.jpg

        • Violet

          Swooooooooooon…

      • Danielle

        Funny story: Husband decided to propose to me on a trip to San Francisco. I didn’t realize it, but on our last night he kept looking for a nice romantic place to ask… and couldn’t find any (it was his first visit to the city, and we were staying in the Financial District). He said he was hungry and wanted to eat somewhere “like a seaside cafe”, but there weren’t any around. I kept suggesting random places we passed – like a pizza place, cheap Chinese restaurant, etc. He rejected each one and I was surprised, since usually he’s not that picky.

        Finally we went into the BART station to get tickets; he said he was really hungry and I was like, “There’s a 7-11 right outside, let’s get a snack.”

        “I DON’T WANT TO GO TO THE 7-11.”

        I didn’t understand why he was being so adamant, but tried to stay calm and we went back outside to look for something. There was a Ghirardelli’s on the corner, we went in and split a delicious sundae, and then he asked the question.

        Ghirardelli’s (and ice cream in general) holds a special place in my heart now <3 Even 7-11 does, to a certain extent :)

        • Shawna

          Aww That Ghiradelli’s is charmed. I met my fiancé there the night he proposed and as we live in SF I was very confused as to why he wasn’t either picking me up in the car or just meeting me at the BART station as usual.

          • Lisa

            We went to the Ghiradelli’s on the day we got engaged, too! We always do a touristy day in SF when I come out to visit his family, and while the ice cream shop isn’t always on our list, we went there after eating seafood at the pier and directly before heading out to the Headlands.

          • Danielle

            Ha ha! Those guys <3

          • Shawna

            He proposed in a gorgeous private parlor in the Palace Hotel (the Ghiradelli’s is on the corner of the block basically inside the hotel). Getting me inside required a lot of funny storytelling I was not buying and yet somehow it was still a surprise. He even arranged for us to spend a night in the hotel so it was a little special staycation. We did get the public aspect right afterward as we left the parlor grinning and trailed by a photographer (who was not present for the actual proposal, but was there for the before and after – how he got me to go along with that…I am the most gullible). Then we went to a bar down the block where we met my sister and her boyfriend. So the whole bar got us smiling and free champagne celebrating. The best was the quiet happiness at dinner. We didn’t tell anyone what we were celebrating, but it was such a special moment sitting at this beautiful table in the window.

            We still wave at the Palace hotel when we go by it. It’s nice to have a few romantic touchpoints in the city where we live, but that one is really special because most people who live here have no reason to go inside (omigosh you should it is SO PRETTY and is also the only indoor historic landmark in SF).

        • Violet

          I love this!

      • Michela

        This was one of the unexpected perks of my husband proposing in Central Park. I recently found out he was planning on surprising me with a trip to revisit the spot on our first wedding anniversary, but we unfortunately have a big family trip booked to the Grand Canyon for our anniversary (bummer, yes, I know) so we’ll have to go another time. But that’s a fantastic point we hadn’t even considered till afterwards!

    • laddibugg

      Yeah, I mean I basically picked out my ring. But I asked my now fiance to ‘officially’ propose. I’m glad it was somewhere that had some meaning to us.

      • Meg Keene

        We did the same. That felt like adult communication to me. I was like “I will wear the ring, I get to pick it” and “I would like a formal proposal form you, are you down with that?” “Ok great, how and when is up to you.”

    • Lisa

      I remember having this discussion with my sister when she was younger. One of my friends had her now-husband propose to her after they had already started wedding planning, and my sister, who was a teenager at the time, couldn’t fathom the idea of a non-surprise proposal because that’s not what Hollywood sells us on. I had to explain that it’s important to be on the same page and timeline as the other person, but that the proposal itself can be a fun surprise (or not). It’s up to each individual couple!

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        I remember being really disappointed as a kid when I asked my mom how my dad proposed. “Oh, well, we just had a conversation about it, and decided we should get married.” There was no big moment or anything.

        • Lisa

          This was my parents, too. They picked out the ring together, and my dad proposed to my mom in his dorm room. When asked what made them decide to get married, my mom said, “Well, we’d been dating a while, and it was cheaper to live in married student housing together than in separate dorm rooms.” I come from a long line of romantics obviously.

          • Arie

            I love this. Pragmatic Romantics.

          • Dess

            Sounds like a band :)

        • Rose

          Yeah. I heard as a kid that my mom was actually the one who proposed (in the shower). Not a very dramatic story. Although apparently for a year or two before that, Dad would ask her whenever he got drunk.

          • Lisa

            I love this! The first time my husband said he loved me, he was drunk. Then on his 21st birthday a week later, he called me every 1-3 hours from 6 PM – 4 AM to tell me the same thing.

          • Rose

            Hah! Yeah, apparently Mom would just tell him to ask again when he was sober. Never actually happened, though, she got there first.

        • Shawna

          Same. My mom could not relate to my pre-engagement anxiety at all because they just talked about how they wanted to get married, how it would never happen because her dad would disapprove, and then it became planning how to change that. All very pragmatic. Since we had decided we wanted to get married she didn’t understand why we couldn’t just get married already. There were no obstacles she could see. The frustration I had was with not having a clear argument back. Wanting a proposal was such an emotional thing for me.

        • Michela

          Yup! My dad proposed to my mom in the car on the way to the jewelry store so she could pick out her own ring. When I balked at the banality of it as a kid, my dad would just shrug and tell me proposals didn’t used to be such a big thing. I kind of get it now and, to be honest, if T had proposed in the car on the way to the jewelry store I think I would’ve been just fine with it.

          • Lisa

            My sister was actually proposed to in the car on the way to the jewelry store. She and her husband had already gone and picked out a ring that she liked, but then she started to second guess herself and insisted they go back to the store to look again. He’d already bought the setting and diamond and was waiting for a good time to propose to her.

            He kept trying to dissuade her from wanting to go back, but she was adamant. He didn’t want her to fall in love with a new design so, before they went back into the store, he asked her to close her eyes and describe to him her perfect ring. While she was doing that, he put the ring he’d already purchased on her hand. She no longer felt the need to continue looking!

            It’s a cute story, and I’d be inclined to like it more if it hadn’t occurred 6 days after our own engagement. ;)

    • LJ

      Just food for thought…. “You should know that your partner is going to say yes because you’ve both discussed the fact that you want to get married.” …… the original reason for being engaged before being married was, believe it or not, NOT to spend a year planning a party (this is tongue in cheek!) but to establish exactly what you stated. I don’t think that you need to know if you want to be married ahead of time – engagements are a period for sussing out that compatibility, or at least they used to be before the WIC got rolling and told us that party planner is our new temporary role.

      Of course, in a public proposal, there can be an element of duress and you should absolutely know that at least partially, but for more intimate proposals…. discussing engagement before being engaged is not necessary as that’s the whole point of being engaged :) (circular logic is circular?)

      • Ashlah

        I mean…maybe? I’m not sure that’s really true these days, though. I certainly don’t know anyone who got engaged in order to decide whether they want to get married. In my social circle, you get engaged because you’ve decided you want to be married. I would be absolutely horrified if a partner proposed to me before we’d discussed it. It seems super backwards, and, especially since we live in a society where men still do most of the proposing, it leaves the female partner in an incredibly passive role in her own life. Different strokes, I suppose, but I feel pretty strongly that marriage should be discussed and agreed upon beforehand, otherwise, even minus the public part, there can certainly be some level of duress (it is not easy to end an engagement).

        • LJ

          eh, know your audience and use common sense. I thought I knew that I wanted to get married when my fiancé proposed, but going through premarital counseling during the engagement period (not a course, just actively addressing small issues as they occur with a counselor) has really opened my eyes in good and critical ways and made me realize how naïve I was before – even though we’ve been living together for 4+ years and in all accounts had a healthy and functioning relationship.

          My personal pet cause in the WIC is “it is absolutely bullshit that engagements went from a period of establishing or confirming compatibility to a period of planning a party that doesn’t need the crazy-high amount of planning or emotional labour people put into it” so, like everyone, I do have a bias.

          • Ashlah

            I don’t think discussing marriage beforehand means that you can’t also use your engagement period as a time to think even more deeply about marriage or that you can’t change your mind. But I don’t see how it helps things to go into it blindly. Already deciding you want to marry that person doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t go to counseling to prepare for marriage.

          • Amy March

            Agreed. Discussing beforehand is an obvious necessity to me. Doesn’t mean you don’t also keep discussing after the fact, but yeah, I think being in an adult relationship requires talking about things and not being blindsided with a massive question with huge implications out of the blue.

            What audience is there that isn’t viewing engagement as something you do when you know you want to get married?

          • LJ

            Aaaaand this is where we agree to disagree

          • Meg Keene

            But I think both of those can be true. I would have been horrified if my partner proposed before establishing that I did, in fact, 100% want to marry him. That said, our engagement was of course a period where we worked on our relationship with premarital counseling. In my particular case (5 years together at that point, 14 years as friends) that didn’t make me feel naive in any way, but I still feel like it’s important.

          • LJ

            This comment thread has been so interesting. Shows that a proposal isn’t often a dictionary-definition proposal (you’re not truly asking a question, because why ask if you know the answer?) but a symbolic ceremony thing.

            Which may explain my questions and perspective… my proposal, paraphrased, was: “we’ve been living in sin for 4 years, and I think you’re really cool and I I’ve been thinking about marriage for the better part of a year now, so would you like to marry me?” and it was at our apartment on a lazy morning while we were still in bed. I loved (love?) him and wanted (want?) to spend my life with him so I said yes, but other than discussing the big picture non-wedding/marriage related stuff (kids y/n, religion y/n and which, career goals…. long term relationship compatibility regardless of the legality of our union) we hadn’t directly discussed whether we would get married. It was a genuine “I think this is something I want. Do you want it to?” question. I see from all the comments here that this is not the norm, and I had kind of assumed it was.

            I would also like to mention that @amymarch:disqus and @disqus_SU83Haapqj:disqus ‘s comments about going in blind triggered feelings of defensiveness about my experience. Indeed I was not going in blind and I felt hurt. It may be useful to take a step back and realize that other people have other experiences of which you can’t possibly know the full details of, and it’s possible those experiences are just as valid and just as thorough.

          • Ashlah

            I certainly didn’t mean to insult you or make you feel defensive about your experience. Obviously it’s working for you! And although I can see how it comes across that way, I didn’t really intend “going in blind” as a direct statement about your situation! Just a general statement about being proposed to without having discussed it beforehand. For what it’s worth, based on a few more of your comments, I agree that you weren’t going in blind. Maybe you hadn’t discussed marriage specifically, but you had obviously discussed a shared future together. So while I personally needed more than that to feel comfortable with an engagement, and while I tend to think the more discussion the better, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you did it wrong.

            Regardless, your comment opened up a really interesting line of discussion (What is the engagement period for?), so yay and thank you for that, and I’m sorry for any comments I left that made you feel shitty.

          • LJ

            It’s all good. I generally have a thick skin, but I’ve realized that I’ve “had my hackles up” pretty high over the past year due to a bunch of crappy stuff happening to me externally, so I’m making a conscious effort in the last month to be less of a feeling-less a-hole and more of a human and sometimes it’s really really hard. And yeah I’ve found this discussion really eye-opening….. :)

      • Amy March

        “engagements are a period for sussing out that compatibility, or at least they used to be before the WIC got rolling and told us that party planner is our new temporary role”

        I agree with your larger point, but no, at this point in time I don’t think anyone is viewing an engagement as a time during which you decide if you want to be married. I think proposing to someone without being sure, in that moment, that you want to get married is cruel, and accepting without being sure equally so. Unless the two of you have very clearly agreed to use an archaic definition, don’t plan on using engagement to suss out your compatibility. And I think the change is more than WIC party planning madness. It’s also about marrying for love and women getting a say in their lives.

        • LJ

          “discussing engagement before being engaged is not necessary”

          >necessary

          Can be useful, but not required.

          • Meg Keene

            God. I think it’s super duper necessary. Deciding to spend my entire life partnered with someone, doing ALL the stuff that marriage entails (OMG SO MUCH STUFF), I would never want that to be a snap gut check decision in the moment someone asked a question.

        • LJ

          Ok, so question for you and everyone else then….. what do you think the engagement period is for? Genuine, non-backhanded question. So theoretically, if you are proposed to then you’ve already made the decision to marry as it’s prediscussed. Is it truly only being used for party planning now? What are y’all doing during your engagements? Fiance and I have done some casual counseling because mental health check-ins are as important as physical ones, and we’ve also created a list of “crap we want to establish before we legally link ourselves” which is basically “do a long road trip without killing each other ” to “make sure we are both 100% aware of each of our financial situation”…… our wedding is small and doesn’t require the scale of some of the ones I see here…. so what is everyone doing/what do you see the point being?

          • Violet

            It’s for planning for the upcoming marriage to take place. Pre-marital counseling, financial stuff, marriage license, etc. In our case, we also planned a marriage celebration (aka wedding, aka party planning) but there was other stuff, too.

          • flashphase

            We knew pretty early on in our relationship that we would get married. But getting engaged announced to our family and friends that we would be making a long-term commitment. Especially to our parents, who view living together as not as serious as engaged. It helped us to shift mindsets to ‘our family.’

          • rg223

            I mean, people can do whatever they want and use the engagement period for anything they choose, but for me personally, yes, it was only about wedding planning.

          • LJ

            Yeah yeah totally, I am just curious what people are doing these days.

          • Amy March

            Preparing for your imminent marriage. Which may include planning a wedding, completing religious requirements of your church, attending pre-marriage counselling, should you so desire, informing your friends and family of your commitment, planning financial changes, drafting a pre-nup, moving.

            What I don’t think it is for is deciding whether or not you are interested in getting married. That’s why you have a relationship prior to engagement. Of course, things happen and you might change your mind, but going into engagement without being sure, in that moment, that you are going to get married seems completely absurd to me. Why are you even engaged? How is it different than dating, but now with bonus public pressure to plan a wedding?

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            I am firmly in the camp of engagements being for people who have fairly imminent plans to get married. I don’t understand engagements for couples who are considering marriage or who view it as a time to work up to marriage. I think of engagement as a couple having firmly decided they want to marry and a plan of some kind for that to actually happen.

          • Katharine Parker

            Agreed. I don’t think this is a new thing, either – in the past you had to book the church/courthouse/registry office/etc., too. I know my mother’s first question when anyone announces an engagement is, when’s the wedding? – planning the wedding is the point of the engagement.

          • C

            Ooh I like this question…for us, we are using the time mostly for 1) formal premarital counseling with our pastor and officiant; 2) making the mental/emotional adjustment from “we are boyfriend/girlfriend and not legally bound together in any way” to “I will be living with this person until I die”; and 3) the party planning. I’m pretty organized and we had done some preliminary research so 3) isn’t as challenging as it might seem on a shortened timeline.

            We had the choice of a four-month engagement or a ten-month engagement at minimum (due to family scheduling conflicts) and decided to go with four months because we’re ready to get married and we’re impatient people, damnit. While we know what we need to know about each other – our respective financial situations, how we like to keep our living spaces – we’ll wait until after the wedding to actually combine households and finances and all the logistical things that are less time-sensitive. Actually I’m planning to take two weeks off work right after the wedding for this – a week for chillout/relaxing honeymoon times, and a week for figuring out how all of our combined sh*t is going to fit into a 700 sq. ft. apartment.

          • Leah

            “making the mental/emotional adjustment from “we are boyfriend/girlfriend
            and not legally bound together in any way” to “I will be living with
            this person until I die”;”

            This is EXACTLY what our engagement period was for me. We had discussed marriage a lot, knew we were both on board, the proposal was a surprise- but-not-really (but awesome for us), had been together 5 years and living together for 3. BUT making this emotional transition was still crazily tough, and despite being SURE I wanted to marry him, I still had moments of panic during our engagement, where I’d wake up in his arms/morning breath, look over and think ‘forever?’ and have a few morning moments of emotional turmoil. It felt normal and healthy, but still surprisingly scary. And it led us to have a few extra convos about foreverness that we hadn’t actually had before, which were great.

            We had a short engagement – only 6 months – but having that time to work through that emotional residue meant that when we stood up there saying our vows, I’d already cleared that internal work out of the way and could just stand up grinning like an idiot (which I did).

            (we also did some counseling with our rabbi/officiant and waited until summer so we could have an outdoor wedding)

          • LJ

            “) making the mental/emotional adjustment from “we are boyfriend/girlfriend and not legally bound together in any way” to “I will be living with this person until I die”;”

            this was so much bigger than I expected. Great points.

          • LittleOwl

            Great choice!! It takes SO long to do those things and it’s nice not to feel rushed. My husband had extra days off after our honeymoon and he put all the gifts away, took gifts to the bank, threw away all the boxes, and reorganized to fit everything. It took two days! He worked so hard and it was delightful to feel so settled. You’ll love it!

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            There are all manner of things that change from my partner’s issue to our issue when we get married. His family member that can’t get their shit together and asks him for money sometimes? Now becomes our family member who asks us for money sometimes. The house his grandmother has up in the mountains that somebody needs to take over or inherit, becomes something we both need to plan for. I have a friend whose boyfriend bought a house a year or two before he proposed to her. She hates that house, and would never have chosen to live there, but he bought it at a time in their relationship where she didn’t feel she had a say in what house he should buy or where she would be willing to live with him in the future. Engagement is a time to talk about the heavy issues, so you’re hopefully on the same page before you completely merge your futures and your finances.

          • Meg Keene

            Honest answer:

            A) We were waiting to get married because of life timing on dates (summer break, etc.) and waiting on the venue.
            B) It ended up being good time to start to figure out and sort out what some of our issues with our families were, since becoming engaged involved family members and people outside the relationship in a way they were not before.
            C) We did premarital counseling.
            D) Literally the week before the wedding we joined our finances.
            E) We worked and went to law school and lived our regular life.
            F) We planned a wedding.

            I think if we hadn’t had logistical reasons to wait we could have/ would have had a much shorter engagement. However, the time we had (18 months) did allow some family stuff to come to the surface and we worked on it.

            However: in our case none of that time was spent establishing if we were compatible to get married, or filling each other on financial issues. We were 100% on all of that before we would have even considered considering getting engaged.

          • Jess

            Ooh this is a good question!

            For me, engagement has been a time for personal emotional transition of going from the stages of “I think this is what we want to do” to “Being married.” Not so much figuring out if I want to be married to this person, because that has happened over a lot of stages and conversations, more processing all my emotions about it.

            There’s a difference, too, I think, between the private and the public side of engagement.

            Once an engagement is public, my assumption is that the couple has decided to get married and is signifying that they are now taking steps to do so.

          • stephanie

            We got married 3 weeks after he proposed so… ;)

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            Planning the wedding.

          • La’Marisa-Andrea

            In my real life, I wanted to finish law school and pass the bar before getting married. So we did that and planned our wedding.

          • LJ

            There are so many lawyers in this forum! hahaha. I can’t imagine how stressful that must be in addition to wedding stuff. I work as a legal assistant so I see what they go through… yikes

          • ep

            I’ve been engaged for 9 months, and probably won’t get married until 2018 or 2019. Then plan from now until then is to finish school, talk about what we want our wedding to look like, and save up money for that wedding.

          • toomanybooks

            While I think that once you’re engaged, it’s probably a lot harder to decide you *don’t* want to get married, having a long engagement (2 years) did give me a lot of time to get used to the idea of getting married, which I’d rather have before the wedding than after. It’s nice to be comfortable with such a big thing happening before it happens. Also? I’ve been wanting to get married all my life. A two year engagement meant that I had two years to look forward to the big day and actually know it was going to happen. And it gave me time to plan my wedding, yes, but most of that was not, like, picking out decorations. It was waiting months and months to book the big purchases until I finally found prices I felt comfortable with. And if we had gotten married in the season we wanted the next year, we would’ve had less than a year to plan which seemed like not enough time.

          • LittleOwl

            LJ you and your partner sound so thoughtful and intentional! That is so great.

            Everyone has different engagement experiences. I did not live with fiancé until we were engaged for almost a year. I spent the time while I lived alone trying to 1) truly enjoy my “single” life before I got married 2) be intentional about our partnership, setting intentions about how We wanted our shared life to look, and 3) start planning our wedding (we were long distance at the time). Once we started sharing a household, we spent time doing premarital counseling, combining finances, setting goals, learning how to cook/clean/live together. We also probably argued more than usual, because it’s an intense time, and I felt like it was important to get lots of expectations out in the open before we were married.

            I think a big part of engagement is where you are starting from- some people have been living together for years, some people have only lived with their families, some people have children or are caregivers to other family members, some people don’t live together until they are married, and so on. I think engagements look so different because the starting point is often so varied, and it takes time to combine lives in preparation for marriage!

          • Michela

            Totally fair question. We used the period to figure out how to make a life together happen. We basically said, “Ok. We decided we want to get married and share a future together TILL DEATH. How do we logically/logistically do that? How will we share finances and household responsibilities? What are our thoughts about raising kids? How will we tackle my student loan debt?” etc. We also went to couples’ therapy just to feel extra prepared, and it was massively helpful for navigating the blending of our two families from opposite sides of the world.

            I know I mentioned this yesterday, but we used the engagement period to pay off my car loan, combine our finances and find a budgeting rhythm, set boundaries with our families, and more. It was basically a dry run for marriage. Having almost everything “set up” in those months prior made the beginning of our marriage really smooth because we’d already laid the groundwork.

      • Violet

        If the question I ask during the proposal is “Will you marry me?” and the person says “Yes,” I’d be really hurt to then find out they didn’t mean “Yes,” but rather, “I’ll think about it for a while, and then maybe I’ll marry you but also maybe not.” If the question asked during the proposal was, “Would you like to enter into a period of reflection as to whether or not we should get married?” then I agree with you. But people don’t usually ask that.

        • LJ

          You can say “yes” and then still use that time to confirm your choice though? Obviously this is just my opinion and opinions are subjective. But people change minds about things ALLL the time and how many people do truly mean 100% yes when they accept a proposal? I would say 80% yes is probably a safer average.

          • Violet

            Changing your mind later isn’t the same as not being sure and saying yes anyway. Obviously people exit engagements all the time. They exit marriages, too. Always time to reconsider. But when I say Yes, I mean yes, barring any extenuating circumstances that just simply haven’t occurred yet.

          • LJ

            When you say Yes to a proposal, you really say Yes*
            *barring any extenuating financial, personal or social discoveries made throughout the engagement period.

            So yes, it means yes, but I think we’re saying the same thing? Like you don’t need to be “sure” they’ll say yes because no one can be sure, and people can change their minds. That’s my main point here.

          • Violet

            I thought you were saying that you say yes with the implication that you’re taking the time to decide. My yes means I’ve decided. I will change that decision if I need to. But I’ve decided. Does that make sense?

          • Meg Keene

            I think that’s the point. It’s way better to have come to some sort of a decision that you want to get married (which can be the proposal). But if you want a more formal proposal regardless of gender (I did, no shame in that), it’s best if that yes is truly 100% yes. Obviously you can always change your mind after and leave, but yeah, I think we’re arguing that in an ideal world you’ve had enough discussion in your relationship that your yes is 100%. Mine for sure was.

        • Meg Keene

          I 100% agree with you. I think you should know before you ask. BUT. For the record, my mom did actually say “Let me think about it for a week.” SPOILER ALERT: she ended up saying yes. Later.

          • Violet

            Yes agreed- if I need to think about it, I’m gonna be like your mom and say, “I need to think about it”! Not say yes knowing I wasn’t sure. But that’s much harder to do during a public proposal.

          • Meg Keene

            EXACTLY.

    • CrazyCatLibrarian

      My mom told me the exact same thing when I was younger: engagements should never be a surprise, because if you’re serious about someone than you’ve at least had one conversation where you discuss the future of your relationship, your goals, etc. and are confident that you’re on the same page. My now-fiancé and I talked for years about this before we actually officially got engaged, because we both knew we weren’t ready to plan a wedding and didn’t want a long engagement, but also knew that we were both heading in the same direction. That being said, the proposal itself was a total surprise. Sort of. I mean he had the ring for two years, and I knew it, and everyone in our lives knew it and were starting to get a little worried/annoyed but the four times he was going to propose and had it all planned out, he chickened out at the last minute (two times were in public so I’m a little glad in those cases), and when he finally did it was on the side of the road at 2 am having a nostalgic moment talking about his brother who died a few years ago so definitely *not* a moment I was expecting a proposal, but hey. It was weird and awkward and so are we, so it was perfect.

      • stephanie

        My husband told me the reason he proposed when he did was that we had spent the day with his grandmother, who was dying of cancer, and seeing me with her was how he… knew. So I get this.

    • toomanybooks

      We got engaged at a beautiful public garden, but there weren’t any people around. (Which was fine by us.) Sometimes I think it would be funny to do a dramatic proposal at a restaurant to see what would happen (congratulations, free dessert, idk).

      • Ashlah

        Ha, I’ve totally thought about that. Also, claiming to be a bride to try on more dresses, and claiming to be on our honeymoon on regular trips. Haven’t done any of it, but it could be fun!

        • Lisa

          During our honeymoon flight, the nicest flight attendant snuck us up from the last row of the plane into business first after the lights dimmed. She also gave us miniature bottles of champagne when we thought we were going to be stuck in steerage, which we carried through Germany until we ended up drinking them under the fireworks on the Main River at midnight NYE.

          We’ve decided every vacation should be a honeymoon.

          • Michela

            Wow. That sounds fantastic!

    • LittleOwl

      Agreed- The title of this post kind of bummed me out! Public proposals aren’t “the worst” categorically. In fact, I remember APW featured a piece by the amazing Lindy West on how meaningful her public proposal was for her.

      That said, I myself had a private proposal in a public place (except for the waiter who was secretly taking our pictures). It was delightful and the pictures are my favorite!

    • stephanie

      Right before my husband proposed, I had this gut feeling of “Oh wow, he’s going to propose to me” — even though there was no reason to think so. We had been together 3 months, we had never spoken about marriage, but I had the feeling and he did. So… I don’t agree with you that engagements should never be a surprise, but I think that they should almost never be one. We’ve been married for 10 years next Feb, so I think we’re doing ok. ;)

  • LJ

    THANK YOU for making your pics youtubes and not gifs. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. My computer is having a way better time processing this.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      Alternately, YouTube is blocked at work, and I cannot see anything. *sad trombone*

  • laddibugg

    Public proposal. He proposed while we were touring my neighbor’s church before our baby shower. Neither one of us are ‘public proposal’ type of people, but he said he just had a feeling to do it then..in front of family and random churchgoers. In the end, it was perfect.
    (we were totally like Meredith and Derek though in terms of how our relationship started lol)

  • Lisa

    Public proposals are such the wrong way to go if you’re not 100% sure your partner will love it. One of my best friends is very shy and introverted. Her boyfriend proposed to her at Christmas with both of their immediate families present. She felt so pressured to say yes because everyone was there and waiting on her to give an answer. Which led to her calling me on her way to the night shift, confiding all of the doubts she had about her relationship because how could he have proposed like this if he really knew her?

    They eventually talked it out, decided to remain engaged, and are getting married this winter. However, that engagement almost ended BECAUSE of the proposal! If he had had the conversation in private with her, I doubt that she would have had the same feelings.

    • stephanie

      “Public proposals are such the wrong way to go if you’re not 100% sure your partner will love it.” this is 100% it.

  • Rebekah Jane

    I think I’ve told this story before but my fiance struck a compromise – while he proposed in public, it was still a very intimate, quiet moment. We were at a local food truck park with a good amount of people around, but rather than dramatically get on one knee and announce it, he quietly wrapped me in a hug and asked me, forehead to forehead. He also then hilariously couldn’t figure out how to open the ring box while still hugging me, so he had to let go before he dropped it in the gravel. It was 1000% the most us thing he could have done and it satisfied my extroverted need for a “someplace special” and his introverted need for it to be a private moment. Wins all around!

    But as for proposing in public – my best friend’s husband proposed to her before he left for a three month trip to Guatemala…in the airport…at 5 am….in front of everyone…while she was wearing pajamas. To this day, she cringes when she tells that story.

    • Megan

      UGH i have a good friend who also got an airport proposal. She got off of a 10 hour flight, was wearing pajamas and was picked up by her boyfriend who was wearing a suit and proposed in the airport baggage claim area.

      DUDE, you couldn’t wait until she took a shower?!

      • Rebekah Jane

        I don’t think romance like that is designed for the woman to feel comfortable or pretty. That kind of romance is designed to make the guy look sensitive and desirable.

        • Laura C

          THAT.

      • Ashlah

        I…actually sort of think I would like that. (Minus the length of the flight) I’ve always loved the idea of airport surprises for some reason! I mean, if it were a really long flight and it was late and I was hangry? Probably bad news. But…I think I would have found something like that pretty adorable and exciting.

        I’ll see myself out…

    • Christina McPants

      One of my friends proposed to his now wife next to a trash can at the airport because he couldn’t wait anymore. It was definitely a surprise.

      • Meg Keene

        I had a hot pack in my pants because my cramps were so bad and I thought I was going to be fired that day. OMG SURPRISE!

  • LJ

    TLDR public proposals: know your audience and use common sense.

  • Completely agree with everything stated here. I would also add, if you’re the one who feels like you may be proposed to soon, drop hints (or just straight up say what you’d like). Months before my partner proposed, my friend conveniently asked me, in front of him, what kind of proposal I’d like. I was embarrassed at the time, but she’s a good friend and she pulled it off in a jokey-yet-serious manner. That allowed me to immediately say “Well definitely not anywhere in public.”

    • Amy March

      Or just say in a conversation “I would hate a public proposal. If you’re thinking of ever proposing to me, which I figure you probably are since we’ve discussed our future and our relationship and our goals and plans, please do something private, with a puppy.”

      • Jess

        This is pretty much exactly what I did, along with repeated “I’m so happy for them, but I would hate that so much!” comments whenever someone had a public proposal. I did get a private proposal, however I did not get a puppy. :(

        (This is excused because we have mutually agreed to only get a puppy if we have a yard for said puppy)

      • Janet Hélène

        Always with a puppy!

  • Amy March

    Whilst we are burning it down, can we take a moment of rage for promposals? Because there is nothing worse than turning the already fraught process of finding a date for a high school dance into a massive snapchat worthy production.

    • Lisa

      I HATE THIS SO MUCH. Why is this a thing??? High school is already a rough enough time without worrying about whether you’ll get rejected for a dance in front of all of your friends and family.

      My super sweet high school boyfriend invited me to prom at a Speech Team bake sale by putting a plate of covered cookies by my backpack that had “Will you go to prom with me?” with a word on each cookie. I kept putting it back on the treats table because I couldn’t figure out why someone was putting these leftover cookies that weren’t mine with my stuff. Another example to me of private proposal, public space.

      • Cathi

        Speech team high-five!!

        Being asked to prom was much lower-key back in my day (’04), something like your cookie debacle would have been fairly typical. The way I was asked was about as elaborate as it got and was the talk of the school for a bit.

        A friend of mine and I promised each other in 8th grade we’d go to senior prom together if we weren’t dating anyone, so the day after the Turnabout dance he showed up in one of my classes wearing a tuxedo with a “will you go to prom with me?” card on a genuine silver platter. I think he wanted to snatch me up before any other of my guy friends asked me (or so I couldn’t change my mind). It was a little manipulative, but also kind of cool to be asked in such an elaborate way when no one else was making prom dates that way. I have generally fond memories of it.

        • NotMotherTheresa

          Same era…you definitely would have been the talk of the school with a prom proposal like that! I don’t think my prom date ever even officially asked me to prom. It was just assumed.
          What WAS the talk of the school was when he broke up with me the day before the prom. Mostly because I made a huge dramatic scene of loudly declaring him a cocksucker and sobbing that my life was over. It really was delightfully Jerry Springer, if the people on Jerry Springer were middle class high school kids in Abercrombie shirts.

    • LJ

      hahaha it’s been a decade since prom and I think this is an American thing…. but similar rage (or confusion? mostly confusion) for bridesmaid proposals.

      • Nell

        Yeah, wtf with that? Let’s make an EVEN BIGGER deal out of selecting a handful of friends for special honors, while leaving out some other number of beloved friends. Ugh.

        • NotMotherTheresa

          Plus, MORE EXPENSE! Like, I loved the idea of proposing to my bridesmaids, because I have a Pinterest addiction and unfulfilled dreams of being the next Martha Stewart. But the reality? Geez louise, no y’all, I’m not spending $70 to ship cheap mini bottles of champagne to people!

    • Jess

      I once had to circumvent a promposal (before that was a word), because I hate public things and I did not want to go with that person.

      Thankfully, a friend found out about it and told me before it happened.

      Ugh, that whole process is awful.

    • Katharine Parker

      My high school loved a promposal! Like, if there weren’t balloons, flowers, and the marching band involved, it didn’t happen.

      It was a pretty small school and there was definitely a culture of going with a friend as a date and going in a big group, so usually it wasn’t a surprising, pressure-heavy thing, but it definitely was over the top. In retrospect, I have (sorry!) fond memories of these things, but I’m sure other people hated it and I was blind to that. And this was pre-social media! I shudder to think how snapchat has changed this.

    • Christina McPants

      Promposals remind me of the This American Life about prom, where the kids think it’s supposed to be this epic occasion and it’s really… just dancing in a gym with fancy dresses. BURN THE PROMPOSAL.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        Ours was at the convention center, at least. My prom date looks around and goes, “So what makes this different from any other dance?” “Um, you can eat dinner?” It was an expensive letdown.

        • Vanessa

          Wait your prom had dinner? Is this a thing?

          • Yeah. Proms in South Jersey had dinner when I was growing up…

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            This was in South Jersey! It was Hawaiian themed, I think. There was a lot of pineapple.

          • LadyMe

            My prom back in …2007? had dinner. Really lame cold and dry chicken and pasta dinner. It was not good.

          • LJ

            Also 2007. Also lame convention dinner. Cost maybe 40 CAD? I got to wear a yellow dress like Belle and I was stoked on that, that’s my main memory.

          • Amy March

            That’s what you got for your $120 ticket!

          • laddibugg

            yeah. our tickets had a face value of $110 dollars. so, yeah, dinner was included

            (no one actually paid that. Our class made A LOT of money fundraising. We ended up giving money to the class after us)

          • LadyMe

            So glad our tickets were only $60 each.

            We bailed HOURS early bc we were nerds not into the naughts’ hip hop and grinding scene. We ended up spending 6 hours at the bowling alley in our fancy clothes.

          • Vanessa

            ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY OF AMERICAN US DOLLARS?!?!? I think my prom ticket cost $25 and that felt steeeeeep at the time. Damn.

          • Ashlah

            Not a thing here. What is a thing here is seeing kids all fancied up for prom out at local restaurants every weekend during prom season. That’s kind of fun.

          • Vanessa

            Same here in CO.

          • Lisa

            That’s how most of the Midwest is. Going out to eat during prom season is adorable.

          • We had dinner.

            But I didn’t know prom proposals were a thing. Canadian here; I just went to prom with a group of my girlfriends. None of us were dating at the time and it was fun to get dressed up.

      • Annie

        I definitely expected this since age ~12/13 and then was deeply disappointed:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gE3kFtiuQps

        • H

          Oh my god I want to watch that entire movie now. Usher should be every Prom DJ

      • Leela

        This promposal concept is new to me! I remember a boy friend (decidedly NOT a boyfriend) calling me on the phone and asking me to prom and I said yes. Technically, I said “mrffyesssh.” I had just stuffed a lot of crackers in my mouth before the phone rang, but I thought I covered really well. Later, I found out that my date had told my friend “She took a long time to decide…and maybe she was eating something?”

      • Michela

        Prom was always a let down for me, too. The anticipation and hype of the days leading up to it and getting ready the day of always seemed to be more fun for me than the dance itself. Similarly, it should come as no surprise that I made a conscious effort to savor the days leading up to our wedding and the wedding morning itself!

    • Another Meg

      Yaaaaay for girls’ schools where ladies did all the inviting! It was mostly done via text or a phone call and I hope to god that promposals have not become a thing that girls at my high school now do.

      • LJ

        “It was mostly done via text ”

        I am bit by bit realizing that I may be one of the older people on this page despite being 27? Phones with texting capability didn’t come out until my second year of college hahaha.

        I am now also really curious what ages and nationalities the majority of the posters are…. hmmm happy hour conversation idea maybe

        • Lisa

          Texting was available when I was in high school, but most cell phone plans didn’t include it so it was expensive. I remember telling my younger sister off for using it because it drove up the phone bill.

          • LJ

            All I remember is using T9 word and YELLING at my flip phone while I button mashed hahahha

          • ART

            T9word yes! haha

        • S

          What? I’m 28 and had a phone that could text in high school. I got it when I was about 15-16, but quite a few friends got mobile phones (/cell – I’m Australian) much earlier than I did and I’m pretty sure they could text. I’m not even sure my parents’ old brick phones circa the late 90s/2000 couldn’t text – Wikipedia seems to imply it’s been a thing since the first mobiles. Do you come from somewhere with lagging technology? Cos otherwise being 27 and phones not being able to text until your second year of college sounds very strange.

          • Ashlah

            It’s not necessarily that the technology wasn’t there, but that its use wasn’t very widespread. I’m 26 and I had a couple friends with cell phones in middle school, a few more (including myself) in high school, but texting just wasn’t something we really did. I was actively against it for some time, plus the cost, plus the fact that my friends weren’t doing it meant it wasn’t really a thing until late high school/college.

          • LJ

            I think Canada takes awhile to catch onto things… most people had old brick flip-phones in grades 11-12, but no one used them for anything but emergency calls until I was in university, and even then texting was so obnoxious (ughhh t9, so ineffficient) that no one used it, and as Lisa said it was expensive then too. No one I know got smartphones until 2008 and even then they were early adopters.

          • S

            This is fascinating to me, because I would have thought Canada would have been ahead of Australia but maybe that’s not the case! We had cute little nokias (3315, RIP – although my fave was my Nokia 3205) and while I think in the first years of high school it was too expensive to text much I definitely remember by year 12 there was a fair bit of texting happening. I’m actually just shocked that I’m a year older and on the other side of the world where we still get (some) movies months and months after they come out elsewhere, our mobile technology seems to have moved faster than in Canada!

          • LJ

            My city had less than 100,000 people so it’s also not like I lived in Toronto hahahha. Probably contributed :P I shouldn’t speak for all of Canada. I did a fair amount of small-town-living.

          • LJ

            I had an LG Chocolate Flip that was pretty well consider crème de la crème for like the first few months it was out :P three year contract 2007 (maybe 2008?)-2010 and that was the first phone I texted on… texting basically “became a thing” my first few months with that phone, it wasn’t something commonly done as primary communication before then.

            Maybe I just had a very small town life hahahah

          • Torontonian; I loved my little nokia. Texting was definitely too expensive in high school. I first encountered texting on a study abroad in university in England and thought it was so damn inefficient and a waste of money.

          • Aubry

            I am Canadian (although live in Vancouver, so whatever cutting edge for Canada is lol) and I got my first phone in grade 12 (so 17) and was definitely one of the last of my friends. I am 29 and graduated in 2005. Nothing like today’s cell phone use, but we did text. On our old nokia flip phones and Razrs! I remember texting through my ridiculously long graduation ceremony.

          • Orangie

            Whoa, multi-tap and t9 flashback. I just realized that I learned a skill, used it constantly, and then forgot it when it became obsolete, all within a few short years. Fascinating.

          • LJ

            The first person I knew to have a cell phone was my dad, as he works outdoors so it was good to have contacts with various job sites, and he had one that looked very close to this and barely had caller ID let alone texting. This would’ve been around year 2000. http://cellphonesinfozone.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Top-Ten-Old-Mobile-Phones.jpg

          • Lisa

            The first phone I had was one of those old Nokia bricks that you could play Snake and make phone calls on. It was my mom’s first cell phone and was the one I had for the first 6-12 months I could drive until the plan got re-upped. (I got a cell phone because I had to drive on the interstate to get to school, and my parents were worried that I needed a way to contact them if anything happened.)

          • NotMotherTheresa

            I’m 30, and I think by senior year, I’d learned how to text, but it wasn’t really “A Thing”. If you actually wanted something, you called.
            I don’t really remember when we actually started texting each other, but it definitely wasn’t high school.

        • toomanybooks

          I’m 26 and while I could have texted while I was in high school, I resisted it until I was in college (at which point text was how everyone communicated and it would be ridiculous to call people). But my phone in high school probably wasn’t great for texting anyway, like you could get a Sidekick with the little keyboard but I had a RAZR. I think also it was expensive and before my parents had come around to texting themselves (so it wouldn’t have been in our plan or whatever).

        • Bethany

          I’m 30 and graduated in 2004. At one point in high school my 2 brothers and I shared a cellphone that we basically only used to let our parents know we arrived somewhere or needed to be picked up. It definitely had texting though. My senior year I had my own bright yellow Nokia and texting was getting more popular but obviously nothing like it is today.

          Also, moment of silence for Snake.

          • Lisa

            I mentioned Snake in my post, too! RIP Snake.

          • Bethany

            Snake was the best! It was a simpler time.

          • Another Meg

            I graduated from high school in 2003. My pink Nokia had texting- I started texting when I was about 16. Not frequently because there was a charge per text, but the capability was there…

        • stephanie

          My friend had a cell phone our junior year of high school that could text, and we’re 31.

    • april

      Ha! I skipped most school dances (including prom), but I do have some pretty good ‘camp dance proposal’ stories. At my summer camp, you only took dates to the last dance of the season, which was only for the oldest campers (15 and 16 year olds) and girls had to invite the boys (there was even a complicated sign-up process to ensure that everyone got a date). Almost all of the invitations were public and ridiculous. One year, I carved my invitation into a slice of american cheese then passed it around the table to my date on burger night. Another year, one of my friends wrote an invitation on her arm in sunscreen, then did some serious sun tanning/burning before showing the results to her date. Sneaking into your date’s cabin and painting the invitation on the wall was also pretty common – my camp had a very liberal graffiti policy …

    • AmandaBee

      Why is there a damn proposal for everything these days? This is all I want to know.

    • AGCourtney

      Oh my god, yes. This past spring, a guy rode over to my in-laws house on a HORSE to ask my sister-in-law to prom. (They live in a neighborhood in a more rural area outside town, so that lowers the ridiculousness of it a bit…but only a bit.) Due to the pressure, she said yes, but texted him later that evening to rescind it.

  • Sara

    I have a serious aversion to jumbo-tron proposals, to the point where I’m pretty sure everyone I’ve ever met knows about it. One of my close friends finds it hilarious, and texts me every time she sees one in person (which surprisingly, she sees a lot of with all the sporting events she goes to). It makes my skin crawl SO MUCH.

    • Kaitlyn

      I saw a Jumbotron proposal a few months ago and the woman looked the opposite of excited. I felt so bad for her in that moment.

      • Meg Keene

        Yeah, I feel like that is straight up blackmail. How could you possibly say no?

        • Cdn icecube

          Like this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtPkxzHKLpk
          Sad, but I admire her courage to know what she did and did not want.

          • LJ

            Oh dear god. Oh wow. So bad. So sad.

          • Ashlah

            Oh, that poor woman. Fuck everyone for booing her.

    • Laura C

      My best friend was so afraid of a jumbotron proposal or similar that she came up with a set of conditions she required for any proposal. It wasn’t “no jumbotron,” it was … trying to remember. Had to be by water, but I think there were a couple other things. Then when her boyfriend wanted to propose, it was the middle of a drought and he ended up taking her out of state to where it was legal to run a fountain.

      • joanna b.n.

        LOL, cute.

    • EF

      no joke, i didn’t want a proposal at all UNLESS it was at fenway park (where the red sox play). i’m from boston. i’m a huge baseball fan. some of the best memories in my life are at fenway. and i’m way introverted, but still…it would have been like my partner saying ‘i recognise the red sox have always been there for you, but now i can be, too. but yes you can still watch all the late games.’

      sadly(?) that didn’t happen. but i’d still love to see a message at fenway someday.

  • larissaparks

    Stephanie, what is your opinion of “Proposal Planners?”

    • LJ

      IMO it’s up there with lawyers who make their assistants buy their wife anniversary gifts…..UNLESS it’s a “here is my idea but I do not have coordination or budgetting or implementation skills so please help me turn idea to reality”….

      • Lisa

        There used to be a show on TLC like this when I was a teenager. They’d have these guys who wanted to propose, and the show would help them figure out a way to make the proposal happen. I distinctly remember one where the guy’s girlfriend was a hand model so they set up a fake modelling shoot and had her model the engagement ring.

        • LJ

          See, like some of that is cute – if the guy/girl has an idea that they just don’t have the skills to implement then it shows that they value the experience and want it to be amazing. But if they’re effectively contracting it out, different situation.

          • Lisa

            Finally found it! It’s called Perfect Proposal, and there are still old episodes on the network’s web-site. Most of them were over-the-top public proposal, but there were some that were more intimate surprises.

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          I hope she said yes, cuz otherwise he’s embarrassed and she’s bummed she didn’t take that other job that actually paid.

  • Megan

    I was ADAMANT that I not be proposed to in public. I had said millions of times that if I was proposed to in public I would say ‘no’ on principle alone. However, when the time came, one could say that I was proposed to ‘in public’ (outdoors, public space) and I did say yes. 

    Our proposal was at our college where we met. I was sent on a scavenger hunt through the campus to different places that had meaning to us as a couple and the final destination was a spot where, according to campus legend, if you kiss someone there you will marry them. So when I knew that was the final spot I knew exactly what was happening. Classes were in session (although it was as weekend so there were fewer people out) so it was ‘public’ in the broadest sense but it was a private moment that didn’t require others to interact with us at all. My sister was hiding across the street taking pictures of the proposal and I love looking at three she got during the proposal where a couple of students walk by, realized what’s happening, and then get really excited and point and smile as they continue on their way. I didn’t notice them in the moment but I loved seeing it after the fact.

    • Jess

      Random fact, I believe R went to the same college as you. Is there also a seal nobody can step on?

      • Megan

        Um, I don’t remember that? I went to school outside of Boston. But not THAT school outside of Boston.

        • Jess

          AH! then there are two schools with locations for kissing your future spouse!

          • Lisa

            I was wondering if it was my school at first and then decided that this must be a tradition on lots of college campuses! There was definitely a spot at my university as well. :)

          • Mary Jo TC

            Maybe 3? Unless one of you is thinking about Centre College in KY? That’s where I went, and where I met my husband. We have the Centre seal that no one can step on and if you kiss on it you’re going to get married. We kissed on the seal almost 10 years ago on our first Homecoming weekend after we graduated.

          • Jess

            WHOA. Three colleges!

          • Yup there was one at my school too. Actually, I think there were two spots-sort-of? One was a spot where you would get married if you kissed on, and the other was that you would get married if you went on a walk around the lakes together. There were a lot of marriage places on my campus apparently.

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    Ours was at home, in our living room, but on a night we had a whole bunch of friends over. PADude is a really private guy, so it was public enough to have been out of the ordinary for him to have chosen that moment, but also really intimate and meaningful because we were surrounded by people we loved, including some really dear friends. (He had told nobody he planned to propose that night, and I had absolutely no idea it was going to happen, so we didn’t have quite everyone we would have liked, but it’s not like they knew what they were going to be missing.) We had already also been together for over 5 years, and had plenty of conversations about where we saw our relationship going/if we get married/when we get married. He was clearly nervous, but when we talked about it later, he said he had no question that I would say yes, because we’d already made it clear that we wanted to get married eventually.

    • Ashlah

      Oh yeah, even though we’d talked about it a ton, my husband was still nervous enough that I knew what was happening way before he said anything.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        I was absolutely flabbergasted. He asked me to come downstairs (in a minute, no, now please) in a tone of voice that made me think maybe a family member had called with bad news or something. Then he started thanking everyone for coming, which was also sort of weird, because everyone’s just hanging around eating pizza and drinking wine, and then he just dropped to a goddamn knee. My jaw actually dropped.

        • Ashlah

          Aaaadorable

  • Kayjayoh

    This. I made it quite clear for a long time that a public proposal would lead to a no, because it would be bro doesn’t know me.

  • Gaby

    As Ashlah said above, our engagement was not a surprise but the proposal was. It was private and at our front door of the home we bought roughly a year before and deeply loved making our own. Our friends have expressed that they wish they had been there for it, and I thought I would have been okay with a semi-public proposal surrounded by loved ones, but the more I think about it the more I’m grateful it was fully private. I was so in shock because I always thought I’d know by his nervousness and I completely had no idea. He waited until we had come home from dinner and our closest friends knew that it was happening but were not around. I think my shock may have made the moment awkward for spectators haha. I was emotional but I remember walking into the home in a daze afterward and proclaiming loudly, “Today is March 11th,” so that I could commit it to memory. I’m easy to cry and it took me about 15 minutes to finally get past the shock and tear up.

  • JC

    I’ve been shocked by The Opinions I’ve heard surrounding this and related topics. I don’t know anyone who is super gung-ho about public proposals, but my parents had never spoken of getting married before my dad proposed, and they were really confused when I told them my boyfriend and I talked about marriage frequently but we aren’t planning on getting engaged yet. A friend of boyfriend’s family proposed to his girlfriend while surrounded by HIS entire family, and she said no. Boyfriend’s family was very disapproving that he had been slighted by his ungrateful girlfriend, and I cheered, “Good for her!” I felt like no one should get to pressure this woman into a marriage that she hadn’t ever even discussed. But then again, my boyfriend’s brother and brother’s girlfriend have been ring shopping and telling the whole world about it, when I would rather keep that information to myself. I’m still firmly in camp No Public Proposals and camp Lots of Conversations First, but there are so many other factors!

  • Amanda

    Absolutely know your audience! I agree that huge flash mob proposals are terrible, but sometimes public proposals can be sweet – like mine was. My now-husband knew me well enough to know that I like some public attention, so he did it at an ice-skating rink (where we had one of our very first dates). I think he was hoping that there would be enough people that we would be obscured, but it turned out to happen at the beginning of the worst ice-storm we’ve had in years, so there were so few people there that it was nearly private (as in, 10 other people around plus the photographer he hired and the people working at the ice rink). He didn’t demand everyone’s attention, just quietly got down on one knee. Afterwards, it was really sweet with the few people around congratulating us and getting to share our joy with a few others. We’d also been dating for 4 yrs and living together for 3 yrs, we’d discussed getting married a TON, and I designed the engagement ring myself…so on his end, there was a really good chance I was going to say yes.

  • Kaitlyn

    Ah this is perfect timing because I GOT ENGAGED LAST WEEKEND. And I’m having a lot of feelings about the proposal and now I am going to share them with all of you internet strangers.

    To preface, I told my FIANCE (sorry, love using that word hahaha) that I only wanted it to be the two of us. No way in hell was he to do it in front of my family because as much as I love them, they would ruin the moment. And as much as I love his family, I feel like I wouldn’t be able to have a genuine reaction. Also, I always envisioned a slightly grandiose proposal. Think on a sailboat in the Boston harbor at sunset with the captain bringing out champagne afterwards. I did not have this happen to me and I feel like a complete and utter asshole for my actual reaction.

    So I knew it was coming and was slightly disappointed by this fact, as my fiance told me to get my nails done. I am very grateful he told me to get my nails done, but slightly disappointed that it gave away his intentions. In my mind, I thought it was going to be Sunday, the 18th and picked out a cute outfit and the whole nine yards.

    We were celebrating his birthday Saturday, the 17th (his bday is the 16th and we went to the Sox game, told him no way in hell to propose on the jumbotron hahaha) by going for a little hike at Blue Hills (for you Boston peeps), getting massages, and going out to dinner with his friend. I did not want to go to Blue Hills that morning as I did not feel good AT ALL. He offered to let us stay home at least three times, but I figured I had to go as it was his birthday and it’s not really a hard or long hike. He was super chipper, but I didn’t think anything about it. He also didn’t give me any indication whatsoever as we were walking.

    Eventually we stopped at a spot where you could see both Boston and the ocean. He was like, “Oh let’s take a pic” and I went to go pull out the selfie stick and set up my phone. And then he started saying something and I thought, “You’re not going to propose here are you?!” Honestly, I was horrified. It wasn’t my boat at sunset, Blue Hills is cool, but not my favorite place, I was not wearing my cute outfit and hadn’t even showered, etc.

    So he says this little haiku that ended with “I have a question for you” and again, cuz I was being an asshole, I wasn’t happy because where was my romantic speech? And then someone WALKED BY. So we basically had to wait for him to ask the “Will you marry me part” as this person took FOREVER to walk by. So then he starts this haiku again, gets down on one knee, pulls out the ring, and asked me to marry him. I said yes (obviously) and then he pulled out a Sam Adams beer because our first date was at the brewery (that was actually my favorite part haha).

    Anyway, I feel like such a jerk for my initial reaction. I don’t want to remember my proposal as being a jerk who was horrified when her boyfriend started proposing (granted, the not feeling good thing put me in a mood, so part of this reaction was probably the mood). When I started asking him about the logic of proposing there, he said he wanted us to be able to see Boston as he did it as that’s where we met and had all of our first dates, etc.

    So I do love the story, as he really was so thoughtful about it by including our beloved Boston and Sam Adams. I just wish my reaction back then was better. He didn’t say anything about me reacting negatively so I don’t think he realized my feelings in the moment. I was definitely shocked so I didn’t cry when I saw him down on one knee (though now I’m getting teary thinking about it haha). And once I put the ring on and fully appreciated what just happened, I jumped up and down and hugged him. And I did cry when I called my mom to tell her haha

    That was a doozy, but there is my proposal story and all my complicated feelings around it (though they’re getting less complicated as the week goes on and are replaced by complete elation and stress, but I’ll save that for Happy Hour haha).

    • Lisa

      It’s totally ok to have mixed feelings about the proposal! Especially only a week after.

      Another friend of mine was also kind of a jerk to her now-husband during his proposal. He’d always joked that he wouldn’t be able to afford a real ring because he was a poor med student so, when he proposed, he initially did it with a ring pop. She was FURIOUS. He then pulled out the real ring, and they laughed about it later. Proposals are never going to be perfect because we’re all human, and if we want surprises, then we also don’t get to plan out every detail.

      Congratulations on your engagement! I’m sure you’ll eventually sift your way through the feelings once you’ve put some distance between you and the event.

      • Kaitlyn

        I think the distance is a good point. Also, my fiance did buy a Ring Pop like a year ago and talked about proposing with it. I told him yes, that’s funny, but if he did that for real, I’d be mad hahaha

    • I think these feelings are fairly common. Your best bet, especially since your fiance doesn’t think you were a jerk, is to reframe the story for yourself. “I wasn’t feeling well, and so when he got down on one knee I was a bit confused, even though I think I knew it was coming. And once I put the ring on and fully appreciated what just happened, I jumped up and down and hugged him.”

      Proposals cause mixed feelings. Weddings cause mixed feelings. Life causes mixed feelings. If you work on the story you tell yourself and others, it will help.

      Congrats :)

      • Kaitlyn

        I think the reframing thing is definitely what I’m going to do, thanks! :)

      • joanna b.n.

        Yes, and nerves don’t help some of us who have “ideas” about how things should go…. which may have led you to be even more annoyed because on some level you were just nervous/excited?

    • Jess

      Aw, congratulations!

      It’s totally ok to have mixed feelings about your proposal – especially when you had a preconceived notion of what you wanted. There are lots of APW stories of people getting proposed to in very funny, awkward, or uncomfortable moments (including, I think, at least one where the couple had just been fighting). If those stories make you feel better, there was a whole open thread of them sometime last year.

      I think you’ll find that eventually your disappointment will either fade or just become a funny part of the story (and then, I said, “You are NOT proposing here!” because I’m such a klutz/I was in such shock/whatever lightens your mood).

      The nice part is that you get to pick the parts you tell people. I don’t tell people about the fact that I had snot running down my face because both of us got really bad colds that week, or that I rolled my ankle on the hike back because I was too excited to look at the trail, or that I made R tell me what he said again because I was too emotional to remember a single word.

      I just tell them the parts that make a good, romantic story, which is what it was.

      • Kaitlyn

        I would totally tell the ankle rolling bit since I think that’s so cute haha I almost had the same problem hahaha

        Thanks for the input :)

        • Jess

          I include the other funny moment, where I just wanted to give R a hug, and he actually had to ask me to just look at the damn ring.

          • Kaitlyn

            Haha I love that!

      • Her Lindsayship

        “I made R tell me what he said again because I was too emotional to remember a single word.” I wish I had done this – I have not a clue what my fiancé said when he proposed. I might as well have blacked out, it’s just gone. Maybe he remembers…

        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          Yeah, I don’t remember what he said either. I was too surprised by what was happening to hit the mental record button.

        • Ashlah

          Same. I’ve got nothing.

    • Mary Jo TC

      You are not alone! I think there are several stories like yours on APW and other places. I also felt disappointed in my proposal and was way more of a jerk than you on the night it happened. Like, I cried and he got upset and offered to re-do it. I was disappointed because 1) the ring didn’t fit. I knew it wouldn’t because I found it 3 months (3 MONTHS!) earlier and told him my ring size and he didn’t even check it or change it in that time. The ring still doesn’t fit. It has an extender inside it because my fingers are tiny. And 2) his little (like 2-3 sentence) speech was all about HIM and HIM finally being ready, instead of about US and our future or about me and how much he loved me. The disappointment does fade, and you can choose to cling to the happier parts of the memory. You definitely do not have to tell any part of the story you don’t like to anyone you don’t want to.

      • Kaitlyn

        This definitely makes me feel better. I was also super disappointed that we were still going out to dinner with his friend and not a fancy dinner, but again, I was being a jerk haha I kinda wish he did it the next day when I was in a better mood, but I know then I would have been mad that I figured it out so I figure either way, I wasn’t going to be super happy with it haha And we did go out to a fancy dinner on Monday and got free fancy champagne :)

        I’m glad to hear that the disappointment fades, I think not focusing on it will help it go away.

        • jspe

          I’d also suggest that it’s not too late to do the things that would be meaningful! “Hey fiance, I’d like to go out to a nice dinner to celebrate our engagement.” The “we just got engaged” window is longer than you think – people love this stuff, and if you went out to a restaurant and wanted to get some special treatment I’m certain they would deliver. It’s part of reframing the story. (see also: honeymoons. Thanks for the free drink tickets on our flight, United!)

    • jspe

      I literally said to my now wife “are you proposing to me right now?”. I’m fairly certain there was a thread at some point of all of the weird reactions people have had being proposed to. It’s a weird experience (especially for those of us with strong ideas about how things happen). I wish to go back to that spot and take it back. Thankfully, she was good humored, and we have our whole lives together to continue the work of being kind and generous to our partners, and finding the joy in moments that aren’t what we expect.

    • emilyg25

      Haha, I think that’s adorable. And a good lesson that you can’t plan everything! I also gave my husband a hard time when we got engaged! He had been away on a long business trip and we were lying in bed in the morning having a good long catch up. He got up and left the room and I was like, “Dude, we were in the middle of talking! Where the fuck are you going???” Um, to get a ring dummy!

      • Kaitlyn

        Haha I told myself the planning thing too. I’m definitely a planner and knew I’d be mad if I did dictate a proposal and it happened, cuz where’s the fun in that? haha

        • Michela

          My husband told me the morning of our proposal, “can you please be cooperative today?” I was pretty sure I knew what was happening, but we were also in Manhattan so I figured he just wanted me to enjoy the day without dictating everything. I totally understand the impulse to direct everything, so you are not alone!xo

    • Her Lindsayship

      You’ve already gotten a lot of great responses, but just wanted to add that with time, your proposal moment will be special in your memory *because it was the proposal moment*! Other moments might end up having the same or even more significance in your memory. Just because society agrees upon a few moments as the most important doesn’t mean that’s how every relationship actually plays out, and that’s really the beauty of it. :)

      For me, the night my fiancé proposed is very special to me, and it was romantic, but it wasn’t our most romantic moment ever. I think for both of us that title goes to the moment we reunited while I was in the midst of a 6-month internship in Germany. He walked up from the train platform in the small town I was living in at the time, we hadn’t seen each other in person for the last four months or so, it was like 6am and we were both so nervous, but as soon as our eyes met it was pure magic. It still gives me chills. While it’s totally ok and normal to feel weird about the proposal, I think in the long run you’ll appreciate it for what it was: one of many great moments in your relationship.

    • notmyfinestmoment

      First of all – congratulations! Secondly – I feel you. I didn’t have a specific proposal fantasy in mind but I imagined it would be somewhere special, probably away from home, and with a sense of occasion. One night about a month before our third anniversary I arrived at his place weary and dusty from half a day spent cleaning my apartment because I was about to put it on the market. It was a Saturday evening and we had vague plans for takeaway together at home but when I arrived he suggested heading to the beach for a picnic. This was something we did often so I didn’t think much of it at first, I desperately wanted a shower and to get changed if we were heading out but the light was fading and the weather looked like it would turn any minute and he seemed a bit impatient and a bit strange which made me suspect something might be up. I have a history of ruining moments (or expecting too much from them) and I didn’t want to mess up whatever he had planned so I threw on a hoodie he gave me and headed off dusty hair and all. It was far too windy at our usual haunt which was high up, overlooking the beach so he drove us to a park nearby that I’d never been to before and as we hauled the picnic stuff out of the car I felt a few raindrops and a cold breeze. ‘Oh bless them for stubbornly picknicking in inclement weather’. I was definitely having ugly ‘not like this’ feelings by then but I stuffed them down because I didn’t want to ruin anything and I know my obsession with perfect weather for occasions is not my finest quality. We ate fancy deli goods and drank wine and he was saying mushy things which confirmed my suspicions. Then he suggested we head back to ‘the spot’ overlooking the beach for dessert, although the weather hadn’t improved a jot. When we got there he started pulling things out of the last picnic bag, saying – ‘there are a few choices for dessert, you can have strawberries, or chocolate, or baklava, or … this …’ the last item was a boxed ring. He made a little speech and I said yes and we kissed and he had to ask again if I’d said yes and I couldn’t remember what he said in his speech so we must have both been flooded with emotions despite my weather fixation(!) It started raining properly once we got back in the car and headed home and I did a lot of silent ring staring, processing. He had a mini bottle of fancy champagne ready at home, which we drank from wine glasses, and all his intentions and planning were so sweet that I didn’t want to say anything – ever, and haven’t! – but I couldn’t help but think, ‘what was his hurry?’ Why couldn’t he have waited a few weeks til our anniversary when I was dressed up, or at least fit to leave the house?(!) Or even just waited for a nice day?? I felt so petty thinking this and still do, but when you want milestones and moments to be perfect you put so much weight on them and it can be hard to talk yourself out of it with logic. It probably didn’t help that he wanted us to call our families and his bestie as soon as the champagne was poured and I would have liked to be in a bubble for a few days (or at least a few hours). We didn’t know this then but wedding planning would turn out to be a nightmare for me, and my family turned a bit crazy and unreasonable during the process, and even though it ended up being an amazing day (I was on a high for days afterwards, but if you had months of drama and tears and family behaving badly, when you thought they just be 100% delighted, it’s hard for even one amazing, beautiful day to eclipse all of that and I found that once the wedding high wore off I started having stronger memories of all the arguments and drama – after all, they lasted longer! – which just makes me wish we’d stayed secretly engaged for longer, or had a more perfect moment to get there. I’m going off on tangents now but just wanted to say that even if our stories are different, I get it! And reframing is hard for me, because you can’t rewrite history or relive it, no matter what you tell yourself? Don’t get me wrong, I applaud it and think it’s healthy! I’m just not that great at it …

    • Shorty220

      I got engaged the same day as you! I had a similar internal reaction. We were hiking and had passed all these gorgeous spots, and then the spot where he proposed was nice but not quite as pretty as the others. There was no heartfelt declaration of his love, no meaningful food/drink, etc. He didn’t even plan ahead to make sure we had a phone/camera with us (we don’t always when we’re hiking) but thankfully I had my phone. I remember during the moment I felt a little disappointment…. THIS is what I’ve been so excited about?!?

      Now that I’ve had several days to let everything sink in, my disappointment has nearly disappeared. He didn’t pick the prettiest spot, but it was still really pretty and it was incredibly private. He knew it was important to me that there not be people around, so yay for nailing that! This was the first time we’d been to that particular trail so he had no way of knowing which spot was “best” and all things considered he picked a pretty good spot. As for the lack of a “speech,” I should have seen it coming. He’s just like that… not the most romantic. BUT– he was really, really excited! He had just gotten the ring and couldn’t wait to propose so he did it as soon as reasonably possible. Looking back on it now I think he did everything just right. :)

      • Kaitlyn

        1. CONGRATS! 2. Love that we both had hiking proposals on the same day, what are the odds hahaha 3. I agree! Now that I’m at almost a week, I realize how perfect it really was. And my guy had been so romantic for the whole week leading up to it (especially the day before) so I consider that my “speech”. And he was the same with the ring. He got it Friday and wanted to propose as soon as possible haha Enjoy your engagement :)

  • Vanessa

    “3. They’re making up for something: I think a hard truth is that generally, the more over-the-top the proposal, the more one or both of you is making up for something that’s lacking in the relationship. Sorry for that dose of #realtalk, but it might be helpful.”

    Enh, really? This feels like all of the internet advice telling people that you have to have a small wedding for it to be meaningful, no you have to have a large wedding, no you have to have a wedding with all of your family in your hometown no you have to have an expensive wedding full of meaningful details about you no you have to have a super frugal wedding or clearly you’ve sold out to the WIC etc :/

    • Jess

      Yeah, I mean, I liken it to people who post a lot on social media vs people who don’t.

      Some people really do just like to have their moments acknowledged by others and want to be at the center of attention. This isn’t necessarily a moral quality, but just a preference.

      It can seem attention-grabby to people who don’t like that kind of attention, like me, but if both people really like it? Go for your flash mob and live your life.

    • Jsk

      Right? The tone of this piece hit me as pretty judgey. Disappointing for a site that usually trends more “you do you.”

      • laddibugg

        I knew who right this before I looked at the author. She seems to write more ‘judgey’ type pieces.

  • Eenie

    I have to disagree about April’s proposal! It was absolutely perfect for how she was when she was with Matthew. She seems like the type of person that would love that over the top proposal too (she’s never straight up asked, so I can’t say for sure). I love all the grey’s proposals!

  • emilyofnewmoon

    I got engaged this week so this article is extra speaking to me! It was in our own home and involved us and our pet. It was a surprise (although I knew it was coming) and we celebrated publicly later in the day at the restaurant my fiance used to work at where we were sure to run into friends and get a steep discount (what can I say, a perfect excuse for a cheap delicious meal). He is a little more outgoing than I am and I made it very clear that any flash mob, or even friends/family around, was not interesting to me. I was always going to say yes but the pressure of having to make the right face or something in front of other people would be so uncomfortable for me. Performing love is so much harder than just being in love, even though being in love isn’t as interesting to look at.

    • Jess

      “Performing love is so much harder than just being in love” <- this!!

      And congratulations!!

      • emilyofnewmoon

        Thank you! <3

  • Arie

    I would like to read the Derek-hating piece, please!

    • JAS

      I would as well, since I *totally* thought I was the only one!

  • Cdn icecube

    I’m curious if people think that there is a certain point where proposals become too limiting. Ie. I’ve told my manfriend that I don’t want the following: a ton of people (family) around, as it makes me uncomfortable, not on a screen of any kind, and not on my birthday/holidays. He says that i’m “taking the fun out of it” and “the proposal isn’t just about you, it’s about us”.. I think he’s being unfair. Thoughts?
    edit: I’ve also said I want to look nice. Not necessarily going to the prom nice, but not PMS-sweatpants with zit cream on my face bad.

    • H

      Yeah, he needs to get over it – those are some pretty basic restrictions! It definitely is about “us” not just you, but “us” includes you, and you don’t want that!

      • Cdn icecube

        Ok thank you! I’ve been stressing over it for a while now and it’s nice to know that I’m not the crazy-demanding-proposal-lady (my words, not his).

    • Lisa

      I don’t think you’ve been too limiting. You’re essentially saying you want a private proposal between the two of you at a time when you can celebrate just your relationship. There’s still a lot of flexibility within those preferences.

      • JC

        And based on what joanna b.n. said above, that might actually give him *more* ideas and confidence about the proposal. It’s no longer “don’t do this” but “we’re going to really celebrate our relationship.”

    • Alex K

      I had basically the same rules and my now husband told me the same thing. He got over it when I re-framed it as him planning a “fun memory for us.” I think he thought of it as a fun surprise for me and he felt like I was demanding/putting conditions on a gift?

      • Janet Hélène

        Reframing is sooo good. #CBT anyone?

    • Jess

      Those are reasonable restrictions. Isn’t there some creative process thing about making things a game by imposing arbitrary restrictions? Tell him you’re just trying to make him more creative.

    • LJ

      “He says that i’m “taking the fun out of it” and “the proposal isn’t just about you, it’s about us”.. I think he’s being unfair. Thoughts?”

      What does HE want? Why not ask him? I’m sure there’s a compromise in there somewhere. Men/fiancés/grooms have a notoriously small say in anything wedding-related and this is the ONE place where men often (although this is changing) get to spearhead it. He possibly sees you as taking away the one part of the wedding that could be his to own and make happen.

      Talk compromise with him.

    • joanna b.n.

      So, another perspective (I heard here on APW sometime ago) is that for guys, sometimes they perceive the proposal as the only thing/part that is “theirs.” Or at least, it’s the part where they get to really create something and communicate it, and they have some ownership over it. Now, I’m not saying the proposal should just be about HIM, but remember that he may be really proud of having this chance to show you how he feels, in his way, so maybe let him have a little more leeway than you might otherwise?

      • CharlotteJ

        This makes so much sense! The other day my boyfriend said to me “The proposal seems more important to me than the wedding!” I was surprised, and not super sure about that…but in this context I see where he’s coming from.

        • joanna b.n.

          Well, and, if you think of the proposal as the time when you both decide to be married, the wedding can in some ways just mark the public pronouncement of something that’s happened already.

          • CharlotteJ

            Exactly! That was definitely his line of thought, and the more I consider it the more I agree. I still want a wedding though ;-)

      • Cdn icecube

        That’s a really good point. He’s said that the only thing he is going to guarantee is that I look nice, which I think is fair.

      • KPM

        Ah, I can see this. After all, it’s about “how did HE propose?” The onus is on the proposer to do it “right” and while right should be what the proposee wants, there is still a lot of pressure involved. Especially if others in their circle are doing things in a more flashy way.

      • Janet Hélène

        Yes! I think that this is actually problematic more so than we typically acknowledge/realize. Shouldn’t the proposal be about both partners? I think that this kind of view, and similar ones like the “wedding is for the bride” actually reinforce a lot of misogyny/sexism in a more ‘positive’ spin. My husband thought of the proposal/ring as his “job” and then was more than happy to bow out of wedding planning. Which didn’t happen since I was in India for 8 weeks prior to our wedding and came back 5 days before, but it was how he initially thought it was going to go :)

    • Janet Hélène

      I think some of those things are fair, because it is a joint thing, so you want to be happy too. But maybe how you are stating your goals/desires is problematic? It is about the two of you, just like a wedding and a marriage also will be. So, I think he has a point.

      Hopefully if he has some sense though, he wouldn’t pick a memorable moment to intentionally include zit cream.

  • When we started seriously talking about getting married, I promised my husband that I would say no if he proposed in a public, embarrassing way, simply to spite him.

    He actually proposed in a sort-of public way, and it was actually the sweetest thing to me. He sent me on a scavenger hunt through the city, and each spot was a place special in our relationship. At each location was one of my friends with a clue to my next stop. The final spot was Loring Park, in downtown Minneapolis. The park has a little lake with a dock, and after all the strangers got off the dock, he got down on one knee and proposed. After the yes and the kissing and hugging, he then informed me to look over at a group of trees, which my friends were hiding behind. And that’s how we ended up surrounded by friends and having an impromptu engagement part right after we got engaged, which is one of my fondest memories.

    • AGCourtney

      Awww. (Also, I used to live a block away from Loring Park! My daughter and I would go there all the time.)

  • Anon

    I want to get engage so badly, but I don’t know how to start that conversation with my partner–or perhaps continue it. We’ve talked about how many kids we’d like together and when, ideal places we’d like to live, time frame for finding that place to live, and finances. We’ve talked a little about marriage–his parents had a messy divorce where money was a huge factor that had long lasting impact on his family. And I told him marriage was something I needed and why. I felt like that conversation ended with us on the same page. That was earlier this year. Since then I have waited–and I don’t know my next step.

    • More communication. Lots more talking. Specifically about timelines and whether marriage is something s/he really wants to do.

    • LJ

      “That was earlier this year”

      Took my fiancé a full 11.5 months from deciding to committing and doing it. I would give it more time and drop more hints as you like, UNLESS there’s a reason for having a wedding soon (e.g. terminally ill family member or something extenuating)

    • Lisa

      Have you talked about a timeline about when you would like to accomplish some of those other milestones (like moving in to the place and having kids) and how long you would like to be married before doing them? I remember talking about it with my husband and saying, “I’d like to start having kids around age 30 and ideally I’d be married for at least a few years before then. That means that I would like to be engaged around the time we finish grad school so that we have time to plan a wedding, be married a few years, and put down permanent roots before kids. I would like to at least be engaged before we move in together.” Talking in concrete numbers made it more real for him.

      (We got engaged the summer after grad school ended and a month before he moved into my apartment.)

    • Katharine Parker

      “I know we’ve talked about marriage in the past. Can we revisit that conversation?” Or, “I’ve been thinking a lot about our discussion of marriage lately. How have you been feeling about that?”

      Then think about what your ideal outcome for that conversation would be – do you have a clear timeline for engagement, marriage, home, kids (in whatever order makes sense to you)? Does it matter to either of you if a proposal is a surprise, or planned specifically by one of you? Does a ring matter – and who would buy it, does that need to be a surprise, are you both exchanging rings, etc.?

      I get what you’re feeling – I don’t care about an elaborate proposal and I would happily get the ring together after the proposal, but buying me a ring and proposing is important to my boyfriend. So I’m waiting on him. (In the scheme of life, I haven’t been waiting that long – but I knew I wanted to marry him after like four months, so it feels like a long time.) I want to be engaged and get married!

    • emilyg25

      “Hey, do you want to get married? Cool, me too. When?”

      But I’m a major talker overer of things.

  • Megan

    My favorite terrible public proposal on TV is Gilmore Girls in the final season (Rory and Logan). Her reaction is exactlyyyy how I would have reacted!

  • JennDee

    As an intense introvert, a public proposal was literally the stuff of my nightmares. My BFF and partner knew me well enough to help one another out–girlfriend setup a last-minute hiking trip and ‘accidentally’ forgot, meanwhile FH was there all decked-out in his hiking gear with our pup in tow. She knew I wanted something private, and he knew I wanted something ‘us,’ so their combined super-brainpower came up with the best plan for us. And now, unbeknown to her, I’m helping BFF”s partner plan his proposal :D Again, something ‘them’ and private.

    I think having one or two people know about the forthcoming proposal is fine, but having a group of people there to witness it? Nah, I’d rather have a box of mosquitoes set loose on my eyeballs, please.

  • My fiance proposed to me in public. At the end of a comedy show we were both part of.
    It was a big grand romantic nonsense, he sang a song in the middle of a stage were we’ve spent hours putting on shows, above a bar that we hang out at nearly every weekend, we were dressed like Harley Quinn & the Joker, all our friends & family were there. There is a video from a couple different perspectives because his friend who does video editing brought cameras & set them up in different spots in the audience. It was pretty great and very personal for us, but he knew 100% that I would love it and also that I would say yes. And we’d already been together for seven years and were already planning to spend our lives together.
    So I totally get where this article is coming from. But also I wouldn’t change a thing.

  • Lil Hana

    I was also proposed to ‘in public’ though definitely not a public proposal. It was in the parking lot at the mall after Batman V Superman, at 2AM. (Trust me, it was more meaningful to the both of us than it sounds.) I had a horrible headache, thanks to the movie, but the proposal saved the night.

    That said, and I’m not sure if it was already said a million times before in the comments, but what really bothers me about the above is the fact that he took a special moment for her and made it about something else. To wit, I presented at my first academic conference this year (yay!) and my FH contemplated proposing on that trip. But, he purposefully waited so I could be excited about something I achieved without it being taken over by the engagement. Personal accomplishments are important too, man!

  • sofar

    Normally I am a GIANT wedding/proposal cynic, but…

    … how are we defining “public?” Like, are proposals in a park OK? Proposals on a college campus? Proposal in the coffee shop where you met? Technically, these are all public spots. Although I see a ton of comments saying, “I hate public proposals. My fiance proposed to me at [public place], and it was great!” Or do we only consider “public” as “public spectacle.” And how do we define that?

    I mean, I got proposed to in a national park. A few other strangers were present and clapped. But, do we call that “public,” for proposal-shaming purposes?

    I also know a couple whose proposal went viral. It was a big, themed performance-art thing. Because the theme was something the bride was a fan of. It was beautiful. Strangers got in on the action and posted their own videos (we are still finding them on YouTube) because it was fun.

    I know a guy who proposed to his boyfriend at a poetry slam. His poem turned into a proposal. I thought it was rad.

    Just my long-winded way of saying there’s a difference between saying, “I wouldn’t want a public proposal and people should do their homework before doing on” and “nobody should do public proposals, and they’re making up for something.” This post crosses that line a bit, I feel, even with the “do what makes your partner happy and make sure you know what makes your partner happy” disclaimer.

    Anyway, here’s a blog on proposal-shaming that I think provides a counter-point more succinctly than what I just wrote: https://crabbybride.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/proposal-shaming/

    • “Public” for public proposal shaming purposes = More public than the recipient of the proposal wants it to be.

      ???

      • sofar

        Sorry, I re-wrote that part! What I meant was, “How do we define “public,” so we can accurately shame the person who dared to propose “in public.”?

    • LJ

      “Just my long-winded way of saying there’s a difference between saying, “I wouldn’t want a public proposal and people should do their homework before doing on” and “nobody should do public proposals, and they’re making up for something.” This post crosses that line a bit, I feel, even with the “do what makes your partner happy and make sure you know what makes your partner happy” disclaimer.”

      Hear hear.

    • Jess

      I agree with you – I think public is different than private in a public space is different than private in a room by yourselves. To me, public is performative – you are doing something in a way that causes lots of attention to be on you.

      I also (I talked about this in more depth below) don’t find that there needs to be a value judgement about which is better. I’m not in for shaming other people for how they like to experience large moments in their life.

      • Bethany

        “public is performative” – this is how I interpreted the word public in the post. I don’t think it’s meant to say never get married in a public space (like a park, restaurant, etc), just that big performances in front of lots of people is maybe not the best.

        Unless you know your partner would love that. In which case, go for it.

        • Lisa

          Could also be that the type of woman who comments on a feminist wedding blog is also the the type who doesn’t typically want a public/performative proposal. I suppose we’ll never know!

    • JC

      We had a mini-discussion once where we defined “public proposal” as one where there were people around *expecting* to see the proposal and/or passersby who would drop everything to watch us. Airports fit that definition. So do public parks in large open spaces. All sports stadiums, and yeah, I would count a poetry slam even though that sounds delightful. However, it is also possible to be in a public place, like a park or a coffee shop, and now actually make a public proposal, because others don’t drop everything and come running. This also has to do with delivery, since getting down on one knee is a pretty sure sign that something is up.

      • Ashlah

        Sort of an aside, but some people get SO weird about the down on one knee thing. It was literally the first thing my mom asked me (“Did he get down on one knee? Good!”) when I told her we were engaged. As though it wouldn’t have been a real proposal otherwise? Maybe my mom is an outlier.

        • LadyMe

          We both insisted on no one-knee because it would have made him feel awkward to do and me awkward to watch! Where does the one-knee thing even come from anyways?

          • …why do people kneel in church? …why do people kneel when begging for mercy? …why do people kneel before royalty?
            Ball ’em all up together and maybe somewhere in there you’ll get an answer!

        • JC

          I don’t really care one way or the other, but my favorite proposal in the history of the movies is from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and they’re lying in bed together.

          • toomanybooks

            I watched that with my Greek family and my grandmother jovially commented “well they have to get married now!” since they were in bed at the time. Hah.

        • Eenie

          I really didn’t want my husband down on one knee when he proposed, so I made him stand up before I answered. It’s just such a weird power dynamic and I should have told him this before hand.

        • Michela

          Ha! My husband proposed on a row boat in the middle of Central Park. He stood up in the boat till he found his balance and then said, “do you want to stand?” I had no idea what he was doing and I wasn’t about to fall over into the October-temp waters so I said “no…”. He got down on one knee in the boat, but we were eye-to-eye since I was sitting. It ended up being a great compromise, though I also don’t understand everyone’s preoccupation with kneeling.

      • sofar

        “We had a mini-discussion once where we defined “public proposal” as one where there were people around *expecting* to see the proposal and/or passersby who would drop everything to watch us. ”

        I think that’s a super fair definition! My issue with the article was that the author seemed to define “public” as “anything that makes me go ‘eeeew.'”

        For the record, I actually like public proposals that would make me drop everything, since happiness brightens my day.

    • Kelly

      Agreed. Also how many people have control over how they receive their proposal? Feels a little shamey towards people who have had said public proposal

    • toomanybooks

      I initially read “a national park” as “Nationals Park” (I live in DC) and thought “whoooaaaa, stadium proposal! The most Public Proposal of all!” lol

  • Abbey

    I’m always confused in these discussions by the need for the pre-proposal conversations to be really vague and indirect–why do we as a culture think it’s romantic to have the decision to get married (and/or the timeline on which it happens) be a surprise to one of the people? Or are people worried that if they talk explicitly about getting married they’ll like accidentally propose and ruin the possibility of a romantic proposal?

    My partner and I had a no surprise proposals ground rule from the beginning, and then had a bunch of conversations over months, checking in with whether we were ready, and talking about what our expectations were for a proposal. Public proposals were out, because obviously, but otherwise we had different ideas of what made us feel loved–he didn’t want to be proposed to at home, because that was not bringing it enough, or a restaurant because it wasn’t private enough, while I didn’t mind either of those places and just wanted something planned, because it makes me feel loved when he puts thought into something when I’m not there.

    I proposed to him in February at the World’s Fair grounds in Flushing Meadows–for anyone marrying a classicist, there’s a Roman column there from the Jordanian pavilion that is the only Roman ruin in New York! He’s going to propose back at some point. We had already decided to get married, though–the proposal was just a nice thing to do for him, and the official kickoff for telling our families and wedding planning.

    My point is–talking about marriage is romantic. Way more romantic than surprise. More talking for everyone!

    • LadyMe

      Yeah, we scheduled our proposal like 4-6 weeks before we actually did it. We had a timeline and picked out a restaurant and everything. We are very much over-thinkers, -talkers, and -planners.

      And you’d think the “ok let’s schedule it” was actually the proposal moment, but we had been talking about it and moving into it for a year or two at the point and it was so gradual and thorough that I can’t pick a single moment and say that’s when.

    • EF

      totally agree. my partner wanted to have a proposal, and i *hate* surprises…but i’m ok with planned surprises? so we were going away for a weekend to a new place *anyway* and we decided, somewhere during this 3 day period, we will decide on the right place and right time. and it worked out rather well that way!

      • Eh

        I hate surprises. The proposal was the only time my husband has been able to really surprise me. I knew he was probably going to proposal sometime in the next two months. It was driving me a bit batty but I had no clue that he was going to propose until he pulled out the ring.

    • Janet Hélène

      Haha I totally agree! I know a lot of people too who had these conversations prior to being engaged, way more than those who had more ‘surprise’ proposals. However, a lot of my friends weren’t super open about the fact that they had talked about it as a couple, and it was only casually in conversation later that I found out there had been a conversation, or usually, a series of conversations about engagement/marriage/proposals. One friend gave her fiance an heirloom ring she wanted and told him an ideal time period.

      Personally, my partner and I came to the decision to get married over a series of months of tough conversations together, and planned most of the big wedding things before he ‘proposed.’ My mum’s reaction to our proposal (i.e. the day I got the ring and he “officially” asked) was a giant laugh.

      I decided about halfway through our non-engagement-engagment period that eff this, we are getting married, and I am going to talk openly about this to anyone who is asking rather than keeping secrets, and using this as an opportunity to spread the feminism.

      Lots of convos that went like this:
      “What did you do on your weekend?”
      “Oh, we looked at a bunch of banquet halls.”
      “Weird, why?”
      “For our wedding.”
      “YOU ARE ENGAGED?”
      “Yes, we decided to get married.”
      “Let me see the ring!”
      “We haven’t decided on one that we mutually agree upon yet.”
      “Oh. How did he propose?”
      “We had a date in a coffee shop to decide whether we would get married in the next year, and we decided that we would like to.”
      “Oh. That’s unusual.”
      “Yes, well it is a decision that affects both of us, and so we thought it would make more sense to talk about it together. Rather than leaving all the pressure and responsibility on him for my future, I thought that I should have an equal say in it, don’t you think?”
      “…..”

    • emilyg25

      We had been talking about getting married for months before, and in fact had made a bunch of decisions about how we wanted our wedding to be. We had very much decided together to get married. And the proposal was still a surprise!

    • Michela

      I didn’t know the specifics of our proposal, but I knew it was happening. We also got engaged a month after booking our venue, so I’m definitely with you on this one!

  • anon

    urgh, public proposals. I’m in a hobby that involves a lot of large photoshoots with lots of strangers involved, and for around a year of so there was a RASH of public proposals happening at these things. not only was it SUPER putting the person on the spot, but it meant the entire photoshoot would get interrupted, schedule thrown off, etc. once there were two proposals on the same day, just different shoots.
    it didn’t help that most of these kids were between 16-20, so the likelihood that they were actually serious about it was… questionable.

    • LJ

      :| I couldn’t even commit to a rental lease, let alone marriage, at that age.

  • joanna b.n.

    Ha, good topic… but I do have fighting words, just to say – I can’t get on board with the heavy judgment in this:
    “generally, the more over-the-top the proposal, the more one or both of you is making up for something that’s lacking in the relationship.”

    I don’t think the author is truly suggesting that the fact that my husband of 7 years (partner of 12) did a huge set of romantic, intimate (and expensive) gestures for his proposal means he was “making up for something.” Right? Just guessing that you were using your words a little glibly. He is someone who shows his love in big moments, but doesn’t shower me with romantic comments every day (anymore). And that’s him, and I love him, and I know that his very thoughtful, but also pretty big, proposal was his way of showing me he was all in. Which for me, as someone who was afraid of marriage and had been waiting for a little bit for him to be ready, was so incredibly touching.

    • Janet Hélène

      Thanks for addressing this! Usually APW is so good about non-judgement, but a few sentences here had be scratching my head.

    • stephanie

      I think, for you guys, that’s what works and what you love about him and what you would even expect (and from what it sounds like, what you needed — and he knew that). But I don’t think that it’s true for everyone, especially if a partner does a big, over-the-top proposal and it mortifies the other person, and I wrote it based on the number of times I’ve known people who had huge proposals and who ended their marriages in under 5 years. That’s not you guys, and this isn’t about the people for whom this isn’t true.

      Also for sure, some of this is tongue in cheek or glib. But the point I hoped to make is that if you’re proposing, consider the person you’re proposing to.

  • emmers

    We had the discussion that sporting events jumbo-tron type proposals were not something either of us wanted, and were off the table.

    It didn’t feel like I had a public proposal, but I guess you could say I sort of did, but it was good. My husband proposed to me on Easter, at church, in front of the congregation and my family. But our church is tiny (for a church)– there were maybe 40 people there? And they’d also supported us through some crappy circumstances, so I thought it was beautiful. It also wasn’t a true surprise– the venue was a surprise, but I knew he’d bought a ring.

    So I guess, like everything else, it just depends!

    • Amy March

      Oh, I think that is for sure a public proposal! And it sounds absolutely lovely and like you fall into the “if you 100% know they will love it” exception.

  • ep

    Did anyone else think about Lindy West’s proposal when reading this? I’m not sure where I first heard about it, but I think it was either on an episode of This American Life or when I read her wedding on APW (https://apracticalwedding.com/2015/12/lindy-west-wedding/). She drunkenly told her boyfriend that she wanted a big, grand, spectacle of a proposal, because after years of being bodyshamed by previous boyfriends, she wanted to feel like she was a prize. “A public proposal to a publicly valued body might be personally significant, but culturally it shifts nothing. A public proposal to a publicly reviled body is a political statement.” (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jul/21/my-wedding-perfect-fat-woman)

    I think that’s a really interesting perspective, and it resonates with me as a plus-size woman who has also been bodyshamed in previous relationships, and is currenly in a relationship with an average-sized man. I’m already engaged (I proposed to my partner privately), but it is definitely shaping my perspective in wedding plans going forward.

    • Greta

      yes, I thought of this too! Love Lindy West!

    • JC

      Yes! That is such an interesting perspective to bring up. Lindy’s argument was that the proposal should be *about her*, in a big, unapologetic way, because so many men she had been with were ashamed of her, she wanted to reclaim the worth of her relationship in public. I love that. Where I cringe is when the public proposal isn’t really about the woman or her relationship– it’s all about the person proposing, the public pressure to say yes, etc. And often such public proposals actively devalue the women being proposed to– like the Olympic diver who was receiving a silver medal that she earned all by her damn self.

      • Janet Hélène

        But shouldn’t the proposal be about both partners? Not just the one being proposed to (i.e. typically female)?

        I think that this kind of view, and similar ones like the “wedding is for the bride” actually reinforce a lot of misogyny/sexism in a more ‘positive’ spin.

        • JC

          In my relationship, yes, but Lindy West has a really specific argument about her relationship and its public persona, and it bears reading/listening to her words rather than mine.

          • Janet Hélène

            Sorry, realized that this came off as being directed towards you b/c of how I replied. I was trying to comment on the general idea in this thread/post.

          • JC

            Thanks. And to your second point, I agree! I’ve enjoyed the (few) insights I’ve gotten into how my boyfriend envisions our proposal/engagement, since his perspective and socialization is so different from my own.

  • Leela

    I proposed to my husband. People get very caught up in this point. They never ask about where we were (on a boat in Maine), or what it was like (awesome) or if anyone cried (both of us). They always ask “but what about the RIIIIIIIIIING?” in a hushed and horrified tone.

    • LJ

      You obviously don’t get one and will be heartbroken and ruined, a middle aged spinster. ;)

      I didn’t have a ring until the second week of my engagement due to the sporadicness of it. People didn’t know what to say because the first question after people hear about being engaged is often “so show me the ring”…..I could feel the judgment from some people who didn’t know me well but still asked.

      • Janet Hélène

        Haha we waited 4 months – I kind of liked it because there was all the initial excitement over engagement, and then again over the ring! We spent those 4 months arguing about what to get. He had STRONG feelings about buying me a ring, whereas I thought the ring from my divorced mom that I really liked was a much better option. He ended up winning and we bought a new ring that I semi-picked out, (I like these three, pick one), but I still like my mom’s :)

      • Lisa

        This is pretty much the same as us! We had gotten the ring re-sized immediately after the engagement, but it ended up being too big. (I’m a 6 1/4, which is an odd size that no one defaults to.) Since the shop had said they’d re-do the sizing if I didn’t like it after a week, we wanted to take it back there to avoid paying again. Problem was, I was leaving the Bay Area, and my husband wasn’t coming home for another 3 weeks. So I wore one of the two other rings I have during that time, and people gave me super judge-y looks when they saw it.

      • Eh

        I actually didn’t tell people that we were engaged for a couple weeks because my ring was being resized. My BIL took one of my sisters rings that he knew fit her ring finger and had it resized right away. For him it was important that it fit right away.

  • ja_lee

    I…had a public proposal. And I am a fairly private person, and I would never have said I wanted a public proposal, but honestly it was sortof amazing.

    We went paddle boating at a local park, and when we got to my favorite spot he got down on one knee (in the boat! this takes balance and was a little scary!) and proposed with a little speech he later told me he had memorized (but had typed up in his pocket too in case he forgot- obviously I have this paper and will keep it forever and sometimes I re-read it just because I can). And then I looked up and saw that nearby, on the bank, was a group of people holding an enormous “will you marry me?” banner and accompanying balloons. I looked closer, and saw it was my mom and a bunch of our mutual friends.

    I sort of knew a proposal was imminent (we picked out the ring together, we had an engaged-by-deadline in mind because of some life event stuff that was upcoming). And it was my birthday weekend, and he had the weekend off which actually never happens. And he was acting super weird that day, so all in all, I knew it was coming. And I was honestly sortof bummed because I’ve always wanted that fun surprise aspect, but thought I’d foreclosed that possibility given our team approach to ring shopping, etc. And then he still totally managed to surprise me in the loveliest way.

    We were in public, but on a boat in a lagoon so nobody was super close by. Nobody could hear his words but me, but afterwards a few random strangers cheered and so did all of our friends and family. Our friends also took some pictures, which I never realized I would want but I actually adore them and have some framed.

    And then we met them all at a restaurant afterward, the restaurant where we had our first date, and had an impromptu engagement party and just rode the buzz of joy for the whole night. Plus he had gotten a birthday cake from my very favorite place and dropped it off at the restaurant earlier that day, so we all had engagement/birthday cake and it was just the best.

    This turned into a novel but I just wanted to chime in and defend public proposals a tiny bit, because mine was way more public than I ever would have wanted but also ended up being perfect. I loved how much thought and planning went into it, and how it was somehow both public and private, and also how having loved ones present meant being able to immediately celebrate with them. It was just so good.

    • gonzalesbeach

      aw this is seriously sweet. I’m feeling like you in that I don’t want a public/friends and family involved proposal but this is just such a nice mix of private-time in the boat plus celebration with those you love :)

    • Michela

      My husband also proposed in a row boat and got down on one knee. He stood up first to check his balance because you’re right- it’s tricky! It was super romantic and what I loved most about it was that we were in our favorite place on Earth (Central Park) but essentially alone in the middle of the lake. It sounds like you had a similarly beautiful experience.xo

  • Robbin Zirkle

    Like many others, ours was a private-but-in-semi-public place. While we were on a trip to Easter Island earlier this year (bucket list trip!), my now-fiance proposed while we were hiking the caldera of an extinct volcano. We were some of the only people hiking around that day, and when we stopped at an overlook to take a picture, I turned to look at him, and he was down on one knee. He had waited until we were completely alone to ask me, and I was overheated and sweaty and exhilarated from the climb, and it was perfectly us. That’s what it comes down to: every proposal should fit what the couple is comfortable with.

    • Michela

      That just made me teary-eyed. Congrats!!xo

  • the cupboard under the stairs

    To me, the worst part of a public proposal is that the proposee is the last person to know about his/her own engagement–which runs counter to the idea that a proposal is about two people deciding to commit to each other. I knew from a very early age that I didn’t want a public proposal for this very reason. I hate being the last person to know about anything, let alone something about my own relationship.

    • Michela

      That’s an interesting insight I hadn’t considered.

  • ???

    Did I miss something. This articles says He Zi’s boyfriend proposed AFTER the medal ceremony.

    http://www.nbcolympics.com/news/chinese-diver-he-zi-wins-silver-3m-gold-love-marriage-proposal

    • LJ

      Totally unrelated, I am having to re-read so much of this article due to He also being a pronoun…. e.g. “With a big smile on her face, He covered her mouth ”

      But yeah I agree. It didn’t take over the ceremony by any means.

  • LJ

    My biggest takehome from this whole thing: I have always considered marriage proposals to fall under the dictionary definition of proposal (”
    a plan or suggestion, especially a formal or written one, put forward for consideration or discussion by others.”). This is not common. Most people see proposals as the first ceremony of many (showers, bachelorettes, rehearsal dinners) leading up to the wedding itself. TIL.

  • Natasha Romanova

    Has He Zi spoken out in any way regarding her proposal and her feelings on it, whether negative or positive? I don’t think it’s fair at all to frame her now fiance as simply trying to steal her moment or her spotlight by proposing at the Oylmpics. (Though admittedly I boycott the Olympics and news on all participants for reasons, so I have not googled it.) That might have been her dream proposal, she might have loved it. Of course she might have hated it, too, but unless you know for sure I think we should avoid assuming he was making her moment “about him”.

    • but if she hated it she can’t speak out about it, because she’d be publicly bashing her fiance. if she is going to say something it’ll have to be something nice, because it’s public.

  • Kristina

    I loved our proposal. We had been talking about marriage and proposals for at least two years and we used to joke about awful public proposals (the airport was one that would be awful for me personally). We had bought an antique ring together years before and he knew that I wanted us both to propose to each other and that I liked the idea of on top of Mt. Whitney because I (still) want to climb Mt. Whitney.

    We ended up climbing half dome in Yosemite because I entered us in the lottery on a whim and it was such a huge feat. We were both out of shape and it’s a 5,000 ft. elevation climb over 8-9 miles on the way up. It was amazing to climb side by side talking about everything and urging each other forwards (and also being totally okay and supportive when we had to stop and rest and drink water and eat snacks every 100 ft.) By the time we arrived at sub dome, it was mid-afternoon and storm clouds were coming. We sat watching people go down the cables of half dome in droves (because of the storm clouds) and chatting with two friends we had made on the hike up. When they left to go back down, I turned to him and proposed and he said wait, I think the clouds are going the other direction.

    We ended up climbing the cables and when we got to the top of half dome, we were two of four people up there and it’s huge with expansive views and it was so beautiful. We hugged each other and took photos and talked about how crazy the cables are (for real) and then he said, now would be good. :-) It was exactly what I wanted. We then kept it a secret for over a year because we didn’t know what to plan for a wedding.

    I completely agree that a proposal should reflect how well you know each other and respect for one another’s wishes. I am so glad he knew it was important to me that we propose to each other and I love that he climbed half dome with me because I wanted to. It felt like such a reflection of the love and support and sense of adventure in our relationship. And I also loved that I asked for what I wanted.

  • AGCourtney

    We’re one of those “boring” couples that got engaged via discussions, no ring. But weeks later, I saw through online tracking that the ring arrived the day before we were going to the Renaissance Festival, and I was petrified he was going to wait and do a public “proposal” there. I was relieved when I arrived at his house that evening and he nonchalantly passed the ring box to me. He had indeed considered the public proposal, but knew I would hate it. Phew.

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  • Eh

    My husband had many plans to propose, one was public. He was going to take me to a scenic outlook that looks over the river valley we live in. It’s one of my favourite places and it’s gorgeous up there. That didn’t work out for him (we didn’t have time to go there).

    Instead, he proposed in bed. It sounds weird because people make assumptions. He was actually super nervous about proposing (and I had foiled a few of his attempts) and the ring was getting to him. We were lying in bed on a Sunday morning and he covered his head with the quilt because he was so nervous. I made a comment that he was being antisocial so he put the quilt over my head too. We were just talking under the quilt and the light filtering through the window and quilt was very romantic. After a couple minutes he told me to stay under the quilt and he crawled out and went to his dresser and got the ring. After he proposed and I said yes I asked him why he picked that moment and he said “it was just us being us”.

    • Michela

      Stop making me tear up at work!!xo

      • Eh

        Thanks for the sweet reaction! When we were first engaged and telling people, a lot of people couldn’t get past the “in bed” part.

        • Michela

          I think that’s the sweetest part, actually. I can picture it all in my head (in a very non-creepy way) and it just sounds so romantic.

  • Lindsay

    My now husband I met while we were both counselors at a summer camp that we attended as children and worked at for several summers as college students. We had several conversations before the actual proposal went down so we were both on the same page. He planned a weekend trip with our friends back to our camp, and late one night got me away from the group and proposed at my favorite spot in camp under the stars. I love the meaning for us personally. I loved that the actual proposal was so intimate for us, and also that I got to almost immediately celebrate with friends. Personally not a fan of the public proposal. I feel the purpose of one partner asking another to marry them is beginning that journey together as a team, and that team includes just the two of you. Not every person in the ballpark you happen to be sitting in.

  • Michela

    We casually discussed how we’d like to get engaged before we did because both of us knew exactly where we wanted it to happen- serendipitously, it turned out to be the exact same place: Central Park. This is especially crazy when you consider my husband grew up in Europe and I grew up in a hippie town in Ohio.
    I didn’t want the big public thing because I’m a huge introvert, but Central Park is magical for me. My smart dude married (lol) these two similarly competing requests by proposing in a row boat in Central Park in bright October sunshine. It was a private proposal in our most favorite place on Earth. People who were perched on rocks on the shore started clapping when we kissed. We went out to a fancy brunch and drank champagne, and then wandered around NYC for the rest of the weekend. The entire thing was a total dream.

    All of this to say- private public proposals are totally possible!xo

    • Lisa

      …there are hippie towns in Ohio?? The only one I can think of is Oberlin!

      • Michela

        Yellow Springs!!! Way better than Oberlin, please ; )

        • Lisa

          Lol, many of my music friends went to undergrad at Oberlin so I’m acquainted with its hippie ways. (I had never heard of a “freegan” before then…There are crazy people there!)

          • Michela

            I watched a Netflix episode about a freegan. I can’t remember the title of the show but it was something about the world’s cheapest people. It grossed me out so much I had to turn it off halfway. I’m perfectly happy with my Birkenstocks and my incense and my Prius and my Hillary bumper stickers!

          • Lisa

            Out of curiousity, how do the HRC stickers go over at the military base? We had dinner with some friends from my hometown church the other night, and the husband, who is former Army, made a comment about how much Hillary hates the military. It was super awkward.

          • Michela

            Yikes. Technically we aren’t supposed to have bumper stickers, though I think that guidance is more directed towards military because they serve the Commander in Chief regardless of personal politics. Luckily my car has super tinted windows, so I haven’t had an issue. I am, however, getting quite sick of hearing colleagues rage about how Hillary is going to take away all their guns. It makes my blood boil.

    • Lisa

      Sorry, the proposal sounds absolutely lovely, too! That sounds like such fun.

  • NotMotherTheresa

    No judgement either way, but honestly, it just feels like people put way more thought into proposals than they once did (or maybe what I’m observing is just a reflection of getting older, since the people who wait until they’re 30+ to propose are a different bunch than the ones who proposed at 22).
    I don’t think my husband ever really considered whether or not he should propose in public. He just did what every other guy in town did ten years ago–he took me to the local fancy restaurant and proposed there. I’d say that back then, roughly 1/2 of all proposals in our town happened either there or at the other fancy restaurant down the block. It was, essentially, the Marriot Ballroom of proposals.
    Looking back, can I think of more romantic ways to propose? Of course, but still, it’s a nice memory, and it got the job done. I suppose it’s nice that people today are putting more thought into personalizing their proposals, but it also feels like the expectations surrounding them have become a little over the top.

    • LJ

      “but it also feels like the expectations surrounding them have become a little over the top.”
      I am a big proponent of “you do you” but I feel like I am looking into a parallel universe when I read things like “here are my 8 requirements for when you propose”…….like this is the one thing the guy does for you traditionally as part of the wedding process and you’re already cutting away at it, and does the look of the moment REALLY matter so much that you NEED to have a fountain there? Especially since a lot of these people are talking about the desirability of a private ceremony – cool, private is good, but then why do you need all these things? Lavish wedding requirements aren’t for me but I understand – you’re impressing guests. I have a harder time relating to these proposal requirements. I mean, before I read all this page my impression on proposals was “it’s what happens when the guy realizes he wants to make a commitment to the lady” (insert non-heteronormative language as required)…….and after reading all this, I see that everyone who frequents this page sees a proposal as “it’s the first carefully planned ritual of many as we head towards a wedding”….

      me reading the comments on this article was kinda like this: http://24.media.tumblr.com/92c3da1586808fa3ecad27a6e84364fe/tumblr_mrb84arCyY1rs0f5ho1_500.gif

      • Amy March

        So, that’s exactly the problem I have with surprise proposals. I’m not here for outdated sexist traditions where he gets to make all the calls about when, if, and how we get engaged.

        • LJ
        • LJ

          …… your edited response is much more polite and contributory than your original response.

          That’s cool that you have your relationship your way. I’m not even saying I’m against it! I’m saying it’s a different world from what I was raised in. Again, I feel some negative emotions by having an important decision in my life described as sexist/bad feminist. Some decisions aren’t sexist or feminist, they’re just decisions. Let’s try not to label other people’s decisions as wrong unless they directly affect you or are abusive.

          My post above was literally saying “I learned I’m in the minority”… which is good for feminism based on your definition, yeah?

          Also, FUCK the idea that feminism means everyone does it equally/discusses it first. Feminism means we get to choose and don’t get people telling us what we should do as women. My choice was to allow my SO to propose as he wanted. That’s my choice that I get to make and it’s feminist as fuck because I made it.

          • Amy March

            “like this is the one thing the guy does for you traditionally as part of the wedding process and you’re already cutting away at it, and does the look of the moment REALLY matter so much that you NEED to have a fountain there?”

            I’m clearly pushing some sort of button here, but not deliberately. I’m not actually describing your personal situation any sort of way, I’m responding to an idea you brought up, which is also not all happy go lucky judgment free you do you. I even included “surprise me entirely” as a good option! Just not a universal good, and I strongly disagree that making requests about it is wrong or worthy of capsy sarcasm about needing a fountain. If you want to take my comments about the things you say to be personal attacks on your particular situation, go right ahead. They aren’t intended that way.

  • Her Lindsayship

    My fiancé proposed in our apartment, and I’m all for the private proposal. I was such a nervous mess while the whole thing was happening, I think I would’ve maybe had a panic attack if it was also public.

    Cute side note: our landlord and his wife got engaged while living in this apartment. Then they bought another place and started renting this out, to a couple we’re friends with – who also got engaged when they lived here! When we were signing the lease there was a bit of winking and nodding that we just sort of laughed off, and then less than a year later we were engaged. Something in the water maybe?? ;)

    • LJ

      With that kinda reference you could make a killing there with airbnb or vrbo ;)

  • Nikki

    Chiming in with another public-but-not proposal: My husband proposed after taking me on a little hike along the coast – which also happened to be the spot of our first ever date, 7 years earlier. I knew something was up the second I realized he had actually fully planned a thing for us to do (ha), but there was still an element of surprise because we’d discussed marriage, but he’d also sneakily led me to believe that he needed more time to save money for a ring (for the record, I told him we could get engaged with a ring pop for all I cared, but proposing with a ring was important to him).

    Anyway, the hike was beautiful – through the trees along a cliff above the Pacific – and meaningful. At the end of the trail, we ducked through a tangle of bushes for a view of the ocean… but there were already other people in that spot. He was adamant about going where there “weren’t any people” (yeah, I knew something was up), so we went a little further. We ended up sitting in a bunch of iceplant, looking out over the ocean when he asked me. It was a cool but sunny day – the Friday after Thanksgiving, our dog was there, in our hometown, in the spot where we’d had our first real “date,” and it was perfect. We stayed and reveled in the moment for 30 minutes afterwards before hiking back. The best part is that all of my extended family gets together for Thanksgiving, and always has a post-Thanksgiving clam chowder and Cesar salad party the Friday after the holiday, so we saw everyone that night and got to celebrate.

    So, public, but private, and definitely perfect.

  • Melissa the Researcher

    359 comments and no one else want to know why @stephanieapw:disqus hates Derek? This clearly needs explaining/discussing! :)