I’m no engagement expert, but I’m starting to feel like one thanks to everyone I’ve ever known on social media getting married, making babies, and buying houses whose square footage and stainless steel appliances convince me they were purchased with Monopoly money or a generous cosign from mom and dad. Most of the time, getting engaged sets the wheels in motion for a lot of major life events. Getting married is a stop sign space on the Game of Life board for crying out loud.

There’s a lot of pressure on guys to make the proposal special and thoughtful, and some of these modern, clueless gentlemen aren’t rising to the occasion. I’ve a few theories on what constitutes a good proposal in 2015 and what’s gotten old, but I also wanted to talk to several other women about their proposal preferences. I’ve compounded my findings and present to you, A Marriage Proposal Guide for the Modern, Clueless Man.


A Kiss On The Hand May Be Quite Continental, But Diamonds Have No Place In A Continental Breakfast

Did you know Oleo Worstideaever was the first man who thought, “I’m going to spend two paychecks on a diamond ring, then fall on the mercy of the disgruntled, underpaid wait staff at some restaurant to carry out my proposal?” I think this applies for many (but not all) women, but when I’m eating food, I don’t want to find a piece of fine jewelry in it. If there’s a ring in my food, the volume of that ring is taking up space where there could have been more food, and there’s nothing romantic about that. Not to mention, you should never propose to a woman when she’s hungry or full—no woman should endure the fact of saying yes while her stomach’s growling or she’s gestating a food baby.


“Here’s my issue with it — putting the ring in food not only makes the food inedible (GERMS?) but it also makes the ring all food-y. Included in this category is the “ring in the champagne” trick, which I’ve only ever seen on TV but it must come from somewhere. Why is that ever a good idea? ‘Let’s take this delicious champagne and make it taste all metallic from the ring. Also, don’t choke!'”

“Absolutely not.”

“Not at a restaurant. That is so cliché.”


Guys, you’re asking for a woman’s hand in marriage, not coaching her to win the hot dog eating contest at the county fair. I know it might seem ingenious, but most women don’t want to find a ring in their food.



Shia LeBeouf Runed Skywriting Forever

Maybe it takes an aviation buff to appreciate the appeal of an airplane flying around with a banner to pop the question, but I’ve never understood the skywriting/sky banner proposal. Not only is it ridiculously pricey for what you’re receiving, but do you really want you bride-to-be to crane her head at a 45-degree angle only to think, “He proposed the way Shia LeBeouf apologized… This is my engagement legacy.”



“It might be hard to explain ‘Hey, honey? Let’s drive 45 miles out into a part of town that we’ve literally never been that has nothing of interest in it but a big open field with minimal view obstruction.'”


Unless your significant other is a nephologist, it might be best to pass on this one.

Yinan Chen

No One Says No to the Family Pet

What is there to say about using pets in a proposal???


Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 6.15.05 AM


“AWWWWWW. That’s so cute.”

“I feel like this version puts the onus on the pet. You can’t reject little Snuffles as easily as you can reject not-so-little Chad.”

“Pets is super cute, I wouldn’t mind a cute animal involved.”


Alright, pull it together. How could a pet proposal not be the most stinkin’ adorable thing anyone’s ever seen? I think buying a new kitten or puppy solely for a proposal seems a little manipulative to me, but incorporating your pets isn’t really that different than having your family there. If you’re not sure you’ll get a yes, the pet proposal is a good way of Katniss Everdeening the odds.


Want to Gamble on Ruining Something Forever with a Future Divorce? Get Engaged on a Holiday or Your Birthday!

I know that most recently Facebook erupted with the molten lava of cheesy Valentine’s Day proposals, of all the engagement no-nos — real and imagined — that exist in the world, we all should heed this absolute principle: You do not propose to anyone on a day that is otherwise special in any other way. There’s an exception if you want to propose on the day of your first kiss or on your anniversary, but no woman should be receiving a ring for her birthday. Or Christmas. Or on a poppy for Veteran’s Day. Or with the convenience of champagne on New Year’s Eve. Even Valentine’s Day is off limits. I know divorce is an icky thing to think about, but if your marriage dissolves for whatever reason, do you really want an otherwise innocent day of remembrance or celebration to be marred by bitterness or resentment? Besides, proposing on a holiday/birthday just says: “Hey! We’re celebrating something anyway. Will you marry me?”


“Major holidays are a no-go. You want to celebrate your engagement as its own day for the two of you — not sharing the day with Christmas or, worst of all, NYE. Minor holidays are not as big of a deal, because who really cares if the day you get engaged is President’s Day or whatever. Birthdays, to me, are a double no-go.”

“No to holidays and birthdays cause I feel that’s predictable, like the girl could guess hey he might do it today since it’s already a special day.”


Piggybacking a proposal on another celebration is an engagement mortal sin in my book. If you haven’t noticed this trend yet, what’s most important to women is being proposed to in a way that’s special and unique to them and the relationship they have. Involving a Christmas tree or a heart-shaped box of candies? Not exactly the most special.

ND Strupler/Flickr
ND Strupler/Flickr

 Still confused?

So whether you’re cooking something up (NOT LITERALLY, PLEASE) or putting off an engagement off for as long as possible, know that us women appreciate the position you’re in. We know that when it comes to proposals our expectations are only getting higher thanks to Instagram, but what’s more important to us than some grand gesture that lands on BuzzFeed is a proposal that shows a lot of time and thought went into it. Take the time to think about the little things in your relationship and what would mean the most to your significant other. Not every woman wants a flash mob dancing to “Let’s Get Married” by Jagged Edge. Just because something’s been done before doesn’t mean it works (please see the guidance on the food and holiday proposals above), but you’re going to get it right Clueless, Modern Man Whose Girlfriend Is Waiting For A Ring. I believe in you.*

*But that belief will seriously be shaken if I hear you plan on proposing at a sporting event using the big screen. 

24 thoughts on “A Marriage Proposal Guide for the Modern, Clueless Man

    1. The only problem with the pet one really, though, is that it’s probably happening at home. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s something to consider.

  1. Very funny, though probably not as funny to the women on the other end of these proposals. Simple, romantic and thoughtful. And if the man doesn’t understand that, well maybe the question should be given a little bit more thought…:)

    1. Agreed! The thing is, before the Internet a lot of these proposals weren’t so bad… But once we started catching wind of the other cool proposals that were happening around the world, everything changed.

  2. Absolutely couldn’t agree more than with never EVER piggy-backing a proposal on a birthday/NYE/Christmas. Nothing screams ‘I couldn’t think of a gift, so I got you a diamond’ than doing that. And who wants to marry a man who doesn’t know what you want for a present. Give it 10 years and he’ll give up paying attention to how you take your coffee too.
    Also – and here’s one that I learnt the hard way – don’t accept a proposal from a man who won’t then share his dessert when he’s ordered better than you. It’s a bad sign for sure.
    And, men, if you’re proposing abroad make sure the ring’s the right size. Nothing worse than losing it on the way home. (Again, I learnt the hard way!)

  3. I’m so glad I got engaged when my two weeks salary was so much less than it is today. Social media in those days was comprised of corded telephones and face to face conversations. I can’t imagine the pressure on you young whippersnappers to make every major life event into something hashtag worthy.

  4. I proposed to my fiancee in Aisle 3 of the supermarket (crisps) just after having picked her up from the gym. My rationale being that this would be a genuinely surprising proposal – as oppose to the expensive trip to Paris nice meal overlooking the Seine what could possibly be about to happen? – option.

  5. I worked in restaurants during my college days, and Valentine’s Day proposals were the worst. Rings hidden under noodles, in drinks and cakes….it was just awful for sure.

    I got myself some sweet tickets to a Cardinals playoff game (being a Chicago person, you may not be familiar with this, but try to use your imagination) against the Diamondbacks. My then girlfriend worked at the stadium, and was working that night, waiting on the rich people in the behind home plate “green seats.” Anyway, after I was good and drunked up, I finally got the gall to go ask her to marry me. While I was on my knee, I said, Wife, will you…and then suddenly, Craig Counsel hit a home run for the other team so I said FUCK!…so it went something like this, “Wife, will you..FUUUUUCK!!!!…Will you marry me? Lol. She said yes and got some sweet tips from her section that night. It wasn’t at thoughtful as a lot of the ones you see nowadays, but when you’re offering this *points to self* then it doesn’t have to be all about smoke and mirrors. Lol. I said that with a straight face.

  6. Good advice, all.
    I’m such a pig I would probably have cracked a tooth on the ring if my boyfriend had put it in food.
    My pets are such pigs that they would have eaten the ring if he’d tried to enlist their aid.
    Instead, he took me for a walk in the garden of the Ritz Carlton and kept trying to get me to sit on a rock so he could get down on one knee in front of me. But I had on a nice dress and I was not about to sit on a a rock. I’m all, “That rock looks DIRTY!”
    And he starts getting desperate: “It’s a Ritz Carlton rock! I’m sure they clean it daily!”
    “Then YOU sit on the rock and I’ll sit on your lap.”
    “Gah! Sit already!”
    So we’re in the middle of an argument about one rock when he pulled got down on one knee and out the other, more sparkly rock. Kind of extreme to win an argument. It worked, though.

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