Get a signed copy of our latest book, Emily Post's Etiquette - The Centennial Edition, for yourself or to give as a gift, and support Vermont's independent bookstore Bridgeside Books.

Join our Substack newsletter for more from Emily Post.

Countdown to Proposing Hero Label

Countdown to Proposing

person holding a diamond ring to their side, with a smiling woman out of focus in the background

Day 10: Make a Plan

Decide on the who, what, when, where, and why of how you will ask him or her to marry you. A public place or a private setting? First thing in the morning or late at night? Think about what suits your personalities and relationship. Keep in mind, this is a story they will be telling for the rest of their life and you want them to be proud to tell it. But at the same time, the more complex a plan you concoct, the more difficult to pull off.

Day 9: The Ring

You’ve got two options here: pick the ring you know they’ll love or go with something basic and let them choose the setting and band once they've said yes. If you go with the latter, remember that this is not an insult to your jewelry selection capabilities. You want to make sure it’s the ring they want.

Day 8: Permission from the Parents?

Individual circumstances determine whether you should ask permission from their parents, either alone or with your intended, or if you should simply announce your plans together. Be respectful of the culture and traditions of your future partner's family. This will help you decide the most appropriate course of action.

Day 7: Schedule Them In

Don’t forget to make plans with them for the big day. It would be pretty embarrassing to go through all this effort and then have them tell you “I’m not available that night, I have yoga class till 8:30 p.m.”

Day 6: Dress

Figure out what you’re going to wear. Make sure it’s clean and wrinkle-free. Shoes polished. Hole-free socks. Get a haircut. Shave. You want to look and feel your best.

Day 5: Flowers

There’s only one choice: red roses. Lots and lots of red roses. And remember, even if you think flowers don’t matter, they do.

Day 4: Food

To cook or go out? Don’t cook. Think about it. You want to focus on them, not on cooking. Make a reservation at the nicest restaurant you can afford. Try not to be a nervous wreck, hopefully you’ll enjoy the meal. If you’re planning to pop the question there, ask the maitre d' for a quiet table.

Day 3: Wine

This is clearly a champagne occasion. Pop the question early and then order a bottle to celebrate. You can even call ahead and arrange to have the sommelier bring the champagne out once you’ve proposed.

Day 2: Practice

Think about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Decide if you’re a down-on-one-knee kind of person. Visualize what’s going to happen. You’ve established a plan for the dinner, now think about how you’re going to actually pull this off. Make sure you know how to get to where you are going. Remember these could be some of the most important words they hear from you, so make them memorable.

Day 1: Just Do It!

Give yourself time to get ready. Don’t forget the ring. Do plan on having a night the two of you will always remember. Look them in the eye and speak from the heart. Most of all, enjoy this special moment.