(Credit: Phase4Photography via Shutterstock)
Okay, so you have finally found the love of your life, and have decided to pop that big question. But the real question is… how? Preparing a proposal can be hard work, especially when you want it to be just as life changing for them, as it is for you. There is a lot of personal thought that goes into planning. You do not want to recite a scripted proposal that lacks originality, but at the same time you do not want to come off dumbfounded and unsure of how to express how you feel. Seeing how most people do not take the time to understand the weight of planning a proposal, I believe that this is one component to significant not to explore. This is an invitation to your ‘forever’ with another person. As you might have noticed, here at Black Bride we capture these beautiful moments right from the engagement.
Below I have taken our 10 Most Romantic Proposals from our Real Engagements postings and created 10 Advice Tips for Planning Your Proposal. I've rounded up some recently wedded and engaged men to give me there opinions for some fresh intake. The idea is not to steal another guy's proposal tactics, but to keep in mind some key things while planning your own proposal for your significant other.
1. Be creative: This is your moment to show her how you really feel about her, by all means take the time to capture your inner romantic into the moment.
Recording artist Rashad Thomas from Columbus, Ohio recently proposed to his high school sweetheart Donja Bridges while singing the classic "Lady" by D'Angelo. "I was glad I got to do something I loved to show her how I felt about her and then lead into my proposal. It all worked out perfectly,” he said.
From our Real Engagement series we chose the beautiful story of Tamika Wright and Justin Bush from Washington, D.C.
Photo Courtesy of Photographer Taun Henderson
"I decided to capture every moment, of every trip that we took together. Whether it was a road trip out of town, or spending time with family I saved every moment. Anything we did together was captured in a photo. I then arranged those photos into an album documenting what we did every month of the year 2011. The last page of this album I had a photo of the engagement ring. Tamika and I went out to one of the best restaurants in Washington DC. After dinner I presented the book to her, and at the very end she read the words” Will you be my life partner and marry me” with a picture of the ring and a note from her father giving me the okay."
2. Make sure it's a surprise: There's nothing more beautiful than a sneaky attempt to catch them off guard.
Devin Thomas of Columbus, Ohio recently wed September 27th 2014, had his soon-to-be wife help plan the soiree by inviting her friends and family without her knowing the whole time it would be the night he was going to propose."Make sure whatever it is you do to propose it's with the intent to make your bride proud and surprised. It's a memory the two of you will always remember so don't worry what others may think." Thomas said.
An example from our Real Engagements series is Jonathan Firth and wife Diana of Fort Lauderdale, FL. The proposal was such a surprise; it caused his wife to collapse to the floor!
Photo Courtesy of Adam Opris Photography
"Diana just graduated from RN school and I rented a hotel on South Beach for the night as a present. We spent the day walking and eating along south beach. Later that night, we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner. Afterwards, we stopped back at the hotel to drop off some leftovers. As we were in the hotel, Diana wanted to take a few photos in her dress. After two or three, I said that it looked like she was missing something in the photos. That is when I pulled out the ring and asked her to marry me. She ensued to lose her mind and run around the entire hotel room and collapse on the floor. I had to pick her up put her on the bed get on one knee and ask her again.
3. Location, location, location: Make sure it’s some place she’ll never forget.
Sheldon Whittaker of Akron, Ohio recently wed May 25th 2012, wanted to keep things traditional yet memorable when he proposed to his wife Kimberly. “I wanted to keep it real basic; I ended up taking my wife to the first restaurant I took her on our first date,” he said.
Number #3 from our Real Engagements is Nichole and Rad from Brooklyn, NY. He swept her off her feet, out of the city and oversees to profess his love for her.
Photo Courtesy of Haimy Assefa
“We got engaged in London. We were staying at Claridges and dining at Hakkassan. The ring was hidden in the inside pocket of a new purse to keep the whole thing a surprise. She said yes and the champagne was flowing all night!"
4. Originality is Key: Whatever you decide to do, whether it be humorous or traditional, do it in your own unique way.
“It can be easy to over-think things, just keep it original and do not over prepare,” Rashad said regarding the way his late minute plans transitioned into a beautiful proposal 20 minutes after the ball fell on New Year’s Eve.
From Real Engagements we had Antoine and Stacy from Douglasville, VA elaborate on how humor and originality was a big part of their engagement story.
Photo Courtesy of Sophia Barrett Studios
“At midnight, Antoine takes out a ring pop, gets down on one knee by our Christmas tree and starts talking really serious about our relationship and where he sees us in the future but I can’t keep a straight face because this big red shiny ring pop is on my finger. He looks at me and says, “You aren’t taking me seriously are you?” I responded by saying, “how can I with this big piece of candy on my finger?” He goes back to the same side of the couch where he hid the ring pop and pulls out a real Diamond Ring! I couldn’t contain myself… he asked me to marry him and of course I said YES! He then tells me that wasn’t my birthday gift and sends me to look under the keyboard… He got me tickets to Cirque du Soleil!”
5. Broadcast it: Don’t be afraid to go all out to make your proposal epic!
From our Real Engagements series Ariana and Shane Zackery of Chicago, IL had one of the most exciting stories to share. Both of their loves for sports and dance were incorporated in Shane’s proposal.
Photo Coutesy of Antwyan Newsome
"Our engagement proposal was the most perfect proposal for me. My fiancé teamed up with my Luvabulls teammates and the Bulls Entertainment Staff to put together a production of a proposal. In the middle of our 3rdquarter performance the music changed and my team began to break out into choreography that I did not know. Benny the Bull sat me down in a chair and my team began to dance around me. My boyfriend, now fiancé, then popped out of a inflatable Bulls costume and asked me to marry him on center court. It was a beautiful proposal and perfect for me considering I love dance and performance and the proposal included both!
6. Reach out to the family: This is a big step that requires a much needed support system.
Crystal and Terrence Denkins from New Orleans, LA both shared a very intimate proposal story for our Real Engagement series. He made sure her family could be a part of the beautiful moment.
Photo Courtesy of Martha Theodore of Exclamation Point Photography
"What I should also mention is that my fiancé is a very, very curious person. So, it was a difficult task to pull off this surprise proposal. I met with her Mom to tell her my ideas, which were that it needed to be in a restaurant that was beautiful and nice, but still offered the seclusion and intimate atmosphere. Her mom said confidently that she could accomplish this. Two weeks later her mom said, “To ensure that Crys does not find out about this, we will say that this event is to celebrate my new job.” Then I said, “Oh Ma! You have a new job?” She said, “No, but that’s what we will tell her.” Then the day of, I was able to get my family in from Houston and house them for the day in my apartment and the rest of Crys’ family and friends were to meet us at the venue. When we arrived to the venue, everything was planned perfectly. I pretended to have to go to the bathroom. While I was in there, changing into my suit, I had three people enter the room to greet Crys with red roses and then I entered the room with a single white rose. She instantaneously started to scream. In front of her family, I confessed my love to her, got down on one knee and I proposed to her. She said YES before I even got the ring out! After a hug and a kiss, she turned to see all of her friends and my family. She was truly ecstatic!”
7. Do not over think things, stick to what feels right: Stress can play a huge part in planning, remember to relax and stay true to the task at hand.
“Leading up to the moment was very stressful because I proposed with a video that I had edited and shot” said Devin regarding the stresses of planning his proposal.
Our Real Engagement couple Francesca and Christopher of Burr Ridge, IL shared a great story with us about all the pop-ups and coincidences that happened during the time leading up to his proposal.
Photo Courtesy of Maria Harte of Maria Harte Photography
"Months before Chris proposed to Francesca, he commissioned her parents and sister to help him plan one of the biggest nights of their lives. Chris slyly made a trip to Atlanta to ask Francesca’s parents for her hand in marriage. He also needed their help to deceive his live-in-detective *ahem* girlfriend at the time. Francesca knew that a proposal was coming after going ring shopping in March, but was growing more impatient as the months passed. Consequently, she asked her parents and younger sister daily if Chris had said anything about a proposal, to which they emphatically replied, “No!” Francesca, a huge basketball fan, causally mentioned to a friend that she really wanted to attend a Bulls game before the year ended. Chris, always the observer, took note. When he received free box-seat tickets for a game on her birthday, he capitalized on an opportunity to propose at center court before the game. Three days before the proposal, the couple watched the Heat-Bulls game when a man dressed as Benny the Bull infamously proposed to his girlfriend, a dancer for the organization. Francesca was absolutely delighted while Chris panicked. He immediately tried to downplay what they’d just witness, hoping to throw Francesca off for a little while longer. Fortunately for Chris, she had no idea of his life-changing plan. On December 7th, at center court of the United Center, Chris bent down on one knee and heard “Yes!”
8. Do not make it too obvious: Play it cool! You don’t want her to know something’s up.
“It was just a cool night, she didn’t know I was going to propose because everyone there was strangers,” Rashad said regarding the place of the live performance he chose for his proposal. Similar to our Real Engagement couple Ruth and James from Chicago, IL who oversees in Nigeria surprised his soon-to-be wife with his proposal during the end to her visit.
Photo Courtesy of OluJr Photography
"It was Ruth’s first trip to Lagos [Nigeria] and I wanted to make it a memorable one for her. Even though we had time constraints, I tried to take her to the very best spots in the city. So I had gathered a few of my friends and family on July 12, 2013 at the boat club in the CIVIC center to go on a boat cruise, with so much to eat and drink, and give Ruth a view of the Lagos coastline. She saw the beaches of Lagos and breathtaking landscaping, such a perfect scene so much so that she was drawn to believing that I would propose to her while we walked side by side on the beautiful white sands of Taqua Bay… but it wasn’t to be on that day. Instead, I had rather planned a bigger party of 20 friends and family who had decided to honor the event on July, 14, 2013. After church service on Sunday, I said to Ruth that one last thing we needed to do before she left Nigeria the next day was to see a movie at the cinemas together. We got to the Mall and there was so much traffic entering into it, I was praying that I wouldn’t miss this as friends were all seated. We eventually got to the cinema with everyone seated and shortly before the movie started, a short video I had made on my iPhone for her with lovely background music and my voice over began to play. The last image was an Image of my Beloved Ruth and then she knew this was it. I immediately went down on my right knee and asked her, “Will you marry me?” There was huge shock on her face and everyone in the theater, in chorus, was saying, say yes! and with tears streaming down her cheek, she said. "Yes!"
9. Allow the kids to be a part of the moment: This is more than a proposal when children are involved; it becomes a union between families.
Our Real Engagements couples Emily and Devin McKnight from Los Angeles, California shared a beautiful story when Devin proposed and planned her daughters to be a part of the big day!
Photo Courtesy of London Light Photography
A year after reconnecting, Devin moved from Arkansas to Irvine, CA. He dedicated his first paycheck to our love by treating me and my two daughters to a shopping spree. He called it “Family Appreciation Day”. After a full day of shopping and dining (a girl’s dream at any age), he called all three of us into the room, and said “There was just one thing that was missing from today, and that’s the fact that I was not “officially” part of the family!”. That’s when he got on one knee and proposed. The three of us were all crying and jumping up and down yelling “we are getting married, we are getting married”. It was perfect.
?10. Sweep her off her feet: Nothing is more romantic than escaping your comfort zone and making the moment intimate between only the two of you.
“I asked her mother for her hand in marriage but did not allow anyone to know where and when I was going to propose,” Sheldon said regarding his proposal planning tactics.Our Real Engagement couple Ashley and Nathaniel Smith from Washington, D.C. and New York City had a magical journey with some minor delays to share regarding their engagement story.
Photo Courtesy of Sweet Root Village
Asking someone that you love to spend the rest of their life with you is a big deal! And I wanted Ashley to know and feel just how special she is to me. So I planned an elaborate surprise proposal that would have us darting out of the country late on February 13 and arriving in Paris on Valentine’s Day. Neither Ashley nor I had ever been abroad, Ashley’s last name is French, and Ashley had always said that she wanted to go to Paris . . . I’m thinking a “yes” might really be in the cards. The day before we are scheduled to depart, a massive snowstorm hits the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia). My heart sinks. I look outside, and the snow is just coming down hard, and every flake seems to stop, just for a moment, to look at me and laugh. I prayed to the Lord (and sent an e-mail to Obama) to please let this flight take off. The next morning, the snow had just piled up. The accumulation, I think, was a little over a foot, but it might as well have been 30! To add insult to injury, it continued to snow. Only a miracle would get us to Paris on Valentine’s Day.
By noon, the runways were clear enough to allow the airport to open, but few flights were scheduled to take off. Almost all were canceled. We arrived at the gate about two hours before take off. Many of the other flights to Paris were canceled, but Air France Flight 54 was on time. Despite the storm, we just happened to be on one of the few flights that made it out of Dulles Airport that day. We arrived in France on Valentine’s Day morning. That night, I put it all on the line, got on one knee at the base of the Seine River as the Eiffel Tower looked on, and asked Ashley to be my wife. She became emotional before saying yes. I think that she knew it was meant to be. It had to be, because we made it to Paris.
What are some of your favorite engagement stories from our Real Engagement series? What are some ideas you have in mind for planning your proposal? Leave your comment below and tell us what you think!
Curated by our Editorial Intern, Starr Davis, who currently studies Creative Writing at City College of New York. Keep up with Starr’s work by following her on Twitter here: @Metaphorqueen_