Popping the question

Danny Patel hired a consultant to help with his travel-themed marriage proposal to Tanvi Kamdar. (Mariann Szucs/blue daisy weddings photo / March 4, 2011)


When you ask…

December reigns as the most popular month for getting engaged. With most brides taking the lead in wedding planning, the proposal is the groom's time to shine, said Jeff Wilser, editor of ThePlunge.com, an advice site for grooms-to-be.

Here are some pointers for proposing with panache, plucked from conversations with Wilser and wedding planning experts Sarah Pease, Heather Vaughn and Julie Raimondi.

Do make it personal. Incorporate your favorite memories together and things she likes.

Don't be cliche. That means no proposing on a Jumbotron at a sports game, no dinner date that ends with a ring in the champagne glass and a "will you marry me" written in chocolate on the plate.

Do consider what she would want, not just what you would like to do, including whether she'd prefer a quiet proposal or a public spectacle.

Don't assume that because your girlfriend is laid-back she won't care how you propose.

Do ask her parents for permission, if it's a family who would appreciate that. A more modern way is to ask for their blessing.

Don't tell everyone that you're going to propose, as loose lips sink proposals.

Do have a ring. Even if you want her to pick her own, you could propose with a place-holder, like a Ring Pop.

Don't hide the ring in a spaghetti dinner or in sand or anywhere it might get lost.

Do get down on one knee. Look her in the eye and say something thoughtful and sincere.

Don't read from something, especially not from notes written on your smartphone.

Do document it, whether that's with a professional photographer, a friend with a video camera hiding in the bushes or just a journal in your pocket to jot down notes. The moment is such a blur, this lets you relive it later.

Don't live-tweet the proposal or announce your engagement on Facebook before telling all the important family members and friends personally.

Do know what the answer will be. You should already have had a conversation about your future.

Don't get paralyzed by the pressure to make it awesome. If you find yourself putting off proposing because you're worried it's not spectacular enough, you have a problem.

— A.E.R.

By the numbers

5,200: Average cost of an engagement ring

77: Percentage of grooms who proposed on bended knee

71: Percentage of grooms who asked the bride's parents for permission

57: Percentage of grooms who proposed privately

43: Percentage of grooms who planned the proposal down to the last detail

10: Percentage of grooms who winged it

Source: 2011 Engagement & Jewelry Study from The Knot Market Intelligence